With “Star Wars” season starting to taper off, and the Skywalker saga finally being completed, I thought it was the proper time to release my ranking of all nine movies.
I am going to create a separate list that contains the two spin-off films “Solo” and “Rogue One,” which I happen to enjoy a lot more than anything in the sequel trilogy. For now, I’d like to just focus on the Skywalker saga and properly place the latest installment “Rise of Skywalker.”
9 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I left the movie theater angry after seeing this film. This is an emotion I also felt midway through the abortion of a superhero flick “Batman Vs. Superman” which uncoincidentally had one of the same writers.
I’ve watched every Star Wars in the movies with the exception of “Return of the Jedi” and they all were semi-enjoyable experiences. I even liked “The Phantom Menace” when I first saw it back in 1999.
But for some reason this mess of a film felt forced, rushed and ultimately pointless since it did little to bring significance to these characters that I still couldn’t find a reason to care about after three films. Brining back Palpatine was a lazy move, and Disney allegedly chopping out all of the force ghost cameos was a huge mistake.
It was promised that this movie would tie all of the previous Skywalker saga films together and the cameos might have been able to make that true. But instead, all we got were voices that I could barely make out.
All in all, this was the least needed Star Wars film since this exact story had already been told years prior, and that’s why it lands in the last position.
8 – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
My biggest problem with the prequels is that they started at the wrong point in Anakin’s life, and if not for some of the big moments like the pod racing and light saber fight in “The Phantom Menace,” the films would be totally irredeemable.
“Attack of the Clones” is easily the worst out of the prequels with its indecipherable story, overuse of CGI, and virtually none of those big moments that we get in the other two. It could have been so much more with the Clone Wars being hyped up in the original trilogy, and Anakin coming into his own as a man, but it seemed like George Lucas had trouble making these plot threads significant to the only story we really cared about, Anakin becoming Vader.
7 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
When watching the original Star Wars trilogy and hearing about Anakin as a great Jedi warrior, I never said to myself, hey, I want to see what Vader was like as a small boy. I honestly don’t know why Lucas though this was the right starting point considering all of the history and events that took place to build the Empire into what it was that he could have used. I also had hoped to see Anakin kick more butt as Vader, but this movie wasted the time that it would have taken to show that later on down the line.
It’s saving grace is the exciting pod racing scene which foreshadows some of Anakin’s great piloting, and the amazing light saber duel between Darth Maul and the Jedis, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.
6 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Talk about dropping the ball. This film might be the biggest example of that in cinema history and arguably made “Rise of Skywalker” so terrible, although “The Force Awakens” also helped with that.
I’m not one of those people who are disappointed with how they portrayed Luke here, I just thought this movie was boring and pointless. The film should have given us reasons to care about Finn, Rey and Poe, but instead, we got our time wasted by terribly written B plots, unnecessarily added characters, and a main villain who was reduced to a joke.
We were given no reasons for any of the things we had witnessed in the previous film, and were left with a lame Empire knock-off finally beating a resistance I’m not sure I was ever rooting for in the first place.
5 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This was a solid, but lesser reboot of “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The characters were not nearly as interesting or charismatic, but the appearance of the original cast helped to carry the newbies through the film.
The entire premise of the film was lazy, with the First Order being an Empire knockoff and the Resistance just being the Rebels part two. With the Star Wars EU, there were infinite and original ways to continue the story, but Abrams and Disney decided to play it way too safe.
I knew this unoriginal cash grab was destined for disaster. It went on to continue copying and that was ultimately its downfall. However, you can’t deny that this film uses CGI and practical effects well and just looks great overall. It’s definitely a step up visually from the previous six Star Wars films.
4 – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
The fact that this movie is part of the original trilogy really saves it. Aside from the end fight with Luke, the Emperor and Vader, and the opening sequence with Jabba’s lair, this film really didn’t know what to do with itself.
Han Solo was wasted and Harrison Ford wanting the kill the character off started to make more sense upon rewatching this film. Still, one can’t deny the fun that it provides and the closure it gives to this amazing saga. There’s some classic pieces of cinema within this film, and that alone bumps it up higher in the list.
It’s better to watch as a kid when you don’t know much about movies and just want to see the good guys win. If that was Lucas’s goal with this film when he first set out to make it, then it was definitely accomplished.
3 – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
“Revenge of the Sith,” much like “Solo,” gets a bad wrap because of the movies that came before it. But make no mistake about it, this is one of the best Star Wars films and it towers above anything we saw in the botched sequel trilogy. Even critics liked it when it first released in 2005.
Anakin’s gradual turn to the dark side is haunting and disturbing. Ian McDiarmid’s performance as Palpatine is the best in the series and easily elevates this dark opera to heights the previous two films just couldn’t achieve. It’s also the moment we were all waiting for after the prequel trilogy was first announced by Lucas in the late 90s.
My only gripe with this film is the overuse of fake looking CGI and Anakin’s lame dialogue with Padme. Aside from that, this is some of the best Star Wars we’ve ever gotten and should have somehow been worked into the sequel trilogy.
2 – Star Wars: A New Hope
I don’t necessarily like this film less that “Empire Strikes Back,” but I have to make a list and place things somewhere so I’m putting it at 2 for today.
The original Star Wars is timeless, classic and stands on its own as a fun, action adventure flick for people of all ages. It introduces us to this vast universe which we immediately care and ask questions about. (this is something missing from the sequel trilogy) It gives us the boy-hero Luke, the brooding Vader and his very Nazi-like Empire. We also get fun and relatable droids, a wise old teacher in Obi-Wan, and a stunning yet commanding princess with Leia. You also can’t forget the real-world-like scoundrel Han Solo who goes from two-bit gambler to a savior of the galaxy.
1 – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
“Empire Strikes Back” brilliantly continues the Skywalker story by reconnecting Luke with his father, and making the adventure we saw in the previous film into a family affair. It also takes on a darker tone and lets the bad guys win at the end.
Vader is at his meanest, most unforgiving and the light saber battle on Cloud City is one part action, one part horror with Luke constantly searching for his enemy/dad in the shadows. The sequence is truly unique and helps compensate for the lack of CGI effects that were available back then.
The B plot is also significant with Han and company getting to the Cloud City to escape the clutches of the Empire and Lando famously turning on them.
It’s easily the most well-executed piece of Star Wars we’ve ever gotten and has not even come close to being dethroned. It’s a film that can be appreciated by critics and children alike and is the quintessential sci-fi flick.