Top 5 Moments from Star Wars
Star Wars is more than just a film franchise - its a global phenomenon.
When we think of movie franchises, it is hard to ignore Star Wars. From the time the first film graced our screens in 1977, the space opera saga has grown into the second highest grossing franchise of all time, beating out the likes of Harry Potter and James Bond, which house some of the most iconic films the world of cinema has seen in recent years. This alone should speak volumes of how successful this franchise has grown - and now, even after 9 full feature films, 2 anthology films, eight animated TV series', and a brand new live action series, it doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Admittedly, Star Wars has had its fair share of problems in the recent past and while the future looks rather uncertain for how it will be proceeding, nobody can deny its rightful place as one of the most influential film franchises to ever exist.
And so, with today being May 4th (also known almost universally as 'Star Wars Day'), I thought I'd look back on some of my favourite moments in the franchise. Without any further delay, let's get into it.
5. Kylo Ren's Introduction (The Force Awakens)
Darth Vader is without question, one of the most iconic villains of all time. From the moment he showed up in the first Star Wars movie, he was someone who captured the attention of the audience completely - his black outfit and the deep voice of James Earl Jones was a terrifying combination, and our fascination with him only grew when we got to see his command of the Force, as well as his skills with a lightsaber. He was clearly not someone to be trifled with in any capacity.
However, if I had to say who had a more intimidating introduction, I would have to give it to Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens.
From the moment his ship touched down and he strolled out, it was obvious that he was not going to mess around. Much like Darth Vader, the combination of the effect of Adam Driver's voice behind the mask and the visage itself presented the viewer with a sense of fear, which was only accentuated when he showed no hesitation in killing the old man he sought to get information from. However, what cemented this for me as one of my favourite Star Wars moments is when Poe fires a laser at him when his back is turned and Kylo Ren, like a champ, turns around and IMMEDIATELY stops it in mid air.
I remember gaping at the screen when this happened, because it told me two things instantly: first, that this movie was going to go to new lengths to explore what could be done with the Force, which was obviously exciting. However, it also told me that Kylo Ren (whoever he was), was a VERY powerful Force user - to be able to detect the blast and use the Fore to instantly stop both it and the shooter in their tracks was an impressive feat. The fact that he didn't even break a sweat, and the implications for what this meant for the rest of the movie and the franchise makes this my number 5 pick. Really, Poe's reaction to the entire scenario sums it up better than I ever could.
Now that is the look of a man not believing what he's seeing. I should also mention that the introduction to Kylo ends with him ordering his stormtroopers to massacre the villagers that they had rounded up - a terrifying end to what was a fantastic introduction to the lead villain in the franchise.
....if only it ended up the same way.....
4. Luke Skywalker faces The First Order (The Last Jedi)
The Last Jedi is not a perfect movie.
I've written about The Last Jedi extensively on Vocal before, but my opinion on the movie has changed since its initial release (largely in light of how the final movie chose to continue the story that it left), and while it definitely does not deserve to be amongst the worst films of all time, as a Star Wars movie, it is rather dissatisfying, especially since none of the major plot threads it introduced were followed up on in The Rise of Skywalker. However, there is one moment in this film that stands tall as one of the best moments in the franchise's history, and that is when Luke Skywalker faces down the First Order.
Now, in order to avoid getting too deep into whether Luke's character was handled well or not in the movie, I'll say this at the outset: I think what Rian Johnson did with the character had some merit to it. It was an interesting take on a character we've grown to love for so many years, and I was not opposed to it. Nevertheless, I still cheered like crazy when Luke's silhouette appeared in the cave, only to be quickly silenced by the amazing interaction between him and Leia moments later. This scene is absolutely amazing - we get to see a glimmer of the idealistic and optimistic Luke when he tells Leia that 'no one's ever really gone', and the fact that he acknowledges C-3PO with a wink was a nice touch as well. When Luke emerges from the hideout and Kylo orders every gun to be fired at him, only for him to pat the dust off his shoulder casually, it was exhilarating. Seeing him ignite his blue lightsaber and duel Kylo for the briefest of moments was nostalgic, and of course, I can't talk about this scene without mentioning the absolute insanity that was the reveal of Luke projecting himself across the galaxy.
Even though this movie didn't do everything right, it gave us this magnificent scene, and that's worth alot. For the sheer spectacle, the emotion and the overall satisfaction of seeing Luke take one final stand against evil, this scene gets the number 4 spot.
3. Obi-Wan and Anakin's Penultimate Confrontation (Revenge of the Sith)
(I want to clarify at the outset that I'm only referring to the moments after Anakin has his legs cut off - the exchange of dialouge between Anakin and Obi-Wan)
It's no secret that the Star Wars prequels have gotten a great deal of flak - and most of it is for good reason. In all three of the movies, the dialogue is clunky and pretty badly written, the political drama was largely uninteresting, and the characters seemed like mere vehicles to move the plot along. However, most people would agree that out of the three, Revenge of the Sith was easily the best, and nothing represents that more than the scene right after Anakin's duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Throughout the last half of the film, we saw Anakin stumble further and further into darkness - killing all the young Jedi and choking and nearly killing his wife, and finally trying to kill the person that taught him everything he knows. Unfortunately, the fight itself is rather drawn out and unnecessarily long - however, when it reaches its conclusion, it made for an emotionally charged scene.
We see the pain in Obi-Wan's face as he stares at his former student in anguish, lamenting at how Anakin was supposed to be the one to finally bring balance to the Force. We see Anakin's face go through a wide range of emotions - fear, sorrow and finally, anger. Hearing Hayden Christensen bellow "I HATE YOU!" at the top of his lungs has stuck with me ever since I saw the scene, and his facial expressions as Anakin is burnt alive are haunting. Ewan McGregor also bought his A-Game, as his delivery of Obi-Wan's lines is heartbreaking and fills you with a sense of despair.
You were my brother Anakin! I loved you!
As a bonus, having Obi-Wan pick up Anakin's old lightsaber before leaving was a nice touch, as it is the same weapon that he later entrusts to Luke in A New Hope. Overall, this scene brought the prequels to a resounding end, and paved the way for the creation of one of the most iconic villains of all time, and for the sheer display of emotion and how it wrapped up the story of two brothers, it gets the number 3 spot on this list.
2. Size Matters Not (Empire Strikes Back)
Empire Strikes Back is one of the best films ever made, and as a result, it is a film full of iconic moments. However, while most people's favourite moment of the film would be the infamous twist at the end regarding Luke's parentage, the fact that Darth Vader was Luke's father was a well known fact when I was growing up, way before I actually got into Star Wars - so watching that scene wasn't particularly memorable for me. However, what has stuck with me is the scene where Yoda lifts Luke's X-Wing out of the waters of Dagobah, after Luke basically says that such a thing is impossible.
Luke's training with Yoda is harsh - we see him go through alot of physical and mental training on Dagobah in order to shape him into a competent Jedi, but due to Luke being whiny and generally unreceptive, he is proving quite difficult to teach. When initially asked to remove the X-Wing from the water, his first response is that it is too big and that it's so much harder than lifting stones. Yoda responds with the first good quote from the scene:
No, not different! Only different in your mind!
Luke's thinking in negatives, and Yoda's just trying to tell him that if he is so focused on thinking that he can't, there's no way he can dedicate any energy to actually figuring out a way to solve the problem at hand. After Luke tries to lift the spaceship and fails, he again complains to Yoda that its way too big an object. Yoda replies with yet ANOTHER gem:
Size matters not....look at me; judge me by my size, do you?
Yet another great lesson: appearances can be deceiving; don't judge a book by its cover. Luke then proceeds to give up and walk away, even after Yoda tells him that he has to feel for the Force and that it exists all around them. With a sigh, Yoda closes his eyes and reaches out with his hand. The music slowly starts to build as the lake begins to bubble, causing R2-D2 to beep incessantly. Luke notices this, and by the time he comes back, the ENTIRE ship is out of the water. The music accompanying this scene is fantastic, and the shocked expression on Luke's face is extremely satisfying. Finally, to cap off the brilliant scene, Luke tells Yoda that he doesn't believe what just happened, and Yoda replies with one of the most brutally honest quotes I've ever seen.
The reason I love this scene so much is that Yoda's advice can be taken to mean so much more than just a Jedi lesson for Luke - its something we can use in our every day life. Not believing you can succeed is often the greatest impediment in your way. Now, while I'm not going to tell you that success in defintely on the cards for whatever it is you want to do, its clear that you're not going to get anywhere if you don't even try. Oddly enough, I think Ted Mosby (another huge Star Wars fan, by the way) from How I Met Your Mother summarized it best:
If you're not taking a chance, then what the hell are you doing?
The music, the dialouge and the overall message and tone this scene has makes it my 2nd favorite moment in all of Star Wars.
1. Luke Confronts Vader (Return of the Jedi)
Do you ever see a scene in a movie or TV show where you're able to completely feel the weight of every word that's being spoken on the screen? A scene where every action taken or every single small movement adds something to the scene and makes it complete? That, to me, is what this scene is. It embodies the central theme of this film - the conflict within Darth Vader and the efforts of Luke to pull him back to the light, and it is executed through the use of dialogue in a brilliant manner.
From the very beginning of the scene, when Luke brings up the name Anakin Skywalker, we see Vader instantly say that the name has no meaning to him anymore, almost as if he's trying to convince himself of the same. The eerie confidence that Luke displays is put at odds with the more confused and erratic tone of Vader - as Luke proclaims that he is confident that Vader won't take him to the Emperor due to there being good in him, Vader quickly changes the subject to Luke's lightsaber, saying that he has grown powerful. Once more, Luke tires to sway Vader, telling him that all he has to do is let go of the hate. It is here that Vader responds with:
Obi-Wan once thought as you do...you don't know the power of the Dark Side. I must obey my master.
To me, it always seemed like the power he speaks of is one that is holding him in place, trapping him and preventing him from doing what he wants to do. He might have wanted the power in the beginning, when he first fell, but now, seeing his son standing in front of him, he realizes that it was a mistake - but is absolutely powerless to do anything about it, lest his master find out.
Finally, when Luke tries one last time to sway his father, Vader says that it is too late for him. I don't know if James Earl Jones intended for the line to sound melancholic or if the robotic sound effect created that effect, but its incredibly effective in presenting Vader as a person who can do nothing except watch the consequences of the mistakes that he made unfold right in front of him. The emotional weight of this exchange, aided by the stellar writing, makes this my favourite moment in Star Wars.
Note: A Message
It's a difficult time right now due to the ongoing pandemic, and while it may be frustrating for everyone to stay inside their houses, it is imperative that we all play our part in doing what we can do stop the spread of the virus so that the people who are risking their lives day in and day out won't be doing it in vain. That being said, if you're bored, you can check out my last couple of articles, where I give some YouTube recommendations and a movie review as well. Or you could binge all IX Star Wars films, or watch one of the many the TV shows, or The Mandalorian...wow, that's alot of Star Wars.
Happy Star Wars Day!