The Star Wars Saga

 

Reviewed and Ranked



The Star Wars Saga:
Reviewed and Ranked
Part 1 | Part 2

The Star Wars Saga:
Star Wars: (Original Trilogy)
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) | Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: (Prequel Trilogy)
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) | Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars: (Sequel Trilogy)
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Reviews and Rankings - Part 2

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Chronological Story Order: 4
Release Order
: 1
Series Rank: 2

Notable: The first film of the series (in the original saga), and the fourth film in terms of chronology. This was the only "Star Wars" movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Star Wars (1977) was the first film to earn more than $400 million (domestically). It reached this mark in February 1997 after the re-release or re-issue of its 20th anniversary edition.
Tagline:
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
Director: George Lucas
Plot:
It had now been 19 years since the formation of the evil Galactic Empire (in Episode III). There had been a major civil war between the forces of the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. Rebel spies had managed to steal secret technical readouts to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, a planet-sized, armored space station, commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin. Beautiful Rebel leader Princess Leia, a member of the Imperial Senate, fled in her spaceship with the stolen, secret plans, but they were soon captured by the Empire forces in a massive Imperial Star Destroyer, led by the dark menacing shape of black-garbed, helmeted and faceless Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. Two of the Princess' droids, R2-D2 (with the plans recorded in its memory) and C-3PO, were jettisoned onto the surface of the desert planet of Tatooine in an escape pod. Leia was tortured to learn the location of the hidden Rebel base. Young Luke Skywalker was being raised by moisture farmers on Tatooine, the Owen Lars family. After the two droids were seized by scavenging Jawas and purchased by Luke's foster-'father', they were being cleaned by "nephew" Luke when he tripped a mechanism and saw a miniature hologram image of the Princess, pleading repetitively for help from wise, noble Jedi warrior/mentor Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi. From Owen, Luke learned that Obi-Wan was a friend of Luke’s father, whom Luke never knew. After encountering barbaric Sandpeople in the desert, Luke was rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi - a secluded hermit who lived beyond the Dune Sea on Tatooine. Luke learned that Obi-Wan was a Jedi Knight warrior in the time of the Old Republic, before the coming of the evil Galactic Empire. He was also told that Luke’s father was also a Jedi, one of Ben’s closest friends, and that his father was killed by Darth Vader, a former pupil of Ben’s who turned to the dark side of the Force. Soon, Luke found himself thrust into the struggles of the Rebel Alliance against the evil Empire. Kenobi convinced the reluctant Luke to join him, but first emphasized he must "learn the ways of the Force." After Luke's foster 'Aunt and Uncle' were slaughtered by Imperial troops searching for the droids, Luke agreed to be trained as a Jedi by Kenobi, to eventually go on a daring mission to rescue the Princess, who had been taken into captivity on the Death Star. At the space-port of Mos Eisley, the two found a freighter pilot, Han Solo with co-pilot Chewbacca the Wookiee, to take them on The Millennium Falcon to Alderaan, the Princess’s home planet. As they left, they had to flee from Imperial troopers and cruisers (Star Destroyers). Leia watched as her blue planet of Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star, as a way to get her to talk. During a rescue attempt onboard the Death Star, where all the principal characters had gathered after the Millennium Falcon was captured, Obi-Wan Kenobi sacrificed himself in a light-saber duel with Darth Vader, his former apprentice, when Kenobi allowed Vader to strike him down, only to disappear before Vader’s stroke actually hit and merge his consciousness with the Force. The group of rebels escaped on the Falcon to the Rebel base, then planned a major assault on the Empire's dreaded Death Star - after finding its Achilles heel. Luke proved that he had incorporated the Force by successfully targeting the Death Star and destroying it in the climactic finale.

Set-pieces: The arrival at Mos Eisley and the cantina scene, the Millennium Falcon's turret scene in which Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) gunned down attacking TIE fighters ("Great kid. Don't get cocky!"), and the Death Star trench scene with the spirit of Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi (Alec Guinness) urging Luke to "let go" and trust the Force.
Academy Awards:
Nominated for ten Academy Awards (with six wins): Best Art Direction (win), Best Costume Design (win), Best Film Editing (win), Best Score (win), Best Sound (win), Best Visual Effects (win), Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Guinness). Winner of a Special Achievement Award.
Razzie Awards:
None.
Production Budget:
$11 million.
Box-Office:
$307.3 (domestic), $461 million (lifetime domestic gross), and $775.4 million (worldwide).
Run-Time:
121 minutes (original), 125 minutes (1997 Sp. Ed.).


Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Chronological Story Order: 5
Release Order
: 2
Series Rank: 1

Notable: The second film of the series (in the original saga), the series' first sequel, and the fifth film in terms of chronology. It was set three years after the events of the first film (Episode IV), and considered by many to be superior to its predecessor.
Tagline:
"The Star Wars Saga Continues..."
Director: Irvin Kershner
Plot:
Although the Death Star had been destroyed three years earlier, it remained a dark time for the Rebels, who were struggling against Imperial forces, who quickly regrouped and began searching for the new location of the Rebel base. Darth Vader led the hunt for Luke Skywalker, taking orders from the commanding ruler of the galaxy, the Emperor. Freedom fighters led by Luke, regarding him as the Rebel's only hope, had established a new secret base in a hidden ice cave on the remote ice world of Hoth. However, their location was discovered and an evacuation was underway, as a major battle was fought between the Hoth planet Rebels and gigantic Imperial Snow-Walkers (AT-AT's), armed walking transports. The Rebellion was defeated. Han Solo, Chewie, C-3PO and Princess Leia fled in the Millennium Falcon to hide in an asteroid field, while Luke journeyed with R2-D2 to the swampy planet of Dagobah, to train with wizened greenish Jedi master Yoda (living in hiding since the Republic fell), to master the power of the Force. Although Han Solo's group thought they had avoided detection from the pursuit of Imperial Star Destroyers, they were silently being trailed by bounty hunter Boba Fett, on their way to a "safe port" - the floating Cloud City on the planet of Bespin - owned by Solo's old friend Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, Darth Vader had already arrived and was awaiting them. Vader captured Han, Leia and Chewbacca, and also lured young Skywalker there to entrap him, by using his friends as bait. Meanwhile, Solo was placed into a carbonite-freezing chamber to be encased in suspended animation (it was a test so that Vader could be assured that the process planned for Luke was not fatal). When Luke arrived, he engaged in a fierce, face-to-face light-saber duel with the Sith Lord - Darth Vader, who wished to convert Luke to the Dark Side. Luke's hand was amputated with one swing - and then he was horrified when told that Vader was his father, Anakin Skywalker. During their duel, Lando’s men surprised the Imperial troops, freed Leia and the enraged Chewbacca, and the group of rebels departed to save Han. The episode ended with Solo imprisoned by Jabba the Hutt and his bounty hunter Boba Fett (with Lando and Chewbacca in pursuit), while Luke was rescued and given a bionic hand.

Set-pieces: The ground assault-battle between the Hoth planet rebels and gigantic Imperial Snow-walkers (AT-AT's), the dizzying asteroid field chase scene with the Millennium Falcon escaping TIE fighters while darting between giant tumbling boulders, and later barely escaping a cave which was in fact a giant space worm's gullet, the initial light-saber fight in a cave between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the dark force of Darth Vader (David Prowse/voice of James Earl Jones), the levitation of Luke's X-wing fighter by Yoda (voice of Frank Oz), and the climactic lightsaber battle between Luke and Vader. Famous for Darth Vader's line: "No, I am your father" after the severing of Luke's hand.
Academy Awards:
Nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Art Direction, Best Original Score), winning one (Best Sound); winner of Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects.
Razzie Awards:
None.
Production Budget:
$18 million
Box-Office:
$209.4 million (domestic), $290.5 million (lifetime domestic gross), and $538.4 million (worldwide). It was the highest grossing (domestic) film of 1980, besting comedy 9 To 5 (1980) in second place at $103.3 million.
Run-Time:
124 minutes (original), 127 minutes (1997 Sp. Ed.)


Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

Chronological Story Order: 6
Release Order
: 3
Series Rank: 4

Notable: The third film of the series (in the original saga), the original series' second sequel, and the sixth film in terms of chronology. It was the first film to use THX technology.
Tagline:
"The Empire Falls..."
Director: Richard Marquand
Plot:
In the epic conclusion to the entire Star Wars Saga, Luke Skywalker had returned to his home planet of Tatooine (with his two droids) in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo (still in carbon freeze) from vile gangster Jabba the Hutt, a slug-like creature. The Rebels were on the run, continually being driven from one hiding place to the next. The Emperor Palpatine, the Sith mastermind who had engineered the creation of the Galactic Empire and the fall of Anakin Skywalker, was planning the doom of the Rebellion by constructing a new, more powerful Death Star space station, although it was falling behind schedule. A daring escape attempt by Leia (disguised as a bounty hunter) to free Solo from Jabba the Hutt failed, resulting in her imprisonment, along with Chewie, Luke, and the droids, although they were able to ultimately free themselves and destroy Jabba. Their next plan was to rendezvous with the assembled Rebel Alliance (led by Lando Calrissian), and mount a massive attack on the Emperor and his new space station, which was located orbiting the forest moon of Endor. (If Rebel fighters could penetrate its force field, they could target the space station's main reactor and destroy it.) Meanwhile, Luke returned to Dagobah, thinking he would finish his Force-training with aging Yoda, but the Jedi Master soon faded into oneness with the Force. Just before his death, Yoda had confirmed that Vader was Luke's father - and a ghostly image of Ben revealed that Luke's twin sister was Leia. (Ben also explained that what he had told Luke before was true - that Anakin Skywalker was for all intents and purposes 'killed' when he became Darth Vader.)
Solo, Leia, Luke, the two droids, and Chewie engaged in a dangerous mission to Endor, where they were aided by furry bear-like alien creatures known as Ewoks. A climactic duel pitted Luke against his father Darth Vader one last time, as the evil Emperor watched their struggle. Luke did not kill Vader when he had the chance. Although mortally-wounded, Vader made a redeeming choice to kill the Emperor (who was threatening Luke with purple bolts of lightning and slowly killing him), in order to save his son. Vader/Anakin Skywalker heaved the Emperor's body into an abyss, where he was torn apart by the Death Star generators, and then died in his son Luke's arms. With the Death Star's shield deflector destroyed, the Rebels commenced an attack on the unprotected Death Star's main reactor, and the space station was obliterated. On Endor, the Rebels celebrated their ultimate victory over the Empire. Luke looked at the smiling spirits of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his father.
Set-pieces: Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) fight in Jabba the Hutt's pit with the Rancor beast, the sand-pit battle between Jabba the Hutt's barge and the skiff, the speeder bike chase through dense Endor trees and foliage, and the final climactic duel between son Luke and father Darth Vader (David Prowse /voice of James Earl Jones) in front of a cackling Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). Also, Princess Leia's (Carrie Fisher) revelation about her sibling relation to Luke.
Academy Awards:
Nominated for four Academy Awards (with no wins): Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Original Score. Winner of Special Achievement Oscar for Visual Effects.
Razzie Awards:
None.
Production Budget:
$32.5 million.
Box-Office:
$252.6 million (domestic), $309.3 million (lifetime domestic gross), and $475 million (worldwide). It was the # 1 highest-grossing (domestic) film of 1983, besting second place Terms of Endearment (1983) at $108.4 million.
Run-Time:
134 minutes (original), 135 minutes (1997 Sp. Ed.).


Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Chronological Story Order: 7
Release Order
: 7
Series Rank: 3

Notable: The first part of a sequel trilogy of Star Wars (Episodes VII, VIII and IX). This was the second Star Wars film to be released in IMAX, and the first to be released in IMAX 3D. It was released 32 years after its immediate chronological predecessor, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Every other live-action Star Wars film was released in May, except for this one, released in December.
Tagline:
"Every generation has a story."
Director: J.J. Abrams
Plot:
Opening Crawl: "Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed. With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy. Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts..."

The setting was thirty years after the Battle of Endor and the defeat of the Galactic Empire, portrayed in Return of the Jedi. The galaxy was still at war, pitting the New Republic (and its Resistance fighters) against the villainous forces of the First Order, successors of the Galactic Empire. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), the ex-Princess, sent Starfighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) (with his rolling, orange and white droid-robot astromech BB-8) on a secret mission to the desert planet of Jakku to help locate and save the last Jedi, her twin brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), from the evil First Order. Poe was given a star-map by village elder Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) that might help the Resistance locate Luke. Poe was trailed by First Order Stormtroopers, who assaulted the village. A large command shuttle from an orbiting Star Destroyer also landed, carrying evil, dark-hooded Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who wielded a fiery-red plasma, cross-guarded lightsaber, possessed strong mind-probing powers, and was allied with the Dark Side. [The Vader-obsessed villain took orders from the First Order's Supreme Leader Lord Snoke (Andy Serkis) via hologram.] Ren was aided by chrome-plated, metallic-armored Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Poe hid the map inside his droid, who was instructed to deliver it to General Leia, as the village and its inhabitants were decimated, Lor was murdered, and Poe was captured. One of the Stormtroopers, reluctant to fire during the massacre, was FN-2187, later renamed Finn (John Boyega), who would soon turn his back on the Dark Side and join the Resistance. On the planet Jakku, young orphaned scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) who was collecting the wreckage of many years of war, was trading her scrap wares at the local Niima Outpost with unscrupulous Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg). Rey rescued BB-8 from desert scavenger Teedo (Kiran Shah) riding a Luggabeast. After changing allegiances and defecting, Finn traitorously aided imprisoned Poe in his escape from the Star Destroyer in a stolen TIE fighter. Their TIE fighter crash-landed on Jakku and a search immediately began for the escapees and the missing droid. Separately ejected from the fighter, Finn (posing as a Resistance pilot) met Rey and BB-8 at the Niima Outpost, where they were forced to flee from pursuing Stormtroopers in the marketplace. They escaped in a rusted, old freighter named the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Rey, and soon found themselves drawn into another massive freighter, the pirate ship Eravana, piloted by notorious ex-General and smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his co-pilot Chewbacca. Rey's and Finn's mission to get BB-8 back to Resistance was delayed when the ship was boarded by two groups of criminals. Fortuitously, Rey and Finn accidentally released the ship's cargo by opening container doors, unleashing three giant tentacled Rathtars with sharp teeth that attacked the gang members, allowing the group to flee in the Falcon. They set course for Takodana, to meet up with Han's old friend, dimunitive ancient pirate Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o). At her pirate's castle, Maz sensed the Force calling Rey, and Rey was drawn to a relic - an old Jedi lightsaber in a wooden box in the sub-chambers - the one previously used by Anakin and Luke. Finn, seeking adventure elsewhere, seriously considered leaving to become a mercenary. Meanwhile, First Order forces were consolidating their military might under young and ruthless General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), at their hidden Starkiller Base (a mobile ice planet), in violation of treaty restrictions of the Galaxy. During a rally at the Starkiller Base, Hux announced their development of a new superweapon, dubbed Starkiller, capable of directing the Sun's energy to decimate star systems. In a lethal demonstration, the superweapon destroyed the Republic-controlled Hosnian star system and its main planet, Hosnian Prime. The pursuing forces of the First Order detected the presence of the group on Takodana, dispatched TIE fighters and troops, and assaulted and destroyed Maz's castle - with Kylo Ren in command. Finn used the lightsaber to defend the group, but eventually, he, Han and Chewbacca were taken into custody by the First Order troops. Suddenly, Resistance group troops and X-Wing fighters approached in a successful counter-attack, led by Poe Dameron (who had survived the crash on Jakku), and the First Order was sent into retreat. However, nearby in the woods, Rey was relentlessly pursued by Kylo Ren, rendered unconscious, abducted and taken into his shuttle and later imprisoned at the Starkiller base. A Resistance transport landed, carrying General Leia and C-3PO.
During a brief reunion scene, Han grimly told Leia about seeing Kylo Ren: "I saw him. Leia, I saw our son. He was here." [Note: Luke had disappeared after one of his Jedi apprentices turned to the Dark Side, became Kylo Ren, and destroyed all that Luke had built.] The Resistance fighters and the Millennium Falcon (carrying Maz, Chewie, Han, Finn, and BB-8) regrouped at a subterranean base on the mottled green planet of D'Qar (surrounded by icy asteroid belt rings). The map in BB-8's memory banks, according to C-3PO, was incomplete and didn't match any known charted system. Leia and Han spoke about their son's decision to embrace the Dark Side, leading to their own separation. She blamed Supreme Leader Lord Snoke but still held out hope. While imprisoned at the Starkiller base, Rey was tortured and questioned by Kylo Ren (who used his mind-probe powers on her), but she resisted and fought back with her own burgeoning Force powers ("I'm not giving you anything"). She told him that she sensed fear in him: ("You're afraid that you will never be as strong as Darth Vader"). When he departed, she was able to escape her cell with a Jedi mind trick played on a Stormtrooper guard. Ren's discovery of her escape angered him and he went into a fit of rage. At the Resistance base, the fighters were debriefed as they prepared for a counter-offensive assault against the Starkiller Base and its superweapon (it drained the power of the sun to get charged so that it could destroy D'Qar). Leia warned everyone: "Our system is the next target." The Resistance's strategy was to blow up the thermal oscillator (in Precinct 47) that enabled the charging process to occur. If obliterated, it would "destabilize the core and cripple the weapon." Poe vowed to lead an assault of X-wing fighters to attack and disable the Starkiller base's shield emitters, so that they could blow up their "big gun." The assault of the Starkiller Base commenced with the Millennium Falcon crash-landing on the snowy and icy Starkiller Base planet. Han, Chewie, and Finn infiltrated the main control-room headquarters, captured Captain Phasma, and forced her to lower and disable the shield emitters before disposing of her down a garbage chute. Poe and his X-Wing fighters were given the go-ahead to attack their target (the hexagonal-shaped oscillator). The heroes' continued approach to the weapon power station to set thermal detonators in the base's power station luckily included a surprise reunion with Rey in a Base hallway. However, due to stiff defenses put up by the Starkiller Base and the First Order's TIE fighters, the Resistance forces seemed doomed. Kylo Ren and his father Han confronted each other at distant ends of a narrow catwalk bridge within the base. Han addressed Kylo with his original name ("Ben" Solo), and asked his son to remove his mask. Kylo replied: "Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish like his father, so I destroyed him." Han blamed the Supreme Leader: "Snoke is using you for your power." When they came closer and were face-to-face, Han said it wasn't "too late," and pleaded with his fallen Jedi son to "come home" and abandon the Dark Side. Ren briefly surrendered his red light-saber to Han, but then resisted, ignited the saber, and thrust it through Han's torso. After being stabbed to death, Han stroked his son's face, then fell into an abyss from the catwalk. At the same time, the power station explosives were detonated by Chewie, and a blaster fire-fight began between the surviving heroes and Ren (who was wounded). He chased Rey and Finn outside the Base as they fled into the woods toward the Falcon. When they came face-to-face, Ren knocked Rey unconscious, and then faced the traitorous Finn wielding Luke's blue lightsaber - the duel ended with the defeated Finn suffering major injuries. Regaining consciousness, Rey resumed the fight against Kylo with the light-saber, channeling the Force within her. Kylo suffered multiple wounds, was severely injured and fell back on the snow as a collapsing sink-hole separated him from Rey - he suffered an unknown fate. Chewie activated the Falcon and rescued both Rey and the seriously-injured Finn. In the air-war between the TIE fighters and the dwindling number of Resistance pilots, and with only 30 seconds remaining before the superweapon was fully charged, one remaining X-Wing fighter (piloted by Poe) released its payload in the trench at the Starkiller's oscillator, triggering other explosions that obliterated the entire base. In a panic, General Hux reported to Lord Snoke that the base had been massively damaged ("the collapse of the planet has begun"), and they immediately evacuated and abandoned the installation (hoping to locate Ren). Back at the Resistance base at D'Qar where everyone was reunited, the heroes celebrated a mixed victory - the First Order base was destroyed, but Han was dead, and Finn was seriously injured and unconscious. Dormant droid R2-D2 suddenly awakened and revealed the remaining section of the holographic map to Luke's hidden location that matched up with BB-8's fragment - the completed map pointed to a water-covered planet known as Ahch-To. In the concluding scene set on a remote, craggy island in an unknown world, Rey (accompanied by Chewbacca and R2-D2) had flown there in the Falcon, hoping to locate Luke. After Rey's arduous trek up a steep path of stone steps to the summit, a cloaked and hooded figure was found standing with his back to her. The bearded figure slowly turned towards her, removed his hood (with both hands - his right hand was mechanical) and revealed himself to be Luke Skywalker. She extended his light-saber to him with her left hand - frozen in a standstill, as the film concluded.
Academy Awards:
Nominated for five Academy Awards (with no wins): Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects.
Razzie Awards: None.
Production Budget:
$245 million.
Box-Office:
$936.7 million (domestic), $2.068 billion (worldwide)
Run-Time:
135 minutes





The Star Wars Saga - Ranked
Part 1 | Part 2


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