DAR Films: Ranking The Star Wars Movies

By @CherchezLaPorsh 

There aren’t many movies that stand out as global phenomenas and have not only generated billions and billions of dollars, but have gained a following so profound that it has permeated genders, crossed every age group and set the standard for trilogies, prequals, sequels, conventions and just about everything else you can think of.  That phenomena was/is Star Wars, which was created and written by George Lucas way back some 40 years ago with the release of the “first” of what fans would believe was just another trilogy. However, it was hardly that. Star Wars turned out to be its own reality that would feature a galaxy, planets, inhabitants, languages, governments, war and of course the best part, The Force. The light side, the dark side and everything that comes with mastering and channelling it. What Star Wars did was introduce sci-fi fantasy in such a way that with each release fans were waiting for the next.

By 1983, we had three movies that were cleverly referred to as episodes four, five, and six. It left a ton of room to build on the story and of course with George Lucas being the genius he is, it set up the movies so he would have to fill in the blanks… which he did. He gave us six full features that maintained the continuity and storyline that he had created so many years prior. Eventually (in 2012), Disney would take over the Star Wars franchise and would build yet again on what Lucas had started. As a long time fan of Star Wars and a firm believer in my metachlorian count and force-sensitivity, the shift in “ownership” was felt almost immediately. What George Lucas created, wrote, and brilliantly executed with his team would remain the best.

Today I get to rank the entirety of the Star Wars movie franchise (Rogue One included) from my least to my most favorite and I’ll include favorite scenes. Let’s get right into it.

8.  Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

-Since this is the first installment in the sequel trilogy, this picks up 30 years after defeating Vader and the Empire, so things are a little different. We are introduced to a bunch of new characters that (I assume) will carry the next couple of movies. The storyline is decent, they’ve come across a partial map of where to find Luke and so the journey begins. It’s very Star Wars-esque and is a great starter to a new set of episodes. I loved the appearance of Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and of course the constant mention of Luke and the rest of the “old school” Jedis. What I wasn’t super impressed with was Kylo Ren and Rey. While I know they are new to the force and can’t quite understand it or use it, the fright and attempts at ignoring the visions are a bit weird. When you have access to lightsabers and you know the force exists… what did you think was going to happen? Also, I wish they had incorporated R2 much earlier. I’m sure I will appreciate this as the story unfolds, but for now it’s the least exciting.

Favorite Scene
The moment R2 awakens and we find out that the missing piece of the map to Luke is with him. This is both a great point for the next episode to pick up on and we know that R2 will be a key component moving forward.

7.  Rogue One (2016)

-This is the first in the anthology series and serves to fill the gap between episode 3 and 4. For this reason, it’s incredible to me. I noticed right away that the traditional text crawl of “in a galaxy far far away” was kept but that it wasn’t as drawn out as others, and it really did jump right into action. The plot: The rebellion learns of a weapon called the Death Star and they set out to steal the plans. Jyn Erso is on the frontlines, there’s a new set of planets: Jedha, Wobani, Yavin and with them a new set of characters. I think the writers did a great job of setting up the story to transition in to episode 4 perfectly. The cast on this was great, as Forrest Whitaker, Felicity Jones and of course the voices that were used in previous movies worked together seamlessly to make not only a entertaining movie, but coherent with impressive attention to details (the fighter pilot scenes when red leader and gold leader which were used in episode 4).

Favorite Scene
The appearance of Darth Vader on the rebel ship (of course) and he takes out his lightsaber and kills off several fighters only to see Princess Leia’s ship escaping.

6. Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (2002)

-Anakin and Padme are reunited and she is the senator of Naboo. Anakin is learning the ways of the force and is (attempting to) adhering to the Jedi Order. In this episode, there’s a lot going on which makes it so exciting. The war is on between the armies of the republic and the confederacy of independents led by Count Dooku. If that wasn’t enough, Anakin sees visions that his mother is dying and sets off to Tatooine to prevent/avenge her death and thus beginning to give himself to the dark side of the force. We also see Mace Windu and of course he saves the day by leading Jedis and clone troopers to save the imprisoned Anakin, Padme and Obi Wan. What makes this a fan favorite is the incredible presence of all the key Jedis but specifically Master Yoda engaging in a lightsaber battle with Count Dooku. This is definitely a fun episode to watch and as expected a great continuation and midway point of the prequel trilogy. While George Lucas wrote the original story for this one, he had someone else (Jonathan Hales from the Indiana Jones films) to polish the draft and finalize it. Both of them did great because this was a very well done movie.

Favorite Scene
I love Tatooine. It’s my favorite planet in any episode so of course the part where Anakin is with his mother as she dies in his arms and when he avenges her death is the standout scene for me. While Anakin’s methods go against the Jedi ways, his motives are rooted in nobility and love so it’s kind of sad to see how his future unfolds.

5. Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

-The original Star Wars that was renamed “A New Hope” some 4 years after release ranks in my number 5 spot. It’s a good original and proves that George Lucas is brilliant and had created something lifechanging in film. The cast and characters were new to us and of course there are so many memorable and “famous” scenes in this. Leia being held captive by Vader and the Imperial forces while the droid C-3PO and his companion R2D2 along with Luke and Han Solo are trying to rescue her make for a fun to watch and exciting film. This is where the restoration of freedom and justice as a foundation for the entire series and the Jedi becomes a running theme. This is the episode to thank for all of what Star Wars is known for: the “galaxy far far away” title crawl, Vader’s heavy breathing and voice along with Han Solo, and the original Jedi Knights and of course, the sand people. A lot goes on in this episode and it is a little hard to follow at first, but we quickly realize that each introduction storyline that is made is just a small piece of a six-episode puzzle.

Favorite Scene
When Luke, Obi Wan, the droids and Han Solo board the 60 year old Millennium Falcon as the troops fire shots to kill them and they manage to escape. I like this scene because of the dynamic of the characters and the suspense.

4. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

-After a 16-year hiatus from George Lucas, fans were given the highly anticipated first episode in the prequel trilogy. This is where the gaps start to become clear. Although we are taken back to the very beginning of the story, it was easy to follow along because we were already familiar with the characters and how they tied together, we were well versed in the force and pretty much everything else. This episode revolves largely around Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi, the Planet of Naboo and Jar Jar Binks, who is always involved in Star Wars debates. I like Phantom Menace for this reason, as it allows fans to form “what if” scenarios and of course predicting what caused the series of events that led to all subsequent events that took place (ex. IMO Qui Gon Jinn saving Jar Jar Binks is what ultimately puts Chancellor Palpatine in power which causes Anakin to embrace the dark side and so on). I know The Phantom Menace is usually the least favorite amongst fans, but it (obviously) is a vital element in the overall story.

Favorite Scene
When Qui Gon and Padme land on Tatooine and we meet the little boy known as Anakin. He befriends Padme, shows her the droid he created (C-3PO) and we see his extraordinary ability and keenness for flying planes, mechanics and learning. Qui Gon identifies Anakin as special and can sense the strong presence in the force and believes he is “The Chosen One”.

3. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

-This episode ranked on my top 3 after watching it a few times. There are two reasons why this is amazing and it’s simple: First, there is so much learning on how to channel The Force that it can hardly be ignored. We see Obi Wan’s spirit advise Luke to find Master Yoda and refine his jedi skills and he does. It’s our first introduction to how great of a Jedi Master Yoda really is and he becomes a favorite almost immediately. And second, the  most famous quote associated with Star Wars ever… this was the episode that confirmed that Vader was infact Luke’s father. The duel between Luke and Vader is epic and so Empire Strikes Back will forever be a fan favorite.

Favorite Scene
The infamous battle between Luke and Vader of course. The entire scene was set up perfectly and it was a plot twist of epic proportions. Luke's reaction is also pretty well displayed as denial and rage take over. I also like that at that point Leia “feels” Luke’s distress through the force and it ties in their connection pretty well also.

2. Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (1983)

-This episode takes place one year after Luke and Vader had the ultimate duel and now Luke must save Han Solo from Jaba the Hutt. To me this is the most critical episode, of course, it was the last one for so long, but it had some epic scenes and some vital ones at that. We see Yoda on his death bed (which hurts my heart every time I see it) communicating with Luke and urging him that he must face Vader again. We also see the spirit of Obi Wan saying the same. Luke also finds out that Vader is in fact Anakin his father AND that Leia is his twin sister, while Vader and the Chancellor attempt to sway Luke into following the dark side. The attempt fails of course and while the bouts and use of the Force are amazing, the Jedi prevail. This episode was the perfect “end”. It concluded each storyline and character. What it also did was allow for a new story to continue and revolve around Luke (which it is). George Lucas both ended the trilogy and allowed for expansion with one brilliantly written and executed episode.

Favorite Scene
Of course the fight between Luke and Vader. It’s the first time we see Luke react in such an angry and aggressive way that we ALMOST believe Vader and the Chancellor will be successful in “turning” Luke towards the dark side.

1. Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

-My absolute favorite episode in the entire franchise and it’s for one simple reason. It took me on an emotional roller coaster and here’s why: As much as I hate the Sith, I loved seeing the battle between Yoda and The Chancellor. That’s really what did it for me. As a fan, I went through every episode hearing about how amazing of a Jedi Yoda was and only saw him use his lightsaber in a battle once. As the story progresses, my dislike for the Chancellor increases so it’s such a victorious feeling to see Yoda fight him. Where the roller coaster begins is when Anakin kills off the younglings. One by one, the kids parish and it’s so evident how deeply rooted Anakin’s anger is and how easily he is manipulated by the Siths. We lose Mace Windu in this episode as well which is saddening of course and while it’s frustrating to see Anakin spiral out of control, it’s for the betterment of the story. Episode III had a ton of excitement and allowed for a fantastic transition to “A New Hope”. Once again, George Lucas flexes his ingenuity and talent and fans are given another incredible end to a trilogy.

Favorite Scene
Without hesitation, the lightsaber battle between Chancellor Palpatine and Master Yoda.

There you have it, my Star Wars ranks! I never thought I would be a fan of movies so far from reality and so deeply rooted in fantasy and sci-fi, but after watching the original trilogy I was hooked. George Lucas truly created a story that can appeal to anyone. Whether it’s the metaphoric take on reality or simply the make believe galaxy, it really is hours and hours of excitement, action, adventure and brilliance.



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