Ranking The STAR WARS Movies: The Top Three (The Great) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Ranking The STAR WARS Movies: The Top Three (The Great)

Great shot, kid! That was one in a million! Well, three in a million to be exact... 

It's the culmination of our four article series ranking the eleven Star Wars cinematic offerings to date. The articles were split into four because, for me, there are four types of Star Wars films; the great (I'll go out of my way to watch again and again gleefully), the good (I'll happily watch and enjoy if on or, of course, part of a Star Wars marathon), the pointless (because they just are pointless), and the bad (I'd really rather not waste my time on these ever again).

So far, in our rankings we have...
11. The Clone Wars
10. The Last Jedi
9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
8. Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
7. Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
=4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
=4. Return Of The Jedi
=4. The Phantom Menace

There are just three Star Wars movies left, and there's certainly no prizes for guessing which three they are as, unless you've been living in a cave with Al-Qaeda for the last 40 years, everyone knows the names of all the Star Wars films so you can clearly see which three are missing. But, which order do the three greatest Star Wars films appear on our countdown. Let's find out now. In third place it's...

3. Star Wars: A New Hope
Let's get this out of the way first, shall we - I truly hate referring to this film as A New Hope! I seriously can't believe I'm the only one, am I? It's Star Wars George, just f'kin Star Wars OK? I don't really mind the addition of Episode IV to the title or anything like that but people always understood that this film was Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back was its sequel and the next installment in the overall Star Wars saga George, there was no confusion at all. So why, for the love of all things holy did you feel the need to rebadge it A New Hope in 1981? Hmmm, George? Hmmm? A whole year after Empire had been out and no confusion from anyone at all. Nada. And it's such a shit name for a film too, George! Look at all the other releases in the Star Wars saga, they all have cool names, but you decided to give the original one a truly ginger-stepson of a name. I could slap the beard of you George, I really could.

And breathe...

With that out the way it's a big yay for the original and truly awesome 1977 Star Wars. A film which redefined cinema and influenced a whole generation that grew up with it. Me included, Indeed, it was love at first sight for seven year old me seeing it on original release. I doubt there's a film I have watched more than this one, thanks in large part to a rather dodgy VHS copy taped from the TV debut in the very early 80s which I pretty much played to death on a daily basis (Even when I watch it now I expect adverts to come on after certain scenes!). Sure, it's not perfect. A little creaky around the edges and hammy at times, but gosh damn it does anyone care about that? What an amazingly wonderful two hours of anyone's time is to be had in the company of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Ben, Artoo, Threepio and Darth.

And as much as it irks me about the A New Hope subtitle addition, I never really minded George's later tinkering with the Special Edition release (although the original addition of Jabba was truly dreadful, thankfully the CGI had improved by the time the DVD came out) as it was just love at first sight all over again when it returned to the big screen.

It's a timeless tale that will, no doubt, continue to entertain generations for decades to come.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
Yeah, I know. It's not a popular choice to put, what the harshest critics could describe as, a beat-by-beat remake above the source inspiration, and believe me, I was all set to dislike The Force Awakens. I mean, Disney right?

You know, there's an air of arrogance surrounding many long time Star Wars fans. Anything which isn't the original untouched non-special edition trilogy can never be matched. But, get over yourself people. Star Wars is not a religion, it's entertainment. And for 40+ years no one film series has provided so much, largely great, entertainment to so many people. The fact that its legacy continues, and is continuing, should be appreciated more. I appreciate it, anyway.

Going back to The Force Awakens, it was exactly what the world needed from a Star Wars film at exactly the right time. Rey, a believable female protagonist, slipping into the Luke role from A New Hope (argh, that title again!) was a brilliant decision from J.J. Abrams and team. As was bringing back into the fold Lawrence Kasdan, the man who had already penned the screenplay for the best Star Wars film to date (which we will get to soon enough). Also, the decision to veto all the ponderous, overblown melodrama of the prequel trilogy (which, again, I'm not a prequel hater but is clearly present throughout those three films) and instead return to a mixture of childlike innocence, thrills and excitement of the original trilogy, resulted in an overwhelming abundance of sheer fun.

The Force Awakens utilises modern film-making technology (especially in the sound department - the audio for that early First Order attack is mixed frighteningly well) but, like all the best Star Wars movies, it's timeless. It's an utterly thrilling and majestic ride, with oodles of nostalgia conjoined perfectly with an engaging new adventure. The returning characters are introduced at just the right moment, scattered throughout to give soaring peaks to an already high adrenaline adventure. The "Chewie, we're home" moment gets me every single time. I think, it may, may, be my favourite moment from the entire Star Wars series.

I think there's a good chance that in the years to come I will go back and forth between A New Hope and The Force Awakens for the second place title of favourite Star Wars film (that's assuming The Rise Of Skywalker doesn't give them both a run for their money, which it very much could do), but neither of them, as great as they both are, will top the rankings, because...

1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
It's not exactly original to list this as number one, but, goddammit, there's a reason this film tops nearly every ranking of Star Wars movies. It's perfection.

Perfection for me anyway. I would not change one beat, one line of dialogue, trim one scene or edit one wipe. Not only is The Empire Strikes Back my favourite Star Wars film but it's my favourite film of all time.

At the age of 10, with just the 1977 Star Wars as a point of reference, which I had maybe seen in its entirety twice (no home video release as yet) but knew off by heart thanks to the annuals, toys, comics and games, my adventures in a galaxy far, far away were doubled. More than doubled. The Empire Strikes Back is bold, ambitious, and unexpected. It works on so many levels for an audience of all ages, and, in retrospect, completely redefined the concept of a sequel. Sure, there had been successful film series's before, take the James Bond movies for example, but all of those films could be watched independently of each other. The Empire Strikes Back wasn't a half-arsed re-hash of the original, it was the continuing adventures of characters we all knew and loved in multiple brand-new settings and introducing brand-new story-lines for them.

It also offered no conclusion, no self-contained adventure. Instead it left us with multiple unresolved questions. Multiple cliffhangers. In many respects it was the first 'water-cooler' movie, as everyone wanted to know how the "I am your father" moment and the "I love you", "I know" moment would play out. If it hadn't have been this way, if Empire had answered more questions than it posed, then it's quite possible we wouldn't be talking about Star Wars today in anywhere near the same capacity as we do.

There you have it. Eleven, largely great movies. A twelfth on its way. Where that sits in the rankings remains to be seen.

Which is your favourite Star Wars movie?

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