TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - On the brink of the release of a new Star Wars movie, and with it a debate of where it stacks up among the films that came before.
But the true test of how well "Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens" succeeds is the power of the moments it manages to infuse into pop culture. It's the stuff that makes Facebook memes. The stuff that makes you and whoever you're watching the movie with share a knowing smile. The stuff that kids re-enact when they're playing on the living room floor.
Whether it's a snippet of dialog, a stunning visual display or a resounding emotional impact, this film will have to deliver the goods to place among the ranks of great Star Wars moments of the past:
10. Use the Force, Luke.
A sudden silver lining shines over the dark cloud of Obi-Wan's death when the hero reappears in ghost form to coach Luke through his difficult trials. While the advice is sort of lame and obvious, no more substantial than a cheerleader shouting "Go! Fight! Win!" it's the thought that counts.
9. Darth Maul sliced in half.
The baddie from "The Phantom Menace" makes short work of Obi-Wan's mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn, and thinks he'll easily take down the Padawan. It doesn't work out that way, though. Just when Obi-Wan appears beaten, he shows it was all a ruse to get Maul to let his guard down. The hubris leads to Darth literally half the man he used to be, wondering where it all went wrong as he plunges into the void.
8. Anakin and Padme's first kiss.
The romance at the core of the series starts off more than a little creepy, with a teenage Padme deflecting flirtations from a little boy. But once both hit adulthood, the hookup takes on Shakespearean resonance. Forbidden by the Jedi order to fall in love, Anakin silently rebels as he pursues his dreamgirl in secret, coaxing Padme to let down her guard and indulge her bad boy fantasy.
7. Luke learns who his daddy is.
Arguably the most shocking reveal in cinematic history -- and definitely the most misquoted (Darth never says "Luke, I am your father.") -- finds Luke discovering the hidden fate of his Jedi dad, and the unfathomable link between him and his archenemy. It's also Darth's attempt at making inroads into his abandoned son's psyche and the beginning of the attempt to get him to join the family business of being evil.
6. Anakin's raid.
The prequel trilogy is all about Anakin's rise to heroism and ensuing plunge into power-hungry fascism. As Yoda feared all along, his fall is predicated on fear and vengeance. Once he learns that his greatest fear has come to pass, and his mom has been captured and fatally injured by Tusken Raiders, Anakin goes rogue and destroys an entire encampment. The overreaction turns out to be a warmup for following the Emperor's orders to wipe out all the Jedi.
5. Han frozen in carbonite.
The ending of "The Empire Strikes Back" was a devastating downer. The Empire infiltrated the core of the Rebellion, neutralizing the fledgling Jedi at its core, and snuffed out any momentum the uprising had conjured. No one took it on the chin harder than Han Solo, who was frozen in carbonite and delivered to enemy Jabba the Hutt. If you don't own a Han-frozen-in-carbonite paperweight, you're just not geeky enough.
4. Alderaan's big bang.
Once Darth Vader uses the Death Star to wipe Princess Leia's home planet out of the galaxy, the ruthlessness of the Dark Side shows its darkest form. Even when rewatched for the hundredth time, it's mind-blowing. He just blew up a planet! An entire freaking planet! The epic counterpoint to the destruction of Alderaan is when Luke Skywalker makes his trench run, splintering the first Death Star to bits and proving that the Rebel Alliance is a forced to be reckoned with.
3. "Nooooooo!" "Noooooooo!"
Sure, it's cheesy, but there's no denying the Munch's Scream-like pain and horror that Anakin feels when he first realizes his new form, as the robotically-enhanced Darth Vader. The moaning epoch marks the character's loss of his last sliver of humanity, preparing him for his wholesale transformation into the embodiment of pure sadism.
2. "I am a Jedi. Like my father before me."
With those lines, Luke not only resists the Emperor's overtures to join the Dark Side, but tugs on Daddy Vader's heart strings just enough to awaken his dormant heart and spark the symbolic father-son overthrow of the Empire.
1. "I know."
Han Solo was the most crucial character in the original trilogy because he was just a normal guy, with no superpowers other than his own inflated self-confidence and smarmy witticisms, all of which are a front for a dude who, despite his protestations, cares deeply. His sardonic attitude and wisecracks added levity to overly serious situations. His response to Leia's declaration of love defines their breathless relationship to perfection.
HOT ON HOME VIDEO:
There really isn't anything Paul Rudd can't do. After owning the romantic comedy scene and inventing the bromance genre, he proves he can be not only a superhero, but one of the most likable yet. Playing a thief who is recruited by a scientist to do good, he dons a body-shrinking, super strength-granting suit. More of a comedy than an action flick, the film works well on both levels and introduces another intriguing member of the Avengers squad. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo boasts deleted and extended scenes, a making-of featurette and a look ahead to Marvel's "Phase 3" movie plan, in which Ant-Man will feature prominently.
The Peter Pan mythos is reimagined in this bizarre, oddly appealing high seas adventure. In a Neverland as a slave-labor mining enterprise dominated by Blackbears (Hugh Jackman), orphan Peter (Levi Miller) conspires with best buddy James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and his main squeeze, Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) for revolution. There are some weird, entrancing moments here, such as when the pirate-miners spontaneously bust out in a rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (seriously). You either wince or just sit back and go with it. The latter is more fun. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes director commentary, a look at the crafting of the creative visuals and a deeper examination about the Peter Pan legend.
You Can't Take it With You
Frank Capra's 1938 masterpiece rips apart the leisure class with good-natured satire. Capra's go-to guy, James Stewart, stars as a man who snubs his family of snobs to date a woman (Jean Arthur) from a poor family. The mismatched romance reflects the sentiment of a divided society of haves and have-nots just starting to awaken from the Great Depression. The Blu-ray, which masterfully restores the visuals to HD quality, includes a digital copy and commentary from Capra's son, who praises his dad's heart, drive and attention to detail.