With Star Wars: The Force Awakens being released on a video a few months back and more and more news about Episode VIII and December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story leaking each day, I figured that now is as good of a time as any to rank the Star Wars movies that have been released up to this point.
Look for an updated list in about 5 years since Disney seems intent on giving us a Star Wars movie every year until the end of time.
Without further ado…
Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Absolute garbage. Completely terrible. Easily one of the worst major motion pictures I have ever watched. I wasn’t even a huge Star Wars fan at the time (I just started getting into the movies around the time of the 1997 re-releases) but I knew this was nothing like the Star Wars of old… er, future..?
Everyone involved with this one should be ashamed of themselves. George Lucas to be drunk or high to think the build up to some pod race would make for a great Star Wars movie. The acting is so wooden. Jake Lloyd as Anakin is so terrible and people like Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, and Liam Neeson have no excuse for how much they mailed it in here. Absolutely zero passion or charisma from all involved. Atrocious story and dialogue decisions aside, how could George Lucas feel confident in these performances and allow them to be seen publicly? Forget about the Stars War Holiday Special, it’s Episode I that should be locked away in a vault.
Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones
A slight improvement over the garbage we had from The Phantom Menace, but you basically traded one dreadful Anakin Skywalker performance (Jake Lloyd) for another (Hayden Christensen). Also, if you don’t like pod races, you’re in luck, but I hope you really really like politics and government.
This movie really went off the rails with horrendous dialogue and trying to build up a (creepy) romance between Anakin and Padme. The chemistry between Christensen and Portman was nonexistent and each scene drags on and on between the two.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Yeah, I’m counting this because it was released theatrically and was considered canon at the time. Honestly, I’m not too sure if the Disney-fied version of Star Wars would consider the Clone Wars animated movie or its television counterpart canon, but oh well. I’d be okay with it being excluded from the Disney canon as long as the rest of the prequels went with it.
While Episodes I & II are genuinely bad movies, The Clone Wars is simply forgettable. I always thought it was weird that it had a theatrical release anyway (with Warner Bros. no less, instead of 20th Century Fox). Even though they had John Williams and some of the cast from the prequels involved as voice-actors, this was not a necessary release in such a format. It would’ve been better suited as direct-to-video feature or made-for-TV movie. That’s the type of quality you’re dealing with. It doesn’t offend, but it’s completely forgettable and inconsequential.
Still, I’d rather watch this than The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones.
Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Hey, look! They actually started to do something right by the time the third prequel movie came along! Here’s the part in my list where we’re getting to the GOOD movies. And that’s what Revenge of the Sith is — a good movie. It’s like something finally clicked with George Lucas and he realized he really needed to deliver. And he did.
No, this movie is nowhere close to being as good as the original trilogy. No, it wipe away the sins of the entire prequel trilogy, but it’s a good movie in its own right and we finally get to see Anakin become Darth Vader and the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin might actually be my favorite out of all the films.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Oddly (well, it’s odd to me, anyway), I’m seeing a lot of people online ranking this movie above the original Star Wars and Return of the Jedi. Okay, let’s not get crazy here. I know people are super-hyped because this is the first Star Wars movie since 1983 that we can actually be proud of, but it’s still not on the level of the classic trilogy.
I liked this movie a lot. I like all the new characters: Kylo Ren, Rey, Finn, Captain Phasma, Poe, BB-8… they are all interesting & charismatic and the choice of actors to play these characters is fantastic.
I liked the movie so much that I placed the Blu-ray on pre-order as soon as the listing for it went up on Amazon. But, as much as I liked the new characters, there’s a LOT of fan service in this movie. Too much, I think. The movie is basically a loose remake of the original Star Wars film. It feels like they played it too safe. They went with familiarity instead of striking out and doing something different and for that I have to deduct a few points.
Hopefully the two following movies in this trilogy don’t try to mimic the original trilogy any further, but, regardless, I’m anxious to see what happens next.
Return of the Jedi
Though this movie is generally regarded as the least of the original trilogy, I still love it.
I guess if I was a Star Wars nerd who caught the originals in the theater then I might’ve had an issue with the Battle of Endor basically becoming a slapstick comedy segment, but as a kid I loved it.
Of course, this movie scores MAJOR points for giving us Slave Suit Leia.
The Empire Strikes back
This may surprise people because it’s almost universally acknowledged that ESB is the best Star Wars movie. It’s not so clear-cut for me. The Empire Strikes Back and the original Star Wars are pretty much neck-and-neck.
The characters are more fleshed-out here, but it’s the original that kick-started this whole Star Wars thing.
What can be said about the original Star Wars movie that hasn’t been said already? Everything about this movie is so iconic. Sure, we had a sloppy, tired-looking & nonsensical light saber duel between Vader and Obi-Wan (which is actually set to be explained in the upcoming Rogue One), but you really can’t stress just how classic and important this film is. It completely changed movies and science fiction forever. Almost 40 years later and the entertainment industry is still taking its cues from this movie.