Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rankings: the Star Wars Live Action Theatrical Releases [Updated 11/22/17]

We love lists and Look to the Cookie doesn't do enough of them. So here are the rankings and reasons for the 8 released Star Wars' live-action movies as determined by the entire LTC staff that wears glasses and has dark skin . . . named Germar. Also, you will disagree because you are often wrong about things. Enjoy.

8. Attack of the Clones 5.0/10 (the second film--a prequel) In my youth, I thought this was the best of the awful prequel trilogy. The action captured me. The amount of saber play satiated me. But now I’m a man and its many issues outweigh swift swordplay.

The story is weak and weakly reminiscent of the past trilogy to come. Anakin’s insolence irritated me, as did Obi Wan’s arrogance, as did Anakin’s arrogance, as did Padme’s contrived rebelliousness. And why did they fall in love? Is there a galaxy anywhere where a woman falls in love with someone she used to babysit, who’s basically a cocky arrogant easily defeated asshole? Additionally, Anakin’s a total creep. In an R-rated version he certainly rapes the recently royal, now political Padme. And it would certainly still end in her undying, inexplicable love.  

In 2015, the CGI REALLY sucks. Large portions of the film appear animated—cheaply. I kept falling asleep and when I woke, I thought that somehow the film slipped into that awful animated clone series. Ships, flights, and battles look like digital collages. 

Adult Ani can’t act—at all. Plus, it borrowed heavily from every sci-fi, action, and adventure movie of its time. SMGDH.

This movie sucks.

7. A New Hope 6/10 (the fourth film--the original) I get the importance of this film--probably more than you. I studied it as an undergrad, and then again as a grad student. My final exam in the History of the Motion Picture covered this franchise. That said, it’s not a good film. It’s a special film. It pushed filmmaking into hyper-space. But good, it is not. Clunky and slow it is. 

I must give mad props to people who saw this in 1977 and actually understood what the hell happened. This thing is all over the place. I get it because I have 40 years of history, books, movies, cartoons, nerds, YouTube videos, toys, and I’m kinda a genius. If I watched this for the first time, with no background, I would yell "WHAT THE [freak] IS THIS [stuff]?!?!?!"

I’m thankful for George Lucas and all of those soon-to-be legends that could barely convey any emotion. Without this film there is no MCU, no Lost, no Independence Day and no . . . The Force Awakens.

6. A Phantom Menace 6.7/10 (the first film--a prequel) Even in my youth, I thought “nothing happened.” But now I realize that they got one thing right.This movie moves. Darth Maul doesn’t talk because he’s too busy slicing up mofos.The pod-racing doesn’t really add much to the mythology, but it’s pretty darn cool. Then, Jar-Jar happened. 

I never liked this one, but now I appreciate its brief feel. As soon as I realize that it’s not a good movie, it’s over, and I can get on with my life.

5. Return of the Sith 7.0/10 (the third film--a prequel) I’ve never left a theater more disappointed. Anakin’s turn to the dark side is more abrupt, arbitrary, and completely unrealistic than any right or left I’ve ever witnessed in a fast or furious film. Partially, Hayden doesn’t have the chops to pull that off. I do spend much of my life wondering if he's a brilliant actor making well-thought out questionable choices, or just a really really ridiculously bad actor. Because I think about his performance so much it IS awful acting. 



It’s the most heavy-handed writing I’ve ever witnessed. How often does each Jedi master call Anakin some version of a young foolish nothing? How often does Anakin get snarky or mention that he’s the most powerful Jedi ever? How does Padme love him through all of this? Does the beautiful queen senator bad-ass have extremely low self-esteem?

Nothing makes sense. 

Yoda fought Dooku to a draw, but then Anakin beats him easily. Later, Yoda can’t beat Sidious, but Mace Windu tapped dat ass nice like. Then, even though Yoda battles Sidious to a draw, he lets him leave and chooses to go into hiding . . . . WHAT THE WHAT?!?!? At that point, he should grab the triumphant Obi Wan and beat Palpatine like he stole their prized pupil . . . .  But I guess that’s the problem with prequels. 

We know how this story ends, so who cares about motivation or logic, when there’s a predetermined finish line to cross. And here that finish line has Yoda in hiding, an emperor, and one Darth Vader.

4 . The Empire Strikes Back 7.5/10 (the fifth film--original trilogy) This movie starts on the sixth planet of the star system Hoth, the icy Hoth. I don’t know why. They do that a lot in the original trilogy. I bet Lucas thought it was good storytelling. "Show the bond that formed off-screen." "Show new skill-sets and powers." (I just fell asleep typing about it.) There’s far too much happening in this series for new monsters and threats to appear around every corner. Yes, it’s realistic, but but the Force, the rebels, the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon, the emperor, the incestuous love triangle . . . . Plus, I’m anxious to see some sabering and hands-free choking.

But this installment brought us the secret star of the entire franchise, Billy Dee Williams. Lando is a smoother sexier cooler confidenter Han. He dresses better, flies better, and sports a cool ass mustache. Plus, he lives in the freakin' clouds. AND he pulls off the first ever triple cross in the history of cinema. Oddly, they cast an actor that understood acting. Han does start to figure out who he is here—the actor and the character. Goofy giggling drunk Yoda was never my cup of tea, but it eventually works. And of course, he delivers the most iconic lines ever recorded—with some real life dope wisdom. Oh, and THIS “I am your father.” Done.

3. Return of the Jedi 7.7/10 (the sixth film--original trilogy) Jabba the Waste of my time. Is he ever really a threat? Nope. But at least through Jabba we get to meet all black everythang Force-cocky Luke. And lawd, I thought Padme was fine. Rey’s cute. But Leia in that unfortunate slave bikini is an absolute goddess. 


The third act of this film defines third act, and in the best way. The Yoda scene seems like a throwaway, but hey our hero made a promise.

I like the Ewoks.

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 7.8/10 This feels out of place here, in every way. I don't feel that it's second, but I know it's a better film than those ranked lower. Initially, I disliked the film. The story lacks in import, because of it's placement in the timeline. Forest Whitaker's talent was wasted. But this was excellent filmmaking--performances, direction, editing, and cinematography. And it's the best live-action Vader. Here, he's fearsome and dominant, cold and cocky. I rebel.

1. The Force Awakens 8.0/10 Yes, it’s a beat for beat copy of the original. But the majority of the entire world has never seen those films. For them, this is an improved and necessary update. They get to experience what many of you experienced 40 years ago. The prequels didn’t come close to capturing that.

Yes, Kylo isn’t Vader. Rey is a woman. Finn is black; Po is pretty dark too. Get over it all because you’re missing out on one hell of an experience. It’s almost unfair to compare this with the previous films. J.J. Abrams is a better filmmaker. The cast is far superior, to a person—even the background. But they’ve all had up to almost 40 years to get this right. Each frame is gorgeous. And it’s real.

Kylo Ren is everything Anakin should have been. Initially, I thought what all of you incorrect people think—"why wasn’t he scarred, menacing, and mean?" On my second viewing, I realized that Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren may be the best portrayal of anyone in a franchise ever (other than the couple of times he slips into Girls’ Adamisms).


It all does make sense.

Finn and Rey keep up with Kylo because he’s severely weakened. He was hit by a weapon that regularly takes out 3-4 people; he survived and thrived. He was only hit by the weapon because of what just took place between he and his father. He’s a young force user. He’s highly emotional—volatile—as he should be. He’s the opposite of the Jedi we met in the prequels.

Rey has heard tales of Jedi. She would have known of their abilities. Her rise was no less likely than Luke’s. Luke was trained for maybe xx days total. He didn’t use the force often (trust me). Ultimately, he defeats the Chosen One—a man who’s trained in the force for decades. And yes, she should be a Skywalker. I’m sorry. "Star Wars" is very obviously a story about the Skywalker bloodline. I’d prefer she be Ben’s sister, but I’m okay with Luke’s daughter.

If you disagree with this film being number one, watch it again and again and again, until you get it. It’s place in pop culture, film, geek, sci-fi, fantasy, and "Star Wars'" history is that important.
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