Every film fan knows the thrill of seeing their favorite franchise on the big screen. But once movies leave the theater, it’s up to us to find a way to recapture the magic we felt during that first screening. Today, May 4 — known to many as Star Wars Day — you’ll have your chance. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)
If you’re already outfitted to watch movies your way at home with a top-notch sound system and giant flat-screen, you may want to crank up the volume and dim the lights while enjoying these eight cinematic highlights from the Star Wars™ saga:
1. The Opening Crawl – Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Needless to say, there would be no Star Wars saga without the original film, which immediately grabs the attention of viewers with the opening title crawl, from the blue text of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …” to the Star Wars title card and subsequent text explaining the current state of things in the story. It’s hard to argue that, between the combination of that stunning introduction and the surprise factor of the first blaring note from the orchestra (the opening salvo of John Williams’ Oscar-winning score), fans everywhere were hooked from that moment on. Check it out here.
2. Destruction of the Death Star – Episodes IV: A New Hope (1977)
Like few films before it, the final battle sequence to destroy the first Death Star offers many highlights that have had fans mesmerized for decades. The visual effects created by the newly-established Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) for the X-wings, Tie Fighters and the explosion of the Death Star itself — along with the sound effects that would become iconic in their own right — make the scene a stand-out moment in the original trilogy. Check it out here.
3. Darth Vader Father Reveal – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Given both the lightsaber duel that precedes it and the scene where Darth Vader (listed as the American Film Institute’s third-greatest villain of all time) tells Luke his true lineage, this one’s a no-brainer. Also worth noting are the sound effects accompanying the lightsabers in action and the set design, all of which contributed to making this a very special moment. Check it out here.
4. Forest Speeder Chase – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Seeing and hearing the zipping speeders chase each other through the forest of Endor’s Moon on a big screen will make anyone’s pulse quicken. And given the imaginative and original visual and sound effects used to create the chase, you’re sure to enjoy this scene in a home theater setting too. Check it out here.
5. Vader Slaughters the Rebels – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Fans everywhere waited a long time to see Vader in action like this. Previously in the franchise, he had only been seen moving slowly towards his opponents when wearing the suit. But thanks to the filmmakers’ last-minute decision to do re-shoots, the scene was added to give Vader his shining moment. From his force-flipping rebels onto the ceiling to the horror-esque style in which the cinematography and soundtrack was composed, you may find yourself turning to the Dark Side in support of this Sith Lord’s violent act. Check it out here.
6. Luke vs. The First Order – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
While this film stirred controversy amongst fans and critics, from a cinematic standpoint, seeing Luke Skywalker take on the entire First Order by himself was arguably one of the most jaw-dropping moments in the saga. From the laser blasts having no effect to the final reveal where Luke lets his force projection vanish before the eyes of Kylo Ren, this scene is constructed in such a way that the viewer is hooked from start to finish. Check it out here.
7. The Pod Race – Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Between the eye-candy of crashing pods and the sound effects of each pod flying past the camera’s perspective, this entire race is memorable. If you’re watching it for the first time, take note of the fact that the film score is on hold until the final moments of the race — a clever trick that helps enhance the dramatic conclusion where Anakin wins. Check it out here.
8. The Falcon Returns – Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
After waiting 32 years, fans were finally treated to the return of the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs: the Millennium Falcon. During Fin and Rey’s chase scene, viewers were surprised to see the Falcon sitting in a junk yard, covered by a tarp. The duo chooses it only after their chosen ship is blown up by a pursuing Tie Fighter. The chase sequence that follows offers up explosions, tight turns and the roaring engines of the Falcon, all accompanied by great sound effects. Check it out here.
If you’re ready to enjoy some of these moments in epic fashion, it’s time to fire up your home theater. May the Fourth be with you!
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