3) Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
I did an experiment this week: my wife (who, like many, claimed the prequels were meh at best) had never seen RotS. So we watched the first two, and she admitted they were better than she remembered. I then asked her to watch Episode III, and while she watched to take the stigmatism of the prequels and bias towards the originals. After we were done, she ranked the films the exact same way I did.
For starters, I like Grievous, and thought his time in the film was way too short. Secondly, I actually don't mind the character of Anakin Skywalker in this film (as opposed to its two predecessors), and seeing his fall is a simultaneously epic and horrifying experience. The lightsaber fights are among the best in the series: pitting best friends Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin against each other, as well as Yoda and Palpatine, the pinnacles of the light and dark respectively.
From beginning to end, this movie is absolutely great. I have no qualms whatsoever about ranking this up with the originals.
2) Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
There's really not too much separating this and Empire. The plan to save Han Solo from Jabba's clutches, the skirmish above the Sarlaac pit, the fight on Endor and assault on the second Death Star... It's hard to get better than that.
The Ewoks were somewhat of a strange addition, but given that toys sales were a huge portion of the franchise's revenue it makes sense. They're just silly enough that it makes me laugh without going too over the top. And getting formally introduced to the Emperor served to give us a new individual to hate, and made us see Darth Vader for the tragic character he really is.
Luke's final duel with Vader conveys the most emotion in the series, and Luke has to fight his own inner darkness in order to overcome him. Seeing Vader turn back to the light in his final moments to save his son is still one of my favorite moments in film history.
Return was a great way to wrap up the series, and stands as a shining example on how to end a trilogy strong.
1) Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
As good as Return is, Empire is truly my favorite, for a multitude of reasons.
First off, Hoth is my second favorite battle (after Geonosis) and watching them trip the AT-ATs never gets old. Yoda's introduction and his training of Luke was awesome, and for the first time we were able to see what the Force was truly capable as he almost effortlessly lifts an X-Wing out of the Dagobah swamp. And of course, we have the famous revelation of Luke being the son of Darth Vader himself.
The greatest aspect about this movie though, in my opinion, is the sheer amount of character development we get to see. Han Solo, ever the witty, aloof loner begins to develop into the hero we know and love; Luke Skywalker begins his formal training to become a Jedi Knight; and we start to see Vader as more of a person then just a faceless machine-man. Plus Boba Fett is there. Instant bonus.
Fun fact: My first foray into Star Wars came when my dad decided
that over the course of a weekend we would watch all three films (he hadn't seen them in a long time anyway). We watched IV on Friday, and I thought it was a good movie. On Saturday, he told me that V was his favorite, but right as Luke was getting attacked by the wampa our player ate the tape. It was about another week or so before I finally got to see it (we went ahead and watched VI) and from that point on I was hooked on Star Wars.
There you have it, my (admittedly longer than I had planned) rant on each Star Wars movie in my favorite order.
Jon (the hero of all MTN fans), being the purist he is...
3. A New Hope
2. Return of the Jedi
1. The Empire Strikes Back
Just teasing Jon. We rank the originals the same way.