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The Review strikes back: A quest to find the best Star Wars movie

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The Review ranks Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as the best of the nine Star Wars movies.

In a galaxy far far away, there lies the intense struggle to find the best “Star Wars” movie to watch for May 4. With over nine episodes in the “Star Wars” cinematic universe, finding a place to start is a difficult yet crucial decision. Luckily, we have put together a ranking of the best “Star Wars” movies to make your decision easier.

1. The Empire Strikes Back – “No, I am your father.”

“The Empire Strikes Back” is, without a doubt, the greatest “Star Wars” movie of all time. Episode V begins with a bang, featuring Luke Skywalker traversing the snowy planet of Hoth and making us wonder – what happened? Despite having defeated the Empire in “A New Hope,” why were the rebels on Hoth? Filmmaker George Lucas captures Skywalker’s character development perfectly: We see Skywalker feeling conflicted as he follows in the footsteps of his father. We also see Luke struggling with the dark side as he trains with the backward-speaking lovable Yoda. What lands Episode V in the number one spot, however, are the jaw-dropping revelations, including Darth Vader’s iconic confession that he is Luke’s father. As the second installment in the original trilogy, “The Empire Strikes Back” continues to defy and revolutionize movie production, choosing to have the antagonists defeat the heroes. “The Empire Strikes Back” stands out as the number one for taking a significant leap in the cinematic universe, solidifying Lucas’s legacy and leading the sci-fi genre into what it is today.

2. A New Hope – “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope”

In this film, Lucas crafts an intricate universe filled with millions of spacecrafts, creatures and robots. On top of  the fantastic music, storytelling and characters, Episode IV stands out for its groundbreaking computer-generated imagery. In the 1960s and 1970s, CGI was just starting to popularize. The special effects in “A New Hope” give us a glimpse of the intricate and advanced technology incorporated in the “Star Wars” franchise. This movie elevated the Sci-fi genre to a whole new level, and the effort put into the costumes, sound design and CGI truly set a precedent for a successful franchise.

3. Return of the Jedi – “It’s a trap!”

Ending the original trilogy, “Return of the Jedi” remains a fan-favorite for its conclusion of the beloved franchise. From the slimy Jabba the Hutt to adorable Ewoks, Lucas pushes puppetry and character design to another level in this movie. What makes this movie truly memorable, however, is that it ties off Luke’s development into a Jedi, as he redeems his father, rejects the dark side and finally defeats Palpatine, the main antagonist. The themes and messages presented in this film make it more than just a movie, but rather a lesson about redemption, maturity and heroism. 

4. Revenge of the Sith – “You were the chosen one!”

Revenge of the Sith” was the last of the prequel trilogy. The film portrays Anakin’s internal conflict that ultimately results in his fall to the dark side. Episode VI is also filled with action scenes that keep us engaged. The Jedi duel between Anakin and Obi-wan captivates every viewer. remaining fresh in every “Star Wars” fans’ memory. The action in the “Revenge of the Sith” is also enthralling – it grasps the attention of every audience. What makes Episode III fall short of the top three is merely the absence of character development. This movie is all action and does not pause to express Anakin’s gradual frustration compared to the movies in the original trilogy.

5. Phantom Menace – “He is the chosen one. He … will bring balance … train him.”

“The Phantom Menace” introduces the prequel trilogy to viewers, and it answers critical questions: who was Anakin Skywalker before he was Darth Vader? What was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s relationship with Anakin? Lucas perfects this movie as an introduction to the rest of the prequel trilogy and eventually the entire blockbuster movie series. This movie, however, is ranked the lowest out of the original 6 movies – not because the movie is bad, but because the story is comparatively weaker and on a smaller-scale.

6. Attack of The Clones – “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.”

This movie introduces the love bond between Anakin and Padme that ultimately results in Anakin becoming Darth Vader and the birth of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Similar to Episode V, Lucas skillfully portrays how Anakin struggles with the powers of the Force. Lucas provides the audience with multiple events that fuel Anakin’s frustration and vengeance with the Jedi Order, including Shmi’s death, the duel against Count Dooku and intense nightmares. The “Attack of the Clones” also introduces the clone trooper, the beginning of the Death Star and Jango Fett, the notorious bounty hunter and father of Boba Fett. 

7. The Force Awakens – “That’s Not How The Force Works!”

“The Force Awakens” is a nostalgic throwback to what fans had been missing for decades. The movie is filled to the brim with enjoyable moments from the return of the galaxy’s most iconic duo: Han Solo and Chewbacca. Yet this movie is a disappointing kickoff as the new franchise fails to differentiate itself enough from the original trilogy. There are many parallels, such as the orphan on a desert planet, death of a mentor, insane plan to disarm a planet-destroying weapon and extinction of the Jedi, ultimately creating an unoriginal story. Furthermore, the plot is shallow, and the characters are never developed. Finally, “The Force Awakens” destroys the meaning of lightsabers. Lightsabers disappointingly go from beautiful and destructive weapons in duels between the Sith and Jedi to a heavy stick that leaves negligible scars. 

8. The Last Jedi – “Amazing. Every Word Of What You Just Said Was Wrong.”

If “The Force Awakens” killed lightsabers, “The Last Jedi” butchered the entire universe. The second installment of the Sequels falls short in every “Star Wars” fan’s heart. Their complete variation from the original continuity of the story and lore results in a confusing and disorientating movie. Poor writing leads to a cowering Luke, who despite being a brave intergalactic hero in the original trilogy, suddenly goes into hiding and decides to live a hermit’s life. This sudden change in the use of both the Force and Hyperspace spoils the “Star Wars” legacy. Beyond butchering the consistency of the story, the acting fails to portray amusement or seriousness at their necessary moments, putting another nail in the Disney “Star Wars” coffin.

9. The Rise of Skywalker – “Somehow Palpatine returned.”

“The Rise of Skywalker” somehow ends the Disney “Star Wars” trilogy with an even worse story than both its predecessors combined. Disney’s shameless cash-grab disappointed any remaining fans, and the several inconsistencies of the continuity led many to wonder if this was the same beloved universe they had been watching for years. How is the second Death Star still in one piece when in Episode VI, the Return of the Jedi, the Death Star shatters into a million pieces? Why undo Anakin’s legacy by bringing back Palpatine, twisting the prophecy of The Chosen One? If Force healing was such a common power that Rey, an inexperienced and untrained jedi, was capable of performing, why couldn’t Padme be saved in Episode III by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi? After three missed swings Disney strikes out, and it becomes evidently clear that the sequels carries little to none of the ingenuity, passion and creativity of the original movies. 


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About the Contributors
William Liang
William Liang, Staff Writer
William Liang ('27) joined The Review in 2023 as a freshman. He is Richard's brother. He likes ice cream and, for his first job, he wants to work at Baskin-Robbins.
Nathan Kim
Nathan Kim, Staff Writer
Nathan Kim ('26) joined The Review in 2022 as a freshman. He enjoys listening to one song on repeat until he gets sick of it, and his favorite movie is Pacific Rim.

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    ShuyuMay 5, 2024 at 6:52 AM

    Very well written! As a “Star War” illiteracy, I now had pictures in mind for how each star war movie looks like and feels like. 👍