The first couple of minutes in a film are vital in the sense that the viewer should be invested in the movie straight from the beginning. Granted, there are certainly movies out there that start off slow and eventually become intriguing — and Star Wars has both.
My regular readers might know by now that I love every single Star Wars movie — including the prequel trilogy. However, I would be as blind as Chirrut Imwe to not realize some chapters of the saga are not as good as others. Which begs the question: Does the opening scene correlate to how the rest of the film plays out when it comes to the Star Wars saga? Which ones are the most breathtaking and which ones almost put us to sleep?
That's what I'm going to try and figure out with this list — and no, I'm not just talking about the opening shot (such as the Star Destroyer in A New Hope). This is looking at the first full scene that introduces the audience to the movie, which in this case ranges from two to ten full minutes.
8. Attack Of The Clones
Starting off this list is Attack of the Clones, which in my opinion is an entertaining movie but is the one Star Wars movie where the flaws are peppered throughout the entire film. The first scene of the 2002 blockbuster isn't any different as it works in some ways but has its flaws as well.
The movie begins with a group of Naboo starfighters flying over Coruscant, which is undeniably a beautiful shot. When the ship lands on the planet, it blows up in a (failed) assassination attempt against the former queen of Naboo. My main problem with this opening scene is that this scene should not have been the head of the snake but instead be featured five to ten minutes after the iconic crawl.
There's an abundance of different opening scenes George Lucas could have chosen to use other than this one. This often appears to be the issue with the prequels — they have so many moments that make you say "if only they did it this way..." that hold them back from greatness.
If Lucasfilm was going to keep the opening scene where the one of Padmé's handmaidens kicks the bucket, they should have at least shown a mysterious bounty hunter (either Zam Wesell or Jango Fett) quickly shoot up into the sky with their jetpack and start shooting at the "senator" and then throw a bomb onto the platform with the bounty hunter flying away.
This is better for not only an epic opening sequence but the story itself because it shows how the assassination was even made possible and would have also confirmed to the Jedi Council that Padmé was in danger. All in all, this was not a horrible opening sequence — but it certainly could have been improved.
7.The Phantom Menace
So far, this list has corresponded with my favorite Star Wars movies as The Phantom Menace is my seventh favorite film. However, I cannot defend the fact that this opening scene shows how boring this movie will be for a chunk of the audience.
This scene shows the Republic Cruiser landing onto the Trade Federation platform and the shiny protocol droid TC-14 escorts Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to a room where they will wait to negotiate with the Trade Federation. As we know, we all know things didn't go as planned shortly after but until the situation got out of control, this scene was nothing short of mundane and failed to really excite the audience.
6. The Empire Strikes Back
Even though I view The Empire Strikes Back not only as the superior Star Wars film but possibly the best movie ever made, its opening scene isn't as captivating as some of the other installments in the saga. The movie begins with the sight of another Star Destroyer releasing a probe droid that travels down to the icy planet of Hoth. After that, we see Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun in the snow talking to Han over his intercom about how he wants to check out the "meteorite" that just crashed when all of a sudden, a Wampa attacks Luke unexpectedly and drags his unconscious body across the snow.
This is a certainly a strong opening preceding an extraordinary movie. It was simple yet quickly introduced us to our hero and learned that the Empire has spotted the location of the secret Rebel base. In the end though, I don't believe this introduction justifies how spectacular this movie will really be and it is not as effective or intriguing as the other entries on this list.
5. Return Of The Jedi
Return of the Jedi is one of the most epic conclusions to a trilogy in cinema history and right from the beginning, the audience was fully aware that the Empire wasn't messing around. In the first five seconds, we learn that the Empire is building a second Death Star over the forest moon of Endor. After that, we see yet another Star Destroyer flying in — a tradition from the first two movies — before Darth Vader's Imperial Shuttle and two TIE fighters exit the Destroyer and approach the moon-sized space station.
When the shuttle lands, we see an epic line-up of stormtroopers and Imperial guards awaiting Vader's arrival — and this is all happening with the iconic and epic "Imperial March" theme playing in the background. Darth Vader arrives with a badass entrance and begins to speak about how the Emperor is going to arrive. Even though this opening may not have the action, the emotion is heavily felt by the daunting presence of Vader.
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4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the only Star Wars movie on this list that starts off with a prologue. The first scene we see gives us some background on the film we are about to see in a very interesting way. Director Krennic's shuttle flies over the beautiful skies and finally finds Galen Erso and his family hiding out at a moisture farm. We see a very intriguing conversation between the two old friends about how Krennic wants Galen to return to the Empire to finish building the Death Star. We then see the emotional death of his wife Lyra (enhanced if you read Catalyst) and then the formidable Death Troopers searching for young Jyn Erso.
Truthfully, I find this to be a very effective scene that (almost) makes up for the absence of a crawl. Beyond that, it is a truly epic scene that immediately shows the audience that this Star Wars movie is going to be extremely different from the rest of the movies. The downside to this scene is how confusing it was for the first viewing unless you read Star Wars: Catalyst but on the other hand, this is a truly amazing scene for the fans who did read the book.
3. The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens was easily the most anticipated movie of the entire century as the hype was through the roof all throughout 2015. When we finally sat down in the movie theater after a very long wait, The Force Awakens blew me away with its opening sequence and fully engaged any skeptical fans.
The film begins with yet another Star Destroyer and then the scene cuts to the First Order transport trips loaded with stormtroopers. In the first few minutes, we're introduced to Poe Dameron and BB-8 and the fact that the movie is about finding Luke Skywalker and that the First Order is a rising threat.The stormtroopers begin to cause chaos and Kylo Ren has an extremely badass entrance as he stops Poe's blaster shot with the Force and then slays Lor San Tekka with his lightsaber.
These top three opening sequences are easily better than the rest because they fully engage the audience are executed in an extremely effective way. I cannot express how epic of an opening sequence this was and it was important that they got it right as this was the "redemption" film.
2. A New Hope
While A New Hope's opening scene is certainly the most iconic and is extremely well done, it is not the best opening of them all. Putting that aside, this scene introduced us to the Star Wars universe and doing it in a mediocre way was not an option. The shot of Tantive IV shooting across the sky being attacked by a much larger Imperial ship — the massive Star Destroyer — has become extremely iconic and immediately sucked the audience into the story.
The scene cuts to R2-D2 and C-3PO running down the hallway in terror. Rebel soldiers sprint down the pearly white hallways getting ready for battle. The soldiers get into position and suddenly, stormtroopers breach through the door and the heavy blaster fire begins. The smoke settles and the most iconic villain of all time makes his grand entrance, proceeding to choking Captain Antilles with his bare hand (still wish it was with the Force, but it's awesome nonetheless).
In the first five minutes of A New Hope, the audience is fully engaged. Chills still travel down my spine every time I see this scene, so what could possibly be better?
1. Revenge Of The Sith
Some of you may be surprised that I ranked Revenge of the Sith above A New Hope. There is no doubt that A New Hope's opening scene is the most iconic opening in any Star Wars movie. However, that does not mean it is the most epic or effective, even though the A New Hope entrance is perfect for that time as they could not have done what Revenge of the Sith did with CGI.
The opening begins with a beautiful shot of a Venator Class Star Destroyer looming over Coruscant. What looks like a peaceful scene quickly turns into an all-out space battle. Anakin and Obi-Wan's starfighters are racing in between all of the large space vessels to get into General Grievous' flagship and as you can tell after watching it above, it is one epic scene.
Revenge of the Sith had to have a massive opening scene because it was vital to show fans that this movie was actually going to be really great, unlike the previous two installments which managed to disappoint most of the audience. In the end, George Lucas did an excellent job portraying the Clone Wars in just a few minutes while impressively starting off the movie.
Which 'Star Wars movie had the best opening scene?
What do you guys think is the best opening in the Star Wars saga? Tell me below!