Category Archives: Star Wars

My Top 10 film moments of 2016

I’ve missed a few of the major films this year (notably Arrival slipped by me) so instead of doing a top 5 films I’ve instead decided to pick out my favourite moments from films this year, as even the weaker blockbusters like Dawn of Justice had their moments. Enjoy.

Warning: Minor Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One, Major Spoilers for Batman vs Superman.

10. Jacob and Queenie (Fantastic Beasts) While Newt and Tina were the lifeblood of the film, Jacob and Queenie stole every scene they were in and were undoubtedly its soul, and their pairing was both sweet and believable. Jacob’s smile at the end when Queenie strolls into his bakery and seemingly restores his memory is the icing on the cake for arguably two of the best characters JK Rowling has given us. They better be back in the sequels!

9. Wolverine’s Cameo (X:Men Apocalypse) The X-men series is always accused of over-using Wolverine, and somewhat ironically, his best two appearances have now been cameos (him telling Xavier and Magneto to fuck off in First Class and here, where Wolverine’s psychopathic rampage through Stryker’s bunker reminds us of just how badass/terrifying/awesome the character is). Hugh Jackman now is so intrinsically associated with the character I doubt anyone else will be able to play him for a good 20 years (and they shouldn’t, hopefully next year’s Logan is a worthy send-off to both the character and the actor). Anyway, while Apocalypse was a very fun movie, this was the sequence that will stick in my mind the most.

8.Doomsday battle (Dawn of Justice) Doomsday may have had a completely different origin from the comics, but his threat level was actually genuinely impressive for a superhero film in 2016 (he wasn’t easily beaten in 5 mins in a final confrontation – looking at you Enchantress in Suicide Squad and Kaecilius in Doctor Strange!!!) as Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman team up to stop him and barely survive… and Superman doesn’t. We all know he’ll be back in some form for Justice League but his heroic sacrifice, backed by Hans Zimmer’s haunting ‘This is My World’ still made this a very emotional moment. Also nice to see a superhero film where not every hero makes it out alive (basically EVERY MARVEL FILM EVER apart from X-men), bold move DC, bold move. Even if the first half of the film was a total mess, you did nail the ending.

7. Inside the Case (Fantastic Beasts) The beasts were appropriately the centrepiece of the film, from the cheeky niffler to the amorous Erumpent to the magnificent Thunderbird, with those and many others stunningly showcased in the heartwarming sequence where Next shows Jacob around the inside of his travelling case where he keeps the animals for their own protection. A very sweet interlude in this loveable film.

6.Vader Returns and Kicks Ass (Rogue One) After the tremendous battle of Scarif sequence, Rogue One could have easily ended as the Death Star opened fire. But it didn’t, instead giving us the best scene with Darth Vader since ‘No, I am your father’. Vader’s first scene in the film where he threatens Krennic was tense/awesome in its own right, but the second is full-on terrifying as Vader is unleashed on a group of rebels and scythes through them with brutal ease. It might be the best 40 seconds of cinema in 2016, hell maybe ever. If it wasn’t so short a scene it would have been much higher up the list, but still, damn that that was awesome!

5. The Fight in the Cistern (Inferno) Inferno may have been a relatively weak film, but was saved by its riveting climax as a betrayed Langdon allies with the WHO to try and stop a viral breakout in a cistern in Istanbul. Hans Zimmer’s superb track ‘Cistern’ really makes this a heart-stopper and the divergence from the book really leaves you with no clue how it will play out as Langdon and co fight with Zobrist’s extremists. Hell of an action scene.

4. Everything K2 does (Rogue One) K2 was easily the best character in Rogue One (not that that was easy or anything) and made the film sassier and more hilarious that I’d have ever expected it would be. His constant deadpan humour and the brutal way he took down imperial soldiers were the icing on the cake in one of the best films of the year.

3. Airport Battle (Captain America: Civil War) Civil War was the best superhero film of the year, and its highlight was the fight between Team Cap and Team Iron Man in a deserted airport, which was both highly amusing and seriously cool. Spidey and Ant-Man arguably stole the show, but every character got a chance to shine even if, as usual with Marvel, there weren’t really any lives at stake here. Still, this was a high point of an excellent film – shame they bottled out on giving it a memorable ending afterwards, but still, perfect popcorn cinema here.

2. Batman takes down Superman (Dawn of Justice) Despite the controversial way the fight ended with the whole ‘Martha’ scene, the fight itself between the two giants of the DC universe was the high point of the film. Batman uses a state of the art battlesuit and some Kryptonite gas-grenades to not only pose a genuine threat to superman, but after a titanic struggle, actually beats him. The whole ‘Man VS God’ thing the film was going for paid off beautifully here, even if the film as a whole still has a wealth of problems, this scene alone was worth it.

1. The Battle of Scarif (Rogue One) Wow. Now that is how you do a finale! The battle between the Rebels and the Empire had everything: awesome visuals, high stakes, tension and good direction. An epic way to cap off the first Star Wars spin-off film and without doubt the best sequence in film this year. Well done Gareth Edwards, Felicity Jones et al, this was simply amazing!

I’ve seen a fair few films that don’t have appearances here (Deadpool, Star Trek Beyond, Doctor Strange etc.) but I couldn’t think of any stand-out moments in those films – they are entertaining throughout, but there aren’t any moments of greatness. Suicide Squad was too poor to merit a place here, and I haven’t seen many other films this year, so there may be some omissions.

My Film Awards 2016:

Best Film: Rogue One
Best Director: Gareth Edwards (Rogue One)
Best Script: Captain America Civil War
Best Special Effects: Doctor Strange
Best Soundtrack: James Newton Howard(Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Best Actress: Felicity Jones (Inferno/Rogue One)
Best Actor: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Best Voice Actor: Alan Tudyk (Rogue One)
Worst Actor: Jesse Eisenberg (Dawn of Justice)
Worst Actress: Holly Hunter (Dawn of Justice)
Worst Script: Suicide Squad
Worst Director: David Ayer (Suicide Squad)
Worst Soundtrack: Suicide Squad
Worst Film: Suicide Squad (noticing a pattern here? Well done DC…)

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Star Wars: Rogue One Review

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen and James Earl Jones.

The first half of this is spoiler-free (the only facts mentioned are bits included in the 3 main trailers – and the trailers gave very little away). I’ve included a massive spoiler warning at the halfway point. So first up, the basics.

The force is strong with this one.

Its far superior to episodes 1 and 2. Its better than Return of the Jedi or Force Awakens. It either surpasses or matches 3-5 depending on what order you tend to place them in. Its that good. However – whether you enjoy it as much as I did is dependent on 1 major factor – that you can see past the fact this isn’t a normal Star Wars film.

To explain: there’s no opening crawl (only the ‘in a galaxy far, far away tagline’).You get location descriptions telling you what planet you’re on. John Williams isn’t composing (and very little of his themes are part of the score). There’s about 2 minutes of lightsabre action in the whole thing. The main villain isn’t a Sith Lord. Its missing or barely utilising a lot of the main Star Wars tropes. This may sound like heresy to Star Wars nerds. Indeed it might jar you a bit in the first half of the film. But in the second half you won’t care because you’ll be having far too much fun. The last hour in particular is as good as anything the series has ever given us.

The acting is stellar throughout, with Felicity Jones delivering a Daisy Ridley worthy powerhouse of a performance as lead character Jyn Erso. (Star Wars is getting a great track record with female action heroes – well, ignoring Natalie Portman anyway!) The other rebels in the Rogue One team are all memorable, with Luna’s morally conflicted Cassian, Ahmed’s nervous defector Bodhi and Jiang Wen’s badass mercenary Baze making a believable band of rebels. However its Donnie Yen’s spiritual warrior and Alan Tudyk’s reprogrammed imperial droid K2 who will really stick in your memory. K2 May even be the best robotic character Star Wars has ever given us (yes even including R2 and BB8). He’s certainly the funniest. The humour in general is one of the film’s main strengths. Its VERY sassy in places, with a mixture of deadpan humour and physical comedy from K2 the icing on the cake. You will not have laughed this much during a Star Wars film before (except maybe at the awful dialogue and effects in the prequels. Fortunately the CGI in this is exceptional and barring one or two clunky speeches, the dialogue’s not bad either).

The supporting cast are just as stellar as the main, with Ben Mendelsohn’s ambitious, power hungry, imperial officer Krennic being one of the most memorable non-Sith villains in the series (he certainly puts General Hux from Force Awakens to shame, and is a far better-developed character than say, Dooku or Grievous). Mads Mikkelsen is good as always as Jyn’s father, despite his lack of screentime. The returning characters from Revenge of the Sith and a New Hope were also nice to see (lots more on them later).

As for the production itself, director Gareth Edwards deserves a lot of credit, the film looks amazing from start to finish, the action set pieces and battle scenes in particular standing out – the final battle on Scarif is awe-inspiring. The set design and CGI blend nicely in a way the first two prequels failed to achieve – we’re talking Revenge of the Sith level visuals with Force Awakens level realism – its more than a winning combination. The script is also, very, very good, giving us the right mix of ‘more of the same but something new’ than Force Awakens lost by playing it too safe. Its all self-contained as well, there’s no mysteries that won’t be explained till a future film to annoy you (again, looking at you Force Awakens!). The one thing that doesn’t quite work is Michael Giacchino’s score. The soundtrack itself would be very good for another sci-fi or action film, but underuses John Williams existing themes more than it probably should have, and in the first half in particular, this may vex you. It is a very good score, but not really a star wars one.

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS INCOMING!

Now onto specifics.

Let’s start with Vader. First off – that base was on Mustafar?!!? Talk about feels! His two scenes in the film were both awesome uses of the character – he hasn’t been that intimidating since Episode V! The scene with him at the end in particular… that is how lightsabre combat should be done! There was only two minutes of it but god it rocked!

That said – Vader wasn’t the only returning bad guy who stole the film. Grand Moff Tarkin, appearing for the first time since New Hope, lent a real sense of menace to proceedings (and will doubtless make you look at his character in Episode IV with total loathing). All the more surprising given his actor, Peter Cushing, has been dead for twenty years. Instead his likeness is CGI implanted over Guy Henry’s performance, and while this could have been a disastrous gimmick, it actually looks pretty decent and really adds another level to proceedings and gives Krennic’s character an equal to face off with. It really elevates Tarkin from a one-shot character to one of the series’ signature villains.

Giving Bail Organa a cameo was a nice touch even if he didn’t do much – this film is the perfect way to tie Revenge of the Sith and New Hope together, and touches like that add to the experience. There’s some pretty famous faces on the rebel council too (Barristan Selmy from Thrones and Anderson from Sherlock! Too many fandom crossovers!) The CGI-Leia may not have looked as good as Tarkin, but giving her the final word seemed appropriate.

Now the ending. In an era where every bloody Marvel film refuses to take any risks with character deaths *COUGH * CIVIL WAR! *COUGH* and Doctor Who showrunners repeatedly wimp out of killing off companions (Moffat and Davies!!!) the bleakness of the ending was all the more shocking, even surpassing Revenge of the Sith’s second half for emotional distress. I expected that not everyone would make it, but I didn’t expect that even Jyn and Cassian would die as well (there goes my theory about Rey’s parentage. Bugger.) Arguably though, the film is much stronger for it and I doubt you’ll forget the final scenes anytime soon (even Krennic staring up at the Death Star had a tragic feel to it). The whole ‘sacrifice for the greater good’ and ‘hope against impossible odds’ themes are proper Star Wars, and this film had both of those in spades, and the ending combines both to create something truly special. Well done scriptwriters, you aced it!

Overall, like Revenge of the Sith, it has its problems but for the most part I don’t give a damn. Yes, some of the dialogue is clunky and the music doesn’t fit all that well, but at the end of it, the humour, charm, top-notch acting and phenomenal action scenes are what this will be remembered for. That and its bleak ending. Not perfect, but pretty close.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 – A flawed masterpiece.

I think this may be my second favourite Star Wars film. As good as New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are, I’ve only gotten this level of excitement from Revenge of the Sith. Only the fact its not a true Star Wars film keeps it below that.

Wow Episode 8… now you have a REALLY tough act to follow. May the Force be with You.

Final thought: this is what Suicide Squad should have fucking felt like. The two films have equally praiseworthy ensembles and are part of a much bigger film universe, but Rogue One aces the humour, good script, exciting set-pieces and interesting plotline where Suicide Squad failed repeatedly. Someone please make sure David Ayer watches this before he makes the Suicide Squad sequel!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

The Force Awakens starring Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Mark Hamill.

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS. DO NOT READ BEFORE WATCHING!

Easily the most anticipated movie of the decade so far, this was always going to be momentous, whether it succeeded or failed. Thankfully, it wasn’t another Phantom Menace. It was true to the spirit of the original trilogy, even if it felt very different under J.J. Abrams. It wasn’t perfect, but it was immensely enjoyable.

It introduces a new cast: loner scavenger Rey (a brilliant Daisy Ridley), remorseful former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega, who demonstrates a talent for being comic relief without being C3PO or Jar-Jar levels of annoying), skilled pilot Poe Dameron (a fun but underused Oscar Isaac – maybe X:Men Apocalypse cut into his filming schedule) and Adam Driver as villain Kylo Ren (who while being similar to both Anakin in the prequels and Vader in the Originals avoids straying too close to either). Out of the newbies, it is Ridley and Driver who impress the most (Rey is easily one of the best characters in the series, while Kylo Ren has a lot of potential and is easily a cut above villains like Dooku, Grievous and isn’t underused like Maul or Boba Fett). The new robot, BB8, is fortunately more of a cute R2 than another irritating droid like 3PO.

The original cast are back as well, though due to how much the script tries to cram into 2h 15m some favourites like Luke and R2 have only fleeting appearances (leading to a more substantial role in XIII and IX?). Its Han Solo and Chewbacca that get the lion’s share of the material here, arguably its the best of Chewy’s 5 appearances so far, so credit to Peter Mayhew and the scriptwriter for making a character with untranslated dialogue so likeable (amusing how he and R2 are more treasured than most of the characters we can actually understand!). It was fun seeing cameos from some of the minor characters like Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nub (Lando’s co-pilot from Return of the Jedi) as well as a C3PO that isn’t on screen for too long (and hence isn’t as annoying as usual).

Abrams seems to have a talent for making good sci-fi movies. But he’s yet to make a great one (and while Force Awakens is no different, thankfully he tones down the use of lense flares this time!). The feel of the film is understandably different without Lucas at the helm and instead feels like a Star Wars film in the Abrams Star Trek style (and John Williams’ score, while having familiar elements is markedly different from previous films). The tone is different as well, with far more humour than previous instalments – mostly resulting from the banter between Poe, Finn, Rey and Han. None of this is a bad thing. Like ‘Into Darkness’ though, the film seems heavily reliant on a previous film in the series, in this case a New Hope rather than ‘The Wrath of Khan’. The similarities are obvious enough that I don’t need to list them, but the film stops just short of going into remake territory. The film’s different enough that this isn’t as overly irritating as it must have been to trekkies in Into Darkness.

It avoids the prequels’ error of underusing its main villain (though some of the supporting villains like Gwen Chrisitie’s Captain Phasma are woefully underused) and the revelation that Kylo Ren is Han and Leia’s son adds a welcome dimension to the interactions between the heroes and villains (similar to the way the ‘I am your father’ twist turned Luke and Vader’s confrontation on its head). Adam Driver is a definite improvement on Hayden Christensen (though he looks far less threatening without the mask). The lightsaber fights between Finn and Ren and then Rey and Ren are both believable and fun to watch as well.

The film does leave a lot of questions and loose ends that need answering though. Who is Rey? Who is Snoke and how did the First Order become so powerful again? What has Luke been doing the whole time? Why did Ben Solo turn to the Dark Side and who exactly are the Knights of Ren? I know people don’t like long films, but I feel a extra 15 mins to explain the origins of some of the characters or what happened in the 30 years between this and Return of the Jedi might have been helpful.

Now for the one major spoiler I’ve deliberately left till the end of the review. I had a feeling we’d lose a major character from the originals during this film (it kind of had to happen so there was a genuine feeling of danger – plus every first film in a trilogy has killed off a major character i.e. Qui-Gon or Obi-Wan) and it became increasingly clear that it was either going to be Han or Chewbecca here. Thank god it wasn’t Chewy, I’m not sure the fans would have coped with that (would have been Jon Snow all over again – we don’t need any more internet mourning this year!) and while it wasn’t an overly dramatic exit, it felt a fitting one (Han trying to do the right thing and facing the fight rather than running from it was always part of his character). Harrison Ford originally asked Lucas to kill Han off in Return of the Jedi, so I’m guessing he might have had some involvement with the decision to kill his character off here. I’ll miss him, but the stakes for Episode VIII feel a lot greater with him gone.

Overall, it was exciting, enjoyable and an excellent start to a fresh trilogy. Better than episodes 1 and 2 and on par/slightly better than 6, it’s not the best Star Wars film, but its definitely a good one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Star Wars: Battlefront Review

This game surprised me. We all thought the same things after it was announced: It looks amazing! But why no campaign? Why no prequels? Limited Single Player? Too much DLC? Bloody EA. But the naysayers and sceptics were wrong. This might not be the Star Wars game we wanted, but by hell, it’s the one we need!

EA have nailed it. The multiplayer is up there with the best I’ve played. If even a mostly single player gamer like me likes this game, they’ve done it right. It appeals to both the gamer and fanboy (or fangirl) within you. Even the training missions are a joy – racing speeders through the forests of Endor, taking down AT-AT walkers on Hoth or exterminating rebels as Vader and the Emperor, I had a lot of fun on them.

The single player is divided into 3 categories: 5 training missions, 8 battles (basically single player deathmatches as either normal troops or heroes) and 4 survival games (where you have to hold out against 15 waves of enemies as either a lone rebel or a pair). This might not sound like much, but thanks to 3 difficulty settings (Normal, Hard and Master – and Hard is challenging solo, Master you basically need two players!) it would take you a while to complete these.

The game currently has 5 planets (several maps for each one) though more may be on the way through DLC. These include Endor, Hoth and Tatooine from the Original Trilogy, Sullust (a volcanic planet from the Expanded Universe – apparently it’s where the rebels stole the Death Star Plans or something) and Jakku from Force Awakens. Hopefully future DLC might give us places like Coruscant, Geonosis or Mustafar from the prequels (those maps were great on Battlefront 2!).

I mentioned Heroes, and there are six you can play as in game, 3 for the rebels (Luke, Leia and Han Solo) and 3 for the empire (Vader, the Emperor and Boba Fett). While in Battlefront 2 Luke and Vader would have been the heroes of choice, here the others more than hold their own. This is best demonstrated in the Heroes vs Villains mode online, where you have two teams of six (three heroes that don’t respawn) and the side that wipes out the opposing teams heroes wins. You might expect Luke or Vader to survive the longest because of their ability to deflect enemy fire with lightsabers, but frequently its Leia, The Emperor or Boba Fett that are the last ones standing because of the special abilities they are granted (and Boba’s Jetpack makes him very difficult to pin down!). Han Solo isn’t bad either – in one match where I spawned as him I managed to gun down both Vader and the Emperor at close range (though Boba then shot me in the back). Another mode they appear in is ‘Hero Hunt’ where 1 player from 8 is selected as a hero, the other 7 have to kill them, and whichever player does becomes the new hero (and thus can rake up kills on the weaker normal troops).

Other online modes include Drop Zone (where both teams race to capture 5 escape pods that spawn in random places on the map), Droid Run (where teams have to try and capture 3 moving droids – the team that controls all 3 at once wins), Blast (standard team deathmatch), Cargo (basically a capture the flag mode) and Walker Assault (where the Rebels attempt to destroy 2 enemy Walkers while the Imperials attempt to overrun the Rebels position – whoever succeeds first wins). There’s also an aerial combat mode (X-Wings and A-Wings for the Rebels, TIE Fighters and Interceptors for the Imperials) which is very easy to get to grips with as two teams of online players and CPU opponents duke it out above the ground maps (the best players get to fly either the Millennium Falcon or Slave I (Boba Fett’s Ship), both of which give you a substantial advantage. There’s a supremacy mode which throws together everything from Ground combat, Heroes and Space and its utter chaos – I’d recommend levelling up on other modes before trying it!

While the game may lack a few features I’d have liked to see included, what’s there is excellent – hopefully the DLC can maintain the quality!

Rating: 5 out of 5!

Review: Star Wars Episodes 1-6

Before the Awakening… It’s true. All of it. Hayden Christensen. Jar-Jar. The Special Editions. But we love them anyway, and here’s my thoughts on episodes 1-6.

Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman.

Don’t expect an entirely serious review here, its more a collection of my thoughts and some mild raging at certain fans. I love these films, even though they’re all flawed (yes even the originals – can you honestly tell me the dialogue is any better in those? And the bad guys can’t hit anything in any of them!). This is somewhat of a defence of the prequels (especially Episode 3) but don’t worry, I’ll happily admit 4,5 and 6 are better than 1 and 2. Just not as much as all the original purists make out. To get it out of the way, I’ll start with Phantom Menace…

The Phantom Menace

We all know this is the weakest one. A few argue that Attack of the Clones is worse but its hard to agree with that. But is it a bad film? Admittedly it helps if you watch it first rather than after the originals – low expectations help! It has several redeeming features – the pod race section, Darth Maul, Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) but for every cool moment there’s a uncomfortably racist alien portrayal, awful Jar-Jar ‘comedy’ moment or dull council meeting. Darth Maul is underused and Jake Lloyd is far from the best child actor, but Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor give good performances and the action sequences are mostly engaging. It’s a game of two halves – thus while its not terrible its definitely ‘average’.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones fixes a lot of Phantom Menace’s problems. There’s far more action to balance out the dull scenes and the final battle as a whole works better (even if the lightsaber fight doesn’t match Maul vs. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan). Lucas focuses less on set-up and more on getting things moving, which helps immeasurably. We finally see an action set-piece involving lots of Jedi, and a lightsaber fight with Yoda, two things we’d waited 5 films to see. It still has some major flaws though (truly terrible dialogue between Anakin and Padme, an underused villain again in Count Dooku) the young actor playing Boba Fett is awful and then there’s Hayden Christensen. To be fair, given Jake Lloyd’s performance in 1, Christensen keeps it consistent, but is far too whiny and obnoxious. He isn’t bad in the action scenes or when interacting with Obi-Wan, but when requiring emotional responses to Padme or his Mother his performance falls off a cliff. I blame Lucas 75% though, he writes Anakin so poorly, with such bad dialogue, any actor would struggle with him. The rest of the film, however, hangs together quite well. I really liked it as a kid and I still do now, so I’ll be generous and give it…

Rating: 4 out of 5

Revenge of the Sith

Its normally considered the best of the prequels. The fanbase seems pretty divided on whether it lives up to the original trilogy but personally i’d argue it does. The stakes are higher, the plot is more streamlined and Hayden Christensen’s performance isn’t anywhere near as bad as last time (though it wobbles a few times – but I’d be tempted to blame some of the abysmal dialogue he’s given in places). John Williams also delivers what is arguably his best score for the series (just listen to ‘Battle of the Heroes’, ‘Enter Lord Vader’ or ‘Anakin’s Betrayal’ – its a brilliant soundtrack). The first half is good, but from Order 66 onwards the film kicks up a gear and doesn’t falter from that point on. I could go on but sod it, yes its flawed, it isn’t clever and the dialogue is weak in places but its damn entertaining. I bloody love it and i’m giving it a 5/5 regardless of what any original trilogy purists might say (STFU and just enjoy the movie guys!).

Rating: 5 out of 5!

A New Hope

Iconic. Epic. The two words most commonly used to describe this film. And it’s really, really good. But there are some flaws. The first half hour is pretty dull (C3PO can be very annoying) and Mark Hamill’s performance isn’t great in the early sections (he can be almost as whiny as Hayden Christensen for the first hour!) but he gets much better as the film progresses. Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford give assured performances, while Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan) and James Earl Jones (Darth Vader) give superb supporting action (if a pretty crap lightsaber duel). The final attack on the Death Star has a strong case for best scene in any of the films.

If only George Lucas hadn’t messed with it – the special edition throws in a load of unwanted, poorly rendered, pointless CGI animals filling up EVERY INCH OF THE DAMN SCREEN!!!!  But despite Lucas’ best efforts, this is still a classic. And btw, Han shot first.

Rating: 5 out of 5! (Special Edition Rating 4.5/5. F**k you Lucas).

The Empire Strikes Back

Some call this the best one. I can see why. It focuses on character, the acting is hard to fault and the sections on Hoth and Bespin are pretty damn good. Plus we get a good lightsaber fight between Luke and Vader, as well as the reveal that shakes up the original trilogy. But its not my favourite, mainly because the Yoda scenes on Dagobah are too drawn out (yes I know its necessary and there are some great lines of dialogue in those scenes, but it really kills the film’s momentum – did Yoda really have to hide his identity for 15 mins?). That aside, it is a very, very good film that gives Darth Vader some welcome extra screen time and introduces Boba Fett and the Emperor. Hell, even the special edition doesn’t particularly damage it (normalising the emperors appearance is a genuine improvement).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (both Normal and Special Editions)

Return of the Jedi

To think there was a time when this was considered the worst Star Wars film (suffering from disappointing Part 3 syndrome). It is hardly Phantom Menace level, but its easy to see why a lot of critics say 3,4 and 5 are better. Its story is very drawn out (Family Guy re-told it in about 40 mins and the plot still hung together) and the Ewoks defeating the stormtroopers isn’t exactly believable. However the Ewoks aren’t Jar-Jar and Gungans level of annoying, which helps immensely. Repeating the Death Star idea twice in three films could have been disastrous, but it works well enough here. A satisfying finale (until now) to the saga, but not a great one.

I’m more forgiving of special edition changes in this one, inserting Naboo and Corusant into the Victory celebration montage makes sense, while replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen doesn’t annoy me.

Rating: 4 out of 5 for both Normal and Special Editions. (It’s better than Attack of the Clones, but I like both about the same amount hence the same rating.)

There you have it. Where will Force Awakens fit in? Well, early reviews seem promising so fingers crossed, I’ll probably have one up by next week (I’m seeing it on Monday). May The Force Be With You.