Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Star Wars- The Films Ranked

by Joe Brennan

I know I'm not the only one who is struggling to hide the excitement for December 15th. (ITS THIS FLIPPING THURSDAY) Most regular humans will see it only as the end of term and the start of the Christmas holidays.
But the more geeky of us will also know that it's the release date of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The first of the upcoming standalone spinoff films. I truly look forward to being able to splurge all of my views onto the Portsmouth Point but before then, I want to rank the films that have come so far.

So I will now put into order of quality while also giving my personal opinion on them.

Me: So here they are...all four-

Dark me: you really should mention the prequels

Me: Leave me alone

 Dark Me: Dewit


So here they are...all seven of them.

#7. The Phantom Menace

There'll be no surprise that this is at the bottom of my list. The one that traded galactic civil war for political trouble and Pod Racing. The prequel that disappointed a generation. A film where even Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Samuel L Jackson gave extremely poor performances.

 A film so dull that I can't even hate-watch it (the only enjoyment I can get from Ep III and II is laughing at them)
In The Phantom Menace, there's not really anything incompetent enough to laugh at like the other two prequels. Obviously JarJar is there but he's too annoying to make fun of. The plot manages to spend two hours doing absolutely nothing. Boring nothing. 

They ruined Yoda (either an awful new puppet or cartoon CG) and revealed the mystery behind the legendary, only referenced "Jedi council" - they're a bunch of boring people who sit around in chairs doing nothing but tell people they're doing their job wrong!

Thanks for the revelation, George.

Don't even get me started on Boss Nass...

I will give credit where it's due, the score is remarkable and the fight scene at the end is definitely the best of the prequel trilogy (I'll come on to why later)

An offensively bland and boring film that I recently re-watched and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to bring myself to do it again. 

#6. Revenge of the Sith

Okay this will either surprise or offend a lot of people because it is loved by many. Widely regarded as the best prequel film due to reasons I partially understand- it's the one where you get to see the turn to the dark side and Darth Vader and "epic" fight scenes - but it's written so poorly and shot so inconsistently, I can't believe people put it higher than The Force Awakens or at times, Return of the Jedi!

Revenge of the Sith is laughably appalling. I enjoy watching it purely because I hate every moment. People love it because it's "dark" but I think a better word is "edgy". 

With the whiniest portrayal of any character I've ever seen, Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skystalker is a creepy waste of space that makes me wish Obi Wan had finished him off. With cartoony CGI and a fight between "friends" that is supposed to be tragic but the bickering between the two of them through the entire prequel trilogy means there was no weight to the collapse of their relationship. Again, good score- that's a given when it comes to John Williams.

Side note- so many people feel as though lightsaber fights got better in the prequels, but when the characters are so cartoonish we don't care about flip and jump and focus more on hitting the opponent's lightsaber and looking cool while doing it. In the original trilogy, the lightsaber battle told a story and we cared about characters. There was weight and emotion. When Luke Skywalker knocks Vader to the floor and hacks at him ferociously at the thought of him hurting his sister, the passion and weight to that scene makes it immensely more powerful than Christopher Lee's CG stunt double doing a backflip. 
So something that many people consider a positive aspect of "Sith" (possibly an anagram), I would consider it another flaw.  I will say the performances from Ian McDiarmid and Ewan McGregor are the stand out parts of this film (and the whole trilogy). McGregor manages to turn clunky unrealistic dialogue and give it a charming and emotional delivery. The Emperor is a strong villain and seeing how he manipulated his way into power is one positive to this otherwise awful movie.

#5. (Seems too high up on this list) Attack of The Clones

It took me a long time to decide what I should put for 5th because I kind of hate both Sith and Clones equally. All the flaws I just listed about Revenge of the Sith are present in this one. Awful CG, poor use of the Jedi including Yoda. 
But the redeeming factors of this ones make it stand above Episode III for me- with better use of Obi Wan and some of the best world building and alien design, the film is shot a lot better than both of its prequel counterparts. I also think the score is enough to make the film watchable. The Jango Fett/ Obi Wan stand-off is satisfying and Anakin's slaughter of The Sand People is pretty well done as the start of his downfall. 

#4. Return of The Jedi

I am offended that this is right next to Clones (let's hope Rogue One acts as a divide). 

I love this film. It's shot so well, it features close to perfect and has special effects that hold up better than those of Revenge of the Sith (go back and watch them- I'm not joking) I'm struggling to point out flaws because I love it so much. 

A film that is such an incredible part of my childhood, it will always have a special place in my heart. But sadly it does have its flaws. The Ewoks are a bit silly and a simple fix to the seemingly unstoppable Empire. For the first time in the trilogy, Leia is sexualised and there's another Death Star (they criticised The Force Awakens for it but it happened in 1983 too!). That's what puts it lower than the others.

But with that flawless Jabba's Palace opening, the Emperor/Luke/Vader scene with that INCREDIBLE Lightsaber battle and the best Space Battle of the trilogy (ITS A TRAP), the force is definitely strong with this one. And the ending is so gosh darn satisfying and heartwarming. 

#3. Star Wars/A New Hope

I know, I know, this is blasphemy. The first one has to be the best, right? I love A New Hope so much and could probably recite the entire film to you. We owe that film so much for kick-starting the franchise. 
I would just like to argue that with the sole reason that this movie had to set up a whole new world of characters and plot points, the start is slower than the other films and the fact that it was initially meant as a solo (no pun intended) film means its ending was kind of cheesy and a little too perfect. 

The only reason the other two films are above this is because they throw you straight into the action and for me (I'm sorry) the banter is funnier and better in the Force Awakens (it was written for my generation, after all). And the only editions I've seen are the stupid special editions- I'm sure I'd feel differently had I seen this film in 1977. 

But with Alec Guinness' wonderful performance as Obi Wan, a nice rounded plot and a phenomenal score, I still love this film a lot and it's one of the reasons I look forward to Rogue One- hopefully it will lead straight into the opening of Episode IV so I can view them back to back. 

#2. The Force Awakens

I love this film. It was fun, it was gorgeous and it was Star Wars. I mean it had a very similar plot to the original movie but was in no way the same film. I mean yeah there's a Death Star and a robot carrying important information. But that's not the point of the film- the focus was on characters and their personal journeys. I said in the last one that the banter was more me. The special effects were close to flawless. 

While it wasn't shot like any Star Wars film to date (with close ups on facial reactions becoming more prominent), it was a refreshing modern take on old material. The banter was so funny and convincing, the new cast were so talented and their characters well written. 

Poe Dameron is charming and I'm excited to see what his future holds, Finn was funny and walked the difficult line of being comic relief as well as having some of the most emotional scenes. BB-8 is so adorable and cute and awwww.

 Kylo Ren is everything young Anakin should have been - torn between the Dark Side and The Light in a way that makes sense. Neglected by parents that are burdened with rebuilding the galaxy and unable to follow the great legacy of Darth Vader, why shouldn't he be a confused and angry young man?
And there's Rey- a very criticised young woman whose "flaw" is that she's too good at everything. 
She can speak Wookiee, she can cope in a fight, she can fly The Millennium Falcon and she shows the most powerful Force ability we've ever seen. It's understandable to be sceptical but think about it: here is a character that has been left alone on a desert planet. A girl who would have to be tough in order to survive, someone who has been surrounded by different creatures speaking different languages for years so would a good knowledge of alien dialect. Someone who has flown around Jakku and is obviously extremely strong in The Force so there's a reason she is a capable pilot! 

She manages to defeat Kylo Ren in a fight because Chewbacca had wounded the young man just minutes before. And Ben Solo was never trying to kill Rey, he was toying with her- testing her ability before trying to bring her to his master. But when Rey channelled her inner Force, she was able to momentarily overpower Ren.

Little Rey rant over, it's time to get back to the review. 

As well as the new cast, the returning characters are fantastic and handled so well. Harrison Ford was so alive and enthusiastic as Han Solo, it surprised everyone. 

Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew were refreshing to have back into the film world and Mark Hamill gave a solid 40 second performance. 


#1. The Empire Strikes Back

No surprise here. The finest movie in the entire franchise. Episode V. 
Yoda, Lando, The Emperor and one of the biggest cinematic reveals of movie history. 

The film (unlike A New Hope) needs no time to establish characters, we're thrown straight in to The Battle of Hoth- this is where they are, you can work out how they got here. With the beautifully menacing stop motion AT-ATs against the rebel Snow Speeders, Star Wars was back and better than ever. 

Also introduced in this film was the charming smooth-talking smuggler: Billy Dee Williams' Lando Calrissian. A man so torn between his friends and his people, he was forced (no pun intended) to make a choice with no easy option. 

And possibly one of the most iconic characters in all of history, Frank Oz's Muppet-turned-Master Yoda is one of the best puppet performances in any film. The Jedi who deceived Luke with silly behaviour while expertly monitoring his behaviour and deciding his potential. Then spurting relatable backwards wisdom that obviously helps Luke, but also gives some very important advice to all of us. 
The love story between Han and Leia is handled so well by screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan- he shows us realistic dialogue between a princess who refused to accept her feeling and a cocky smuggler who shows her how to open her heart. Awwww.

And to top it off, a Lightsaber battle  like we'd never seen before and an uncertain fate for our Heroes. Also...DARTH VADER IS LUKE'S FATHER!!!

This was a Star Wars film that kept true to the original but wasn't afraid to shake up the formula. It was truly an incredible piece of media. 

So that's it. I hope (no pun intended) you enjoyed the full force (pun intended) of my geek within. 
Hope you got to the end of the article because it was pretty long but oh well. That's all for now. 
Enjoy Rogue One (and the holidays I guess...)

And May The Force Be With You. 

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