With The Last Jedi coming out in just a short while, I thought it would be a perfect time to look back at the previous 8 films in the franchise and rank them from worst to best. This is a franchise that certainly has some stinkers, but also some of the best and most influential movies in the history of movies. So, this should definitely be a fun one to make! The franchise has given us eight movies over the past 40 years, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we get at least eight in just the next eight years, the way this franchise is accelerating with content. It is becoming a universe-building franchise with popularity on par with Marvel and DC, and there is already another trilogy announced with The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson at the helm.
I grew up loving Star Wars, as I’m sure a lot of people have. But there’s something that always brings me back to watching them. It could be the nostalgia, or just the great storytelling, but I think the biggest thing that keeps bringing me back is the love and passion that so many people have for the series. When I watch the glee that other people have for the films and their excitement for the new movies every year, I can’t help but think the same way. It is very infectious that way. The passion the fan base has is truly the driving force behind the popularity of the series, and it is because of that where I think this franchise will never die. New generations will discover the series over and over again. Where children from the 70s and 80s had Luke, Leia, and Han to look up to and inspire to be, children of our generation today have Rey, Finn, and Poe. And I’m sure that in another 20 years or so, the children of the next generation will have new characters of their own to look up to, because that is the nature of life itself. So, without further ado, here are the eight Star Wars films ranked worst to best.
8. Attack of the Clones
Why? This was quite possibly the easiest film to place on my ranking. Where all the prequels are easy to nitpick and find flaws, two of the three at least have some redeeming factors. Attack of the Clones might have none at all. What drives the film is the romance of Anakin and Padamé. And let’s face it, it’s a romance that makes The Notebook feel like Casablanca. The Battle of Genesis climax of the film is thrilling, but plagued by its terrible early 2000’s CGI. As a child, I loved the light saber fight with Yoda, but even that seems very silly watching now in 2017. The writing is very bad, and the performances just aren’t strong enough to make up for it, like in the original Star Wars. Overall, this film is a big mess, and the only Star Wars that I would officially label as below average.
Best quote: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere”….Ha! Just kidding.
““Well, if droids could think, there’d be none of us here, would there?” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
7. The Phantom Menace
Why? What started out as one of the most hyped movies ever, quickly became one of the biggest disappointments to all Star Wars fans. But, looking back at this film 18 years later, I think it gets too much unnecessary criticism, and even though the lows are extremely low (Jar Jar), the highs are extremely high. This film introduces some great new characters like Liam Neeson’s Qui-gon Jinn, and of course the bad-ass villain Darth Maul. The pod-racing scene is still very thrilling, and of course the epic Duel of the Fates light saber battle, which is one of the best sequences in the entire series. John William’s score for that scene is nothing short of brilliant. So, is this movie easy to pick at and make fun of? Sure. But you can’t deny how unique its placement is in the series, and how it has some very memorable scenes.
Best quote: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” — Yoda
6. Rogue One
Why? Rogue One has an interesting placement in the franchise as the only film that is a live-action stand alone, and not part of the “Episode Saga.” It’s unique in tone and style, and quite possibly the only film that can be labeled as a war film, which makes sense because the series is called Star Wars. This film certainly has interesting new characters, and gives the original films more gravitas, but it is affected by its clumsy first couple of acts and characters that may be interesting, but are hard to emotionally invest with. It’s easier when you have films that build up to a specific movie, and I can only wonder how much this film could have benefited from a movie or two prior to this to fall in love with the characters and understand their back stories more. The third act is definitely the strongest, but I just had a hard time investing with the characters as much as I did with the original films….But that Darth Vader fight scene was totally epic!!!
Best quote: “I’m one with the Force. The Force is with me.” — Chirrut Îmwe
5. Revenge of the Sith
Why? And now we have come to the final prequel in my rankings. I truly wanted to put this film higher, because I do think it gets a bad wrap, but I have to look at the films as a whole, and I think as a whole this is the fifth best in the franchise. Revenge of the Smith, stands out among the entire prequels because simply this is the movie that finally garnished a PG-13 rating. It makes perfect sense, because the prequels are, after all, about the rise of Anakin to becoming Darth Vader. This film simply wouldn’t have worked if it was a PG film like the other prequels. This is the darkest film in the entire franchise, and it is extremely emotionally satisfying. The writing is better, the performances are greatly improved especially from Hayden Christensen. Revenge of the Sith finally delivers on what everyone was waiting for: why Anakin actually became Darth Vader. But, I think the true MVP of the entire film, and maybe the entire prequels is Ewan McGregor. There’s a reason why people still to this day are chanting for a McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, stand a lone film. His performance was great, and the anger, disappointment, and despair he has in that final scene is very emotional and adds extra layers to the original Star Wars. You can’t deny how emotional it was when Obi-Wan chanted that line “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you” seethed in betrayal of his protegé. Truly emotional stuff and one of the best sequences in the series.
Best quote: Besides the quote above, I love this one: “Power! Unlimited power!” — Darth Sidious
4. Return of the Jedi
Why? I’m a sucker for the original trilogy. It’s probably one of mine, if not my favorite, movie trilogy of all time, but Return of the Jedi is definitely the weakest of the three. This is the most children-friendly film of the bunch, and just does not stick the landing with consistency of tone. At one moment we have an extremely dark and sorrowful sequence with Luke, Darth Vader, and the Emperor, and the next we have the Ewoks doing “Ewok” things. With that being said, there is still a lot of great scenes and moments that totally earns its place in the top half of the franchise so far. There are the scenes at Jabba’s Palace, Yoda’s emotional death scene, and of course the epic climax with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. So many epic scenes at the end, and a proper ending to the franchise that I was never underwhelmed about. It has its hits and misses, but overall did what it had to do which is wrap up a great trilogy full of unique, lovable characters.
Best quote: “Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.” — Anakin Skywalker
3. The Force Awakens
Why? The Force Awakens, is in a way, a celebration of everything Star Wars. And who better to have in the helm than a man who grew up adoring the Star Wars movies and is an expert in giving fans nostalgia-heavy fan-service, but also in a meaningful and effective way. That man is no other than JJ Abrams, and he does a great job of kicking off a new trilogy with so many wonderful, fleshed-out new characters, but also giving the proper treatment to the older ones as well. All except Luke I guess, but we’ll get plenty of him in The Last Jedi. The Force Awakens might be last on this ranking if it wasn’t for the characters and the actors who portray them. Daisy Ridley, Oscar Issac, and Adam Driver are all incredible young actors who give their characters so much life and purpose, something that I felt was missing in Rouge One. The Force Awakens is very similar in structure to the A New Hope, but that was the intent. There may be a war, and a celebration when the war ends, but after a while, there will always be a new conflict that forces people against each other and a new war will begin after that. History always has a way of repeating itself.
Best quote: “Chewie, we’re home.” — Han Solo
2. Star Wars
Why? It’s easy to look back at Star Wars, after seeing all the other films, and be a little underwhelmed. Especially if you are part of this new generation watching these new Star Wars films before seeing what came first. But people tend to forget just how much this original film brought into the franchise and how influential it was for the series, and just film in general as a whole. We probably wouldn’t have Marvel and DC films, and big-budget blockbusters if it wasn’t for Star Wars. From the iconic John Williams score, to the opening crawl, to the destruction of the Death Star, to the iconic characters and quotes. This film is also perfect in story structure, and delivers so many iconic moments and scenes, that you will find yourself coming back to it time and time again.
Best quote: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” — Leia Organa
1. The Empire Strikes Back
Why? One of the best sequels ever made. All sequels afterward look at Empire Strikes Back as the pinnacle and how to do it right. This film is so iconic and quotable. Probably the best looking film with incredible directing and cinematography. It took the franchise to newer and darker directions and gave more depth to the characters, and added brand new iconic characters like Yoda for example. The Empire Strikes Back belongs in the conversation a long with Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Back to the Future as being a film that is pretty much flawless. It may not be as influential as Citizen Kane or as well-made as The Godfather, but for what it is, which is a thrilling and entertainment piece of art, it does everything it needed to do and some. According to the latest Empire greatest movies of all time pole it was voted the second greatest movie of all time. Whether that’s true or not (probably not) it just shows the impact it has had on our generation to this day, and is the one film that has not aged a bit, and will continue to have an impact on movie-lovers for generations to come.
Best quote: How about five?
“Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” — Princess Leia
““Never tell me the odds!” — Han Solo
““Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
“No. I am your father.” — Darth Vader
“Princess Leia: I love you.
Han Solo: I know.”