To celebrate Star Wars Day, I thought it would be fun to rank the Star Wars movies, from best to worst. Keep in mind, this is purely subjective, and in no way does my opinion reflect everyone’s own personal rankings of the movie. Let me know in the comments section if you agree or disagree with my rankings, and May The Fourth Be With You!
1) The Empire Strikes Back – It’s rare when a sequel can top the original, but The Empire Strikes Back did just that and more. What also was rare for Empire is that usually, a sequel is more of the same, but this was completely different from the first movie and literally a brand new chapter. Irvin Kirshner understood the importance of character development and he also was able to get the best out of his actors. We were introduced to fascinating new worlds, like Hoth, Dagobah, and Bespin. We met new characters that helped improve the Star Wars lore, like Yoda and Lando Calrissian. And finally, this movie has one of the most shocking, if not the most shocking reveal, in movie history.
2) A New Hope – This is the movie that started it all. George Lucas brought to the screen something that was never seen by audiences before, and it did not only change movie history, but it became a permanent part of our culture. It not only had an impact on American audiences but also the world. It is extremely rare to visit a region on this planet and find someone who has not heard of Star Wars. It is a simple story of good vs evil; heroes, a princess, a wizard, and an evil villain; and battles, duels, and magic. The cast was basically a bunch of unknowns, but the story was so endearing that the cast forever were tied to the characters they portrayed. The special effects, both visual and audio, were groundbreaking for the time. And the musical score by John Williams tied it all together to help make Star Wars one of the best film experiences ever made.
3) The Force Awakens – With so many people unsatisfied with The Prequels, and not seeing a new Star Wars film in such a long time, this movie was welcomed by fans and critics alike. This movie can be accused of doing more of the same, in fact, it seems a little too similar to the original at times, but audiences needed that feeling again of familiarity, and this was a great way to jump-start the Star Wars franchise again. This introduced great new characters but also brought back some of the classic characters that we loved. And director JJ Abrams was not afraid to take chances by killing off a major beloved character from the franchise. The story was fun, the 21st Century special effects looked amazing, and again, a group of unknown actors did an outstanding job portraying their characters. Plus, you got John Williams back to do the musical score, and the result was a huge success for the Star Wars franchise.
4) Return Of The Jedi – Some people really love this film and probably think it should be ranked higher. After watching it recently, I can understand how they feel. I always felt like that this movie was a little too much of the same, especially that the climax had to deal with blowing up another Death Star. What makes this film great is the conclusion. We saw something that we never thought possible, the redemption of Darth Vader. Back when I first saw this movie on opening day, the audience stood up and literally screamed at Vader that, “he could do it” and save Luke. And he did, and that scene still brings chills to me every time I watch it. Unfortunately, the constant tampering with the Special Editions has ruined that moment and made it less impactful with the inclusion of Vader’s “Nooooo!” from Revenge Of The Sith. Also, seeing Hayden Christensen’s head digitally glued onto Sebastian Shaw’s (the original Anakin Skywalker) body diminishes that moment and seems more like a plug for The Prequels. For the most part, the actors seemed like they didn’t want to be there and this was far from their best performances. It is best to watch Return Of The Jedi, right after A New Hope and Empire, which for me, made it a better film and a perfect conclusion for the trilogy. Unlike the others in The Original Trilogy, it relies too much on the other films to make it great, and therefore, it is not a very good standalone film. If you can find the theatrical version of this movie (good luck), that is the way to go over the special edition.
5) The Last Jedi – This movie was so divisive. You have some that truly hate this movie and you have some that feel this is the best in all in the saga. And people both love and hate it for the same reason because it is so different and goes to places that fans did not expect. I definitely respect the vision that Rian Johnson had, and you have to give him credit for doing things that no one that followed the Star Wars Saga ever anticipated. Some audiences felt the changes to the lore were too drastic, and it did not help that Mark Hamill complained about his character’s path even before the film came out. Cinematography-wise, this looks nothing like any of the Star Wars films we have seen before. Most people will single out the Canto Bight segments and the character of Rose as the worst offenders of this film, but I feel with proper editing this could have been corrected. The more I watch this film, the more I like it, and focus on the good moments rather than the bad.
6) Solo: A Star Wars Story – This was one film where apparently production was a disaster. Kathleen Kennedy did not like what she saw of the original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, rough cut and replaced them with Ron Howard, Which director is responsible for what scenes in this movie, we may never know, but shockingly it works. I just watched this movie the other night and it is a fun and at times a visually stunning movie. It’s different from the other Star Wars films in that there is no mention of Jedi and it is a heist movie, and again, it just works. The comedic parts for the most part work and the cast perform decently. The problem is that Alden Ehrenreich had some very big shoes to fill with taking on the role of a young Han Solo, and no matter how good his performance can be, he lacks the charisma that Harrison Ford gave to the character. Chris Pine did a fantastic job portraying a young Captain Kirk in Star Trek, but it just didn’t work here. I have yet to meet anyone who has ever said that they thought this was a bad movie. So if you haven’t seen this movie, or seen it in a while, definitely check it out.
7) Revenge Of The Sith – I was never a fan of The Prequels, but by far, Sith is the best film in The Prequel Trilogy. This was the film that we all were waiting for, to see how Anakin turned to The Dark Side and became Darth Vader. Once Anakin turns, the movie goes at a fast pace and the battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan is fantastic and a feast for the eyes. The overall acting is improved across the board, but there are still times of wooden acting or cringey dialogue. The climax is definitely worth the price of admission, but the whole Prequel Trilogy lacks some shocking moments that we had seen previously in The Original Trilogy.
8) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – At times this movie is visually stunning. The space battle above the planet Scarif is second to none. Director Krenick is a great villain and K-2SO steals the show at times. And seeing Darth Vader go full-on rage mode is a joy to watch. The problem with this movie is that I think it would have benefited if there were fewer main characters that consisted of Rogue One. I would have gone with Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, and Saw Gerrera. Saw Gerrera had a great design and was played by a great actor, Forest Whitaker, but they made him a nutball and almost instantly killed his character off. I would have brought Saw on the journey with a more expanded and serious role. Then there is the CGI Tarkin. More times than less, it just does not look good, and it is obvious that this is just a poor CGI replication of actor Peter Cushing. This makes all of those scenes with Tarkin in them very distracting. We have seen improvements in the character of Tarkin from Rogue One with the deep fake process, but we can forget about ever seeing this corrected because why would Lucasfilm even bother to go back and correct visuals to a film that for the most part is forgettable. Rogue One is a movie where fast forward is indeed your friend because there are some truly amazing visuals and battles in this movie.
9) The Phantom Menace – At the time, this movie was so anticipated, and yet it was so disappointing for many fans. George Lucas had too much power over the production and focused more on CGI and new alien characters than a good story and proper directing. Unlike the original movie, most of these actors were known or up-and-coming stars. But due to Lucas’ lackluster directing skills, they came off as either very wooded or just bad actors. A lot of people put a lot of the blame on the character of Jar Jar Binks, but if you still watch it today, it is an amazing accomplishment of a life-like CGI character. The writing and his speech pattern made the character annoying, so you have to blame Lucas again. But for all the bad that was in this movie, there are some truly fantastic moments. The Pod Race may have been filler, but it still looks and sounds incredible. And the battle between Qui Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul never gets old. Then you add John Williams’ Duel Of The Fates to that scene and it is just perfection. This movie could have benefited if Lucas encouraged other writers and assistant directors to help with the creative process, instead of surrounding himself with “yes” people.
10) Attack Of The Clones – There is absolutely nothing good in this movie. Nothing works. The CGI is bad, the comedic moments are bad (remember C3PO in the arena battle), and the acting is just awful. I would say the one saving grace is Christopher Lee’s performance as Dooku. And you can’t help but compare The Prequel Trilogy’s second film to The Original Trilogy’s second film masterpiece. What bothered me the most about this film is it made me hate Anakin Skywalker because all he was was a whiny, arrogant spoiled brat that was more than creepy, at times, to Padme. This is the guy that was behind the Darth Vader mask in The Original Trilogy? Again, Lucas followed the same road to doom with this film as he did with the previous one, he wanted complete control, no input from others, and cared more about CGI than the actors’ performance and story.
11) The Rise Of Skywalker – Some people may disagree with me with this choice over Clones, but for me, this was supposed to be the official conclusion to the Star Wars Saga and they blew it big time. I loved The Force Awakens and enjoyed a lot of The Last Jedi, but this one is a prime example that Lucasfilm never had a plan for The Sequel Trilogy and they just didn’t care. What this seems to be is an apology movie for many things that happened in The Last Jedi or a course correction. I always felt if you made a decision, you need to live with it, good or bad, and move on. Lucasfilm had no real idea that Johnson was going to kill off Snoke, so they realized that they didn’t have a big villain now for the next movie. They could have gone with Kylo Ren but decided it was more important to redeem him. For Lucasfilm and JJ Abrams to say that it was always the plan to have The Emperor return is insulting to both moviegoers and fans. If that was the case, they would have introduced The Emperor in the previous film, even just a short scene, or as a cliffhanger. But to introduce a major returning villain in the opening crawl of the movie? Come on! And they didn’t do any favors by bringing back Ian McDiarmid because the character was poorly written and at times it seemed that even The Emperor didn’t know what was going on. They also introduced several new characters that were literally too late for the saga to introduce. This movie is a mess from beginning to end. Acting, writing, and directing are all bad. And why take away Anakin’s redemption as the chosen one by defeating The Emperor in Return Of The Jedi? This movie not only erases things from The Last Jedi but The Original Trilogy too. I have always been a completest, but this is the one Star Wars film that I don’t own. And I have seen this movie three times. Trust me, I really wanted to like it. And as bad as Clones can be, it wasn’t the end chapter. They should have finished strong with this one, but they failed miserably.
Editor’s Note: This article contains the opinions of the author, Joe Hogarty. These opinions may or may not align with those of WDWNT LLC, Tom Corless, or anyone else on this planet. Please feel free to voice your own thoughts in the comments section below.