Dec 22, 2019

The Final Chapter

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
The story is now complete.  Reviews have been mixed, as is often the case with Star Wars films.  I've now seen it twice and enjoyed it.  I'll always wonder how the sequel trilogy that George Lucas had in mind would have compared to the Disney sequel trilogy that we have, but at the end of the day, these are the movies that we have and I'm very happy that we have them.  There are most certainly things about this movie that I think could have been handled much better.  For example, the Rose Tico character was almost completely disregarded.  She was a breath of fresh air in The Last Jedi, and it's both sad and unfortunate to see her get the Jar Jar Binks treatment in the final chapter of the saga.  Still, I enjoyed this movie for what it was.

Now that the entire story has been told, fans have taken to the internet to rank the Star Wars Universe in order of most to least favorite movies in the series.  I've been watching Star Wars for my entire life, so I have a love and appreciation for all of these films.  With that in mind, here is my ranking after seeing the final chapter.
  1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    • This is a perfect movie in every way.  Yes, even the part where Leia kisses Luke.  Neither of them knew they were siblings, and it's obvious that she did it just to spite Han Solo, so all of the hand wringing about this scene over the past 40 years has been pointless.
  2. Episode IV: A New Hope
    • The only reason that this sits at #2 is because of the incredible ending of Empire.  Like Episode V, this is a perfect movie in every way... as long as you're watching the original theatrical release, before George Lucas made his ridiculous edits and additions.
  3. Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
    • This was my favorite Star Wars movie when I was a child.  It came out shortly before my third birthday, and it's the film of the original trilogy that I've seen the most often.  Once again, I refer to the original theatrical release, not the one in which George Lucas destroyed the music and dropped in a bunch of unnecessary and pointless CGI additions.
  4. Rogue One
    • I cannot say enough positive things about this film.  As much as I enjoy the rest of the movies on this list, Rogue One is by far my favorite Star Wars film that came after the original trilogy.  It has a magical and adventurous spirit and fantastic characters which blend perfectly with the time period in which it's set in the universe.  Also, Chirrut Imwe and K-2SO are among my favorite characters in the series.  It's a shame they're only in one movie.
  5. Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
    • This was the dark movie of the prequel trilogy much in the same way that The Empire Strikes Back was the dark part of the original trilogy.  It's far from perfect, but it is by far the best movie in the prequels and does as good of a job as possible to show the transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader and the rise of the Empire.
  6. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
    • This was a great film in and of itself, and Rose Tico is one of my favorite characters in any Star Wars film.  I also love the idea that Rey is just a regular girl, not someone's daughter or clone in hiding, and that there is a potential for anyone to be a Jedi.  However, it's hard to ignore the power struggle in the sequel trilogy.  The Force Awakens set a story in motion, then The Last Jedi felt as if it attempted to undo the framework and tell a different story.  Then, the most recent film disregarded and re-wrote the plot points of The Last Jedi.  It's as if each movie in the new trilogy is part sequel and part reboot, and while they're all enjoyable on their own, they don't flow together and they make for a disconnected overall story.
  7. Episode VII: The Force Awakens
    • It's difficult to rank this one.  There are parts of this movie that I absolutely love, including most of the new characters - particularly Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren and BB-8.  I especially love how Kylo's conflict is the reverse of his uncle and grandfather - where he feels the temptation of the light, but fights against it to remain with the Dark Side.  However, the overall plot of the First Order was pretty lame.  They could have gone with mind control, a killer virus, some sort of enslavement like The Borg, or anything else.  Instead, they created a bootleg Death Star called Starkiller Base and had it destroy five random planets in a soulless copy of Alderaan.  Additionally, Captain Phasma came across to me as just plain silly and not an intimidating villain in the slightest.  I really do enjoy Episode VII because it brought the Star Wars universe back to life, but they got lazy with the overall story of the First Order vs. The Resistance and it turned what could have been a great film into a pretty good film.
  8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
    • I can understand why this wasn't as big of a hit at the box office as it was expected to be.  The prequel trilogy left a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of Star Wars fans, and it's easy to understand how a spinoff movie that takes place before the original trilogy in the timeline could be unfairly associated with them.  Also, it's not easy to accept someone other than Harrison Ford in the titular role.  However, this was a very enjoyable story, and it's unfortunate that it's poor reception has probably killed off any chance at a sequel to see how the story plays out.
  9. Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
    • The latest film in the series moves very quickly and wraps up most of the stories in the sequel trilogy.  I don't want to give any spoilers so I'm going to keep this short, but I will say that it's not perfect, but most of its problems are a result of the fact that the sequel trilogy isn't a single story, but three disconnected stories that conflict with each other.
  10. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
    • It's impossible to overstate the negative effect that Jar Jar Binks and the other Gungan characters have on this movie.  Binks and Boss Nass drag down every scene that they are a part of with juvenile attempts at humor that stick out like a sore thumb.  Every second they're on the screen yanks me out of the Star Wars universe and into a late 90's Nickelodeon kids show that needlessly panders to the children in the audience.  Despite this, it's a solid foundation of the Anakin Skywalker story and it features one of the most brilliant villains in the universe.  As much as I enjoy the pod race and the battle with Darth Maul, my favorite scene is when Qui-Gon Jinn is sitting outside at night on Tatooine and speaking with Obi-Wan on the communicator about Anakin's midichlorian count.  I wish I could have seen how that part of the story would turn out.
  11. Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
    • I have a hard time ranking this at the bottom because Attack Of The Clones has some of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars universe - particularly those in which Obi-Wan travels around the galaxy as a detective who uncovers the existence of the clone army and Sifo-Dyas.  However, it also has some of the most cringe-worthy scenes in the series and one of the most awkward and poorly written love stories ever told.  There is no reason in the world that Padmé Amidala would fall for those lines or the dork who fed them to her.