With Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming out this Friday, lets take a look at all of the canon Star Wars films so far, and rank them best to worst!
Before we start, some personal background. I didn’t watch any of the Star Wars films until one week off of school when I watched the first six back to back in story order. I didn’t have the mind-bending experience in theaters watching Star Wars for the first time, until The Force Awakens. Nostalgia and “at its time” plays no part in this for me. Midi-Chlorians is just as much Star Wars as Dagobah.
Empire Strikes Back
The single greatest Star Wars movie. The best movie sequel. The greatest plot-twist. This movie is amazing from top to bottom. A New Hope allowed this movie to be made, and this movie allowed every other Star Wars movie to be made. The movie is fast-paced, and shows truly how great the Sith are. From Hoth to Dagobah to Bespin, the film shows how pervasive the dark side of the Force is, and how easy it would be for Luke to fall.
Best: “I am your father”
Worst: Who is Boba Fett? Most overrated character ever. You literally don’t know anything about him unless you watch the movie with his dad in it.
Revenge of the Sith
This is where I might lose some of you already. Everything from all three prequels comes together in this film. Who ordered the clones? Palpatine. How are the Sith managing to stay one step ahead of the Jedi? Palpatine. The love story not only comes together, but falls apart in a way that give Padme agency. She doesn’t die to help Anakin become Vader, she has her own personal agenda, and morals, that end up having her lose the will to live. Again, not because of Anakin, but because of the Republic falling to the Empire. Obi-Wan realizes that he has personally failed the Republic in the greatest way, by training it’s destroyer. So much groundwork laid in the previous two movies, falls together to create the dystopia we see at the beginning of A New Hope.
Best: “YOU WERE MY BROTHER ANAKIN! YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE! YOU WERE MEANT TO BRING BALANCE TO THE FORCE, NOT LEAVE IT IN DARKNESS! I LOVED YOU!”
Worst: Anakin is way to easily swayed. Maybe more than telling him to abandon all of his teachings by saying “Do it.” exactly once would be nice.
A New Hope
The movie that started it all. A true modern legend and mythology, showcasing the ultimate plight of good vs. evil, doing the right thing especially when it is hard, and the value of learning from those before you.
Best: This movie takes the time to really paint the landscape, and fill our characters with motivations and dreams. Lucas knew that he was going to be telling a big story, so he wasn’t afraid of taking the time necessary to allow moments to happen.
Worst: This scene was a bit much. We don’t need THAT much scenery.
I think Rogue One is still a super underrated Star Wars movie. Some say it’s only a footnote in the story, or an annotation in the Skywalker saga. But Star Wars shouldn’t be Keeping Up With The Skywalkers, it should continue to be what it was during A New Hope. An ongoing battle of freedom, and oppressors. Though it’s called Star Wars, only three movies in the entire story actually show a war happening. A good war movie isn’t about the generals, or the soldier that lands the killing blow. It’s about all the others, who give their lives so that we can have those big heroes. The only thing this movie doesn’t do, is go far enough. Rumor says that the director, Gareth Edwards, wanted to go deeper and darker, but Disney wouldn’t let them, because it’s still Star Wars, and Star Wars is a family film.
Best: This beach battle scene is amazing, and makes you feel like you are up against unbelievable odds with the rebels. A much more grounded story about war.
Worst: This movie was forced to pull back by suits. There is an alternate universe where this movie rivals Saving Private Ryan. Emotional stakes, familial ties, invading beaches. The had the resources, just not the guts.
The Force Awakens
The most Star Wars-y of the Star Wars movies. The bad guy wears a black mask and a black hood. He is building a bigger Death Star, out of a planet. The wise mentor dies. Hero comes from a desert planet with questionable parentage. Makes the Lightsaber new again. This movie is so middle of the path, so good, so predictable, I can’t think of putting it anywhere else on the list but the middle.
Best: Amazing characters that are able to both echo and foil the originals. A desert planet orphan goes up against the Nazi-metaphor dressed in black. But Rey is capable on her own, but doesn’t necessarily want to get involved. Kylo isn’t the confident badass that he wants everyone to think he is.
Worst: Kylo took it a bit far with his temper tantrums and Hot Topic vibe.
The Clone Wars
A pilot for the upcoming tv show, people usually forget this movie is officially canon. Everything that happens in this movie/show is relevant when watching the regular live action movies. We see Anakin and Obi-Wan at the height of their skill and power, fighting the war that allows this trilogy to still be called a Star War. At the end of the day, however, this movie is still just a double-length episode of the tv show, where they are saving the kidnapped baby of Jabba the Hutt.
Best: The combat.
Worst: Jabba the Hutt has a baby, and we have to save him.
Attack of the Clones
Yes the CGI was bad, and all actors besides Ewan McGregor were bad, and most of the story was bad. Don’t forget that we see Obi-Wan doing some awesome detective work, which is what the Jedi were before the Clone Wars. This is what the rebellion is fighting for, so that we can have a Republic, and see Jedi protect citizens from selfish and/or dangerous people. This is a movie about Jedi doing what Jedi do, mostly.
Best: Anakin and Obi-Wan chasing the shapeshifter through Coruscant. Hopefully that is the side of Star Wars the new tv show will be about.
Return of the Jedi
Anyone who knew Star Wars before 1999 will probably write this up as Millenial garbage. I don’t understand why anyone would like Return of the Jedi, outside of speeder bikes. A bunch of time is spent at Jabba’s palace, without really explaining anything about him. Then Luke returns to Dagobah, so Yoda can tell him he didn’t need to, then dies. They go to Endor and hang out with teddy-bears that fans had to name. It ends with the final show-down between Luke and Darth which was pretty cool, but not even in the top three emotional fight scenes in the franchise. I truly don’t understand why people normally rank this movie so highly.
Best: Speeder Bikes!
Worst: Is this a Native American / Colonial European metaphor? Or a Hobbit metaphor? Why are these teddy bears so willing and able to fight against an unbelievably technologically advance enemy force? Also, they are never called Ewoks in the movie. Fans thought “It’s like a Wookie, but smaller. What about a Ie-Wook? Ewok?”
The Phantom Menance
Who is the protagonist of this movie? Qui-Gon dies, but the story continues, so not him. Obi-Wan takes the backseat to everyone. Anakin doesn’t show up until halfway through. Padme is getting rescued. The villain is badass, but the definition of two-dimensional. All non-human characters have ridiculously racial accents. I don’t have strong feelings about Jar Jar besides him originally being a secret Sith. This movie is more of a footnote in the Star Wars story than Rogue One. Or just a series of footnotes.
Best: Podracing and Lightsaber fights! No matter what anyone says, these are two of the best action scenes in the whole franchise.
Worst: Jamaican Jar Jar, Jewish Watto, Korean Nute Gunray.