Ranking Star Wars Films
Star Wars is a very uneven franchise. For every truly great movie, we get just an okay one. The prequel trilogy is for the most part not great, the original trilogy is very good, but somewhat overrated and the new trilogy is surprisingly good. This is my personal list so here are a couple of surprises. Even though some entries here are mediocre, most are quite good and overall it is an overhyped, but entertaining and interesting franchise which grows on me with every subsequent viewing. So without further ado, here are all the SW films so far ranked from worst to best:
10. The Clone Wars
Yes, the only animated film in the franchise gets the worst spot which is pretty unanimous ranking for almost everyone. It isn’t a horrible film as it has a very cool villain and some fun action scenes, but still the action is overwhelming and the film is very mediocre in all of these departments – writing, acting, characterization and script. Its animation is its worst aspect though as the human faces look absolutely horrible.
9. Attack of the Clones
Again this one also has some good aspects such as that lightsaber duel between Yoda and Dooku which is excellent and the special effects are reliably terrific, but it is easily the worst live-action Star Wars film of all time as here we get to spend the most time with Anakin/Hayden Christensen. His performance is awful, but the dialogue is the worst here as it is laughably bad plus his romance with Padme is so terrible.
8. The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace definitely has a bunch of excellent sequences with the highlights being the thrilling pod race sequence and the duel between the two Jedi and Darth Maul is beautifully choreographed. But Jar-Jar Binks sucks all life out of this film as he truly is one atrocious and very annoying creation. The film is endearing, but overly childish and with pretty mediocre humor as well.
7. Rogue One
Some of the action in Rogue One is excellent, the first half is quite fun and the acting is very good. However, even though it is very well made, it is easily the most overrated Star Wars movie which is basically just an action war film with non-stop spectacle and rarely anything more than that. For those who like that, it must be great. But for me, it was rather dull plus I found the character development pretty mediocre and thus the emotional scenes left me in the cold.
6. The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens definitely is a very familiar film and a rehash of ‘A New Hope’. It relies too much on nostalgia and is implausible in some plot points. But there is no denying how well made it is and how wonderfully traditional in its thrills it is. I like all of the new characters quite a bit, the action is excellent, the effects are great too and the film is a lot of fun to watch. It is old-fashioned for better and for worse.
5. Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith is plagued by once again terrible dialogue and weak action, but this is infinitely better than the previous two entries in the prequel trilogy and it’s easily the most underrated Star Wars film of them all. There is something operatic and epic in its story of good guy gone bad, there is something spectacular in its beautifully realized action scenes and of course the entire third act is so emotional and just powerful in all the right ways. It succeeds as such a good, affecting prequel to the original trilogy that it renders its two predecessors entirely pointless.
4. Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is, along with ‘The Phantom Menace’, the most childish entry in this entire franchise. Some of it is wonderfully childlike, but some of it is still too childish and thus feeling too different from its predecessors. But the Ewoks are still very endearing, I really liked the action here and of course that third act is emotionally rewarding and immensely powerful.
3. A New Hope
A New Hope is where this whole phenomenon started and it has everything I like and dislike about Star Wars in it. The characters are iconic and excellent, I loved their interactions, the humor is terrific and most of the action is memorable. Of course Darth Vader steals the show as such an iconic villain that he is. But still the action is so overwhelming here that some of it, especially the third act, was rather boring to me. And I am just not a fan of aerial fights as I am more of a lightsaber duel guy.
2. The Last Jedi
This placement might seem controversial to many people, but I don’t care as The Last Jedi is such a terrific, hugely misunderstood film. It is uneven at times and it has its small flaws, but the story is so great that it renders those flaws unimportant. I loved Snoke, Ray and especially Rose who is such a wonderful new addition to this roster of characters. But the movie is great because it finally gives us something new and doesn’t just rehash old ideas like its predecessor. A lot of the things and status quo were changed here and I appreciated its boldness so much. Rian Johnson is the one responsible for the greatness of this film in my opinion.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
And the number one goes to The Empire Strikes Back which is a very cliched, but obvious choice as no other Star Wars film can possibly compare to its greatness. It is the first truly serious Star Wars film which eventually influenced the film above. It features excellent dialogue and a willingness to go into dramatic instead of action-oriented territory. Its twist is great, but those calmer scenes with Yoda are the highlights as he is such a fantastic character. I loved the action, I loved the scenes with Leia and Han and I admired the film for being less childish and more mature and slower paced. It isn’t just the best Star Wars movie, but it’s also one of the finest blockbusters as well as sequels of all time.