Movie sequels are seldom as good as or better than the originals. The best sequel ever? According to a recent survey of movie buffs, it's not 'The Godfather Part II' or 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day.' It's 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back,' a movie released 30 years ago this week, on May 21, 1980.

To mark the anniversary, there will be celebrations big and small throughout the year, starting with this weekend's marathon of the original 'Star Wars' trilogy on Spike TV, with Saturday's screening of 'Empire' simulcast on MTV's jumbotron in Times Square. The remembrances will culminate in the publication in October of 'The Making of The Empire Strikes Back,' by Lucasfilm insider J.W. Rinzler, a coffee-table tome with hundreds of pages of never-before-seen photos taken during the production. Meantime, you can amuse yourself by inserting your own face into 'Empire' footage, courtesy of the jokers at JibJab.

Why the hoopla? Because, for most moviegoers, 'Empire' remains the best of all six 'Star Wars' movies. It turned 'Star Wars' from a one-time special event into an enduring saga. It wielded massive influence on other movies (and throughout pop culture) that is felt to this day. And of course, it's still a powerful stand-alone entertainment experience, with its own memorable characters, jaw-dropping visuals, roiling emotions and the wallop of that all-time devastating third-act plot twist. Here are some of the ways 'Empire' continues to rock our galaxy.