Disney is in full Star Wars mode for the next five years or so. So it seems like a good time to officially rank all of the films in the saga as I see fit just before the release of Rogue One. So, here it is… the definitive (and by definitive, I mean completely my opinion) rank of the Star Wars films.
7. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Make no mistake, this is the worst Star Wars film. Even the moments that should’ve been great (An army of Jedi in battle) are bogged down by mediocre cinematography. But what really makes Episode II the worst and almost an unwatchable film after its first viewing, is the cringeworthy romance narrative between Padme (Natlaie Portman) and Anakin (Bad acting Hayden Christenson). Throw in George Lucas’ over indulgence with CGI and Attack of the Clones (Which is also a lousy title) is easily the low note of the franchise. GRADE: D+
6. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE
This movie had loads of potential. Darth Maul (Ray Park) is a bad ass with a double bladed lightsaber. Liam Neeson gets to play a Jedi. John Williams’ epic score. And Pod racing. But the movie is hampered by an overly convoluted plot about trade negotiations. Darth Maul is underutilized and Jake Lloyd is a bad child actor as young Anakin Skywalker. Oh, and there’s this guy. The worst character maybe in any sci-fi franchise. GRADE: C-
5. RETURN OF THE JEDI
I have a love hate relationship with this movie. On one hand, I love the climactic battle between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Darth Vader. I also love every scene with Yoda (Frank Oz). But the Ewoks are awful. Tiny teddy bears defeating an army with sticks and rocks? C’mon. I’m also not a fan of the overly drawn out opening that sees Luke and the gang rescuing Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Jaba the Hutt. It’s a part that also gives Boba Fett (a potentially awesome character that never really does anything) an anti-climactic end. The final Death Star sequence is also too much of a retread of the original ending. GRADE: B-
4. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH
This movie is a massive step above the other prequels but it still has some major flaws. Most of the issues I have are with Hayden Christensen’s acting. And although the film has a wonderfully dark tone, the transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader happens way too suddenly. One minute he’s snitching on the evil Emperor Palpatine, the next minute he’s killing kids? Anywho… the movie did have great action sequences like the opening space battle and the final fight scene between Anakin and Obi Wan (Ewen McGregor). And Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the Emperor goes down as one of the best portrayal’s in the franchise. GRADE: B
3. THE FORCE AWAKENS
Yes, I know. There are too many things in this movie, such as the climax where they basically have to blow up another Death Star, that are retreads from the original. But I absolutely love the characters. All of the newcomers have wonderful chemistry and the villain, Kylo Ren, is given much more weight and emotion to his character than any other villain in the Star Wars saga not named Darth Vader. Combine that with some fun nostalgic moments and J.J. Abrams adding his excellent filmmaking expertise, and The Force Awakens is arguably the most fun Star Wars film since the original. GRADE: A-
2. STAR WARS (EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE)
The original certainly gets extra credit for being the original and by all means, the first Star Wars is groundbreaking. Although many of the effects are dated, it is a bit dull for much of the first half hour (Mainly because I hate C-3PO), and the lone lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kinobi and Darth Vader is also terrible in comparison to the other films, the plot is great and there are many iconic scenes such as any involving Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. More importantly, the original film laid the foundation for an incredibly vast and interesting cinematic universe. GRADE: A-
1. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Not only is this the best Star Wars film by a mile, it’s one of the best sci-fi films ever created. There is absolutely nothing to dislike about it. From the scope of Hoth and Cloud City to the drama of Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader for the first time, this movie is what Star Wars is meant to be; exciting and emotional. It’s paced beautifully and has a fantastic ending despite the fact that it actually ends on a somber note. It also introduces Yoda, so that’s always a plus. GRADE: A+
So there you have it. Hopefully Rogue One and next winter’s Episode VIII will find themselves on the high end of this list. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and (polite) criticisms blasting me for my blasphemous misplacement of Return of the Jedi. Until then… may the force be with you and Happy Holidays!