I added a poll.
My vote is Return of the Jedi.
Listen, Empire is great and everything, and I enjoy a dark movie. But Return of the Jedi has more fun, more payoff, and more iconic moments than any other Star Wars film. The emergence of Luke Skywalker, dressed in black with his green lightsaber, finally a jedi knight, is perhaps my favorite thing in the whole series.
Basically, the majority of the Star Wars things that resonate with me are in this film.
Endor is the best. And yes, I enjoy the Ewoks. I kind of enjoy them more now that I know how much they piss some people off. The Ewoks are only marginally goofier than Yoda was in Empire, anyway.
Return of the Jedi unapologetically embraces the fun of the franchise, whether it's Endor, the craziness with Jabba the Hut, or the innumerable fantastic action scenes.
Marks against Empire Strikes Back:
- Luke's training sequence with Yoda has very little replay value.
- Too much brooding?
- Lando is kind of boring.
- Of the first three movies, Empire has the fewest iconic moments.
- Dagobah is gross. Hoth is cold and monochrome. Endor, by contrast, is beautiful.