Happy Star Wars Day! Ranking the Star Wars (live-action) films

happy star wars day

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! Now, to preface this post, I should say that I’m not exactly a SW super fan, despite having grown up in the 80s with two older brothers who loves the franchise. They were only seven years old when the first film was released in 1977, but I remember they watched the VHS tapes repeatedly years later. So I was familiar with the franchise early on, but I actually didn’t watch the entire original trilogy until my college years. I have since watched ALL of the live-action feature films to date.

Now, I’m excluding the animated feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) as I have not seen that one, so we’ve got eleven live-action films total including the spin-offs. Of course with ANY list, it’s all subjective so the ranking is really in order of our FAVORITES 😉

– As to be expected with a list like this, there’ll be spoilers galore – 

I’m inviting my friend + loyal FC contributor Ted Saydalavong to join the fun as well, so let’s start with his ranking.

stormtroopers

TED’s Ranking

Ted’s ranking is based on re-watchability, creative storytelling and most importantly, entertainment value. So here it is from BEST to WORST.

  1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    Yes, this film tends to be on top of many Star Wars fans and I think it’s still the best in the series. Great storytelling with a dark and twist ending.
  2. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
    The original film still entertains by today’s blockbuster standards. Sure some of the effects and dialogs are a bit cheesy but it’s still an entertaining film.
  3. Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
    I still would like to see the original and darker cut of this film but I think it’s the best one in the newer Star Wars films.
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
    It’s basically a remake of the original Star Wars film but it’s very entertaining. The film has lots of weaknesses but as a fan, I can overlook those flaws.
  5. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (2019)
    Same can be said of this last film of the so-called Skywalker saga, it has tons of flaws but I was entertained.
  6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
    Hate to keep repeating myself but this one also has tons of flaws and to me, it’s the least entertaining of the new trilogy.
  7. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
    The weakest of the original trilogy but it’s still very entertaining and the speeder chase is one of the best action sequences in the franchise.
  8. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
    A show off of what CGI can do in films and Lucas had a lot of fun with this prequel. Now if only he never included Jar Jar Binks and wrote a better script for the actors, this one could be higher on my list. Still this one might have the best action sequences in the entire series. The Pod race and Duel of Fate are two of the best action scenes in the series.
  9. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    Lucas tried to create an emotional send off for the final film of the prequel but sadly he didn’t know or care to write or direct dramatic sequences. The movie has great special effects for its time but the acting was atrocious and I cringe every time the words were spoken by the actors.
  10. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
    Again, here Lucas tried to create some dramatic and romance for this film but the writing and acting were atrocious. The only things I liked from the film were the action scenes. I love the climactic battle near the end of this film. I think Lucas only wanted to show off the special effects and cool action scenes for the prequel. He should have hired additional writers to fix his scripts for these prequels. Also, this one was shot in the early form of digital filmmaking and it has that flat and dull look that you see in early days of films shot with digital cameras.
  11. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
    This is on the bottom of my list because it’s the most boring and unimaginative of all the films in the series. I actually fell asleep halfway through the film when I saw it in the theater. Gave it another try when it came out on disc and I wish I hadn’t done that, I was not entertained at all.

RUTH’s Ranking

Same with Ted’s criteria for ranking, I too feel that re-watchability + creative storytelling (instead of just plain fan-service) are key, and obviously they’d have to be fun to watch. Anyway, here’s my ranking:

  1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    I actually go back and forth between this one and the first one, aka A New Hope (now I feel like George Lucas should just leave the original title Star Wars). In the end, this one wins as it’s got the most iconic, emotional moments (the ultimate hero/villain, father/son duel) that is so indelible even people who don’t watch the films know the ‘I Am Your Father’ reference.
  2. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
    I remember really enjoying this one and was in awe of how George Lucas launched such a behemoth franchise that span five decades and beyond with this first film. It’s the first time I heard that amazingly iconic theme song by John Williams and being transported into a galaxy far, far away. After re-watching this a few more times, I was still invested in the journey Luke, Leia, Han and the whole space opera gang.
  3. Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
    I love this one the most out of the spin-offs. I like Gareth Edwards’ direction and Felicity Jones as the lead. It’s got plenty of fun and humorous moments (esp. Donnie Yen’s scenes!) as well as emotional resonance I’m looking for. I wish Edwards had stayed on to direct some of the Skywalker saga movies.
  4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
    I have to say I’m just not fond of Jabba the Hut at all, I tend to fast forward his scenes a lot whenever I re-watch this one. The whole sequence with the Ewoks aren’t my faves either, though I enjoy the Leia + Han romance and the adventure with Lando Calrissian, etc. So overall still a great end to the first trilogy that leaves so much room to expand the story.
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
    I’m baffled by all the hate towards this one. I guess haters are gonna hate, which is a prime example of toxic fandom. I personally enjoyed Rian Johnson’s take on this franchise, adding some surprising twists whilst still staying true to George Lucas’ legacy. I know many fans hated the direction of Luke in this film but I appreciate the deconstruction of such a titular character of why he’s a legend, who gets to have the Force, etc.
  6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
    Unlike Ted, I don’t find this boring at all and I like the fact that it’s a space heist flick. I actually like Alden Ehrenreich as Han and enjoyed all the bits between him and Donald Glover’s flamboyant Lando. I’ve rewatched it on Blu-ray since seeing it in the theater the first time and still enjoyed it a great deal.
  7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
    This movie reminds me a lot of Superman Returns where Bryan Singer just paid homage to Richard Donner’s Superman. JJ Abrams did the same thing with this one, as Ted said above, It’s basically a remake of the original Star Wars movie. There’s a sheer lack of suspense and even the death scene involving a beloved character didn’t give me the emotional resonant I expected. I do love the introduction of Kylo Ren who provides some of the unexpected hilarious moments of rage, ahah. I also love Rey when she was just a petulant, defiant desert dweller, that is until Abrams abominably ruins her character in Rise of Skywalker!
  8. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
    I guess I can’t blame George Lucas in wanting to give us the backstory of his space opera, esp. his most famous character that is Darth Vader. If only he’d hire a good writer or collaborate with one to execute his vision. I mean, there is no excuse for such an irritating character like Jar Jar Binks! I do like Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor as the two powerful Jedis and I think their casting save the film for me. Like Ted, I also enjoy the action scenes of the Pod race and Duel of Fate. I actually love the music of Duel of the Fate scene so much that I used that particular score for a re-cut of Face/Off I did in a video editing class!
  9. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    I actually just rewatched the last battle scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin and it’s so heartbreaking! I remember tearing up during the last moments, esp. when Obi-Wan screamed ‘You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!’ Ewan McGregor is so good as Obi-Wan, I’m glad he gets to reprise it soon 16 years later! Overall though, Anakin’s journey to the dark side under the wing of Emperor Palpatine could’ve been more compelling. I think what makes the last scene of Anakin becoming Darth Vader so poignant because we know just how evil this lost kid could become. 
  10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
    As I mentioned, I hated the fact that Abrams practically ruined Rey’s character by making her the grand-daughter of Palpatine, ugh! Plus the entire movie consists of SO much nostalgia. Now, while I enjoy seeing beloved actors from the franchise, seeing them distracts me from the actual story. Fan-service rarely make for good movies and that is the case here. I also think Abrams gave the talented Adam Driver such a disservice by making his character into nothing more than a conflicted man-child. As funny as emo Kylo Ren is, in the end he isn’t really a compelling character.
  11. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
    I honestly can’t remember much about this movie other than the cheesy dialog between the two lovebirds Anakin and Padme. I totally agree with Ted that Lucas should have hired good writers to fix his scripts for the prequels.
may the force be with you

Well, what do you think of our rankings? How would YOU rank the eleven STAR WARS movies?

Happy Star Wars Day! My first experience at SW: Galaxy’s Edge

Hello everyone!! Happy Star Wars Day! Well, I was looking at some pictures on my camera and it dawned on me that I haven’t shared my experience going to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge back in March, which I mentioned here.

It seems like a lifetime ago when we were still in LBC (Life Before Corona). It’s crazy really, my hubby and I were in Disney World Florida in the first few days of March, and at the time there was only a few ‘known’ cases in California and life was pretty much normal everywhere, as Disney’s Hollywood Studios was still packed! In fact, we arrived at the park gate by 7:00am and there was already at least a thousand of people in line waiting to get in! And this was supposed to be a low-crowd day according to several blogs dedicated to Disney World.

The looooong line in front of Galaxy’s Edge entrance

They actually allowed us in about 30 minutes before the Park was supposed to open at 8am. By 7:35, we were waiting by the main entrance to Galaxy’s Edge, the most popular area of the Hollywood Studios Park, along with a throng of people. Right at 8AM, we used the My Disney Experience App to get into a virtual queue to get on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It’s truly the pièce de résistance of Galaxy’s Edge, and that’s the only way to get in instead of using the regular FastPass and/or standby lines.

Well, we thought initially we weren’t going to be able to get on the ride at all… more on that later. But first, let me tell you about our experience riding…

The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

One thing we wish we had done weeks prior was to get a FastPass for the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride. Somehow I mistakenly thought there wouldn’t be a huge line to get in as everyone was going to the Ride of the Resistance. Oh well, we had to wait about 90 minutes or so, which wasn’t too bad considering we waited for twice as long to get into Avatar’s Flight of Passage the day before!

I was giddy like a school girl even just waiting in line to get into the ride! Disney did a good job entertaining us even as we’re queueing up, as there’s plenty of fun props to gawk at. It’s also quite fun seeing the excitement of people’s faces, especially kids, as they’re about to get on the ride. We loved this ride so much we ended up going twice in one day!

Once we’re done with our first ride on the Millennium Falcon, we took a stroll around the area which is set in the planet Batuu. The park isn’t really that big, but what it lacks in size, it made up in the production design and attention to detail which really immerses you in the experience! The marketplace, which is designed like a Middle Eastern bazaar, which consist not just a myriad of merchandise (like Baby Yoda stuffed toys), but also a ‘pet’ shop filled with some really strange creatures!

One of the most fun parts of Galaxy’s Edge of course is just being at the park and watching/interacting with Star Wars characters who’d show up at random, most notably Kylo with the Storm Troopers, Rey & BB8 and Chewie. They don’t allow people to dress up as SW characters except for young kids.

I didn’t really spend much time in the areas where you can build your own droid or lightsaber (those places are packed w/ kids and adults alike), but I’m glad we got into this popular bar at Planet Batuu…

Oga’s Cantina

We were pretty thirsty by then, thankfully, there were only a dozen people in line in front of us. The cantina’s attendant told us it’s standing-room only since we didn’t make a reservation beforehand, then a few minutes later he escorted us inside. I love the atmosphere of the cantina, inspired by the one in 1977 Star Wars movie.

Oga’s is inspired by the 1977 Star Wars cantina scene. There’s a wisecracking droid DJ right above where we were standing, apparently voiced by Paul Reubens aka Pee-Wee Herman. But of course, the main feature of the place is the cocktails!

The menu, as you can expect, is quite pricey! If you’re into collecting souvenirs, one drink called Yub Nub comes with a souvenir Endor mug, but that’ll set you back $48!

My hubby settled for the most popular drink, the Fuzzy Tauntaun – peach vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice with tangerine, pure cane sugar, and “buzzz” foam (that makes your tongue numb for a while) which cost $16.00 Since I don’t like alcohol, I went with Jabba Juice, a non-alcoholic drink with Orange juice, Pineapple, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, and Blueberry Popping Pearls. It’s only $8.50 and it’s quite yummy!

Now we finally got to the main event…

The Rise of the Resistance

As I mentioned before, we thought initially we wouldn’t be able to get into the ride at all. The boarding group number we got was 85, which was considered the ‘backup’ group. I read in some articles that because there might be some technical issues with the ride, the last boarding group that could get in within a single day would likely be those below #75. I remember feeling really deflated, I said to my hubby, ‘there’s no way we’d get on the ride!’ and we had only bought a one-day admission.

My hubby was more optimistic, and we decided to just find other rides to enjoy while we’re in the park. So we did… and guess what! While waiting on the Star Tours ride, our boarding group was called at around 3pm or so. Basically we got a notification on the My Disney Experience App and we had two hours after our group’s called to get on the ride! Ohhh happy day!!

We had time to get on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride in that two-hour window, which was pretty fun. So we finally got to the Rise of the Resistance ride at around 5pm, and still had to queue for about a half hour or so. By that point I was already so ecstatic that I’d actually get on the ride that I didn’t care. Funny how Disney really made you feel like a kid again and at that point, I was over the moon I could finally get on a ride that’s unlike anything built by Disney before!

The entire ‘ride’ is about 18 minutes long, and billed as a four-ride system that work pretty seamlessly. So there are tons of action going on before we actually get on the ride vehicle itself in a group of eight. As we entered the attraction complex, we’re led to a winding queue through rock formations and trees outside until we reach inside the base. That’s when the real fun begins! A series of animatronics of BB-8 droid and a hologram of Rey tells us about the mission we’re about to embark on. Then we got on a transport ship, which is a standing-room only, piloted by the fish-like creature Nien Nunb and Poe Dameron (woo wee!). But the ship had a run in with the First Order which we could see in the video screens all around us. Before it can make the jump to hyperspace, there’s a battle going on and soon we’re ‘captured’ by the First Order. There’s so much movement inside the ship it was tough to take a photo, but below is a pic of what the transport ship looks like (courtesy of gamespot.com)

The Resistance transport ship

It’s truly brilliant how immersive this whole attraction is, no wonder it’s extremely popular. According to this site, this attraction combines 5 million lines of computer code with animatronic figures, physical sets, digital projections and special effects. Not to mention all the props that you can gawk at as you’re waiting in line, like Poe’s uniform, etc. It’s quite a spectacular technical feat, and you can see why the chance of it breaking down is huge even if just one component isn’t working properly!

I think my favorite part is after we’re ‘captured’ by the First Order. Once we disembarked from the Resistance transport ship, we’re led to ‘detention cells’ within the Star Destroyer. Disney’s employees (here they’re appropriately called cast members) bark orders and do their best to stay in character and try to be as intimidating as possible. It’s all comical to us, but some kids are terrified, as the girl in front of me were crying constantly! The poor parents had to convince her that these are all employees in costumes. I overheard one of them say, ‘they have a house and dogs and everything’ Mwahahaha!!

 

So the dramatic ‘jailbreak’ finally gets us to the ride vehicle itself! It’s a trackless vehicle that seats 8 people. I LOVE this part and the only ‘downside’ is I wish it were longer! It’s the kind of ride you just want to keep going and going… it’s SO. MUCH. FUN. I was in awe of how much details are put into everything… definitely unlike anything I’ve ever riden before at any amusement park. My hubby was able to take a video once we got on the ride vehicle, so you can see for yourself!

Kudos to the Walt Disney Imagineering creative team! That OCR article also stated that the Imagineering team collaborated w/ Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic to create screen-based intergalactic battles that take place in the space windows of the Star Destroyer. It definitely made us feel like we’re part of the Resistance vs First Order story, and not simply a spectator!

I have to say I had a much better experience riding this than watching The Rise of Skywalker, ahah. When things would actually be back to normal again in a year or so, I’d certainly love to go back to Galaxy’s Edge. Perhaps we’ll try the one in Disneyland, CA next time around, but for sure I can’t wait to get on the Rise of the Resistance ride again!


Hope you enjoyed reading my experience to Galaxy’s Edge, it certainly was fun writing it and reminiscing on the fantastic time we had there!

May the Fourth Be With You!

Five for the Fifth: MAY 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Happy Cinco de Mayo! Well, per tradition on the Fifth of May, I always feature a Mexican actor/actress and for some reason I have not featured Salma Hayek before. I always think she is one of the most beautiful actresses ever, her body also seems to defy the law of physics.

SalmaHayek

Though I haven’t seen too many of her films, she’s definitely got screen presence. I remember seeing her for the first time in Desperado with Antonio Banderas. I still need to see her Oscar-nominated role in Frida though. I’m curious about her next project The Prophet, which is an animated feature inspired by the classic book by Kahlil Gibran.

What’s your favorite Salma Hayek film?
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2. Well, since it’s still May 4th aka Star Wars Day and it’s only 5 days away since the news broke, so I gotta have one related question right? Besides, the buzz surrounding Star Wars Episode VII will probably never die down until its release date in December 2015. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of this franchise, I’m mostly just curious about the cast as I know it’s a pretty big deal and it has a massive potential to launch/boost the career of the younger actors involved. Besides, even if they’re not a huge fan of the franchise, surely they’re excited to be working with the original actors like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. So the new cast members are: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von SydowI found this image on Twitter with the names of actors listed, which helps tremendously.

StarWarsEpisodeVII_CastPicWithNames

And of course it doesn’t take long for someone to create a fan poster with the old and new cast 😀

StarWarsEpisodeVII_FanMadePoster

So it seems that the two actors rumored to be in the running who I wish were true: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch, are NOT part of the cast. But hey, nice to see Oscar Isaac and Andy Serkis on here, I’m a big fan of their work and I hope this will only boost their career even more, especially Isaac’s.

So are you happy with this announcement? Which actor/actress you wish had been cast in Star Wars Episode VII?

……
3. Ok, switching gears to a black & white independent film that’s been garnering all kinds of buzz recently called Ida.

IDA_FilmPoster

Poland, 1962. Anna, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent, is a novice. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna about her Jewish roots. Both women start a journey not only to find their family’s tragic story, but to see who they really are and where they belong. They question what they used to believe in. Both of them are trying to go on living but only one eventually can.

Directed/co-written by Pawel Pawlikowski, it stars Polish actress Agata Trzebuchowska in her debut film. I actually heard film critic David Edelstein reviewed this film on NPR last week where he lauded the film and Agata’s performance, and I just had to check out the trailer:

 …
I literally got goosebumps just from watching the trailer. It’s been winning a slew of film festival awards all over the world, I sure hope it’ll make it over here to my city.

What do you think of Ida? 


4. Last week I heard news that Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt are teaming up again since they did Mr & Mrs. Smith back in 2005. The details of the new project is still not revealed yet, but according to Variety, it’s based on something Jolie’s written. The two seems to have been busy working on their own projects for the past decade. Pitt won his first Oscar as producer of 12 Years A Slave earlier this year and Jolie’s been busy working on the Lou Zamperini’s biopic Unbroken that’s set to open this Christmas.

Jolie-Pitt-Collaborating

Now, it made me think of other actor/actress couple who’ve worked together and whether it’s something I like to see on screen. Of course it’s nothing new, celebrity couples like Lawrence Olivier & Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor & Richard BurtonHumphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall during Hollywood Golden Age, as well as contemporary ones like Rita Wilson & Tom Hanks and former couples Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise, Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins, etc. have worked together, sometimes in multiple movies. I think my favorite real-life couple (the two were still married at the time) pairing up in films is Emma Thompson & Kenneth Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing.

What do you think of Jolie-Pitt’s teaming up again and/or which other real-life couple’s collaboration are you a big fan of? 

5. Last but not least, I’m introducing a special guest on today’s Five for the Fifth. From time to time from now on, I’ll invite one of my favorite blog friends to come up with one of the questions. This time, we’ve got Terrence from The Focused Filmographer as a special guest!

His question is inspired by the launch of FOX’s 24 series which he’s super excited about. The 12-episode “event” series 24: Live Another Day kicks off with a two-hour premiere on Fox starting Monday 8/7c and it’s set in London. Of course Kiefer Sutherland is back as counter-intelligence agent Jack Bauer, the agent with nine lives I’d say, as like James Bond (same JB initial too, a coincidence? I think not) he will never die!

24LiveAnotherDay

The movie version has been in limbo for some time since the show ended in 2010. Seems that TV is where it’s at right now anyway, with studios launching TV shows alongside their movies. Both Marvel & DC are launching shows like Gotham and Agents of Shield to expand the universe. 24 director John Cassar said this via THR: “I think 24 is probably on the edge of a new wave, and that new wave I think is you’re going to see more and more television shows coming back because for a lot of people it’s new,” Clearly, with Veronica Mars movie and apparently a revival of NBC show Heroes is coming in 2015 (per THR), this trend is definitely catching on. 

So which TV shows do you want to see a comeback, whether as a special TV event or a movie format?


Well, that’s it for the May 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀