Top 40 Greatest Star Wars Moments, Part II

We’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Star Wars! The “little” sci-fi film that came out in 1977 has spawned an intergalactic media franchise that is just as popular today as it was 40 years ago. Being that it’s the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re continuing the countdown of the 40 greatest moments in Star Wars films and TV.

Palpatine forms Empire

20. Emperor Palpatine Forms The Galactic Empire (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith): We, and many of the film’s characters, watched with horror as the disfigured Chancellor Palpatine used a failed attack upon him by Jedi as an excuse to dissolve the crumbling Galactic Republic before cheering throngs. What made this moment so unsettling to watch was that it can be compared to real-life events in our history.

19. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn vs Darth Maul (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace): Say what you want about the flawed Star Wars prequel, but it had one kickass lightsaber duel. Buttressed by green screens and John Williams’ rousing, operatic soundtrack the deadly duel between the Jedi Knights and Darth Maul was wild, exciting and undoubtedly the best moment in the film.

ahsoka-quits

18. Ahsoka Leaves The Jedi Order (Star Wars: The Clone Wars “The Wrong Jedi”): In the final episodes of the fifth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi apprentice, had been framed for murder. After much ordeal, Ahsoka was cleared, but she was so disillusioned with the Jedi Order that she chose to leave it at the end of the last episode. This turn of events was frankly surprising and deftly sets up Anakin’s own disillusionment with the Jedi later on.

Arent you a little short for a stormtrooper

17. “Aren’t You A Little Short For A Stormtrooper?” (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope): When Luke Skywalker disguised as a stormtrooper bursts into Princess Leia’s prison cell on the Death Star, her first words to him were unexpected. Instead of being fearful or excited, she comes off as nonchalant and unimpressed with her liberator. Throughout the film Leia displayed spunky bravado and put up a steel front even as a prisoner. This savvy attitude perfectly summed up Princess Leia, who dispelled the cliché of being the damsel in distress. We knew that no matter what she could take care of herself.

16. The Battle of Hoth (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back): The very first Star Wars sequel set a darker, more ominous tone which was foreshadowed in the first acts’ climatic battle. Rebel forces were forced to evacuate their base on the frozen world Hoth and brave fighter pilots and troops, including Luke Skywalker, desperately tried to hold off imperial metal, behemoth walkers. It was soon clear that the Rebels were outmatched by the superior forces and the one-sided battle was disheartening, yet exciting, to watch.

yoda-in-last-star-wars-clone-wars

15. Yoda’s Vision Quest (Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Vision”, “Destiny” “Sacrifice”): In the series finale, Jedi Master Yoda goes on a spiritual retreat because he is troubled by the Clone Wars and the rise of the dark side of the Force. His insightful visions during a visit to a Sith planet let him (and the viewers) know there was more to the Force than he knew. He realized that waging war was not the answer to bringing balance to the Force and that the Force was much more multi-layered than just good and evil. This, and Yoda’s vision of a true Chosen One, was a poignant way to end the series.

han shot first

14. Han Shoots First (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope): In the original and true version of the first Star Wars film Han is cornered at the cantina bar by the bounty hunter Greedo, who has come to collect Han’s debt owed to Jabba the Hut. From the testy conversation, Han knew Greedo was going to shoot him so he beat the bounty hunter to the punch and underhandedly shot him dead. Pure badassery and it sets up perfectly Han’s eventual redemption later in the film.

13. Darth Vader Saves Luke Skywalker (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi): Following the climatic lightsaber duel in Return of the Jedi a victorious Luke refused to kill his father Darth Vader and to submit to the dark side of the Force. In response, Emperor Palpatine attacks Luke with vicious lightning attacks. Luke was helpless under the savage assault while Vader stood by passively. At this point, Vader made a life-changing choice and turned against the Emperor. This cost Vader his life, but his final act saved Luke and put him on a path of redemption as he rejected the dark side of the Force. This moment made Vader much more layered and somewhat of a tragic figure instead of a one-dimensional villain.

12. Darth Vader Goes Medieval (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story): This moment came in the closing scenes of Rogue One and neatly segued the way into Star Wars Episode IV. After the Rebel flagship received the plans for the Death Star, it was prevented from escaping and boarded by Darth Vader. As the frantic Rebel troops tried escaping onto another ship with the plans, Darth Vader silently cut through the hapless soldiers with his red lightsaber being the only source of light. The way he so viciously and quickly killed the troops was both frightening and awe inspiring. The scene demonstrated how deadly Darth Vader was as he displayed his mastery of the Force.

11. Order 66 (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith): Perhaps the darkest moment ever seen in a Star Wars film was when Emperor Palpatine ordered the Republic’s clone troopers to turn against the Jedi. One by one, we witness heroic Jedi taken by surprise and slaughtered by their own forces. Underlining the gravity of these acts were John Williams’ haunting score, Yoda’s pained reaction at feeling all those sudden deaths and Anakin Skywalker coldly murdering young children, who were training to be Jedi (thankfully this happened offscreen).

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Rogue One Is An Exciting Addition To The Star Wars Saga

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the newest film for the epic space saga from Lucasfilm and is a great action movie as well.  It tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance was able to procure the plans for the Empire’s super weapon the Death Star. It involves a young woman named Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) who is recruited by the rebels to find her long lost father, who is an imperial scientist and in charge of making the weapon. She is accompanied by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel spy and his cranky, but useful, droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Their journey across several new worlds tells an exciting tale that has a feeling of dread as the Death Star is shown reigning death upon worlds in anticipation of its later appearance in the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
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Godzilla director Gareth Edwards does a very good job portraying the action, both on the ground and in space, with a gritty feeling that is somewhat different from previous films in the series. The intense firefights between rebel soldiers and storm troopers really give the impression of a huge struggle between bitter foes in a long war for survival. The action in space is just as impressive with camera views from the top of X-Wing fighters that give the feeling of actually being up there in the middle of all that chaos.
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Another very interesting aspect is the use of characters from the original film that make an appearance. First and foremost is Grand Moff Tarkin played by Peter Cushing. Yes, Peter Cushing, who died in 1994. He was digitally recreated for this film and has many scenes in the movie. It’s not just a brief cameo and his presence is something to behold. Other classic characters who appear include a brief appearance by Princess Leia and, of course, the iconic villain Darth Vader. His return is also brief, but very powerful, especially towards the end when he is seen in action and he is brutal and terrifying. It was also nice to see Jimmy Smits again as Bail Organa and does link the prequel era to the original set of films.
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One issue with the movie is that since there were many new and different characters to introduce, some of their characterizations were thin. As a result, when our heroes began to make their inevitable sacrifices for freedom, there wasn’t as much of a feeling for them as there would be if we got to know them a little bit better. This was somewhat inevitable though, since the story does have to revolve around Jyn and both her search for her father, as well as redemption for him. Nevertheless, audiences are still able to appreciate what the rebels lost and see how costly the battle to gain the Death Star plans was for the Alliance. We also see a new Imperial villain, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) who is the head of weapons research for the Death Star. His rivalry with Tarkin over control of the battle station and brutal tactics against rebel worlds is effective at showing the sinister side of the Empire, as well as the its repressive nature for both its subjects and those serving in its ranks.
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The climatic battle at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set on the planet Scarif. It is a real highlight and the battle is destructive and almost apocalyptic end goes to show what is really at stake for the galaxy. The final scenes tie directly into the beginning of Episode IV and it makes this film the perfect companion piece to the 1977 classic. Overall, I enjoyed this new foray into the Star Wars universe and see it as a ground level view of the whole conflict between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire. I would really like to see another Star Wars film by Gareth Edwards, perhaps set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and hope that other directors are inspired by his vision of this universe created by George Lucas.

 C.S. Link

Star Wars Movie Retrospective: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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“May the Force be with you” – Jedi expression

This is the one that started the phenomenon…the very first Star Wars film. Back when it was first released it was just titled Star Wars. Those pesky Episode subtitles didn’t come along until The Empire Strikes Back and now this entry is known as Episode IV: A New Hope. It may sound confusing to someone completely in the dark about Star Wars films, but it makes some kind of convoluted sense to the rest of us.

Director and creator George Lucas often stated in past interviews that his saga as originally written was quite sprawling, too much to put into one film, let alone a trilogy. Hence, why he skipped to Episode IV to do first because he felt the storyline truly became interesting and action packed with this episode. And he was right.

opening

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope throws viewers into the complex galaxy where the story is based with an opening crawl informing us that this faraway galaxy, a long time ago, is in the midst of a galactic civil war. The Rebel Alliance, which rose from the ashes of the fallen Galactic Republic, has won its first major victory against the despotic Galactic Empire. The Rebels have stolen plans for the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station that is capable of destroying planets that was just completed by the Empire. Rebel leader Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is onboard a blockade runner spaceship on her way to the planet Tatooine to recruit  a Jedi to join her cause.

Just as the opening crawl finishes, leia and r2Leia’s spaceship swooshes overhead near Tatooine as its chased by a mammoth Imperial Star Destroyer battle cruiser. The imperial ship overtakes the small blockade runner and tows it onboard. Soon, the Rebel ship is boarded by white-armored stormtroopers led by Darth Vader (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones), a fallen Jedi who is a Sith follower now. He and his troops turn the ship upside down looking for the plans. But they’re too late, Leia downloads the plans into an astromech droid R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) before she is captured. The small droid makes his way to an escape pod accompanied by a humanoid protocol droid C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and is able to flee the ship and land on Tatooine.

droidsThe desert planet is brutal to C-3P0 who constantly voices his displeasure to R2-D2. The small droid ignores his companion and separates from him to fulfill a mission given by Leia to find Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness). Both droids wind up being captured by Jawas, small nomadic beings that populate the planet’s sand-covered wastelands.

The Jawas wind up selling the droids to moisture farmer Owen Lars (Phil Brown). He assigns his nephew Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to get them ready for work on the farm. While cleaning up R2-D2, Luke triggers a partial holographic message from Leia where she says “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”; Luke wonders if the message is for Ben Kenobi, a hermit that he knows. He later tries bringing up this matter to Owen and over dinner served by his aunt Beru (Shelagh Fraser), but his uncle brushes him off and tells him to wipe both droids’ memory banks. Changing the subject, Luke asks if he can join the Academy, but Owen replies that he still needs Luke’s help on the farm and to wait another season. Angrily, Luke leaves the dinner table and goes outside to brood. He finds out from C-3P0 that R2-D2 ran away, but it’s already nightfall and too dangerous to go looking for the droid.

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The next morning he and C-3P0 leave the farm in his landspeeder hover vehicle and find the small droid in the desert just before they’re attacked by tusken raiders. After Luke is knocked out, the tusken raiders are scared off by an animal cry mimicked by Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi. Ben takes Luke and the droids back to his home  and after revealing that he was once a Jedi Knight, presents him kenobi's placewith a lightsabre. Ben tells him that it belonged to Luke’s father, a Jedi Knight and friend, who was betrayed and killed by Darth Vader, Kenobi’s former apprentice. After introducing Luke to the concept of the mystical Force, Ben is able to activate the full holographic message. It’s a plea from Leia to go to deliver the droids, who have the Death Star plans, to her home planet of Alderaan and join the fight against the Empire.

Pondering the appeal, Ben asks Luke to join him, but Luke turns him down because of his responsibilities. The old Jedi is disappointed but understands and accepts Luke’s offer to transport him to the city Mos Eisley to find passage to Alderaan.

death starThe Star Destroyer arrives at the Death Star. Several military leaders are holding a meeting, which is joined by Darth Vader and his superior Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). They’re informed by Tarkin that the Emperor has dissolved the Imperial Senate and that fear of the Death Star will keep the many systems of the Empire under control. Tarkin instructs Vader to find the location of the Rebel headquarters to end the rebellion. Vader proceeds to torture his prisoner Princess Leia, but is unable to get from her the location of the Rebel base.

Back on Tatooine, Luke, Ben and the droids find the smoldering remains of the Jawas that sold Luke and Owen the droids. Ben concludes that they were killed by imperial troops and Luke quickly deduces that his family is in danger. He rushes home but is too late. Stormtroopers have been there earlier and killed his uncle and aunt. The young farmer goes back to Ben and asks to join him and to be trained as a Jedi.

cantina meetAfterwards, Luke, Ben and the droids travel to Mos Eisley, a rundown and seedy port of call bursting with aliens and imperial stormtroopers. They stay one step ahead of inquisitive stormtroopers and go to a local cantina to hire a pilot who can take them to Alderaan. In there, they meet a smuggler called Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his first mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), a bear-like Wookiee that only communicates with growls and grunts. The two parties strike a deal, which delights Han since he owes Jabba the Hut, a local gangster, a lot of money.

At the Death Star, Vader reports his failure to get the location of the Rebel base from Leia. Tarkin decides to use a different approach. He orders the Death Star to go to Alderaan and once the battle station arrives he threatens Leia that he will have the Death Star destroy her adopted planet. She reluctantly gives him a planet’s name and in response, Tarkin has Alderaan destroyed anyway, much to Leia’s horror.

falcon

On Tatooine, Luke sells his landspeeder to raise funds for the passage; afterwards a local spy spots Luke and his group as they make their way to Han’s ship, the Millennium Falcon . They board the Falcon just in time before stormtroopers catch up to them. Fortunately, the Millennium Falcon is able to escape from Tatooine and jump into hyperspace.

With some time to kill as they make their way to Alderaan, Ben starts instructing Luke on the ways luke trainsof the Force. Han is skeptical of the old Jedi ways, declaring it extinct, but Luke ignores the putdowns and begins to demonstrate some adeptness in using the Force through some exercises. At that point, the Millennium Falcon arrives at its destination, but Alderaan is nowhere to be found. Only meteors greet the space pirate and his passengers. Ben realizes that the planet has been destroyed and a small moon is spotted nearby. Before they realize it, the Millennium Falcon is ensnared in a tractor beam from the moon, which turns out to be the Death Star.

Once pulled inside the battle station, the small group hides out in the Falcon’s smuggling compartments and avoid capture. They depart the ship and begin plotting their next move. Ben leaves the group to turn off the Death Star’s tractor beam and face an old foe that he senses with the Force. Meanwhile, Luke discovers that Leia is being held prisoner and has to convince Han and Chewbacca to help him rescue her before she is executed.

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