Episode three of ‘Battle of the Sequels’ features the behemoth of the movie trilogies: The Star Wars original trilogy.
The Star Wars series has seen massive expansion since its beginnings in the 70s and 80s with a further three prequel films in the early noughties, and now the new trilogy of films under the stewardship of J.J Abrams. With the addition of Rogue One and various animated series, the Star Wars universe isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
But first, the battle of the original George Lucas three… this is going to be the hardest one yet!
3rd Place – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) – Director: Richard Marquand
So, the third film in the franchise comes in last place! This was a tough decision, but the storyline does feel repetitive, which loses some of the tension. The Empire is recovering from early losses by building a second death star (the first being destroyed in A New Hope), however this doesn’t have the same dramatic impact as it did in the first film, and goes out with a bit a whimper in the end. One other flaw is the Ewok, which much like Jar Jar Binks in the prequel trilogy; they seem only to add comic relief. As cute as they are, being able to overpower the supposedly elite Stormtroopers with mere slingshots is farcical.
However, this film does succeed with some great battles, the speeder bike chase on the moon Endor, and the climactic battle with Luke, Vader and The Emperor being among some that stand out. The special effects were stunning at the time, and are still captivating today; leading this film and its predecessors to begin a trend for the colossal blockbuster.
2nd Place – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) – Director: George Lucas
It seems tough to relegate the film that introduced us to this wondrous universe of creatures, epic battles and awesome lightsabers into second place but that is just a testament to the strength of the series! Every film has that element of settling in, introducing us to the key players, and this film is no different. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) starts off the series relatively isolated from the universe, out of the way of the action, displaying typical teenage angst. However, during this film, he grows into the hero we know and love, and by the end of the series he’s a kick-ass warrior who’s as wise as his teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Of course, the film was hugely successful with audiences and critics alike, receiving six Oscars out of a possible ten categories it was nominated in. What made this film such a successful start to a series was the seemingly enormous world it was set in; multiple planets, powerful spaceships and fighters – all with such a rich level of detail. Also, it was this film that we fell in love with two iconic robots – R2D2 and C3PO; it certainly provided the best springboard to our 1st placed film!
1st Place – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – Director: Irvin Kershner
By process of elimination, winning this battle is of course The Empire Strikes Back - the second film in this great franchise. This film has become so iconic, with the first battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, culminating with the famous line “I am your father”. This gritty, yet visually stunning battle provides moments of real emotion. It’s not all about special effects though, there are many philosophical questions posed about the nature of “good vs evil.”
It is rare for a middle film to come out on top, but this one is a masterpiece of action, CGI ahead of its time and brilliant one-liners (the great insult of ‘scruffy-looking nerf herder’). Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford shine in this film with bags of chemistry. Their romance is played well and their witty remarks to each other provide some of the greatest, funny moments of the series. Also, it’s in this film that we are first treated to the legendary Yoda, the iconic Jedi Master (who shows his supreme skill in the prequel films). Great this is!
After the huge success of the prequel Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Disney has a Han Solo origin movie with Alden Ehrenreich taking the pivotal role, and the brilliant Donald Glover playing Lando Calrissian. Next up in the series though is Star Wars episode VIII (Dec 2017), starring Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as our young heroes. However, the series does now face crises with the devastating loss of our Princess, Carrie Fisher. Whilst she had already completed filming Episode VIII, Disney have already ruled out re-casting her for future films – we can all agree that no-one could play Leia like Fisher. So, soon, we must say our final goodbyes to our strong-willed, witty and wonderful Carrie Fisher on screen. But, despite all of this, Star Wars is going through a second golden age… and may the force be with it always!