Ten Star Wars motion pictures,
and there will be at least one more. Here we rank them from best, most enjoyable to the worst disappointments. It was too easy to pick the best, so we start with number 1.
Number 1: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
The rebellion is on the run, Han Solo is captured, and we discover the iconic twist still discussed today. Remembered as the most perfect middle chapter of a trilogy, superior to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Dark Knight. A darker film, it showcased the badness of Darth Vader and the hope of Yoda. The movie dares to end with an unresolved downer and music celebratory of fanfare. It may be the only film ended with me in disbelief.
Number 2: Episode IV A New Hope
Never mind paying homage to many films, including Flash Gordon, this space opera western was decades ahead of its time and kicked off a multi-billion dollar IP. Employing the most perfect example of a Hero’s Journey, Star Wars is an adventure film that happened to be set long ago in a galaxy far, far away. While it wasn’t the first, I give credit defining the ultimate McGuffin. Often repeated, but never equaled.
Number 3: Episode VI The Return of the Jedi
Giving us the rescue of Han Solo, the return of Boba Fett, and the appearance of the Emperor, Episode VI is filled with many iconic scenes from Jabba’s palace to the speeders racing through the forest of Endor. Unfortunately, due to the cute Ewoks defeating the very best Imperial troops, the anti-climatic disappearance of Boba Fett, and an awkward end for Palpatine, it is the weakest of the original trilogy. Still, its nostalgia factor takes it far.
Number 4: Rogue One
Described as a fanboy movie, Rogue One is a war film set during the early days of the rebellion days before Episode IV. It’s constant respectful attention to nostalgia, including a spooky appearance from Grand Moff Tarkin, makes repeated viewing a necessity. There is enough Darth Vader to want more before the story continues to A New Hope.
Number 5: Episode III The Revenge of the Sith
True, its forever known book ending a flawed trilogy. From its rushed explanation how Anakin was seduced by the dark side to the purge of the Jedi, it gave us a conclusion how the Republic fell into political darkness lasting a whole 20 years. It’s computer generated eye-candy that was marginally better than the two films before it.
Number 6: Episode VII The Force Awakens
Many good things could be said of Episode VII. From the use of practical effects and patient storytelling, it also was a blatant reboot of A New Hope but faster and larger. In retrospective, its obvious that the franchise wanted to retell the same stories through modern day prisms which just comes across as redundant and simply not as good.
Number 7: Solo
An entertaining film that unfortunately represents the low box office point of the franchise. Known as a movie that didn’t have to be made, it represented the micromanagement of Disney regardless of the valiant effort from director, Ron Howard. After The Last Jedi polarized the fans, Solo may be the last anthology for some time. Solo may performed the worst box office of the Star Wars film franchise, but the damage was already done, little thanks the fallout from The Last Jedi.
Number 8: Episode II Attack of the Clones
This movie is tragically bad. Unlike The Empire Strikes Back, Episode II may be known as one of the worst, big budget, middle movie of a trilogy. It’s a soulless film that kicks off with an explosion and Senator Amidala leaving behind a dead body. It’s attempt at romance may be the reason we haven’t seen the trope since. The film tries to make up the agonizing mess with bright, shiny CGI things. It ranks higher than others solely because it had the legendary Christopher Lee.
Number 9: Episode I The Phantom Menace
After twenty years, we get the most disappointing blockbuster complete with a moronic CGI Jar-Jar Binks, an overly long chariot race, and wooden performance from a child actor no one will see again. With no less than four story threads in its climax, it was difficult for anyone to care about anything. Even those who loved Star Wars after three cinematic films had some Bantha to eat. The best thing to say about Episode I is they made two more before going on hiatus.
Number 10: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
Without Solo, I would have ranked this higher. But now we see how much damage The Last Jedi inflicted on its successors including projects now put on hold. Just with The Phantom Menace, The Last Jedi tries many new things. Unfortunately, they all fell flat. From the bad “mama” jokes, to useless story threads, and what they did to Luke Skywalker’s character, half the viewing audience couldn’t wait to avoid Solo. And don’t get me started with the Mary Poppins scene. It may be the only billion dollar movie that resulted in half not wanting to watch the next sequel. Many things were wrong with the Phantom Menace but people were still interested later.