It's no secret that Star Wars is my favorite series/franchise/anything. I first saw Star Wars from an old VHS tape that my parents had recorded from a TV showing on cable, complete with commercials from the early 90's. To this day I can't watch the original trilogy without thinking there should be a commercial break in certain scenes. I was hooked after watching those for the first time, and luckily I didn't have to wait long at all before we had new movies to enjoy. As a 6 year old, The Phantom Menace in 1999 was the greatest thing I had ever seen in my entire life, as was the entire prequel trilogy. Since then, Star Wars has been a huge part of my life. On this Star Wars Day, May 4th, I figured it would be appropriate to write something about it. A good starting point is to list my favorite scene from each film, as of 2020. I love them all in different ways, so this may be a bit difficult to choose, but I'm going to try my best. I'm going in the order that I personally think they should be watched, which is release order for the saga films, with the spinoffs last.
A New Hope: Han vs. Greedo
This scene has become both famous and infamous over the years. Famous because its just such a classic scene that truly sets the tone of the world of Star Wars. Infamous because of the handful of edits that this scene has gone through since it's 1977 release. For the sake of this post, I refer to the actual original cut of this scene, as seen in the theatrical cut. Anyone in the entire world would agree it's the best version. For those not in the know, the original scene shows Han get stopped by an alien bounty hunter named Greedo, and learns that Jabba the Hutt needs his money now or suffer the consequences. Han says he doesn't have the money, and it quickly becomes clear that he's not making it out of there alive. He essentially pulls his gun out before Greedo has a chance to and blasts him. It shows that Han is dangerous, cunning, and smart enough to know when he's in a bad position; enough to make a move before his enemy can. Apparently, George Lucas ended up not liking the way he portrayed Han in that scene because it made him look like a murderer. He edited the scene in the special edition release to make Greedo shoot first, and slightly moved Han out of the way to sort of "dodge" the bullet and shoot him after. It's one of the most jarring CGI edits in film history and it's something pretty much everyone disagrees with, even despite the good intention behind it. The scene had another slight edit in the bluray release about a decade ago, and then even as recent as the new 4K edit now has an additional shot of Greedo saying a new line, that is meant to make him seem more menacing. It's very unfortunate that this scene went through so much second guesses, because it was perfect the first time. However, it's still an epic scene that shows how cool Han Solo actually is. #HanShotFirst
Empire Strikes Back: Luke vs. Vader
This list won't be all duels and battles, but this entire sequence, or chapter really, is quintessential Star Wars. I classify this as starting when Luke lands on Cloud City and is sneaking through it, following the escort with Boba Fett making sure he stops following. Luke knows something is going on, but is only sure of one thing: he needs to save his friends. As he enters the carbonite freezing chamber, the mood instantly goes from adventure to suspense. Vader is seen standing, waiting for him. The cinematography is top notch throughout the entire fight, with epic shots and lighting. The duel starts with Luke struggling to match up with Vader, but yet holds his own enough to make Vader try harder and harder as it goes on. There's a point where Luke ends up getting the upper hand, but Vader quickly goes from not trying, to full death mode. Suddenly it goes from simple sword fight to a straight up horror movie, where Vader pops out of shadows and begins throwing objects at Luke from all directions. Of course, the scene wraps up with the iconic truth bomb that Vader reveals to Luke. I can't imagine listing any other scene from this movie here.
Return of the Jedi: Battle over the Sarlaac Pit
I've always adored this scene simply for the sake of seeing a Jedi fighting normal bad guys as a hero with a lightsaber for the first time. The set up was very creative and shocking when you see it for the first time. You weren't sure how exactly they were going to escape the "clutches of the vile gangster Jabbe the Hutt" but you were on the edge of your seat wanting to see. It was the first time seeing Luke's new green lightsaber and see him block blaster bolts and jump from speeder to speeder. It's what ever little kid wanted to see. We also get to see the reaction of other people seeing a Jedi, and what they think about them, which is interesting. He's essentially the only Jedi that the galaxy has seen in a decade, and the disbelief throughout the entire Tatooine chapter of this movie is kind of cool and shows how important it is for Luke to succeed at it.
The Phantom Menace: Aggressive Negotiations
I'm sure I'll be shunned by many for not putting Duel of the Fates here (Darth Maul duel), and though that's probably my second favorite, I actually adore the entire first chapter of this movie the most. Part of it goes back to how I first saw it when I was 6 years old, but seeing full fledged Jedi Knights in the world doing their duty was the coolest thing to me, and still is. We see Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive on a random planet that is experiencing an issue with trade routes being blocked to protest trade taxes. They were supposed to just be there to negotiate a peaceful resolution, only to suddenly be attacked on site, and they have to fight their way out. We see them use different Force powers and are extremely proficient with lightsabers against menacing-looking battle droids. It's a very good opening, in my opinion, though I realize it may be a hot take among many.
Attack of the Clones: Obi-Wan on Kamino
This may be cheating, but I'm essentially putting the entire Obi-Wan arc here, because it's by far the best part of the film. You see him essentially being a detective throughout most of the movie, trying to learn about who is trying to assassinate Padme. It leads him down many interesting paths, including a fight with the deadly bounty hunter Jango Fett, which is much more satisfying than the last time we saw a Fett fight on screen. It was the first time we really get to see a Jedi fight against someone that isn't a lightsaber-wielding bad guy and it actually be a fair battle. Then of course Obi-Wan follows Jango and they have a short space battle as well, which Obi-Wan ends up outsmarting in.
Revenge of the Sith: Battle Over Coruscant
Let me just say I think this is probably a perfect Star Wars movie all around. It has the most emotion, most action, and most world and lore building out of any Star Wars movie that has been made. Choosing a favorite scene from this movie is truly an extremely difficult task. However, I think the opening sequence is probably a contender for the greatest scene of all films for me. The music is a huge reason for that, but also the cinematography and just the scale of the battle itself. Right as the crawl ends, the camera pans down and you hear the beating of war drums get louder and louder until suddenly you see two starfighters zoom into view and suddenly a huge space battle is going on above the galaxy's capital planet. Then you get to see the two greatest Jedi heroes in their ships with their usual banter, and you see some clone pilots in action. This scene probably can never be topped for me, but I won't say never. It's hard for me to choose between this film and Empire Strikes Back for my favorite Star Wars film, but I think after the Clone Wars TV show's ability to make this one even better, I'm inclined to say this is my favorite one now. I go back and forth, however.
The Force Awakens: Jakku Invasion
This film is a contender for coolest opening scene, for sure. We see a sandy planet at night, with Poe talking to an older man who seems to have known Leia in the past, and he holds part of a map to the planet that Luke is hiding in exile on. The new bad guys, the First Order, have quickly found them and descend on their position, killing villagers and burning down the village in the process. This is our introduction to the villain, Kylo Ren, who instantly shows himself as a ruthless dark side user, akin to his grandfather Vader. We see him freeze a blaster bolt in the air before it hits him, which was new and extremely cool to see.
The Last Jedi: Luke vs. Kylo Ren
Obviously this film is quite controversial as a whole, and I won't go into why. I will say that this film has issues for me, but I could say that about a lot of Star Wars films. That doesn't mean I don't like them, clearly. I still like this movie a lot. I actually really love the way they wrote Luke, and really loved the way he showed up in this scene. He had a really nice emotional moment with Leia before he went to face her son. I loved Adam Driver's performance in the entire Crait sequence. He shows emotional unbalance so perfectly, which pretty much sums up Kylo Ren. His rage toward Luke leaves him arrogant and gets fooled. The scene is very tense and shows just how powerful Luke was, by projecting himself through the Force, even if it took all of his energy to do so. In his last act, he decides to stop being the hermit Jedi, and instead be the hero Jedi that the galaxy needed at that moment.
The Rise of Skywalker: Kijimi
This movie just came out a few months ago, so I've only seen it twice so far, however I ended up loving it to the point where I think it redeemed the sequel trilogy in my eyes. The ultimate flaw in it's plot was the fact that Palpatine was alive at all, but once you get past that strange fact, it ends up being very good. The entire sequence on the planet Kijimi was really really cool. The group is looking to find someone that can read ancient Sith writing, and Poe brings them to an old crime-centric planet. It's very dark and noir-esque. The First Order is right behind them though, with the Knights of Ren searching. Suddenly Rey and Kylo Ren have a Force-connected conversation while they are in opposite locations. They fight each other through the Force connection until the Vader mask breaks, revealing Rey's position on his ship.
Rogue One: Vader's Last Straw
This time I'll be cliche and pick the one that anyone would. However, the entire film is extremely good and I would gladly have this movie without the Vader scene if that was the case. But we have the scene, in all of it's glory. The Rebels manage to steal the Death Star schematics from Scarif and get it on a ship to retreat the system. Not without Darth Vader doing all he can to get it back in his hands. He completely massacres rebel troops down a darkly lit hallway, and its a scene that any Vader fan or fan of the original trilogy would have loved to see happen back then. The film pays such good homage to the original films, and does a fantastic job of setting up the opening plot to A New Hope. Once you see this movie, you have to watch it before A New Hope going forward. There's just no other way.
Solo: Han vs. Beckett
This is actually interesting to end with this scene, considering the scene I started with. Essentially it attempts to revert what George Lucas attempted to revise with all of those old edits: Han Solo is dangerous. His mentor Beckett keeps warning him not to trust anyone, until he eventually turns on him as well. In this scene, Beckett has him at a draw, only to assume he doesn't have the guts to kill him. Han proves him wrong and shoots him first, before Beckett even has a chance to finish talking. That's the Han that we saw in the original Star Wars. Solo was extremely underrated. If you never saw it because you either had no idea it existed or just forgot about it, go watch it. It shows how Han got into the life of being a smuggler and sets up a few other story beats, if you're a canon junkie like me. It shows how Han and Chewie met, which is kind of a charming scene.
Those are all of the films, so far! I could go into TV shows as well, but that's a much bigger project. If you're a casual Star Wars fan or if you haven't watched all of them, you definitely should. They are all on Disney+ now for your streaming convenience, but of course they are on DVD and Bluray as well. If you want to venture into more than just the films, there is also a live action TV show called the Mandalorian which is extremely good, as well as two animated shows: The Clone Wars, which takes place between Episode II and III, which has quickly become essential Star Wars viewing in my opinion; and Rebels, which is also very good for after watching Clone Wars. They are animated cartoons, and ultimately were created as kids shows, however, they are geared for adults more than kids, as they deal with some heavy topics and some brutal action scenes in some cases. I highly recommend Clone Wars especially now that they finished the last season, which coincides with Episode III directly. Go watch it!
I will update this post as more films release.