No matter where you go, Star Wars is always there. It's universally known in all languages and ages. People have formed long-term friendships and families over Star Wars since 1977 and it's not stopping anytime soon.
With ten films released, including Solo: A Star Wars Story, and many more on the way, we thought it would be a great time to revisit each Star Wars film and see where they rank against all the others. Even though some of the movies might be bad, they are still Star Wars and have their good moments.
Below are the current Star Wars films, ranked from least favorite to favorite, and be sure to let us know in the comments below how you would order YOUR list from worst to first.
THE PHANTOM MENACE
It had been 16 years since George Lucas did anything Star Wars related and those of us who grew up with the original trilogy were super excited at all of the possibilities. When Lucas confirmed that his new trilogy would focus on how Darth Vader became evil and that we'd see how Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side, there was a ton of hope for what we'd get to see. Then the film came out and many of the original trilogy fans were let down.
The Phantom Menace did very well, financially, but this film forever put a bad taste in the Star Wars universe, especially for any project with George Lucas writing or directing, despite his vision in creating the universe. To see a very young Anakin Skywalker, a young Obi-Wan, and his mentor Qui-Gon Jinn do not much of anything, save for talking about trade negotiations, was utterly unsatisfying. I know Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson are good actors, but Lucas gave them almost no direction or what he expected from these characters, thus every single line of dialogue is monotone and void of any emotion.
It plays out very bland, uninteresting, and without any suspense or action. Well, there is some minor action, but it's overly produced and choreographed, that the emotion is all sucked out. The one sequence most people still enjoy is the pod race scene, which is shot beautifully. Still, the cutaways to a young Anakin and his delivery is so stale that it's hard not to laugh. This movie had so much potential, but never ever delivers.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES
There are some better moments in Attack of the Clones, but not by much. In this film, Anakin is now a young man, however, Lucas' script has him come off as a snotty and annoying kid with a bad case of teen angst. While I like actor Hayden Christensen, his Clones performance is super awkward and stagnant.
Then came his love interest in Padme, played by a great Natalie Portman. Lucas tries in earnest to craft the love story between these two characters. The major problem, though, was that Lucas has no idea how to write or direct his actors (who had zero chemistry). It's arguably the worst set of sequences in the entire franchise.
Through this, we're see the beginning of Anakin turn to the dark side, but he just comes across as an irritating kid who doesn't get his way. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is dealing with the clones in an uninteresting storyline that also serves as an awful look at Boba Fett's origins. There are a couple stand-out scenes, but they are riddled with so much terrible CGI creatures running around, that you're taken out of the story. With that being said, there is still more to like here as Anakin is slowly being swayed over to the dark side.
REVENGE OF THE SITH
Revenge of the Sith is unarguably the best of the prequel trilogy. In fact, I would have ranked this higher on the list if it weren't for the completely laughable final shot ("Noooooooooo!") that might be the worst decision in filmmaking history. Not only that, Lucas dropped the ball with Natalie Portman's Padme in this movie too.
This movie was the chosen one. This movie was supposed to show Anakin Skywalker fully turning to the dark side and becoming Darth Vader. While that may have happened, it didn't get there so easily. What was great here is that we saw how Anakin was a decent person. He was never true and pure evil. He was brainwashed by Palpatine in a very sadistic way (telling Anakin that Palpatine was his only friend and nobody was good enough for him).
Even Hayden Christensen found his footing in the character and delivered a very good performance, one that was truly exceptional in showing his struggle for good and evil. That all being said, Lucas makes the heroine Padme, one person who would stand up and fight for good, completely give up all hope and die when she found out that Anakin sided with Palpatine. It just doesn't make sense, given her character through the previous film. She is strong one minute, then in a split second, weak and ready to die. It's a terrible way to write out the character.
I firmly believe that Rogue One could have been one of the best Star Wars films ever be released on film, but there are a few problems with character development. What I mean by this is that there are some fantastic characters, however, not everyone has enough time to shine. Star Wars movies take time to develop relationships with the characters, but with only one movie, it's hard to relate or root for someone when there is so little time.
Still, there are enough great action sequences and some powerful moments that add up to a very good movie with a couple of great characters -- like the complex and layered Jyn Erso -- but also a ton of very cool but one-note characters that don't develop enough to make us care about them. Still, seeing Darth Vader unleash his power is perhaps the best moment of the film.
One of our favorite characters from the original trilogy finally gets his own film. I'm of course talking about Han Solo. The film has its flaws for sure, mostly in the visual department and a weak-paced opening, but there are a lot of things to like about this new film. The characters, big or small, all have great, fleshed-out story arcs and traits. The start of the film is rough, but it finds its footing fairly quickly, where Alden Ehrenreich settles into Harrison Ford's shoes comfortably by the end. We get just about everything we want in this film, from the friendship of Chewbacca and Solo to the Kessel Run, along with some other great moments, including the arrival of fan favorite and scene stealer, Donald Glover, as Lando Calrissian.
It's just that director Ron Howard has no unique or original vision to actually tell the story, visually speaking. It's all quite bland and quite an eyesore, if I dare say. Still, there is enough to like here to warrant a trilogy and some excellent surprises along the way. So far, this is the best spinoff movie in the Star Wars universe. I can only hope for a more visually stunning picture in the future, because the actors and characters have got it right as of now.
THE FORCE AWAKENS
The Force Awakens is the highest grossing movie of all time by about $200M. Needless to say, people were ready for a new Star Wars movie after the 10-year drought following Revenge of the Sith. I have a good feeling that Disney will only make us wait at most 11 months for each Star Wars film from now on.
Episode VII was an impossible task. You have to reboot the biggest franchise in the world without the help of George Lucas and follow up (make up for?) the Prequels. Would it be good? Would it be bad? Would we get a mix of new and old characters?
Director JJ Abrams steps into the director's chair with confidence, telling a brand new story while bringing in older characters we have come to love. While there are a few missteps, mostly in how the film reuses a lot of the original Star Wars, there are enough good things to make this to be very worth your while.
First, Rey is a brilliant new hero. Actress Daisy Ridley perfectly portrays this character with so much vulnerability and charm. We don't get a ton of backstory to her just yet; instead, we will get several movies to realize just who she is. She's funny, smart, and naive at moments, just like most of us would be in a world like that. The new villain was Kylo Ren, played incredibly by Adam Driver. Kylo is framed like Darth Vadar, a bad guy who could turn back to the light, but he can also change in the blink of an eye. We also get to see some of our favorite characters return, in addition to fun and exciting new characters like Finn and Poe. Despite its minor shortcomings, The Force Awakens is what we as Star Wars fans really needed to get a new set of films off the ground.
RETURN OF THE JEDI
While Episode VI is a great film, it still has some unfortunate missteps at the leadership of George Lucas, who was a heavy-handed producer on the project. If the Prequels taught us anything, it was that Lucas will create any creature or character to sell a toy. This all started with Return of the Jedi when it added the kid-friendly Ewoks to the picture, along with a few other very silly characters and moments. (Although I'm still angry that Special Editions left out the Ewok celebration song Yub-Nub, but I digress.)
From the music video sequence at Jabba's place to the wackiness of the Ewoks, Star Wars suddenly seems more like a kid's cartoon than a real movie. You could add to the whole dismay with Han Solo's full turn into hero-mode, which made him less thrilling and fun than his anti-hero introduction.
However, what makes this movie so great is seeing Luke Skywalker face to face with the power of the dark side and choosing the light. The fight scene between Luke and Darth Vader is perfectly filmed, with John William's beautiful score evoking all the emotions, and I've never seen anything quite like it since then. The whole turmoil and conflict come to a head in a grand battle and it's just as emotional as it is thrilling. Luke sees he is becoming one with the dark side and seizes the day on the good side.
THE LAST JEDI
The Force Awakens featured a ton of fan service thanks to its usage of cameos and very similar plot lines to the original Star Wars film. While it was good and fun to watch unfold on screen, there was just something missing. Rian Johnson turns the franchise upside down and make something new, original, and took the franchise in a much-needed direction, while still paying homage to the original characters and story. It was no easy feat, but it works.
The whole theme of the film is out with the old and in with the new, which is literally a line of dialogue that Kylo Ren speaks in the film. Speaking of Kylo Ren, this is really his movie to shine, as he uniquely shows us what type of villain he is and will become, which is to say he's not all black or white. In fact, when he asks Rey to join him, there seems to be a genuine connection between them -- they were both abandoned by the ones they loved and left alone. Kylo wants to start anew with someone he respects and likes. His ways of thinking might be off kilter, but he's not evil like Palpatine was evil.
Alongside Kylo Ren is where Rey first believes in the force and feels confident with it, as well as Luke Skywalker getting yet another lesson from Yoda in a very emotional scene. The Last Jedi not only flawlessly sets up the next installment with a Skywalker as the villain, but it also shows us a world of future Jedi or people with the force all over the galaxy that might team together to defeat Kylo Ren. It's truly amazing.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Blasphemy, I know, but that's how I feel. The Empire Strikes Back is an excellent film, through and through. Its story, the message, the twists and turns, and epic set pieces make this one of the best Star Wars movies to date, if not one of the best films of all time. With George Lucas stepping away from the camera, the visuals are improved in each sequence. The battle on Hoth is a delight to see, Yoda training Luke is incredible and funny at the same time, and meeting Lando Calrissian's intro is simply fantastic.
What's even more amazing is how the movie leaves us hanging. Han Solo's life is basically non-existent by the end, the Rebel fleet has a massive loss, and Luke finds out that his father is, in fact, Darth Vader, which brings on all the psychological questions on if he will turn out like his dear old dad. With Darth Vader revealing that he was a Jedi and somewhat cares for his son, we learn there is still good in Vader and that it's not a clear good or evil situation. There is a gray area and that makes for a compelling plot line with every character. The Empire Strikes Back is still one of the best motion pictures out there.
STAR WARS (A NEW HOPE)
Back in 1977, if someone told you there was a movie being made by an unknown director that took place on weird planets with weird names that followed spaceships shooting lasers with aliens and creatures running around, you'd think that this would fall into the B-Movie arena and be laughed out of the theater. Then again, George Lucas, being the genius he was, gave us all those things, but with so much meaning, heart, and amazing characters that STAR WARS entered our lives forever. The story elements have been told many times before, but Lucas's pop-mythology-fusion made them feel all original again by telling a fantastic and thrilling story with a ton of emotion and visual promise. It was so original for its time that we were all introduced to a new style of filmmaking, genre, and visual effects that inspired most filmmakers that we see today.
From Luke Skywalker looking out over the suns in the desert to seeing the Millennium Falcon fly or the first time, these are iconic images none of us will ever forget. It's the story of a normal kid with a lot of talent who gets to improve and use his talent to save the galaxy when all things are against him. If that weren't enough, Lucas gave us an amazing heroine -- Princess Leia -- who was not just a princess but one who could fight, shoot a gun, and take out the bad guys at every turn. If we go deeper than that, Lucas tells his story, as he has told most of his stories in the Star Wars franchise, through the eyes of two droids named C3PO and R2-D2. While these two simple and lovable droids are in part responsible for the success of the rebels, they are indeed servants who were just thrown from owner to owner in the galaxy as we see the big battle of the ages unfold. It's a brilliant way to tell the story and I'm so glad we have them in our lives.
If there's ever a grand finale ending to all of Star Wars, I would hope it could be with C3PO and R2-D2 downloading their memory banks somewhere, looking upon statues of their friends through the films, similar to how Luke began his journey looking at those suns. The film franchise started with them and should end with them.
This original film, now called A New Hope, broke records, boundaries and paved the way for creative thinking, fandom, and friendship for generations, making this still the best film in the franchise.
- Discs mentioned in this article: (Click for specs and reviews)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Blu-ray)
- Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (Ultra HD)