A 7-Year-Old's Hilarious (and Heartbreaking) Review of 'Empire Strikes Back'

One young man travels to a galaxy far, far away for the first time — and he has a lot of questions.
Lucasfilms/Courtesy Everett Collection

It's considered the best movie in the greatest sci-fi franchise in history — and you only get to experience it for the first time once.

So when THR.com Deputy Editor Kimberly Nordyke showed her 7-year-old son Braden Star Wars: Episode V —The Empire Strikes Back this month, she recorded the many comments, questions and theories the budding Jedi had. Trust us, his reaction to "I am your father" is worth reading — as is his guess as to the identity of Luke's mother and his surprising sympathy for Darth Vader. 

Without further ado, Braden's reaction to Empire Strikes Back:

Han wants Leia to admit she wants him to stay because she likes him.

Braden: Why are they fighting? Are they going to become friends? 

Hoth is basically a terrible ice planet. Braden agrees.

Braden: I don't want to go there.

Luke is in deadly peril. He is also sporting different clothes from the previous movie.

Braden: When is he going to board the ship and look more like his self again and wear what he was wearing?

And wait ... he got medals at the end of the last movie. 

Braden: Are they rich now because of the medals? 

"The Imperial March" plays for the first time.

Braden: I like it. Even though I'm not a bad guy.

Several Imperial officers circle the hidden base on Hoth. 

Braden: Where is Darth Vader? I'd rather see Darth Vader than these guys. Isn't it weird when Darth Vader talks? is Darth Vader making them be bad guys? Is he forcing them to be bad?

Brianna, Braden's 4-year-old sister: This is a scary movie. I think it's only for big kids because it is really scary, so I'm going to go to bed.

Admiral Kendal Ozzel shows his incompetence by arguing Hoth is unlikely the location of the Rebel base. 

Braden: Does he work for Darth Vader? Is he like the assistant coach like in basketball?

Luke and his team must deal with At-At Walkers in one of the most iconic scenes in sci-fi history.

Braden: What are they? They look like dogs. Shoot the leg! Shoot the leg! Why don't they just try to escape instead of fighting back? Wouldn't it just be better if they just escape?

Han berates C-3P0 for being slow and in the way. No one seems to like him except for R2-D2.

Braden: Is he worried about him [R2] because he's his only friend?

Leia says of the Falcon: "This bucket of bolts is never going to get us past this blockade." Braden has faith.

Braden: Usually in movies one person says, "It's not going to work," and then the other person gets it to work.

Luke assures R2 that they will soon be leaving the planet.

Braden: How does Luke understand what R2-D2 is saying?

R2 emerges (relatively) unscathed after falling into a swamp on Dagobah.

Braden: Is he waterproof or something?

We catch a glimpse of Vader without his helmet. Braden has a lot of questions. 

Braden: That looks more like ice cream. Banana and strawberry. He looks more like a clown. Now I'm dying to see him, his face. Why is he all red? Because of the fire? Why is that [helmet] lifting onto his head?

Kimberly, Braden's mother: Well I guess he takes the helmet off sometimes when he's by himself and this guy just happened to walk in.

Braden is concerned for the safety of Admiral Firmus Piett for seeing Vader without his helmet.

Braden: Is he [Vader] going to get upset? Hopefully not. What if he shoots him? What if Darth Vader gets mad?

Mom: Well, that would be terrible.

Braden: Yeah, because you know how powerful he is. He learned his magic [the ways of The Force] really well.

The Falcon has taken refuge on an asteroid. 

Braden: There's no air on that, right? Are they trying to get to safety? Was there air on that snow planet? Do they have any space helmets in this movie? I didn't see any. 

Things get charged between Han and Leia. 

Braden: I don't know if that's fighting, or if they're fighting because they're friends.

Emperor Palpatine and Vader discuss turning Luke to the Dark Side.

Braden: Who is he? Is he still alive? Is he probably just old?

Mom: He's saying that Luke is a powerful enemy, and the son of a guy named Anakin Skywalker.

Braden: Who has a son? Who? Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker?

Mom: No, Luke Skywalker's dad is named Anakin. And he's saying they can't let him become a Jedi knight because the Force is strong with him.

Braden: Isn't he already a Jedi knight?

Mom: No, that's why he went to find Yoda so he could train to become a Jedi Knight. 

Luke continues to search for Yoda, not realizing he's found the Jedi master.

Braden: Who sent him again?

Mom: Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Braden: Didn't he die already?

Mom: Well, he did, but remember, he said he's more powerful in death than life.

Braden: What's that mean?

Yoda tells Obi-Wan that Luke isn't ready for training. Braden disagrees.

Braden: Well of course he's ready to learn. Well, of course. What did he need to do before he learns? Join a club or something?

Our heroes unknowingly shoot an exogorths with a blaster and (barely) escape its jaws.

Braden: They shot the monster? Its mouth was blending in with the wall? Why didn't they know they were going inside? Did it hurt when it got shot? Would you imagine if something was in me right now? Well, that's not possible.

Luke trains with Yoda after finally learning who the Jedi master really is.

Braden: Does he finally know he's Yoda?

Mom: Yeah, he told him.

Braden: But was he upset at the joke?

Mom: No he wasn't upset.

Braden: Because he's Luke Skywalker and he's a nice guy? Darth Vader is letting him become a Jedi so he knows a lot of stuff and can help his team?

Yoda tells Luke there is only "do or do not" when lifting the X-Wing. He does not.

Mom:  Do you think that ship is going to run when it gets out of the water?

Braden: Well, I think the magic [The Force] is going to fix it, but I don't exactly know if it's true and if it will work. Usually the magic is used to bring stuff, right? Not to fix stuff. When is he gonna clean it off? When he flies? In outer space there is no air, so it's probably going to start floating.

Success for Yoda, who pulls out the ship. Luke says, "I don't believe it!"

Braden: You know, I believe it. Because it's just a movie.

The Falcon approaches Cloud City.

Braden: How do they know if there is air on that planet?

C-3P0 has gone missing and Leia is worried. Han tells her to relax.

Braden: Why does he keep saying relax? Too many "relaxes" and something will go wrong.

Chewie finds a disassembled C-3P0 in a trash heap. 

Braden: Can he fix him?

Mom: He said maybe.

Braden: Because they don't know if they can fix him and they don't want to make it worse and maybe they might want to get him to a bigger repairman? He might need somebody else? How does he know that's all the pieces?

Lando invites Han, Leia and Chewie to dinner, leaving C3P-0 unattended. 

Braden: Why are they leaving him there? What if somebody throws him back in the junk pile?

Han is feeling terrible after being tortured by the Empire. 

Braden: Does Luke's friend have the magic [The Force]?

Lando tells the gang that Vader is looking for someone named Skywalker.

Braden: Is Luke his first name and Skywalker his last name?

Mom: Yes.

Braden: I thought his first name was "Lukeskywalker." I should have got used to "Luke." Please in the next movie we watch, if it's not Star Wars, please tell me their real first name so I just say Luke and get used to it. 

Han is frozen in carbonite.

Braden: Can they take it off? Didn't that kill him when it fell on him? Was that shape already there in that thing [referring to the shape of Han Solo]? Did it hurt when that hit him? What happened when that thing went down? Can he escape?

Mom: No, he can't escape.

Braden: Unless somebody frees him? Unless somebody tries to get a heat thing? Is that his brain?

Mom: No, that's his face.

Luke and Vader's fight begins.

Braden: Are those swords both as powerful [as each other]? I wonder if that red one is exactly like lava. Well, blue is either cold water, or you could look at it as the hottest star ever because stars are blue, and that's the hottest they get besides red.

Boba Fett has Han's body loaded into his ship.

Braden: Who's that?

Mom: He's a bounty hunter, one who tracked down Han Solo and those guys. He's taking Han Solo to the big guy named Jabba, the guy he owed money to.

Braden: So he has to have two things to worry about [Jabba and Vader]? Does Han Solo kind of wish that those two robots never came to his planet and he would have just lived happily? Because now Darth Vader wants him too.

Vader knocks Luke's lightsaber out of his hand. 

Braden: Does Luke escape? Does he get his sword back? He has to do karate right now. He has to escape with some karate.

Luke successfully fights off Vader, and Vader falls.

Braden: Did you see that? Luke just won? He just knocked him down that cliff. But where did he go? I didn't hear "boom."

Luke searches for Vader. First we hear Vader's breathing — and then we see him. 

Braden: It's scary when you just see Darth Vader just like that. He's so quiet, isn't he? He's so sneaky.

Vader's debris shatters a window.

Braden: Can they breathe?

Lando, R2, Chewie, C-3P0 and Leia make their escape. 

Braden: Does Darth Vader still want R2-D2?

Mom: He really just wants Luke.

Braden: Doesn't he still want R2? He doesn't want the princess anymore?

Mom: I think he wants all of them, but if can turn Luke to the Dark Side, then he can defeat all of them.

Braden: Why did he become a bad guy in the first place? There's no reason.

Luke loses his hand. 

Braden: Did he just die? Does he get his hand fixed back on? That's really sad.


Luke backs away from Vader. 

Braden: OK, I can't look. This movie is really sad. Now is he on a teeny-weeny cliff? Does he get his hand back?

Vader to Luke: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father."

Braden: Why does he have blood? (Luke has blood on his face.)

Mom: Braden, he's about to answer your question. This is the moment you've been waiting for. (The TV is paused.)

Braden: Ahhh! I knew this, I actually thought I heard this one before. Or was it a different movie of what happened. I'm ready, unpause it!

"I am your father."

Mom: Did you hear what he said?

Braden: Yeah.... But why would his father be mean to him?

Mom: Because he's an evil guy.

Braden: But what about his mother?

Me: The mother answer comes later.

Braden: Uh, why doesn't it say what happened to the mother at same time? Why doesn't Darth Vader say what happened to his mother? I know what happened to his mother, actually, I think. Um, Darth Vader, well, he might have killed the mom. Do you think that might have happened? It's really sad that he got his hand cut off. I asked you like two times if he gets his hand back on.

Me: I think he's ok.

Braden: This is really sad, it makes me cry. (He starts to cry.)

Me: But you got the answer to the dad question.

Braden: Good, but it's so sad that he got his hand cut off.

Mom: What about the fact that Darth Vader is his father?

Braden: I feel like I knew it already, kind of.

Mom: What would you do if you found out Darth Vader was your father?

Braden: I would try to make him...it makes me cry...I wouldn't want this to happen to Daddy (crying).

Mom: Oh, it would never happen to Daddy.

Braden: Oh I know, it's so sad...

Mom: It'll never happen to Daddy.

Braden: I know, I know, I know. Please don't tell him that.

Mom: OK, but it'll never happen.

Braden: I know it won't, I know it Mommy. It would have to happen a long time ago, right?

Mom: Yes, and in a galaxy far away, and have you ever seen Daddy be able to move things with his mind?

Braden: No, that's not true [real], it's just sad that in the movie that he got his hand cut off.

Mom: Do you think he was surprised to hear that Darth Vader is his father?

Braden: Yes.

Mom: Would you be surprised?

Braden: I don't want to talk about it again. I want to go to bed.

Mom: You don't want to watch the rest of movie?

Braden: OK maybe I'll watch little bit more, but if I don't like it, we have to turn the TV off. (Snuggles.) My crying is making my face burn. Now will you unpause it?

Luke: "It's not true!"

Braden: Why is he mad, because his hand got cut off? Now is he crying because he doesn't have a dad?

Mom: No, he can't believe Darth Vader is his dad. He doesn't want an evil dad.

Luke slides to safety.

Braden: Now is he happy because he didn't die?

Luke is in major danger.

Braden: Now how does he get back in? I really wish I didn't watch movie two actually. I can do that flip where you have two legs on a bar, I can do it without using my hands.

The Falcon comes in just in the knick of time. 

Braden: Now is that ship going to rescue him? (Gets scared.) I don't want to watch number 3, please don't make me.

Mom: But in 3, you find out what happened to Darth Vader.

Braden: If he becomes his dad or not?

Mom: Yeah, and if they defeat him.

Braden: And if he becomes nice and becomes his dad again?

Mom: Yeah.

Braden: Well, that would ruin the movie, but it would be nice.

Lando and Chewie fly of to find Han. Leia looks pensive. 

Braden: She doesn't know he [Han] is all right? She thinks he dead? You know what, Mommy, I actually think I have seen the words of, "I am your father." I think I actually heard that, I just didn't care about it when I heard it. What if the queen is his [Luke's] mom?

Mom: Me: Do you mean Princess Leia?

Braden: Yeah, do you remember [who Luke's mom is]? I mean what is it! Tell me!

Mom: Do you think Princess Leia is his mom?

Braden: Yeah, because there really is nobody else.

Luke gets a new hand.

Braden: Now is he a little part of a robot because he got that thing in him?

Luke and Leia consider the state of the galaxy. 

Braden: Is he trying to get him to be his father again? It would be good for him to be his father again, but it would be bad for him to be on the bad side. I hope Luke does join Darth Vader so he can be his father again, but partly not because that would mean Luke would be a bad guy now.

Credits roll.

Braden: Is it over? That ending wasn't that good. I still don't have all my questions out. What happened to Luke's mom?

Mom: You'll find that out a few more movies down the road. It's not nearly as exciting as what happened to the dad.

Braden: Why?

Mom: Because his dad is Darth Vader. What could be bigger than that?

Braden: Well, unless that big monster in the asteroid was the mom. 

But wait, there's more! Read Braden's take on Return of the Jedi

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