With “Star Wars The Force Awakens” being the 7th “Star Wars” film, where does it rank?
As we’ve taken a vow not to spoil Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I will save any hint of “spoilery” discussion until everyone has had a fair chance to see the film. But until then, I’d like to briefly give a spoiler-free discussion of where “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks on my list of “Star Wars” film favorites.
Keep in mind that this is my opinion but it is the opinion of someone who is well-versed in the “Star Wars” film franchise. I’m not a bandwagon fan and “Star Wars” has been part of my life since early childhood (feel free to challenge me). But before we start I will give my personal ranking of the “Star Wars” films prior to “The Force Awakens.
Prior to “The Force Awakens”
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This is a given for most true fans. “Empire Strikes Back” had a constant change of venue, the characters established stronger relationship, and one of the most action-oriented, iconic lightsaber battles in the franchise. Not to mention the big reveal that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father.
2. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
I know many hate the Ewoks but their presence isn’t strong enough to overshadow the culmination of Luke becoming a Jedi Knight. The rescue of Han Solo from Jabba, Luke’s new lightsaber, and the final battle between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor definitely rank this film above “A New Hope” for me. Sure the Ewoks could be a bit annoying but Darth Vader finding redemption through his son, that’s a climactic moment with true emotional depth.
3. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
The introduction of our favorite characters occurs as we set forth on a cinematic journey almost 4 decades long. It was a revolutionary film for its time with a creative use of practical special effects unlike anything anyone had ever seen. While my opinion of “A New Hope” places it at the bottom of the original trilogy, it falls closely behind “Return of the Jedi.” This is where things began and also the inspiration for where to go next.
4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
When comparing the prequels, “Revenge of the Sith” stands on top for a few reasons. Despite the horrible performance given by Hayden Christensen, it had its moments that made it an enjoyable film for some “Star Wars” fans. The battles were actually pretty epic. Whether it was Yoda versus Palpatine, Mace Windu versus Palpatine, Obi-Wan versus Anakin, or even Obi-Wan versus General Grievous, the action was plentiful. It also had the strongest connection to the original trilogy by linking stories together and the birth of Darth Vader.
5. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Jake Lloyd as Anakin was annoying. Jar Jar Binks was incredibly annoying. Many things were very annoying with “The Phantom Menace” but there were also elements that people still reference today. The final battle between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan was one of the best choreographed lightsaber battles we have ever seen. Accompanied with an amazing score “Duel of the Fates,” this lightsaber battle puts this film above “Attack of the Clones.” Unfortunately the two characters that everybody loved died as we saw Qui-Gon die at the hands of Darth Maul and Darth Maul die at the hands of Obi-Wan.
6. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
This is the only “Star Wars” film that I have trouble watching. I can tolerate the other prequels but “Attack of the Clones” is so bland and introduces us to a plethora of poor dialogue as spoken by Hayden Christensen. The chemistry between Padme and Anakin is awkward, the battles are lackluster (including the final Dooku fight), and there’s not one true iconic moment that stands out. This is the film I would call the “awkward teenage years” of the prequels.
Now How Does The Force Awakens Rank in Comparison?
2 (ish). Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
I know it’s difficult to see a Disney production placed in the rankings of the original trilogy, but “The Force Awakens” was truly a film for the fans. It pays its respects to the other films by capturing the essence of the story but then establishes its own story with unique characters that we’re intrigued by. The blend of special effects with practical effects works fluidly and we get a well-rounded set of action sequences that all fans can enjoy. Bravo J.J. Abrams, only a fan like yourself could set the franchise back on track for the fans that adore “Star Wars” so much.
I may be undecided on this film’s place in comparison to “Return of the Jedi” but for now I’ll say that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is holding that number 2 spot in my rankings.