Sunday, April 19, 2015


Since a certain trailer created so much hubbub this week, I thought now would be an idea time to kick off a new feature on this blog called Rankings. And the first films to be ranked will be the Star Wars saga.

In these posts, I will capsule-review every film in a series in chronological order. Then, at the end of the posts, I reveal how I would rank the movies, from best to worst. (Worst occasionally being a relative term,)

That's important to state, for a couple of reasons. First, sometimes a series is good enough that even the "worst" films are pretty good. Nolan's Dark Knight movies come to mind. Yeah, the third one has a few problems, but the overall experience (something too often discounted in an age of nit-picking) is still pretty powerful. 

Second, when it comes to Star Wars, I'm something of a prequel apologist. (Relativity rears its head here.) I recognize the reviled movies have their fair share of problems. Maybe more than their fair share sometimes. That said, I still find more to enjoy than to eviscerate. Again, it's the overall experience that counts. Besides, isn't it more fun to revel in what's good than wallow in what's bad?

(Don't bother quoting  me Red Letter Media. I've seen all those reviews and they make a lot of good points. Doesn't mean they're always right. And the whole serial killer character gets as tiresome as Jar-Jar.)

So that established, in chronological order:

Star Wars: I'm going against the grain here - many people would say Empire, not without justification. But for me, nothing captures the thrill of discovery inherent in that first film. It's especially powerful when you're all of 6.

The Empire Strikes Back: Yes, it probably is the best of the films, in that it has the fewest flaws and the least amount of cheesiness. And the big reveal was spoiled when impatient me just HAD to read the comic adaptation first. Still, the whole "That is why you fail" scene is one of the most powerful statements about belief in all of cinema.

Return of the Jedi: Great fun, as usual, and yet I can't escape the feeling that a lot of the cast are kind of coasting, as if to say, "Let's get this silliness overwith." There's a certain laziness to the movie that ends not so much with suspense as it does with certainty. But it gets there in thrilling fashion.

The Phantom Menace: Yes, a little of Jar-Jar goes a LONG way. Yes, Jake Lloyd's performance is so wooden that Lucas might as well have cast Pinocchio in the part. (Although this is more on Lucas than Lloyd, who I think tried hard, but needed a better actor's director than Lucas to succeed.) And yet, the Ben Hur-inspired pod race (which got applause the first time I saw it) and the final light saber battle (the best in all six movies) are good enough to make it quite enjoyable.

Attack of the Clones: George Lucas can't write romance like trees can't fly. But as was the case with the first movie, snazzy action scenes save it. There's probably no better director than Lucas at cross-cutting between scenes.

Revenge of the Sith: My unpopular opinion here is that I like this better than Jedi. The dialogue still clunks, and Lucas fumbles a couple times in the all-important finale (NOOOOOO) but the intensity of the story still holds sway, as all parties, Lucas included, commit to making a rousing finale (until this December, at least.)

My Rankings: