Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Star Wars Battles (Updated)

 When you have the word “WARS” in the title, you know you’re going to get some awesome Sci-Fi battle scenes. With "Rouge One: A Star Wars Story" premiering, it felt like the right time to look back at some of the best action scenes to come from the classic franchise. So, here’s a little list of my personal favorite action scenes from the Star Wars film series. Now I better set some ground rules first, I'm only looking at action scenes from the theatrical Star Wars movies, because there are just too many cool battles scenes from the TV shows, video games and graphic novels to count. Also, I'm not going to include any light-saber duels, as I've already covered them in a previous list. For this post I'll be covering action ranging from ground assaults, to space battles, to chase scenes, to brawls in the interiors of a space ship. With all that said, here are my top 10 favorite battles from the Star Wars film series. 

#10 Escape from Jakku (The Force Awakens)

The action scenes in "The Force Awakens" are some of the best shot yet. Whenever, the action in this movie reeves up, the focus is always on the characters, while the spectacles are in the background without being distracting, and that's when action is done right. Case in point, one of the films best scenes is when our hero’s are on board the Millennium Falcon, battling attacking fighters while on the surface of a desert planet. We see them flying through the interiors of a downed ship, there's some fun banter between our hero's, and the build up to this escape is also top notch. There's an awesome moment when a cannon on the ship is locked in one position, yet through some skilled flying, their still able to take out their attacking target, It's just a really fun scene, and one of my favorite space ship chases.

#9 Battle of the Blockade Runner (A New Hope

It's the classic opening of the first movie, and technically the first action scene of the whole series. When Princess Leia's ship attempts to flee with the plans of the Death Star, her ship is attacked by Imperial forces, leading into arguably the most iconic laser gun shoot out in film history. The simplicity of this scene is what makes it work, we have invading troopers, and soldiers making a desperate last stand in an effort to fight them off. It may not be a battle on a big scale, yet it's still one of the franchises most memorable scenes.  

#8 Monastery Siege (The Clone Wars)

The battles in the animate Clone Wars movie are mostly boring and repetitive, but the movie still isn't without some note worthy highlights. When our hero's undergo a mission to rescue a kidnapped infant, it leads to an especially fun assault on an enemy base hidden in the ruins of a monastery. The base is on the top of a cliff side, which leads into a siege with armies and war machines fighting vertically on the side of a mountain, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like that before. The battle itself is very creative with it's vertical set piece, and takes full advantage of what the characters can do. It's all very over the top, but extremely entertaining, and with a rocking soundtrack to boot.         

#7 Asteroid Chase (The Empire Strikes Back)

Of all the space ship chase in the series, nothing thrills me more then the classic asteroid field chase in "The Empire Strikes Back". While our hero's try to outrun attacking enemy ships, Han Solo dares to fly through a dangerous asteroid field. The music, the imagery, the passing, the whole sequence is just a work of art. I mean holly cow, we have ships dog fighting in a outer space, that’s awesome. When it comes to battles in among the stars, this is one of the franchises shining moments.  

#6 The Geonosis Battle Arena (Attack of the Clones)

Highlighting what the prequel area has to offer is the epic first half of the climax of “Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones”. In a gladiator style setting, our hero’s are about to be sacrificed to savage creatures, but when an army of laser sword wielding Jedi invade the calcium, things quickly ignite into an all out war. This was one of the first big scale battles of the series, with hundreds of Jedi on screen battling thousands of killer droids and giant monsters. What more can I say, it’s Star Wars at its most action packed.  

#5 The Battle of Takodana (The Force Awakens)

While taking refuge at a Cantina on the planet Takodana, our hero’s are suddenly attack by the First order. They attack with both ground troops and air assaults, which leads into a deeply thrilling invasion scene. All odds seem against our hero’s when the resistance fleet comes to their aid. In general, space ship battles are nothing new for “Star Wars”, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen ships battling in the sky line of a planet as opposed to outer-space. This is also a rare treat to see an air battle occurring simultaneously with a battle on land. There’s an incredible tracking shot in which we follow one of our hero’s taking on several enemy troopers on the ground, while also witnessing a lone fighter pilot take on several adversaries above him. It’s just an awesome scene with lots of detail, and some of our hero’s coolest moments, including Han Solo shooting a trooper without looking, and Finn using a lightsaber to battle a riot guard.

#4 Battle on Jabba’s Sale Barge (Return of the Jedi)

As our hero’s are about to be executed at the hands of the sinister Jabba the Hutt, Luke Skywalker pulls a fast one on his captures and leads his friends in an awesome revolt against the slimy gangster. I’m not entirely sure what it is about this fight that I like so much, it’s just so simple and doesn’t feel as hammy and over the top as other battles. This is actually the first time we see Luke Skywalker bust out his light saber in a fight, not including duals with Darth Vader. The location is good, every main character is helpful in some way, and the stakes are higher as there all battling over a monster pit with a worm creature at their heels. There’s also a lot of little things that highlight this fight, we see Boba Fett make his last stand, and we see Princess Leia kick some ass, what’s not to like.

#3 The Battle of Endor (Return of the Jedi)

 The Rebel's launch one final offensive against the empire, resulting in a massive battle on the forest planet and an even bigger battle in outer space above the planet. If you let the Ewoks bother you, you’ll miss out on what an awesome battle this is. I love that were covering two battle grounds at once, and each done with high teak thrills. The battle on the planet is a real location, has real actors to make this army the real size that it is, no green screen, no CG people, just an awesome and genuine fight in this great big forest location. Plus it features more awesome battle vehicles and weapons, including the new walkers. Of course I’ve always loved space ship battles, and this was simply the largest collection of battle ships I’ve ever seen in one outer space showdown. Best of all is that there all real models against a blue screen. Can you imagine all the work that must have taken, it blows my mind every time I think about it. This is undeniably one of the franchises greatest climaxes, but there's still two more to go.

#2 The Attack on Scarif Base (Rogue One)

The 2016 movie "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is the first real war movie of the franchise, and it concludes with arguably one of the most epic climaxes ever. When a small band of Rebel's attack an enemy base to retrieve the plans for the Death Star, it quickly becomes a tragic final mission for all the troops as they parish is a glorious final battle for the greater good of the galaxy. A fleet engages enemy ships in space, while troops battle on a beach bellow. We see the classic Imperial walkers battling space ships, while soldiers try desperately to complete their mission, and the whole scene feels like a classic Battle Front video game stage come to life on the big screen. The space battle is also one of the franchises best and most well designed. It's one of the darker action scenes, as many hero's we grew to like are all making their last stand, and it ends on a powerful note.      

Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are some honorable mentions ...

The Speeder Bike Chase (Return of the Jedi)

Battle of Naboo (The Phantom Menace)

Death Star Assault (A New Hope)

The Battle of Kashyyyk (Revenge of the Sith

#1 The Battle of Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back)

While the Rebels plan to evacuate their base, the Empire lunches a full scale attack on their out post. This is a rare case in which the most epic battle of the movie is in the first half hour as opposed to the climax, and it’s even more rare for featuring the villains triumph over the heroes. Of cores, the big show stealers are the giant imperial walkers. Without a doubt, these are the coolest battle vehicles I’ve ever seen in a motion picture, and the effects for them still hold up today. The music is sensational, the cinematography is great, I honestly don’t need to say anything else, you’ve all seen this, and you know how awesome it is. This is the classic Sci-Fi movie battle that helped make “The Empire Strikes Back” an a triumph over the original, and it will always be the most classic battle in the Star Wars saga.


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