Ranking the best moments of modern day Star Wars: Numbers 1-5

On Twitter, Bryan Young recently asked his followers what their favorite moment of the modern Star Wars era (the Disney era) is, and there are too many great ones to count.  Inspired by that, we’ll be taking a look at this author’s top 50 moments from recent Star Wars material.  Today, we conclude with a look at numbers 1-5.

5. Peace and Purpose

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Luke Skywalker’s death (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

When we first meet Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, he has cut himself off from the Force and believes the right and heroic thing for him to do is to die – and to let the Jedi die with him.  A major focal point of the movie, then, is Luke recovering his faith in it – which leads to an epic heroic moment.  Following that, Luke – still alone on Ahch-To – sits atop a rock on the perch extending from Ahch-To’s mountains and looks at the sunset, with twin suns on the horizon.  A clear illusion to the iconic twin suns (binary sunset) moment in A New Hope, and with John Williams’ amazing force theme blaring, the beloved Jedi Master fades away, leaving nothing but his robe flying away in the breeze.  Luke Skywalker has become one with the Force, like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda before him.  Rey and Leia both sense his passing, but as Rey says, it wasn’t sadness but “peace and purpose.”  Luke found himself once again, re-established his connection to the Force, heroically saved the Resistance and inspired hope in the galaxy, and then peacefully became one with the Force.  It is a stunningly beautiful moment, done incredibly well by Rian Johnson and company.

4. The Throne Room

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Rey and Ben Solo team up (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

One of the most amazing scenes in any Star Wars film is the Throne Room sequence in The Last Jedi.  Having gone to attempt to bring Ben Solo to the light side, Rey is taken captive aboard the Supremacy by Solo and is brought before Supreme Leader Snoke.  The Supreme Leader tortures Rey by probing her mind to find out Luke Skywalker’s location, and when Rey draws Kylo’s lightsaber using the Force, she charges Snoke… only for him to toss her back with the move of a finger.  He then calls on his apprentice to execute Rey because she has the spirit of a true Jedi, and Snoke in his arrogance closes his eyes to read Ren’s mind: he sees him turning the lightsaber to strike his real enemy, but what he didn’t expect was that he was Kylo’s true enemy.  Kylo ignites the Skywalker saber with the Force and slices Snoke in half (as the triumphant Force theme plays), and Rey and Kylo then team up against the Praetorian Guards.  It’s an epic battle sequence that shows both of their skills with a lightsaber, and it ends with an awesome lightsaber stab through the head of the last Praetorian Guard.  It’s an amazing sequence filled with plenty of emotion, several epic moments, awesome choreography, and terrific performances by Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver (especially in the dialogue that follows the fight).  It stands out as a great moment in all of Star Wars, not just this modern era.

3. Master vs. Apprentice

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Darth Vader vs. Ahsoka Tano (Rebels Season 2, Episode 22: “Twilight of the Apprentice”)

Star Wars animation has done a lot of terrific work, but as far as I’m concerned, “Twilight of the Apprentice” stands out as the highlight.  The Clone Wars film and the first five seasons of the TV show both starred Anakin Skywalker and his apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, on a number of missions.  The audience got to see their relationship mature and Ahsoka mature, and in turn many Star Wars fans fell in love with Ahsoka.  When the series ended, there was speculation about Ahsoka’s fate and whether she knew Anakin had become Darth Vader.  Those questions began to be answered as Dave Filoni brought Ahsoka back into Star Wars Rebels, this time as the secret Rebel informant “Fulcrum.”  Ahsoka occasionally got involved with the Ghost crew during season two because of the Jedi, Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, and she discovered that her master had become Darth Vader.  From that point on, a confrontation between the two seemed inevitable, and indeed that confrontation came in the season two finale.  Vader showed up on Malachor, and Ahsoka was waiting there to confront him.  After a brief conversation (which included Ahsoka’s great “I am no Jedi” line), master and apprentice faced off.  The show did a terrific job of showing that, while Vader was stronger, Ahsoka posed a very real and tough threat to her former Master.  Vader force-pushed her off the temple, but Ahsoka re-appeared to save Ezra and Kanan shortly thereafter.  Slicing Vader’s mask partially open, she sees the partial face of Anakin Skywalker – and Matt Lanter’s Anakin says, “Ahsoka.”  Instead of running, Ahsoka turns to face Anakin and says, “I won’t leave you.  Not this time.”  After a pause, Vader ignites his lightsaber and responds, “Then you will die.”  As the Sith Temple closes and Ezra and Kanan escape, the last we see of Ahsoka is her battling Vader (Rebels reveals what happens after that in the season four episode “A World Between Worlds”).  Especially for those fans who became invested in The Clone Wars, this moment stands out among the best in Star Wars history – it is a great fight in its own right, but it is packed with emotion.

2. It calls to you

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Rey embraces her destiny (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Midway through The Force Awakens, the scavenger Rey was drawn by a mysterious noise into the lower regions of Maz Kanata’s castle and discovered the Skywalker lightsaber – along with a Force vision as well.  Maz explained to Rey that the lightsaber called to her, but Rey refuses to have anything to do with it, instead running away.  Maz gives Finn the lightsaber to use and protect until Rey is willing to use it.  Fast-forward near the end of the film, after Rey and Finn watched Han Solo murdered by his own son, the villainous Kylo Ren.  Confronting Ren in the forest, Rey raises her blaster – and is promptly thrown back into a tree, knocking her out.  Finn ignites the lightsaber and briefly duels Kylo, but he is soon overmatched and sliced in the back.  The lightsaber falls in the snow, and Kylo attempts to use the Force to draw it to himself.  But the saber flies right past him – and into the outstretched arm of Rey!  With the Force theme playing in the background, Rey ignites the lightsaber and finally embraces her destiny.  The look of shock on Kylo’s face is evident, and the two proceed to duel in the snowy forest.  When Kylo reminds Rey of the Force (via attempting to get her to join him), she utilizes the Force to push Kylo back and ultimately defeat him.  The fight is great (and the colors of the lightsaber illuminating the characters amidst the dark snowy forest is awesome), but the moment where Rey embraces her destiny and calls the lightsaber with the Force will surely stand out as one of the great moments in Star Wars history.

1. Return of the Jedi

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Jedi Master Luke Skywalker returns (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

The Resistance appears to be out of hope.  Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo had mentioned how they were the spark that would light the fire that would restore the Republic, but pinned back on Crait, General Leia Organa admitted that the spark was out.  Their allies had heard their distress calls for help, but no one responded.  Leia realized that her end – and the end of the Resistance – was here.  But all of the sudden, the Resistance’s strongest ally appears: Luke Skywalker.  He had experienced a journey through the film to get to the point where his faith in the Force was restored, and he showed up on Crait in the Resistance’s most dire hour.  He sits down in front of Leia, and the siblings have a touching reunion.  John Williams’ Luke and Leia theme plays as the two of them talk, and Luke reminds his sister that no one is ever really gone while handing her Han’s lucky dice and kissing her on the forehead.  He begins to walk out of the command center – stopping to wink at C-3PO and as the amazing theme “The Spark” begins to swell, Resistance soldiers watch as this larger-than-life legend walks out to face the First Order’s assault force.  Kylo Ren sees him and orders every gun to fire on Luke, and they do: overwhelming firepower that no one could withstand fires upon Luke’s location, but when it stops… Luke walks out of the smoke and ashes, brushing off his shoulder as if it was nothing.  Kylo, stunned, orders to be brought down to the surface, where he confronts Luke.  The two ignite lightsabers, and Kylo charges his old Master.  Luke continually dodges these attacks, and eventually he apologizes to Ben for failing him.  Ben tells Luke that once he kills him, he’ll have killed the last Jedi, but Luke corrects him: “the Rebellion is reborn today, the war is only beginning, and I will not be the last Jedi.”  Luke reminds Kylo: “Strike me down in anger and I’ll always be with you.  Just like your father.”  Kylo charges Luke, but his lightsaber goes right through the Jedi.  It is revealed that Luke is still on Ahch-To, projecting himself across the galaxy through the Force.  Kylo can’t believe it, and Luke says, “See you around kid” before disappearing.

It is a great sequence all around: there’s plenty of emotion (especially with Luke’s reunion with Leia!), the music is amazingly epic, the colors and visuals are great, Mark Hamill is terrific as always, and it’s our chance to finally see Luke Skywalker as the powerful Jedi Master we imagined him to be.  Even though it doesn’t play out like expected, it displays Luke’s prowess with the Force and also serves to accomplish what the entire movie was pointing to: Hope.  A spark.  Luke Skywalker is the spark that will reignite the hope in the galaxy and in the Resistance.  That’s what the entire ending scene with the broom boy (named Temiri Blagg, by the way) is about: the legend of Luke Skywalker has spread and inspired hope in the galaxy.

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