Now, I have made no secret on this blog about the fact that I am an enormous Star Wars fan. I have seen every single film multiple times and while I haven’t seen all of the Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows or read any of the comics, I still try to keep abreast of the stories that are being told in the galaxy far, far away. That said, what started it all are the theatrical releases. And now that there are ten of them, I can rank them. As always with these lists, this is my personal opinion, if you disagree with me, great, more power to you. We all have different opinions. So without further ado, the Star Wars films as ranked by me.
Just to be thorough. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Ah yes, the one everyone forgets. Released in 2008 as something to heighten excitement for the TV show of the same name, it was originally just four episodes of the show put together to make a feature length film after George Lucas saw them and liked it and decided to put it in cinemas. Critics slammed it and it’s not as bad as they made it out to be. But I think it was a mistake to put this in cinemas. It should have been a TV movie when the show premiered on Cartoon Network (This show was developed before Disney came into the picture, even though they kept as canon). It was originally a TV show and should have stayed a TV show. The character models are rather plastic without much emotion and the action scenes aren’t much to write home about either. The story is entirely forgettable and there’s just not much to set it apart from the show. Only watch if you’re watching the TV show or are a completetionist.
10. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Oh dear. This is the film that proved that The Phantom Menace wasn’t a mistake. In fact it took the worst parts of that film, the wooden dialogue, the monotone performances, far too much CGI making everything apart from the human characters look a bit elastic and just not believably there. Yoda especially suffers from this.
Add in an extremely awkward love story between an uncharismatic lead actor and a lead actress who shares no chemistry with him, with more wooden awkward dialogue written by a screenwriter who seems unable to convey emotion in his characters unless they are speaking it. ‘You are in my very soul, tormenting me.’ Seriously? You couldn’t have had Anakin looking tormented by this deep intense love he is supposed to ignore that is ripping him apart? The action scenes are fine and fun to watch, but they hold no emotional weight. The final battle on Geonosis has one disposable army fight another disposable army. Ultimately, they can’t distract from the fact that this is the weakest Star Wars theatrical release to date. And they criminally under-use Christopher Lee. And that is a crime against cinema.
9. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Never has a film had so much expectation to live up to. And to put none to fine a point on it… It didn’t. Despite the introduction of Darth Maul, we were given a story which started off with… a tax dispute. A political squabble. Add to that equally wooden performances and a final battle that sets the trend for the prequels and has one disposable army against another disposable army with little to no tactics. They just set up on an open plain of ground and run at each other. Flashy action scenes and a cool race sequence do not a good movie make. The scenes in between the fights have little interest to them. Darth Maul and his pure awesomeness push this ahead of Attack of the Clones, but only just.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Not much to say hear. A pretty well made, pretty well acted, heist movie with Alden Ehrenreich doing a perfectly decent job as a young Han Solo (we just have to resign ourselves to the fact that we cannot de-age or clone Harrison Ford). There’s nothing wrong with it, but it lacks an identity for me. It’s a bit too run-of-the-mill, a bit too cookie-cutter. Certainly not the worst, but the franchise has much better to offer.
7. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
This is where the franchise turns properly good for me. A good end chapter to wrap up the stories of the original characters that we know and love (before the mouse ever had a look-in). Ian McDiarmid is mesmerising as the Emperor, the end fight is tense and emotional, the ending has the most poignancy out of nearly all the Star Wars films and I don’t care what anyone says, I LOVE THE EWOKS!!!
6. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Far and away the best prequel movie, because it is clearly the story George Lucas wanted to tell in that trilogy, that of Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side and how he became Darth Vader. The action is fun to watch, if a bit too choreographed and the actors do a better job than the other films because they have better material to work with. There is still some cringey dialogue but I can get round that because it’s so easy to see that Lucas is so much more invested in every frame of this film than he was in any part of the previous two. Ian McDiarmid is once again brilliant as Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine, twisting and manipulating Anakin as his massive endgame comes together.
5. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story
The first of the so called ‘anthology’ films, it tells the story of a small but rather vital part of Star Wars lore. How the Rebels stole the plans for the Death Star that end up in R2-D2 at the beginning of A New Hope. Very strong performances from all concerned with great direction and a fantastic cameo from our favourite Dark Lord of the Sith at the end and made me simultaneously laugh and take in a sharp breath. A great war film about a team that has to carry out a vital mission against all the odds set in the wonderful galaxy far, far away.
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Again, this is all my personal opinion, but I think The Last Jedi is great as it is and does not need to be remade by a bunch disgruntled butt-hurt jackholes who can’t accept that the film did not conform to their hype and fan theories. There’s nothing wrong with fan theories. I had loads and almost none of them were in the final film. Mark Hamill may not have understood the character shift in Luke Skywalker, but he played it brilliantly, easily his best live action performance. Adam Driver also excellent as Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley continues to shine as Rey. And then, there is the most poignant performance. The final appearance of Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. She bows out with dignity, class and humour. Just how she lived her life.
I do have nitpicks. The entire sequence on Canto Bight with Rose and Finn, while fun to watch, is entirely unnecessary and could almost be completely cut from the film with no adverse effect. The way they utilise Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke is rather ridiculous and is something I hope JJ will at least clear up and answer in a satisfying way in Episode IX. On the other hand, the action scenes are very well shot and put together, the story pushes the overarching story along and does something original. And I have to give props to Rian Johnson and Disney for that. They had enough faith in their director to let him make the film he wanted to make. With a franchise as lucrative as Star Wars, that is a bold move.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
A true return to form for the series, JJ Abrams delivered a Star Wars experience for us all to enjoy. Great, fun new characters in Rey, Finn and the brilliantly realised Kylo Ren reinvigorate the franchise going forward while wonderful performances from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher tie everything to the original films without being too much of a nostalgia trip. Is the main plot very similar to A New Hope? Yes. Do I care all that much? Not really. It was funny, charming, had great moments of suspense and a killer (see what I did there?) of a send-off for one of the saga’s most treasured characters.
2. Episode IV: A New Hope
The one that started it all. A brilliant pulpy Saturday morning movie in space. It was clear who the heroes were, it was clear who the villians were and what the heroes needed to do was clear. But its wrapped up in a world that is so vibrant and so real and so full of amazing characters and moments that the film is ingrained into pop culture memory that it cannot and must not be touched. Alec Guinness for however much he didn’t like the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi is perfect. Harrison Ford is perfect, Mark Hamill as the spirited youngster who yearns for adventure far away from where he is, and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader. Need I say more? Actually, yes.
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This is quite simply perfection. If you want to see the perfect science fiction film, look no further. The pacing is brilliant, the story is fantastic, I love that the Rebels are always on the back foot. There is no point where things are going well for them. The Millennium Falcon keeps breaking down, while they’re constantly being chased. Even the ending is not positive for the Rebels. Han’s been (SPOILERS!!) frozen in carbonite and is being taken to Tatooine by Boba Fett, Luke’s had his hand cut off by the ultimate badass of the galaxy who’s just revealed the biggest twist in cinema until The Sixth Sense. There’s just nothing wrong with it! It’s perfectly acted, perfectly written, has great suspense, a great score (as with all the ‘episode’ Star Wars films, thank you John Williams) and it is the film that introduced us the best miniature green troll ever. Nothing can convince me that there is a better Star Wars film.