STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

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ptdebate
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STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby ptdebate » November 28th, 2017, 10:08 pm

I don't really have a specific direction in mind for this topic--just want to drum up some Star Wars discussion! I think there's good reason to be excited about Episode VIII, and I'll explain why at the end of my post.


So here's my current ranking of the movies including spinoffs:

8. Star Wars Episode II

There are so many reasons this movie is painful to watch. The shift to all digital film making was revolutionary but premature. The image quality suffers and the sets and effects largely look fake. Obi Wan steals the show when he is present, but the Anakin and Padme scenes feel forced and awkward.

7. Star Wars Episode I

Marvelous to behold, Episode I was an audiovisual experience like nothing I'd ever seen. Too bad that a muddy plot and unnatural acting held this film back from greatness. Sometimes while watching Episode I I'll start to think that it's a good movie, and then Jar Jar Binks appears again on the screen. Sigh...

6. Star Wars Episode VI

Like Episode I, VI is a bit of a mixed bag. Certain plot points range from implausible to absurd, and the Empire's reuse of practically the same Death Star design is a head scratcher. That being said, the climactic battle between Luke and Vader (and Vader's redemption) just about redeems this one.

5. Rogue One

Rogue One wins points right off the bat for being a Star Wars movie that doesn't focus on the Jedi or the Skywalker family. The plot takes a while to get off the ground, introducing an excessive number of locations and characters in a short time, but the core drama shines through all the way to the bittersweet ending. Rogue One succeeds by adding more context (and more plausibility) to Episode IV, making it almost seem like a better movie than it really was.

4. Star Wars Episode III

Star Wars Episode III is a massive payoff that feels almost unearned by the lesser efforts that preceded it. Do yourself a favor - if you haven't seen Episode III since it came out in 2005, go rewatch it, and I think you'll start to fully understand how misguided Episodes I and II were by not focusing more on Palpatine's rise to power and less on petty politics. The film basically showcases everything good about the prequel trilogy with less of the bad. Great movie.

3. Star Wars Episode VII

The least original Star Wars is also buoyed by incredible performances and a genuine earnestness that was missing from the series for some time. Episode VII does so much right that it's one major blunder can be forgiven.

2. Star Wars Episode IV

The classic, a vision of the future of filmmaking. Watching this film today is still awe-inspiring when you think about how much work went into making it possible forty years ago. Incredible.

1. Star Wars Episode V

Episode V took IV's visual brilliance and introduced layer after layer of human drama, something relatively absent from IV. Luke learning the truth of his parentage is a shocking revelation to this day. This film does so much right and almost nothing wrong.

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ptdebate
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby ptdebate » November 28th, 2017, 10:31 pm

Sorry, I forgot to include the part where I think VIII is going to be good (if not the best to date).

The extremely good cast of VII is returning with a director known for original, off the beaten path Sci Fi who will hopefully build upon the foundation JJ Abrams laid with some truly original content.

Before the Disney ennui sets in, remember that Rian Johnson is basically the opposite of a traditional Star Wars director. And apparently the higher ups were so impressed with VIII that they signed Johnson on to direct another entire trilogy after this one.

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Stalvern
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby Stalvern » December 3rd, 2017, 8:22 pm

Eh, might as well give my hot takes. I'll go bottom-to-top too.

The Phantom Menace
Bad in ways that don't even occur to other bad movies. What the heck is this even supposed to be about? Chinese aliens are doing a bad tax thing to the Italy planet where the Jamaican aliens live, so the good guys fly to the desert planet to do nothing for a third of the film except pick up a Family Circus kid (slave to a Jewish alien) that they didn't even know about, then fly back home to blow up the bad guys. Terrible slapstick constantly intrudes, even during both (!) of the battles at the end. The movie is pointless on its own and useless as setup for the others. On the plus side, Liam Neeson actually sells the ostensible gravitas of his character, the lightsaber fight at the end is brilliant, the score is the best in the prequels, and the pod race is a fun interlude that made for an excellent game. And while this movie has the worst aliens in the series by a light year, it does have the best alien animals and beautiful production design in general.
Movie: 3/10
Lightsaber fight: 8/10; would have been 9 if Darth Maul had gotten even the slightest characterization.

Attack of the Clones
Starts out as two movies, one about Obi-Wan and one about Anakin. Obi-Wan's little detective story is stupid at every turn, but it's far more watchable than the powerfully creepy "romance" between Anakin and Padme. Anakin's not even supposed to be a bad guy until the next movie, but he's a complete psycho here! On the other hand, there's at least an appropriate sense of scale for a Star Wars movie, the goals of the plot make sense even if the specifics never do, and once everything settles into place for the final battle, it's 20 solid minutes of actual goodness until the idiocy of that lightsaber fight.
Movie: 3/10
Lightsaber fight: 3/10, although it briefly jumps to 8 or so for the parts when Dooku zaps Anakin into the wall and cuts his arm off.

Revenge of the Sith
Well, it's better than the other prequels. The characters seem almost like people this time around, the plot is at last driven by some causal logic, and the film as a whole makes an honest stab at drama and emotion. Unfortunately, Lucas is so horrible at writing dialogue at this point that the movie has to strain with all its might to actually get any of that onto the screen. Everyone in this movie talks like a weird idiot who may have human-like thoughts and feelings but can barely articulate them, and while there isn't a moment as awful as the sand monologue from the previous movie, it's not for a lack of trying. Still, the movie's ambition is admirable, and the bleakness of the final act gives it a real sense of weight (the absurdly overwrought lightsaber stunts notwithstanding). Contrary to the OP, I would argue that this one is best not having been seen recently, since the memory of the big picture of the overall themes is much better than the actual scene-to-scene viewing experience.
Movie: 5/10
Lightsaber fight: 5/10

Return of the Jedi
The weakest of the original trilogy still beats the best of the prequels handily. There are unfortunate shades of what would come to a head with The Phantom Menace, with the nonsense plot, corny slapstick, and teddy bear aliens, but the sheer likability of the central cast carries the movie over its worst patches, and its strengths are considerable. There's something genuinely powerful in seeing Luke as a grown-up master at last. The battle at the new Death Star is technically a reworking of the original film's climax, but the massive scale and relentless, unconstrained motion this time around give it an epic heft unmatched by the rest of the series or even - I'll say it - any other film I've seen. (Of course, it has to keep cutting to that farce in the woods...) The lightsaber duel starts out a little silly, with Luke flipping all over the place and Vader throwing his weapon like a boomerang, but Luke's final retaliation is so perfectly filmed that I still choke up a bit every time I see it. The bike chase kicks ass. This is a great movie... except when it sucks!
Movie: 6/10
Lightsaber fight: A perfect 10 for the ending alone.

The Force Awakens
A good movie that plays too safe, as if that needed any more repeating. It does a good job as a re-establishment of the Star Wars brand and a palate cleanser after the prequels, but that didn't require it to be so heavily recycled from the original trilogy. But with characters like these, who needs a plot? The beautiful treatment of Han and Leia single-handedly justifies the entire film, and the other characters are excellent in and of themselves. What is does wrong (slavish fanservice, Daisy Ridley's inability to look like she's spent even a minute in a desert, Phasma's entire bewildering existence) is more than outweighed by how it gets the most important thing right - for the first time in 32 years, a Star Wars movie is human again.
Movie: 7/10
Lightsaber fight: 6/10

Star Wars
After four decades of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, tie-ins, and merchandising, it's easy to lose sight of how self-contained the original film really is. This is a movie with a story to tell and a world to show, and it does both with such sharp focus that it's hard to see how anyone could pull it off, let alone George Lucas on his first try. This is a movie that moves, and while it's ultimately very simple, that means that it's also very pure.
Movie: 8/10
Lightsaber fight: 4/10, but give it a bonus point or two if you're enough of a nerd to imagine it as a chess match between two masters with wisdom beyond their strength. Then give yourself a swirlie.

The Empire Strikes Back
This is where the pulpy caricatures of Star Wars become real characters. While it has a smaller scale and a cliff-hanger ending, there's substance here that wasn't there before, and it's the new emotional depth of this film that cemented these characters as we know them in the public consciousness. It may not stand on its own like its predecessor or end conclusively like its successor, but being the link between them allows it to look more closely at these specific people and their problems instead of the wider conflict around them, and its formal limitations ultimately endow it with its greatest strengths.
Movie: 9/10
Lightsaber fight: 7/10

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scotland
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby scotland » December 5th, 2017, 8:27 pm

I will give it a go as well, worst to first, counting down from 10 to 1.

10) The Phantom Menace - Pointless plot, but the CGI robots were neat. Unfortunately, they were rendered into complete incompetents, which tainted the entire prequel trilogy. None of them were a threat. Llam Neeson was great, Darth Maul lightsaber was awesome, and while the pod racing did make a great video game, it too was turned into some G rated Ben Hur riff. And Jar Jar. Lot of Jar Jar. Even so at #10, its still a watchable movie, even if you hate watch it, or watch it with an eye toward other things than just a first time viewer.

9) Attack of the Clones - Its ranking above TPM is mostly due to an absence of kid Anakin and Jar Jar. The dual plotlines (maybe like Two Towers) are each disappointing. Also "you served under my father in the clone wars" had meaning once! A clone army made of clones of one guy? What?! No - where is my clone-evil Yoda, with a goatee and an eye patch? The final battle on Geonosis is fun.

8) Revenge of the Sith - okay, any scene with the Chancellor is fun. However, the sudden turn of Anakin from bad guy on the edge to 'sure, let's go butcher the kids at the temple' is totally non sequitar. Sure, you just helped kill Mace Windu, but that still is a far piece from killing kids. The final light saber dual, hopping on floating rocks in a lava river, would be okay in Flash Gordon, but not in Star Wars that should take itself more seriously.

7) The Clone Wars Animated Series (Cartoon Network) - brought a lot more detail to the Clone army, as well as a great character in Ahsoka Tano. It makes her absence in Revenge of the Sith (understandable as she wasn't even created yet) stand out. While it meanders, it does start to get more and more serious as the show went on.

6) The Force Awakens - A plot that is so unoriginal its basically a reboot with a Mary Sue heroine and a silly Super Sized Death Star that can now kill from a huge distance! Good Grief. It nonetheless is a fun movie throughout, and Rey certainly has some fans out there. It concludes Han's story, and successfully leap frogs a lot history (battle of jakku?), while also preserving some whispers of now non-canon Legends material.

5) Star Wars Rebels Animated Series (Disney) - surprisingly has some excellent episodes, scattered about the series. It also concludes Ahsoka's story, concludes Maul's story, introduces Grand Admiral Thrawn, doesn't diminish Vader as a villain of the week, and develops two strong female characters - Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian, and Captain Hera Syndula, a Twilek pilot and leader that has a cameo in Rogue One (or at least, her ship does, and her last name is mentioned over a loudspeaker). It also does lean on yet another pair of Jedis, but it knows that story also has to conclude in a way to remove those pieces from the board of the Rebellion. I'm genuinely interested in how the series is going to conclude, and the fate of the main team.

4) Return of the Jedi - What, another Death Star? Blown up again by an X-wing and the Falcon? Its like Robot Chicken wrote the script here. A planet of marketable teddy bears instead of Wookies? Luke and Leia are what...siblings? What? Despite those failings, there is so much goodness from Admiral Akbar's Its a Trap, to the speeder bikes in the forest (fly above the trees!), to the final scenes with Luke, Vader and the Emperor (sure, dismiss those guys in all red with the pike things)

3) Rogue One - I liked the final product. Guns of Navaronne kind of thing. The droid, the heroes, explaining the exhaust port, even CGI Tarkin. All that, plus a good war movie ending. They completed their mission, but died in the attempt. Bothan spies could not have done better. Star Wars doesn't need light sabers and force chokes to be great fun. Its Star Wars after all, and here we got a bit more of the trench war and a bit less of the glamourous flyboys.

2) The Empire Strikes Back - I put it at number two. As someone who lived through the big Star Wars heady days of 1977+, there was no way to fully capture all the energy of the first movie. Vader's reveal to Luke is fun, but it already begins to disrespect the first movie. The light saber fight is so much more exciting than the original, the freezing in carbonite, the 'no disintegrations', learning just how bad a tauntaun smells --- all good stuff. A fun movie, but I still like the original.

1) Star Wars (or you can call it A New Hope if you must) - the B movie kids lined up to see all summer long, over and over and over again. Can't get the rights to Flash Gordon - no problem, we'll do it from scratch with luke as Flash, Obi Wan as Zarkov, Han as Baron, and Leia as Dale (ooops, that last one is going to be a problem in awhile). Everything was new - Tie Fighters screaming, the dirty spaceships, the seedy bar in a hive of scum and villainy, the "jedi", the "force", lightsabers, holographic chess, shooting enemy fighters like some WWII bomber, a trench run, Use the Force, May the Force be With You, great shot kid, that was one in a million plus it helped save Marvel comics and we all bought Kenner 3.5" toys that hardly moved. And it spawned perhaps the greatest arcade video game in the golden age of video game arcades.

pacman000
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby pacman000 » December 5th, 2017, 9:16 pm

"The final light saber dual, hopping on floating rocks in a lava river, would be okay in Flash Gordon, but not in Star Wars that should take itself more seriously."

And that probably describes what was wrong with the prequel trilogy: Lucas finally had the resources needed to bring his wildest ideas to life.

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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby Teddybear » December 6th, 2017, 7:18 am

This thread was a great read with my morning coffee. I'll be chuckling all day long about the "Family Circus kid" remark!

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ptdebate
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby ptdebate » December 6th, 2017, 9:42 am

Thanks for sharing your rankings! Let’s keep ‘me coming!

scotland wrote:6) The Force Awakens - A plot that is so unoriginal its basically a reboot with a Mary Sue heroine and a silly Super Sized Death Star that can now kill from a huge distance!


Although I respect your opinion, I think a lot of folks who referred to Rey as a “Mary Sue” will eat their words when we find out in the next film who she really is - essentially another Anakin, an incarnation of the force itself.

I don’t think we referred to little Ani as a Mary Sue because he could see the future and race pods at 1000 mph.

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scotland
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby scotland » December 6th, 2017, 11:37 am

ptdebate wrote:
scotland wrote:6) The Force Awakens - A plot that is so unoriginal its basically a reboot with a Mary Sue heroine and a silly Super Sized Death Star that can now kill from a huge distance!


Although I respect your opinion, I think a lot of folks who referred to Rey as a “Mary Sue” will eat their words when we find out in the next film who she really is - essentially another Anakin, an incarnation of the force itself. I don’t think we referred to little Ani as a Mary Sue because he could see the future and race pods at 1000 mph.


Well, I will consider 'I respect your opinion' progress since we had this conversation in January 2016. Back then, you inferred I was sexist as 'when did I or anyone else ever accuse a male character of being a Mary Sue.' I then went through a list of males that fit the bill. I am not attacking Rey as a strong female. I would love to see Ahsoka, Sabine or Hera in live action. as all very strong female Star Wars characters in animated canon shows. We watch both Ahsoka and Sabine, in particular, grow and learn.

At the end of TPM, Ani saves the day mostly with luck and flying skill, but did not pick up a light saber and take on Darth Maul, nor pick up a blaster, nor was he doing Jedi mind tricks, nor was he even master of his fate. With Rey, we got super pilot, plus other skills too.

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Stalvern
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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby Stalvern » December 6th, 2017, 12:11 pm

I've already laid out my thoughts on this, so I'll just quote them here.

Stalvern wrote:Anyone who thinks that Rey is a "Mary Sue" completely misses the point of the character. Aside from her lightsaber skill (which is set up in literally her first scene!), she is not successful because she's just that good at everything. What she does is submit to the Force instead of hot-headedly trying to control it like Luke did - which was the entire reason that his journey was so arduous. It is a very, very obvious thematic contrast, exactly the kind of idea that would come out of the challenge of writing a "female Luke" without being redundant, and it only flies over nerds' heads because of their ridiculous need to pick apart the surface details of media without actually engaging the text (this need is why we have TV Tropes, "Everything Wrong With..." videos, and all the other junk food that passes for "analysis" and "criticism" on the Internet).

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Re: STAR WARS EPISODE VIII / Star Wars ranking

Postby LoganRuckman » December 6th, 2017, 4:05 pm

TV Tropes and CinemaSins (the "Everything Wrong With" series is largely tongue in cheek, and the main point of those reviews is to nitpick everything, even unimportant, trivial flaws that no one noticed or cares about) are freaking great tho.


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