The audacious conception of an epic space opera set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away paved the way for a beloved nine-movie sci-fi/fantasy saga centered on the Skywalker legacy, one that has captured the imaginations of millions of movie buffs, fantasy fanatics, and casual viewers alike.
Star Wars, the brainchild of George Lucas, has become a beacon of hope for a devout fandom who have and continue to return to the franchise as the original movies become streamable, new spin-off projects receive the green light, and Baby Yoda Funko Pop figurines line the shelves of gaming stores across the world. Star Wars as an idea is globally loved but its execution has always been debatable, especially as the singular and original vision of George Lucas has been adapted and adjusted by various creative influences to tailor content to contemporary times within budgets big and small.
These factors, coupled with one’s expectations from the Star Wars properties, will impact opinions on the individual movies but, no matter the order in which you rank these prized pieces of cinema, the force will be with you, always. And with that, here are our top three Star Wars movies:
3. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Arguably shunned because of the mere fact that it features in the prequel box-set, ‘Revenge of the Sith’ wraps up Annakin’s arc wonderfully in a way that does not descend to the abyss of the Sarlacc pit quite as the first two prequels did. While the cringe-inducing romantic dialogue and occasional Hayden Christensen acting mishap manage to creep its way into the film during early scenes, the final act delivers a politically thought-provoking and visually captivating conclusion rooted in the brutality that resonates from behind Vader’s mask.
2. Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
The Z-6 jetpack of the Star Wars Universe, ‘A New Hope’, gave cinema-goers their first taste of the soon-to-be pop-cultural phenomenon in a familiar storytelling package that visually transcended all that came before it. John Williams score bursting from the speakers as the iconic text crawl sets the scene for the story, the introduction of two innovatively entertaining droids C-3PO and R2-D2, and the role of Carrie Fisher as fierce and powerful Princess Leia are a few of the standout features of this groundbreaking film.
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Director Irvin Kershner helmed the cinematic masterpiece ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and did so with meticulous attention to detail, so much so that rumors claimed Lucas protested his unhurried pace. These were later denied, but the truth of the matter is that it took a director with such a keen eye for specifics to take what the ‘Return of the Jedi’ did to an otherworldly level. As the Millenium Falcon soars off in search of Han and the credits roll, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ leaves us lost in our imaginations light-years away.
Honorable mention: The Mandalorian
Though not a Star Wars movie, this Star Wars spinoff is television gold. Clocking in at a total runtime of five hours and 13 minutes, one could easily binge this series as a long movie. The space western brings back all we love about the universe, from cantinas brimming with unusual alien life to battles between bounty hunters and stormtroopers. ‘The Mandalorian’ deserves your attention.