At last, as someone once said, this blog is finally tackling a subject of real importance.
I know that many of you will be checking here today to get the Christmas Quiz answers, but as I won’t finish marking and get these uploaded until this evening, here’s something to keep people going in the meantime. If this doesn’t spark as much heated debate as the typical Brexit/election/World Book Day post I will be sorely disappointed in my readership!
1. The Empire Strikes Back. The best of the original trilogy, which is the best trilogy – enough said.
=2. A New Hope. So much of this has become a cliche and familiar through repetition, it can be hard to remember just how impactful Vader, light sabres, the Death Star really are on first watching. It’s a great plot in a world that takes your breath away.
=2. Rogue One. The best of the films since Disney took over the franchise, this isn’t just a great Star Wars film, it’s a great film full stop. An excellent cast of characters who make genuinely moving decisions, it combines the spirit of Star Wars with that of classics such as The Guns of Navarone or The Magnificent Seven. I also appreciate the way it transforms the near-plothole of A New Hope from ‘The Empire is really dumb’ to ‘A rebel sympathiser secretly sabotaged their grand project.’
4. The Force Awakens. The new trilogy started in a great way, with a film that made superb use of both original and old characters and hit all the right notes. My main criticism is on world building: I’d have liked saving the galaxy and overthrowing the Empire to leave the good guys in a situation that wasn’t functionally equivalent to where they were in A New Hope at the height of the Empire’s power.
=5. Return of the Jedi. This film has some brilliant sections, including the whole opening with Jabba and the final struggle aboard the new Desth Star, but it also has ewoks. A lot of ewoks.
=5. The Rise of Skywalker. An overall satisfying ending to the series, with some great action sequences and nice touches. Suffers from the discontinuity introduced by the director-switching from being all that it wanted to.
7. Solo. This was a good origin story, with a solid plot and two good lead characters in Han and Ki’ra, but for me never really had the spark it needed to achieve lift off. Watched happily but don’t feel a compulsion to go back to.
=8. The Last Jedi. This had some good moments (and twists), particularly those involving Rey and Ren, but also some less good bits too, such as the trip to the gambling planet. The whole plot also failed my suspension of disbelief test, even for a Star Wars film, on a number of occasions. Suffers as well from the director switching, in that some of its themes come from nowhere and then go nowhere.
=8. Revenge of the Sith. The best of the prequel series, with probably the least cringe-worthy dialogue and best overall plot arc.
10. Attack of the Clones. Samuel L Jackson and Yoda, as well as a plot that one at least half cares about, saves this from being bottom despite terrible romantic dialogue and interminable CGI action scenes.
11. The Phantom Menace. Ja Ja Binks. Pod racing. More Ja Ja. A plot that makes so little sense a parody web comic can do better. Lucas dialogue. Even more Ja Ja. Noooooo!