The Big Question: The Best Star Wars Film

Image: Supplied

Given that today is officially Rogue One day, it seems only right to pop the question: what's the best Star Wars film in the franchise?

Anyone with a modicum of sanity isn't going to recommend episodes one, two or three, except for that bloke at the New Yorker. And while The Force Awakens put the franchise back in a good place, it probably didn't actually do anything interesting enough on its own, at least not when it was so preoccupied with fan service and setting the scene for the next decade.

For me, it comes down to two: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The action scenes, and the last half, of A New Hope are probably the best the Star Wars franchise still has to offer. But as for a narrative arc that you get engaged with, plot points that make you sit up and pay attention, you really can't beat The Empire Strikes Back. And it also does the best job of illustrating the power divide between the Rebels and the Empire; it's perhaps the only time where the Empire actually feels like an oppressive force.

What do you think? What's your favourite Star Wars film to date?


    The action scenes, and the last half, of A New Hope are probably the best the Star Wars franchise still has to offer.

    Are... are you kidding? I've seen pre-schoolers with cardboard tubes fight with more flair, zeal, and martial proficiency than the fated duel between Obi Wan and his old pupil, friend, then enemy Darth Vader. A rematch that should've been the definition of epic is utterly cringe-worthy and frankly just sad, on any post-prequels re-watching.

      You know your sword fighting is bad when it makes Highlander look good :P

      The prequels fights are ridiculous and awful, they clearly wouldn't connect if not blocked.

        Yeah, but at least they looked like they actively wanted to fight, whereas Obi Wan and Vader looked more like they both wished they were each at home in bed instead of waving around inexplicably heavy-ass beams of light.

          George took inspiration from the Samurai when imagining the Jedi. We're still talking apples and pears, but fighting with a Katana was usually a one hit one kill affair (as far as I know....) not a choreographed dance.

    The Theatrical cut of Empire. Next question.

    Easily Empire. The Hoth scene and the hopelessness of the rebels against the Empire. The asteroid scene (favourite bit has to be the star destroyer captain suddenly disappearing from the Captain's conference when his ship is destroyed by an asteroid), the murkiness of Lando until the double-cross is revealed etc etc. The whole damn film is just chocka block full of great scenes and barely suffered from the "special edition" redos.

    Argh so good!!!

      Ahhh hoth. AT-ATs, that unforgettable sequence where those all powerful mechanical monsters represent the power of the Empire and the futility of the defending rebels.... 2016 = included for fanservice and blown up in the trailer. Fail.

        Don't comment until you see the film. It's not spliced in how youthink...

          Intriguing! So it's maybe not the hackneyed 'x-wings save the day in the nick of time'? Don't spoil, I'll see the film soon.

            Calm your farm mate. You'll probably still hate it though judging from your attitude.

        You're one cool dude. Hollywood can't penetrate your swarve cynicism.

          I'm sure we both just want good SW films. I'm jaded and cynical because IMO the last good one was in the 80's. To me possibly messing about with the symbolism of AT-ATs is a red flag.

          But I'm open minded and really hope this film will be good.

      Lando wasn't a double crosser. He was backed into the worst situation. Han and Leia put an entire city of people at risk by seeking refuge there with the entire empire on their tail (they didn't warn Lando of their wanted status). Even still, Lando defies the entire empire to help his old friend and his entire business goes down the drain and millions of people are evacuated as a result.

      But yeah, I agree. The Lando scenes add so much good flavour to the movie.

      Last edited 14/12/16 11:27 pm

        Hey who said he double crossed the Rebels... He double crossed the Empire ;)

    I'm currently restoring Empire from 35mm prints, and I must say, it is the most beautifully shot of the three.

      Still looking forward to that. Those few small clips were really cool.

    Empire Strikes back is the best out of all four films.

    Revenge of the Sith
    because it made us appreciate the other entries all the more

    The 12yr old me still remembers Return of the Jedi with the fondest memories, so it remains my favourite to this day.

    I don't have a favourite, I like all original 3 equally, and then moments of the prequel trilogy (especially a lot of the relationship and banter between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and then Obi & Anakin). And VII (aside from some moments with Finn) makes even Jar Jar seem good due to it being a bad fanfic remake of the OT.

    Anyone else think The Force Awakens kinda sucked?

      I actually didn't mind The Force Awakens, but I'm not going to deny it's fatal flaw.

      It is basically HD remaster of A New Hope with the scale ramped up on the props.

      Enh. Only compared to the original trilogy. Nothing matches the prequels for shittiness. Still... it was not great. Not that you could actually dare to say that in the month after release without fear of being labelled a bloody MRA because that whole shit was going on.

      But yeah, it did a lot that I did not like. It spent way too long obviously tonguing the ass of fans while nudge-nudge-wink-winking at how progressive it was. They really needed to let more of its fan-service and author's pet love come through with subtlety - show instead of telling. Instead we get a bunch of instances of using Han Solo as a device to tell us how good Rey was, and other forced shit. "YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER REALLY LIKES THIS NEW ONE, YOU SHOULD TOO!" Not to mention plot holes, awful pacing, inexplicable in-character decision-making, 'random strokes of idiocy required to advance the plot' bullshit, and other terrible, terrible tropes. And I can forgive Rey for being such a shit character, because all their 'main' characters have been even worse. (Luke was fucking awful. Anakin not much better.)

      It did a lot of things I liked, was visually gorgeous for most of the first quarter, and successfully did its job of passing the torch from old to new characters and setting the scene for the new movies, but it was fucking painful getting there.

      Didn't stop me from watching it three times. Because fucking Star Wars, dude.

      Last edited 14/12/16 12:39 pm

        For me, Rei and Snoke and Kylo are worse than Jar Jar and little Anakin.
        I like Anakins relationship with Obi-Wan is better, deeper and more realistic than anything these three have, even if Anakin is largely a whiny teen who complains about how his father doesn't understand him.

        I've been recently viewing it as a half-decent fan-fic to be frank. I still can't even grasp that it's actually a canon movie. Almost every character in that movie is a trope of potential fan-fiction put into an OC:
        1. Rei - Random girl that was able to use the force even better than Luke did 2 movies later, without any training whatsoever. So basically anyone putting together their first Jedi, they don't need training cuz they're already EPIC
        2. Finn - Stormtrooper, raised from birth in the First Order/Empire, yet somehow figured right from wrong and rebelled against the only life he would've known. What?! There is no way he would think this way with the backstory he was given, felt like that the movie was talking about two different Finns whenever the First Order mentioned him. If he was a fresh recruit that fell for the propaganda of Peace and Order when he signed up, then I would understand his reasons for leaving and even the most important thing - fighting AND killing his own comrades... but that wasn't what was established in his backstory. Seems like someone just wanted to make "Stormtrooper good guy" and didn't re-read the "why" or "how" reasons in that backstory.
        3. Poe - X-Wing pilot that does maneuvers never even CLOSE to done before in other movies, heck even games can't show the X-Wing can do what he pulled off in a single panning camera shot. So a better ace pilot than Luke, Anakin or Wedge (Who is still my favourite fighter pilot in the entire series)
        4. Kylo Ren - Now I will admit certainly that his opening was fricken perfect. Catching that energy bolt in mid air and continued on as if it was not even trying his concentration/power limits to hold! That really makes a fitting successor/threat after Darth Vader. I didn't care about the boyish looks to be honest, that wasn't what bugged me. Then not even half way into the movie, he's throwing tantrums and smashing expensive equipment as if his mommy refused to buy the new hot wheels car to add to his already overflowing hot wheels collection. He basically just showed himself to be the big bad guy that's just a sensitive and misunderstood little boy who just needs a hug, and the creator of that character wishes she could.

        They all feel like OCs some fans made smushed together into a movie rather than official Star Wars universe characters, the more I think about it. Same with "It's like a Death Star, but fricken small planet-sized that can use a sun's very essence to power, but... I can't think of an interesting weakness for it, I'll just rip from a New Hope instead, don't fix what isn't broken."

        Last edited 15/12/16 10:06 am

          You might want to rethink your criticism of Rei.

          Random girl

          We don't know her blood lline. She could have Jedi heritage.

          that was able to use the force even better than Luke did 2 movies later

          By Return of the Jedi, Luke had crafted his own lightsaber, was able to lift C3PO in the air, fought a very powerful Darth Vader and didn't die when hit with force lightning. Rey did none of those things, and barely defeated a less-experienced (than Vader) guy who was injured.

          So basically anyone putting together their first Jedi, they don't need training cuz they're already EPIC

          In the first film, Luke dicked around with a floating sphere, then suddenly gets the keys to an X-Wing and performs better than pilots who have had much more training than he had.

          You are way off in your criticism.

            A bit selective on the quotes, as you seemed to miss the most important part of the argument,
            "without any training whatsoever". Luke had a teacher almost the whole way through his journey to learn the ways of the force, whom were already Jedis themselves with many years of experience, with Obi Wan and later on Yoda. They were both constantly trying to get Luke on a correct mindset to be able to utilise the force and even then, it was far from as perfect, remember the X-Wing in the swampwater scene? Yes Luke was able to force pull the lightsaber out of the snow in Empire Strikes Back, but he was already taught on how to attune to the required mindset from Obi-Wan, and you notice how Luke prepared that mindset with the posture before he managed to pull the lightsaber out. Again, all from training.
            One counter argument with this is Anakin's "seeing things before they happen" quick reflexes for his pod racing career he had before meeting Qui-gon in the Phantom Menace. That's a much more subtle way of showing force sensitivity than actually being able to mind control a stormtrooper like she was able to, and I can accept she has the "quick reflexes" trait too like Anakin did, that's quite useful in primitive-style combat (e.g. her staff weapon, so already established she has a grasp on primitive combat) and since it's already established you can have that kind of trait without training, easy to accept. That fight between Rei and Kylo Ren, haven't got many issues with that actually at all. Kylo was shot by Chewies crossbow blaster, that would really fricken hurt and would've taken a lot for Kylo to even keep moving , let alone fight with that injury. That pain would've also impacted his concentration so he couldn't use any force powers very well, if at all. so it was straight up primitive combat with advanced weapons, leveling the playing field for Rei, with her already established primitive combat prowess she already used on Jakku, and even then it took some time to get the upper hand on him.

            Now onto your point about Luke himself, that "dicked around with a floating spehere" was part of training his mindset to feel the force around him and use it to his advantage, which he failed several times to grasp and took time to actually get any grasp on, you see after he relaxed on properly concentrated he was able to tap into it enough to see the attacks coming to block them. All part of the training.
            He got keys to an X-Wing because it was already established that 1. He is a pilot and 2. He's actually a very decent pilot to boot - Obi-Wan said it to him with "I understand you've become quite the pilot, yourself" as in already had a reputation for his flying skills, and also from his friend that left home some time ago, Biggs. He was talking Luke up as an amazing pilot to his squad leader before the mission, and Biggs was already an X-Wing pilot. If he says Luke is a talented pilot, he's obviously pretty decent at the very least ("Bullseye-ing wamp-rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two metres"), and given they were up against the biggest threat yet in the known universe, the Death Star, and they had a spare X-Wing in the hangar, pretty sure you'd want to get all the help you can get, so naturally you would give him the keys to your spare X-Wing. If he can fly, shoot targets, and also hates the empire, why not?

            You are certainly correct, we don't know her bloodline or her past at all, and it's my hope that future movies will fill the above holes, if it does I'll happily take those criticisms back.

      Absoutely. An abysmal movie with not a single interesting thing about it. Star Wars deserved so much better.

      I don't think think sucked but I haven't felt compelled to watch it again after seeing it in the cinema which is very unusual for a Star Wars film

    Knights of the Old Republic, then, Knights of the Old Republic II, then Return of the Jedi, then Force Awakens.

      KOTOR was so good. I remember doing 12 hour sessions on that game in my golden era of gaming (no kids, wife , mortgage or responsibility!)

        ha ha, yeah, me too buddy, me too. dang those responsibilities and better knowledge of how horrible it is for our health to do it these days. ha ha.

    Personally, I go

    ROTJ tied with Ep 7 (Fuck the haters. I found it great fun.)
    Everything else including Caravan of Courage and Marauders of Endor
    Mean Girls
    Everything else
    Absolutely everything else I missed beyond that
    Mouldy hotdogs
    Attack of the Clones

    Last edited 14/12/16 12:10 pm

      I feel like we'd have a bromance based on this list. Attack of the Clones is BY FAR the shittiest of all the films. And Force Awakens could have been better but as you say, fuck the haters.

      Now excuse me whilst I get ready for midnight screening of rogue one *dances*

        MIDNIGHT SCREENING! *Bro-fist* Mufucking gold class!!!!! Taking my son and his mate. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to do this. Gold class, my son, his friend, a whole theater of Star Wars fans. Man I'm so goddamn pumped!

          I'M SO JELLY I think it's regular class. Best thing for me, my GF was the one that suggested it. I guess even lawyers can be prone to whimsy? *BRO FIST*

      Agreed, except I swap Jedi and Force Awakens (still tied) with ANH. ANH is good but doesn't hold up as well visually as Empire and Jedi.

      Also, I grew up with the prequels, so I will forever love The Phantom Menace because of Qui-Gon, Maul, and pod racing. Attack of the Clones on the other hand, I literally rank as one of the worst films of all time. I hate that trash and my annual re-watching always comes to a grinding halt when faced with it being the next film (Machete Order = best order). Takes a lot to psych myself up to watch it.

      The Clone Wars is the prequel series we deserve. The early episodes were fun for kids but the later episodes had so much soul, and the end of Ahsoka's arc always hurts my heart. Also Captain Rex is one of the greatest editions to Star Wars ever. So there.

        Personally I leave ANH there for the sentimental factor. I watched that sucker almost every day as a little boy on Betamax and literally wore out a tape lol. Mum got me a copy on VHS and I wore that out too lmao. It defined a point of life for me, so ANH to me, although I really should put it at 1 sentimentally, sits just below ESB, because by god Kirschner made an utterly perfect movie right there.

          ANH is the first film I ever have a memory of seeing. Was down at Apollo Bay in VIC at my Dad's Cousin's place when I was 4 or 5.

      Mean Girls is way better than ROTS.

    Well clearly it goes in order of best to worst - Holiday Special, Caravan of Courage, Battle For Endor, Episode I, Episode II, Episode III, Clone Wars, Episode VII, Rogue One, Episode IV, Episode VI, Episode V.
    Holiday Special of course being the best of all of them, followed very closely by caravan of courage :P

    Actually went back a rewatched the prequels recently. I think enough time has passed for my hate for George Lucas to subside. Ok writer.....terrrrrrible director.

      Yep. Im STILL convinced that in the right hands, with a better editor and director, the prequels coulda been decent.

      Last edited 14/12/16 12:50 pm

        Your not the only one.
        After recently rewatching them in order from 1 - 7 I realised 1 - 3 had a good story in there.
        As you say with a better editor and director (and an older Anakin in TPM because there is no way that is not creepy) it could have actually been ok.

          In my opinion, Anakin should have been Obi Wans age when they found him. The idea was he was 'too old', yet it was *completely* contradictory, because he was no older than some of the other young trainees in later movies. They should've found him as a late teen early 20's, realised he was basically planet-shifting type powerful and tried to reign his power in. That's where they went off track I felt.

            100% agree.
            That would have made infinitely more sense and improved not only TPM but the other movies as well I think.
            I never understood what they thought when they cast Anakin as that young.
            It made no sense to the story.

              It made no sense at all. Hayden Christensen is a fine actor, My Life as a House was good, his other roles were fine beyond that too. He was hamstrung by TERRIBLE dialogue "I hate sand..." for example. But what's done is done.

              Personally, I would've had Episode 1 be about finding this non-Jedi who's developed later in life into someone causing significant issues in the force, killing mass numbers of Republic soldiers etc against his will as he cannot control his powers, when they seek to take his planet at the outer rim and incorporate it into the Republic. Obi Wan and Qui Gon go in, manage to retrieve him, calm him and train him. Maul goes in, tries to retrieve him for Darth Sidious, to turn him to the dark side. Scrap *all* that trade federation shit. Just keep it 100% simple. A struggling teen in the middle of two forces wanting to dominate his future. Maybe a third side, the republic senate, aware of his power, sending in assassins covertly, to end his life as they deem him 'too much of a threat', when the Jedi council find out at the end that the Republic betrayed them under the orders of Chancellor Palpatine, as Qui Gon Jinn dies at the hands of Darth Maul and another character is murdered by Jango Fett, the shit hits the fan and the Jedi Council fractures from the Republic, with Anakin and Obi Wan fleeing to parts unknown for their own safety until Episode 2, in the meantime, Obi Wan, himself not ready to be a teacher, will take it upon himself against Yodas wishes to train Anakin...

              Just a basic idea.

              Now to get a Delorean...

              Last edited 14/12/16 4:15 pm

    The Clone Wars animated series please.

    In regards to the seven films though, I quite enjoyed episode one. The pod-racing, mostly. Such janky vehicles, but so much grit! Also enjoy Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan.

    Probably The Empire Strikes Back.

    I'm going to be "that guy" and have everyone disagree with me, but The Force Awakens is probably my next favourite Star Wars film.

    For me, even though the plot is essentially A New Hope, The Force Awakens helped re-ignite the spark and magic of Star Wars in me. Plus I loved the performances of all the new cast members/characters, I thought they were amazing. I think Disney did an amazing job on that film.

    I've heard great things about Rogue One, though. Seeing it this Saturday and I'm super stoked.

    Last edited 14/12/16 2:01 pm

      For me, TFA didn't have that magic, as it felt like a fan fic re-sequel desperately trying to remind everyone that it's Star Wars by flashing lots of OT imagery every minute.
      Rei felt more bland and unrealistic than Anakin to me.

        That's fair enough. I understand your points completely.

        I'm not sure why, but I really liked Rey and Finn. I was very impressed with their acting and I enjoyed the chemistry they had on screen together, as well as with Harrison Ford/Han Solo.

        I loved The Force Awakens, to me it was magical, but honestly I can seriously understand why people didn't enjoy it.

        I'm still looking forward to Rogue One. I hear great things about it already.

    That one where Kirk goes back in time to find humpback whales

    I'm just gonna drop this comment here people likely won't see... and won't pay attention to... but if Rogue One is a smash hit, we're going to get a shift away from Episode movies likely with Star Wars predominantly and see more and more 'original storylines' (in my eyes, a good thing, don't drag out the skywalkers forever).

    “It’s certainly exciting as a filmmaker, the notion that we can explore these stories that genuinely have a beginning, middle and an end, and don’t necessarily have to tie into something specific,” Kennedy says.

    And I *know* I did read it somewhere, she said they actually are actively exploring the idea of a movie set in the time of the Old Republic... if Rogue One proves a hit... so see the damn movie. SEE IT.

      WAYYYYYY ahead of you :P

      Agreed though, I'm most excited about the side stories than the actual central films since Disney has taken over. I know it's been shelved for now, but I can totally see a Boba Fett film happening at some point. Why the hell not?

      Oh god no, first they take the old republic from us, but now want to go there?!?

      Those monsters...

        They've been reintroducing a lot of the old content and in rather well done ways. A lot of the EU stuff was good, but quite a bit of it was a bigass shambles. I'd love to see what they could do personally.


    Rogue One was goddamn stunning!

    Empire and then Rogue One. No question or debate for me. Rogue one just gets much right.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now