For me personally, Star Wars is as close to a perfect film series as you can get – well, the ORIGINAL trilogy anyway. The prequels – I can take or leave. The Star Wars movies (along with Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones) are my favourite film series of all time – as a child and even today. Anyone who has read my Draconica series will notice the Star Wars influence and references I like to put in there. I love the characters, story, themes and cool and unique space ship and alien designs. Not to mention I have a claim to fame that I was once in a Pantomime with Leslie Schofield – who played a Death Star Commander in A New Hope. And yes, as you can probably guess, I am stoked to see The Force Awakens!
So in honour of the new Star Wars film, I decided to re-watch the films and pick out my favourite and least favourite moments. Whilst I do love Star Wars and think it has a great story, I gotta be honest – not EVERYTHING about it is perfect. So today, in a special DOUBLE Top Five! I look at the Top Five scenes that I love the most from the Star Wars film and the top five scenes that I don’t.
For this list I’ll be focusing only on the main film series – The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sity, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I won’t be including The Clone Wars or any of the TV series such as Rebels (though they are awesome in their own right). And no, I will NOT include the Holiday Special – just because.
Keep in mind that, like all my lists, this is just my opinion. I WILL try and explain why I like/dislike these scenes so that I'm not just hating on them for the sake of it. Oh and in case you haven’t seen any of the above films – be aware that SPOILERS follow!
First of all, why not dive into the Dark Side of the Force and look at the Top Five things I didn’t like from the Star Wars films.
Any scene featuring Jar Jar Binks
I’m fully aware that it’s a bit of a cliché to say you hate Jar Jar – but honestly what is there to like about him? He’s annoying as hell, his voice is just painful to listen to – and honestly what does he really contribute to the story other than just an attempt at comedy antics? Note how I said attempt! This guy is so unpopular that when the fan edit of The Phantom Menace was released (called The Phantom Edit), most of Jar Jar scenes were trimmed or taken out. And for me, the less we see of him the better. The hate I feel for Jar Jar is almost as much as the hate I feel for Olaf in Frozen – but at least HE contributed to the story in some way. Jar Jar I honestly think they could have removed and the film would have been a million times better without him!
Recently, I’ve been reading fan theories of how Jar Jar may secretly have been a Sith Lord – or even a Jedi. In fact, Jar Jar was supposedly going to BE a Sith Lord when they did the prequel films – but the fan backlash was so intense that they scrapped that idea. And I think that is the best thing they could have done. However, if it IS revealed that Jar Jar is secretly a Sith – be assured that furniture WILL get overturned in my house.
Thankfully, we only have to suffer through Jar Jar in The Phantom Menace and only brief appearances in the other films, hence why I’m putting that low on my list. And honestly, he isn’t the worse thing to happen to Star Wars – as the rest of my list will hopefully show.
Killing off Darth Maul
(The Phantom Menace)
And then they kill him off.
WHAT. THE. HELL?
Ok, this could just be me nitpicking, but I would have loved it if they kept him in the story a LOT longer. Maybe they could have used him as an enemy for Anakin, and a tool for Palpatine to gradually move Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force. In this film, he just seems to be more a plot device for getting rid of Qui-Gon and then getting killed off himself. Seemed like a waste of a good character.
Obviously, the expanded universe gives this guy plenty of backstory and a bigger role – but I would have preferred it if he was given a bit more of a role in the films. I guess Darth Maul is an example of George Lucas having a great character – but not really sure what to do with him.
Anakin attacks the Tusken village (Attack of the Clones)
So as we know, in Attack of the Clones, Anakin has dreams about his mother being in pain – which eventually leads to him going back to Tatooine, where he finds out that his mother has been taken by Tusken Raiders. He finds her in their village, having been tortured – she then dies, he goes bat**** crazy and kills the whole village.
Now this WOULD be a dramatic scene, but for me I had a few problems. Firstly, the scene just felt rushed. It basically goes like this, Anakin finds his mother, they talk, she dies, Anakin goes on a killing spree – with little to no build up or pace. It just felt a little anti-climatic and the next bit just looked brutal for the sake of being brutal. I understand that she had been tortured and he wanted revenge – but doing it this way just wasn’t enough of a justification in my eyes.
Here’s what I think would have made the scene better. First, Anakin finds his mother – but rather than her dying straight away, he tries to get her out of the village – but a Tusken throws a spear or something, which hits and kills his mother, already weak from the wounds. Then Anakin kills the Tusken, but in a bloody rage he then proceeds to slaughter the whole village. That would have been MUCH more dramatic in my eyes as he actually would have seen them hurt the one person he cared about. It also would have added a moral element to it as some could have argued Anakin was right to do this, whereas others argue against it.
Maybe I’m wrong about this and I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me here – but this scene just didn’t feel as dramatic as it could have done. It just felt rushed and poorly handled – which is a shame as this potentially could have been one of the most dramatic moments in Star Wars history. However, what I find even MORE disappointing is the scene following it.
Padme’s reaction afterwards
(Attack of the Clones)
I think my biggest problem with Padme is that occasionally, she says or does something really stupid – and her reactions to certain things are just facepalming. This is one of them. After Anakin whines about how Obi-Wan doesn’t treat him right, he then tells Padme how he murdered the Tusken village – admitting he killed women and children. How does Padme react to this?
“To be angry is to be human.”
Ok, I have TWO problems with this. Firstly, I know what she says is correct – but if you remember in The Phantom Menace, anger is one of the paths to the Dark Side, which the Jedi always try and avoid. And Padme, having hung around with Jedi for so long, should know that. Secondly, he just admitted he killed an entire village – even women and children! And her reaction was basically “Meh, **** happens.” I’m sorry, but this is NOT a reaction you would expect from someone with two brain cells between them. I understand that Padme has feelings for Anakin and she believes there is good in him – but surely this should have been a clue that something was not right with him.
I would have also added the “Padme dies of a broken heart” scene as well – as that scene was equally as poor in my eyes (however there have been a number of blog posts explaining that she did NOT in fact die this way - but that's a story for another time). But this one stands out just that little bit more for me. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for certain things – but this just felt wrong to me.
Darth Vader goes NOOOOOOOO!!! (Revenge of the Sith)
Revenge of the Sith is what many consider to be the best of the Star Wars prequels – but I disagree with that. Oh don’t get me wrong, it has a LOT of cool things about it. It’s dark, has some awesome fight scenes and also shows Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader. Which should have been the most awesome moment ever – and yet Lucas managed to ruin this!
So after an epic (yet slightly overlong) fight scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin, Anakin is brought badly burnt and damaged to Emperor Palpatine – where he is converted into the iconic Darth Vader, even complete with James Earl Jones as the voice. You can imagine how I felt at this point – I was fangasming like crazy. I mean, sure, Anakin was a whinny little brat throughout the films, but this was gonna make up for all his misgivings. However, Lucas managed to even screw this up, by having Vader scream NOOOOO! as everything around him was destroyed.
This should have been the shining moment of the prequels. It should have been where everything came together in the most dramatic way possible. Instead, we had a cheesy, over the top and – dare I say it – insulting scene to Darth Vader.
I can forgive George Lucas for introducing that stupid Midi-chlorian idea. I can forgive him for the annoying robots of the Separatists. I can overlook the fact that Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen made a terrible on-screen couple. I can even JUST ABOUT forgive him for Jar-Jar Binks. But what I will NOT forgive is turning Darth Vader, one of my favourite villains, into a laughing stock.
Just like with the Tusken village being slaughtered, I have a BETTER way this scene could have gone. Anakin becomes Vader. He asks where Padme is, Palpatine says “You killed him”. He goes silent for a few moments – then says “I see...” BOOM! Move to the Dark Side complete. Not only would this show that Anakin has now gone (or at least it appeared so) but it would preserve his integrity.
Seriously, I thought the “You are tearing me apart, Lisa” scene from The Room has more emotional and less cheesy scene than this one (yes I am being serious). So for ruining what should have been the highlight of all the prequels and for making me rage uncontrollably, I consider this scene my least favourite of all the films – and in my eyes, the WORST moment in the Star Wars films.
But I don’t want to end this post on a bad note. After all, The Dark Side is NOT the stronger of the Force – and what kinda Star Wars fan would I be if I only focused on the negatives! So I’m gonna remember how awesome Star Wars is and look at the Top Five best scenes from the Star Wars films! The Force is strong with these ones!
Darth Vader’s first entrance
(A New Hope)
Vader first arrives after Leia’s ship has been attacked. The interior of the ship is brimming with fog left over from explosions and blaster fire, the white Storm Troopers almost blending in and hard to see. But when Vader appears through the fog, dressed in black, it feels like Dracula moving through the mist, sending chills down your spine. Not only is a huge and imposing figure, but his mechanical voice (provided by James Earl Jones) and asthmatic breathing makes him look like he’s walked straight out of a nightmare. Only a mere few seconds later, Vader is seen choking a rebel to death with one hand, then throwing his body across like it was paper – it’s hear we know that he is not someone to mess with. Later in the film he is seen Force choking someone with just the power of his mind!
There’s a good reason why Vader is so iconic as a villain – it’s because of how unstoppable he appears. An emotionless, mechanical beast with all the power in the universe seemingly at his fingertips. Everyone is terrified of him – and those that aren’t, and go against him, are quick to feel his wrath. And as it’s shown later in the films, Vader isn’t one to let mistakes go – as he kills an Imperial officer just for coming out of Hyperspace near a rebel base too early.
As far as entrances go, it’s both grand and imposing. It shows that you don’t necessarily need to have an over the top entrance for a bad guy – sometimes just the movements and actions of the character alone can be enough to tell you what they are like. The Dark Side is most definitely strong with this one!
Yoda’s Light Saber battle
(Attack of the Clones)
Now “Love Yoda I do,” but I have to be honest, the idea of someone so small being an expert in a lightsaber fight was somewhat comical. I could never imagine someone like him being so good with a lightsaber. But in Attack of the Clones, we all got to see what Yoda is capable of. And it is the most awesome thing I have ever seen!
The build up to this is pretty dull if I’ve being honest. The lightsaber fight between Anakin, Obi-Wan and Count Dooku just looks tired – and the dialogue is just, well not up to scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christopher Lee, but he just looks bewildered in this scene. When Yoda appears it MORE than makes up for it. Firstly they have a battle of Force powers, whilst exchanging insults in what feels like an anime movie. Then the lightsabers come out, the first time in the movies we have seen Yoda fight.
Seeing Yoda, a small, green pointed eared creature, jump and move around Count Dooku is just one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I dunno why, but this always has me in floods of tears from laughing so much. I think it’s just the size difference between Yoda and Dooku that makes this really funny and yet incredibly awesome. Unlike a lot of the lightsaber duels, this one doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously – which is a good thing. One of my least favourite things with the prequels was the lack of humour in it, so this is a refreshing change.
Also, and maybe you’ve guys missed the point I’m putting across here – it’s Yoda, in a lightsaber duel! If that isn’t one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen then I don’t know what is.
For the sheer comedic value (however unintentionally) and just the idea of Yoda kicking ass with a lightsaber, this HAS to go into my top five Star Wars moments. See? I don't hate the prequels!
Pretty much any scene with Han Solo
Whether he’s shooting Greedo (he shot first BTW), arguing with Leia, being frozen in carbonite (oh the feels :’c), charging headfirst into battle or trying to shoot whilst blind, Han Solo is just a loveable rogue that you can’t help but fall for – even when he’s being a douche. And his friendship with Chewbacca is a story in and of itself. Both of them have such great chemistry that you can really feel the agony when they are torn apart.
What I love most about Han is the development his character goes through in the films. He starts off as a mercenary trying to keep away from Jabba the Hut and the numerous bounty hunters that are after him, only caring about himself, his ship and Chewie – to becoming a valued member of the Alliance and helping them take down the Empire. I also think his love story between him and Leia is one of the best in any film series. Their arguments and little fights add a lot of humour in the series – making them look a little more realistic as a couple. After all, which couple doesn’t fight now and then? It’s also an interesting twist that he gets the girl and NOT Luke, the main character – mainly on account that they are brother and sister.
*coughs* Leia kisses Luke *coughs*
I suppose if I had to pick ONE of my favourite scenes with Han Solo, it would be the bit when they try to rescue Leia on the Death Star. When Han tries to use the communicator to tell them everything is ok and fails miserably, before destroying it and saying “Boring conversation,” just cracks me up! Harrison Ford doesn’t get much credit for his comedic acting, but he has great comedy timing.
So as you can imagine I am stoked to see both Han and Chewie returning in The Force Awakens and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for them.
Darth Vader is Luke’s Father
(The Empire Strikes Back)
However, let’s go back to when the films first came out. At the time, this was a closely guarded secret – heck, even the script doesn’t even mention this! Only a few people knew about it at the time – and luckily we didn’t have social media to spoil it for everyone back then! For me personally, this is one of the greatest film twists of all time. And at the time it really did mess me up!
When Luke first meets Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, he learns how outmatched his truly is, having only had a short amount of Jedi training. Vader chops off his hand and leaves him in a no-win situation. With no chance of escape – except for going straight down – Vader offers him a chance to join forces with him and they can take the galaxy. He then tells him the ultimate truth – he is Luke’s father.
Now, imagine watching this for the first time in the cinema – if you saw the first film you remember that Obi-Wan told Luke that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered his father, and that’s what we and Luke were made to believe. But now we’ve learned that Vader IS Luke’s father – I imagine THIS would be a close approximation in how people reacted.
In conclusion, I consider this one of the greatest twists in film history – the fact it has been used and parodied in many stories after (even by yours truly in my Draconica series) shows how powerful a twist is really is – and one of the best scenes in all the Star Wars series. And whilst this is ONE of my favourites, it isn’t my ABSOLUTE favourite. That honour goes to…
Luke Resists The Dark Side/Final Battle
(Return of the Jedi)
Honestly, this is my absolute FAVOURITE line from Star Wars. It’s just the way that the Emperor says that so apologetically – and yet at the same time throwing in Luke’s face that creeps me out. Ian McDiarmid shows what an incredible actor he is with this performance alone. The Emperor is quite possibly one of the scariest villains in fiction – but then if you were the boss of Darth Vader, you’d HAVE to be all kinds of evil! He already looks pretty creepy with his wrinkled skin and dark hood – and his voice is just so slimy and crackly it makes all the hair on your skin stand on end. Palpatine is pretty much the Devil in the Star Wars Universe and he’s as wicked as they come, promising Luke all kinds of power if he turns to the Dark Side.
So anyway, onto the final scene. When Luke gives himself up to Vader, thinking he can turn him back to the Light Side, Vader brings him before The Emperor. Here, the Emperor taunts Luke – telling him that everything has been for naught and that soon the Alliance will be crushed. The way he speaks to him so casually and callously is chilling to watch – and seeing how Luke starts to doubt it himself is quite depressing. The Emperor gradually breaks away at his defences until Luke’s anger comes forth – leading to a climactic battle between Luke and Vader.
Strange at it may seem, it kinda feels little bit like Satan trying to tempt Jesus – the ultimate evil trying to pollute the ultimate good. It’s a real conflict between light and dark and the audience is left wondering if Luke will succumb to the darkness like his father, or fight against it. And for a long time, it looks like the latter. Ultimately though, Luke doesn’t turn to the Dark Side – proving that his will is stronger than The Emperor. Sadly, The Emperor doesn’t take rejection well and blasts him with Force lightning. But then Vader, in an emotional moment of parental sacrifice, lifts up The Emperor and sends him to his doom.
I also want to give an honourable mention to the scene afterwards, when Luke has freed his father from the Dark Side – saving him rather than destroying him. As he lays dying, Vader asks him to remove his helmet so he can look at Luke with his real eyes. When he does, we see an old and weakened man – burned and disfigured. It was kinda depressing for me seeing that Vader, for all his power on the outside, looked so weak on the inside. And when he tells Luke “You were right about me,” that’s when the feels come forth. The music is also really sad here. This is a tearjerker if ever I saw one.
There are just so many cool things about this final climatic battle that brings everything full circle. The Emperor has a battle of wits of Luke and loses, Luke is able to save his father, and the Sith are destroyed by Anakin – thus fulfilling the prophecy set in The Phantom Menace. It’s the way that everything comes together in this bit and completes the story in the most satisfying way possible that makes this, for me, the greatest moment in the Star Wars films.
May the Force be with you! I’ll have a review of The Force Awakens after I go to see it on Christmas Eve!