Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ranking the Star Wars Films (And My Favorite Scenes)

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out tomorrow (and tonight in many locations) all I've had is Star Wars on my mind. So I might as well take a look back at the first six movies, rank em, and talk about my favorite scenes and moments.

6. Attack of the Clones

I'm not sure I've been able to sit all the way through Attack of the Clones since I first watched it back in 2002. Even rewatching it this past week, I found myself bored, distracted, and ultimately just waiting for the one good scene in the movie. Yoda vs. Count Dooku. We finally got to see Yoda as the bad-ass that he was and it's hilarious how it starts off with him walking around with a cane. But when he opens his robe and summons his lightsaber, watch out!

5. The Phantom Menace

I know a lot of people genuinely love The Phantom Menace. And that's fine. But I'm not one of them. I remember the anticipation for this film was off the charts. And after my first viewing, I tried to convince myself that it was awesome. I think the anticipation high was giving me delusions of grandeur because after a few more viewings, the film became less and less awesome. It actually looks kind of dated now. And overall the movie just isn't that good. But it did give me a couple of memorable moments. The pod race scene is still thrilling to me. It's exciting, suspenseful, and I got a real feeling of speed from it. And of course Darth Maul. Excellent villain. Duel of the Fates is a terrific theme. Amazing fight scene with Obi-Wan, but he gets defeated way too easily. But seriously, how can you not love a double bladed lightsaber!

4. Revenge of the Sith

The strongest film of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith finally connects the dots. It's a downer of a movie. Anakin finally gives in to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine gets his face melted and seizes control of the galaxy, Order 66 wipes out the Jedi, and don't forget about the younglings! But my favorite scene is Anakin vs Obi-Wan. There's some seriously good saber work going on here, and while it does eventually turn into a video game level, it succeeds in getting the point across that Anakin is pissed off. (I'm also noticing a trend where my favorite moments from the prequels were all lightsaber battles...)

3. Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi haters be damned! This was the first Star Wars film I saw in the theater where I actually understood what was going on! I knew the stakes. The Empire was winning. Han was captured. Luke was beaten. How the hell are the good guys going to win?!? The movie is just super fun to watch. I love the speeder bikes. I don't mind that the primitive Ewoks managed to defeat the more advanced Stormtroopers. And Han Solo is just in classic form. But my absolute favorite scene is the battle above the Sarlacc pit. Specifically when Luke gestures to R2-D2, vaults off the plank and gets his lightsaber all while the Star Wars theme starts playing. Great swashbuckling times which were reenacted a lot when I was a kid!

2. The Empire Strikes Back

It's widely regarded as the best Star Wars movie, and they're probably right. The Empire Strikes Back is dark, deep, and it holds a special place in my heart as the first movie I ever saw in the theater. (I was 5 and had no idea what was going on) But it's at number 2 on my list for one simple reason. It's a downer of a movie. The Empire did indeed strike back. Luke had a harrowing family reunion and was literally disarmed. Han's fate was up in the air, and the rebellion was close to defeat. But there's a lot to love about this film. Luke's training, the Millennium Falcon on the run, Vader's trap at Cloud City, Han being frozen in carbonite. But the scene I will always remember is the Battle of Hoth. I regard it as my first memory however fuzzy it may be. The sight of giant Imperial Walkers trudging through the snow and their subsequent defeat by means of tripping will always be a fond memory for me.

1. Star Wars

Nope, not calling it A New Hope. Star Wars is what started it all and it's my favorite in the series. You don't need me to tell you why it's a great film. It's almost perfect. It's immensely entertaining, infinitely rewatchable, and it's an absolute super, good, fun time. I even remember watching this in a 4th grade English class learning about story structure and turning points. To pick out one favorite moment is almost impossible, but for me it has to be the film's climax when Han comes in to save the day during the Death Star Assault. And looking back, I love Vader's reaction of "Wat!" which in today's speak would have been, "Dafuq!"

Where will The Force Awakens end up on this list? Only time will tell. A good rule of thumb for me is whether I consider it rewatchable or not. I hope I can't wait to see it again instead of "I'll watch it again when it's on ABC Family and I can surf the Internet while I'm watching it..." =P

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