I consider myself a fanboy so my opinion might be biased but my credentials are extensive – I’ve seen the original Star Wars trilogy over and over and over. In fact, I can honestly say that I’ve been watching the original trilogy since my older sibling purchased it all on VHS back in the mid 1980’s. Okay look, he might have made copies but in his defence, making a copy was a lot harder than it is today. It required two video machines, they weren’t light, and you needed RF cables to connect the machines. Now that I’ve spoken about how much more nobler the art of piracy was back in the day, let me get on with my love of Star Wars and what I would class as the best and the worst, if one can even use such a term to describe a Star Wars movie…
Star Wars 1977
Let’s not save the best for last! Instead let’s start where it all started, with what would later come to be known as Episode 4: A New Hope. Nothing was ever the same after Star Wars was released on the 25th of May 1977. George Lucas’s brainchild changed the way we see movies forever and turned its creator into something of a demi-god. Even by today’s standards, a little over 40 years after the fact, Star Wars is still an impressive film to behold and is commendable for its visual effects (Industrial Light & Magic was born of this movie) and great mythos. Plus, it introduced us to characters that would endear themselves to us for years to come.
The Empire Strikes Back 1980
Like many other fans of the franchise, I do believe that The Empire Strikes Back is an improvement over the first movie, but the first still deserves first place because without its incredible success, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. With The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas furthered the formula of what a trilogy typically is by today’s standards. He took these characters that we felt a genuine connection to and he dropped them all into great peril. At the end of the this movie, everyone was left feeling almost completely helpless wanting so badly to know what would happen next. Empire’s special effects were better than A New Hope’s and Lucas gave us new worlds to explore such as the ice planet in the Hoth system, the Dagobah system with Jedi Master Yoda and Cloud City, where Han would face the ultimate betrayal and Luke would uncover an inconvenient truth.
Return of the Jedi 1983
By the time the conclusion to the original trilogy rolled around way back in 1983, the excitement could barely be contained. Fans wanted to know the fate of Luke, Han and Leia. Return of the Jedi has often been criticised for introducing the Ewoks, those cute and cuddly bears from the forest moon of Endor, and for offering a story that was at times not as compelling as its two predecessors, but make no mistake, this was and still is a brilliant and touching conclusion to the original Star Wars trilogy. You’ve got special effects that are still standing up by today’s standards, an emotionally driven battle between Luke and Darth Vader and an ending that is both uplifting and sad.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016
Not since the Empire Strikes Back, has a Star Wars film delivered and given fans exactly what they wanted from their Star Wars films. Disney has worked very hard to right the wrongs of the past, something we’ll speak about when we reach the prequel trilogy, and with Rogue One they have largely achieved this. Rogue One literally serves as a prequel to 1977’s Star Wars and can be watched before it, although the sudden change in the grain/texture of the film and the effects might deter some. Rogue One is classic Star Wars. It gives you a good dose of undiluted nostalgia while also offering up something new and exciting.
Revenge of the Sith 2005
Some might want to bring out the lynch mob mentality on me for this one and as I write it, I know I’m not going to win favour with many fans but I suspect that some might agree with me. Many of you might have expected me to have The Force Awakens here, but I’m not interested in placing the Star Wars Greatest Hits Album at position no.5 because I believe that originality trumps old territory. Revenge of the Sith, part III of the prequel trilogy that regrettably shattered the illusion of the great George Lucas, is the best of that lot. It gives us a dark and complex story that shows us that Anakin (Darth Vader) didn’t just decide to jump ship and go bad. Instead with ROTS we see that he was deceived and ultimately forced to choose the dark side of the force. We see that his fear of the future was his undoing and that his anger, and eventually his confusion, his downfall. ROTS might still have that clunky direction but it is decent entry in the series.
The Last Jedi 2017
I can feel your anger. I am defenceless. Make your post in the comment section and strike point number 6 down with all your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete. Okay, I’ll admit, that was lame, but I know I’ll take heat for this as well. I did enjoy 2017’s The Last Jedi but for me it was a bit of a passing pleasure. I have little desire to revisit this film. It gave me great moments of classic Star Wars and on the whole, I felt that the story of Luke Skywalker was a fitting one. But there were a couple of gaping holes. In some ways I felt Luke deserved something grander to go out on and while I was no fan of the Snoke character, I felt that to suddenly do away with him after having built him up to be a formidable adversary was unwise and unfair to followers of the franchise. But Disney is treating Star Wars with respect and I have to admire that.
The Force Awakens 2015
Excitement was high for this one and the box office tally does not lie. The Force Awakens made over a billion dollars, cementing the need of the public and Disney’s confidence in its ability to deliver movies that were not just on the level. The Force Awakens continues the story of the characters that first grabbed the imagination of the public while also bringing in a slew of new characters. Technically this film replicates that classic look and feel of the original trilogy but in many ways feels like a re-tread as far as its storyline is concerned.
The Phantom Menace 1999
The battle for last place is one that could really have gone either way. It is my belief that position number 8 and 9 are interchangeable. However, The Phantom Menace beats Attack of the Clones by possessing one singular quality – the lightsabre duel between Darth maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi. That fight scene with the John Williams choir score has made it part of the cannon and showed us what a light sabre duel should really look like. The Phantom Menace failed for many reasons. There was an excessive reliance on digital effects and then of course there was the hype train. This was probably one of the most anticipated moments in cinematic history. The Phantom Menace had a lot riding on it and maybe that is ultimately why it didn’t meet expectations. It’s not a bad movie, heck, it’s still Star Wars; it’s just not a very exciting movie. And worst of all, it gave us Jar-Jar Binks.
Attack of the Clones 2002
Now I must be honest and admit that this is one I have not revisited and I have no interest in doing so. 2002’s Attack of the Clones is a turd nugget in a galaxy far, far away for a number of reasons. It gives a bratty and wooden performance from Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, justifiably referred to as Mannequin Skywalker. It gives us a convoluted plot surrounding the creation of what would eventually become the imperial fleet/storm troopers and then it gave us a love story that’s not unbelievable, but lacking in chemistry. I think a lot of it did rest on the shoulders of George Lucas. In the original trilogy he only directed the first one and afterwards hired different people to do the ensuing two. This is something that Disney has replicated and to great success.
I can only hope that I haven’t upset the applecart with some of my assumptions. If you’re not on board, please feel free to comment below. Before I call it a night on this one, I need to throw in a bit of shameless yet required advertising….
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