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CNET Top 5: Best ways to watch Star Wars
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CNET Top 5: Best ways to watch Star Wars

4:39 /

Planning a movie marathon to warm up for the new Star Wars? Here are the five best ways to structure the viewing order.

[MUSIC] A new Stars Wars movie is in the works that is set to open on December 18, 2015. I suspect this isn't news to any of you. Most of you are probably wearing your Boba Fett Underoos as we speak. I mention it because amongst us are millions who have never seen Star Wars, or worse, have only seen the prequels. They're gonna be playing catch up, and they need your help. So, for their sake and for the sake of everyone around you who's gonna be dealing with your purely speculative critique of the new movie, I made this top five. Donald Bell, and assuming George Lucas or Disney don't sue the pants off of us, in this week's top five I'll be counting down the best viewing orders for the current Star Wars movie saga. Starting off at number five, episode order. It makes sense, right? You start off and Episode I and make you're way through the prequels before getting to the original trilogy. I recommend this to no-one. First off, Episode I: The Phantom Menace is universally regarded as awful to anyone over the age of ten. You're gonna lose people. If not with Jar-Jar, then with 100 other unnecessary characters in that film. But most importantly, going in episode order spoils the biggest plot twist in the whole series. Certain family bloodlines are made abundantly clear by the end of Episode three, which makes it really weird in Episode four, the original Star Wars, that no-one is telling Luke some very critical information about the guy he's trying to kill or the girl he's trying to kiss. Ew. So how about number four? Chronological order. You go in the order they were made, starting with the 1977 original and looping back around to the prequels. You preserve the innocence of the original, the surprise of Yoda, and the plot twist that really anchors the whole entire series. This way works but with one big flaw, at the end of Return of the Jedi when Luke looks at the fallen mentors in the midst of that furry rave, George Lucas slips Hayden Christensen into that lineup looking like some Jedi hipster. Anyone who hasn't seen the prequels at that point isn't gonna put together that the voice of James Earl Jones somehow comes out of this twerp. Also it means that your Star Wars marathon is gonna end in the prequel episode three, which just doesn't feel right. So how about we try option number three, flashback order. You start with the original two, episodes four and five, establish the characters people actually care about, and then cut back to the prequels one, two, and three to see their origin story and then end on six, Return of the Jedi. This way, there's no spoiling the original, or the twist of Empire. You get the back-story of Vader when you're most curious about it, and you leave the most satisfying movie ending for the last. And this time, you know who the hell that skeevy ghost teenager is. But maybe there's a simpler answer. At number two, the original trilogy. Keep it short and clean. Who says that we even have to acknowledge that the prequels exist? JarJar can be a secret we keep from our children, like Disney's Song of the South. The new Star Wars, Episode Seven, set to take place 30 years after The Return of the Jedi. If that's true, everyone from the prequels is probably dead. The original trilogy will be more than enough to get people up to speed, and then it's just on you to explain why that ghost at the end looks like a hung over Starbucks barrista. Which brings us to number 1. Machete order conceived by Rod Hilton, and named after his blog Machete order takes the flashback order and does something magical. It goes 4, 5, 2, 3, 6 and it treats Episode 1 like the forgettable unnecessary bastard that it is. All of the most flinch-inducing parts of the prequels are gone. No Jar-Jar. No pod races. No Darth Vader in diapers. No trade disputes. No midi-chlorians. It's actually astounding how little Episode I matters to the rest of the story. Every thing you need to know about Episode I is summed up in the opening scroll of Episode II. In fact, booting out Episode 1 makes Episode 2 and 3 better. The Padma romance scenes age appropriate, and Anakin seems like a jerk from the get go. It also makes Return of the Jedi better because you jump from Anakin's fall into the dark side to Luke's parallel story of temptation, ending in redemption this time. I know it sounds sacrilegious mixing the trilogies up, but give it a shot. So, there you go. Five ways to watch Star Wars ordered from worst to best, but that's just my opinion. Tell me why I'm wrong or suggest an alternate order of your own, you can tweet me @Donald or post the whole essay over top5.cnet.com. I'm Donald Bell, may the force be with you. [MUSIC]

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