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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back – ITV

Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher share a kiss aboard his ship the Millennium Falcon
(Image credit: Allstar/Cinetext/LUCASFILM)

The jaw-dropping second film in the original Star Wars saga. 5/5 stars

Still arguably the finest film in the entire Stars Wars saga, offering some of the most exhilarating action sequences in the series (including those majestic snow walkers and a gut-churning chase through an asteroid field) as well as some of the densest characterisation.

Much of this film's sophistication is down to an exceptional screenplay by future director Lawrence Kasdan and crime writer Leigh Brackett. And the film has never looked or sounded better, thanks to a digitally enhanced soundtrack and some spruced-up special effects. 

The complex plot splits up the three lead characters effectively to supply two equally engrossing storylines. Harrison Ford's Han Solo and Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia stop bickering and start kissing as they visit Billy Dee Williams' city in the sky. Meanwhile Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker travels to a swampy planet to learn about how to use the Force from Muppet-inspired grand master Yoda. But Luke's decision to leave his training early and help his friends leads to the jaw-dropping climax when he discovers something horrifying from arch enemy Darth Vader.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.