100

San Francisco Chronicle

By Peter Stack
The balance between action and mysticism in The Empire Strikes Back provides fascinating energy. It's as if the kids are given one set of delights, the bravado of battles and elaborate warships zooming through exotic space, and adults are given another, a layered explanation of what it all means in the grand scheme of things. [Special Edition]
Full Review
100

Chicago Tribune

By Gene Siskel
It balances bloodshed with charm, spectacle with childlike glee. It's a near flawless movie of its kind.
Full Review
100

Christian Science Monitor

By David Sterritt
Technical virtuosity and entertainment ingenuity.
Full Review
100

Entertainment Weekly

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
The storytelling is the series' best, with a zingy balance of drama, humor, and Deep Thoughts (in a screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, directed with confident exuberance by Irvin Kershner). [Special Edition]
Full Review
100

Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
The best of three Star Wars films, and the most thought-provoking. After the space opera cheerfulness of the original film, this one plunges into darkness and even despair, and surrenders more completely to the underlying mystery of the story. It is because of the emotions stirred in Empire that the entire series takes on a mythic quality that resonates back to the first and ahead to the third. This is the heart.
Full Review
100

ReelViews

By James Berardinelli
The storyline is more interesting and ambitious, the characters -- little more than appealing types in the original -- are allowed to grow and develop, the special effects are more mature, and the tone is deliciously dark and downbeat. [Special Edition]
Full Review
90

Film Threat

By Chris Gore
It was incredible to see what is arguably the best of the Star Wars films, on the big screen again. However, I do not believe that any of the minor changes make the film any better. [Special Edition]
Full Review
88

San Francisco Examiner

This is the bluest film you'll ever see. The haunting color resounds throughout Empire like a sustained, melancholy chord...Empire is essential viewing for lovers of science fiction. [Special Edition]
Full Review
80

TV Guide

A darker, richer, and more elaborate film than the original; it suffers most from being just what it is: a middle chapter with no real ending. [Special Edition]
Full Review
50

The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Adds more cosmic cliff-hangers than it resolves, and it's not as satisfying as the original. A star war can be an exhausting bit of business, especially when, in the end, it turns out to be something of a cheat.
Full Review
78 out of 100
Generally favorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.