Star Wars Movies Ranked

1-9

After the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and the negative backlash that it received (which I don't understand at all), I decided to bite the bullet and rank them myself. I love Star Wars and was ten when the first one came out, but I don't dress up as a Jedi on the weekends, and I never made Wookie cookies. This meant I had to sit through Episode I: The Phantom Menace again, but to me, each one has their moments, so I forged onward. This is my list of the nine Star Wars movies, ranked best to worst.

May the force be with you.


Star Wars Movies Ranked 1-9

1.Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 1977

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

This one is easy for me, because I still remember all those years ago, as a boy of ten, how it felt when I first saw Star Wars. There had been nothing like it before. The visuals were groundbreaking, taking what Kubrick had done in (2001: A Space Odessey) and going to a new level of dynamic filmmaking with special effects. Now, add the brilliant John William's main theme and music to this movie, and you have an amazing start to this franchise. What (George Lucas) knew very well early on was that the effects that he and his visual wizards were coming up with, would only truly be compelling, if the story and characters made us care. It did.

From the awesome opening attack by The Evil Empire's massive Star Destroyer, on the escaping Rebel freedom fighter's ship, high above the twin sun desert planet of Tatooine, to the boarding of it by the deadly Stormtroopers and the unforgettable smoke filled entrance, of one of the most famous movie villains of all time: Darth Vader (David Prowse) Star Wars right off the bat, hit it out of the ballpark and into space.

With our loveable hero droids R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), the feisty and tough Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), the lonely farmboy yearning to be a fighter pilot in the rising Rebellion Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the wise old mysterious Jedi Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), and the lovable smugglers who turn out to be reluctant heroes Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his faithful Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), these characters would go on to be beloved by generations of diehard fans. Each had their time for a little exposition and introduction that was wonderfully structured and the movie cruised into film history.

This is stellar and groundbreaking filmmaking, from beginning to end.

2.Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 1980

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Many people feel this is the best Star War's movie of the bunch, and it is tough to argue. Some argue that it ends on a downer, but it's the middle of the trilogy, so we had to wait a few years.

Since the setup of A New Hope, we jump right into the action with Empire and it never lets up. Starting on the Ice Planet of Hoth, we have the fabulous battle with the AT-AT Walkers, Luke's encounter with the Snow Beast, and the thrilling escape when our heroes split up. This is a darker film than the first, and it is where we first meet Yoda, who trains Luke on the swamp planet Dagoba, Lando Calrissian in the stunning Cloud City, the bounty hunter Boba Fett, and  Luke handling some serious Daddy issues. It also starts the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia, with an ample serving of humor that these characters are known for.

Darth Vader and The Emperor are pissed about their Death Star blowing up and will stop at nothing to get our poor Rebel friends, and use drastic measures to try and turn Luke to the Dark Side. From beginning to end, with all the plot twists and surprises, The Empire Strikes Back was an awesome, action-packed, grand followup, that left us counting the days until the next film came out.

3.Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi 2017

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As a child of Star Wars, I have no idea what all the backlash was about this movie.

(Read the Review)

4.Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of The Jedi 1983

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I remember distinctly waiting two hours, standing in line, waiting to see the third film in the original Star Wars trilogy. I also remember saying: "I would never do this again." I haven't, thanks to the ability to preorder tickets. This is certainly my least favorite of the first three, but it still has some spectacular moments. I still don't like the Ewoks, but the speeder bike battle through the forests of Endor is still cool.

The drama between Luke and Darth Vader comes to a head, and the last Light Saber battle with the Emperor watching over while cackling and taunting Luke, is still great drama. We finally meet Jabba the Hut and his goons, as our heroes come to rescue poor Han from being held in his grimy palace frozen in Carbonite. From the daring escape in the desert on the skiffs, over the monster laying waiting for its next meal in the sand, to the thrilling assault on the new Death Start by Lando and Admiral Ackbar, Return of the Jedi is still serious fun and concludes the first trilogy with satisfaction. What raises this from a B to an A, is what our main characters bring to the film, despite some of its flaws. It is still what we love and feel about Star Wars. 

5.Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 2015

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(Read the Review)

6.Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016

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(Read the Review)

7.Star Wars Episode II: Attack of The Clones 2002

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I actually think this is the best of the prequels. It is action packed, has a cool story about the Clones and how they were created on the stormy water planet of Kamino, a fabulous chase to capture the would-be assassin of Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman), by her Jedi protectors Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor ) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), high above the city planet of Coruscant at night. It is a great sequence that looks an awful lot like a similar sequence in (The Fifth Element). You start to see the resentment of the student Anakin, to his teacher Obi-Wan grow, as Anakin feels that he is being held back by the Jedi Master. (McGregor) really grows into his role in this one, and the hand to hand combat on the watery deck between him and Jango Fett on Kamino is great. Who ordered this Clone army to be made?


This also starts the romance between Anakin and Amidala, as they have to go and hide on her home planet of Naboo, where they fall in love. One of the problems with Christensen for me is that we have to be invested in him for this tragedy to have an impact, and he just isn't that sympathetic. The movie, in my opinion, suffers greatly because of it. He's a bit of a stuck-up jerk, and because of this, the romance story, which is crucial to Lucas's movies, suffers. (Portman) is a fabulous actress, beautiful and very likable, and Christensen does better the second time around, but watching it again, it still is a problem. If this worked better, the last two films would have had more of an emotional impact as much as the joy you get from all action.

We also meet some new villains like Count Dooku ( the great Christopher Lee), an ex-Master Jedi, who seems to be connected to the assassination attempt, and is the head of the Separatist movement that is threatening the peace of the Republic. And somewhere in between all this mess, the Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid who is a welcome and vibrant multi-faceted character throughout the movies) has his own secrets. We learn that Dooku is creating his own droid army on the desert planet of Geonosis with the help of its buglike inhabitants. All of this leads to some fabulous battles on the planet between our heroes, a death arena, a Jedi army assembled, and a clone army to the rescue. Oh, and we get to see for the first time how frigging hard it would be to have a light saber battle with master Yoda. 

Part of it is the stilted writing and stiff scenes with characters walking in front of a blue screen talking endlessly about politics.
Lucas must have known the mistakes he made with (The Phantom Menace) because this movie, and the next, is loaded with action and dabs of goofy humor, which the first was sorely lacking in. It is, however, a very good middle film, that is chock full of action and forwards the story that Lucas is telling, in this vast and wonderful universe he has created.

8.Star Wars Episode III: Reveng of The Sith 2005

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Really, after watching both Revenge of the Sith and Attack of the Clones, they could be one movie. Many of the issues from The Phantom Menace were resolved in these films, as they are both filled with action scenes that are well done. The opening of Revenge of the Sith, with John Williams brilliant score complete with war drums, is breathtaking as our Jedis Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) race to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who it appears has been kidnapped by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and is being held on his battleship high above Coruscant. At this point, Anakin has become more reckless and from the scars on his face, the long unkempt hair and dark clothing, is slowly changing.

After rescuing Palpatine, he is faced with a crucial decision on what to do with the renegade Dooku. At the urging of Palpatine, his actions set in motion a master plan, to entice our confused Jedi to the dark side by questioning the motives of the Jedi council, who treat Anakin with suspicion, and he resents this. This is the darkest of the trilogy, as it should be, and to be fair, (Christensen) does a much better job conveying the inner struggle he has between choosing what a Jedi would do, or what he wants for his own gain.

The deterioration of his relationships with Obi-Wan and Amidala is also handled better, and there is a sense of doom and dread as we see him go down the dark path we already know he takes. There is a true tragedy here, and the last hour or so is extremely compelling, as the inevitable sad things play out like we know they will, and no one can stop it. Lucas has thought long and hard about this story, many times faltering, but he recovers here in the last section and does his great space opus proud.
This was actually much better than I gave it credit for.

9.Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 1999

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There is no way around this one. The Phantom Menace is a bit of a dud. After waiting all those years, George Lucas's first film in the next trilogy started with this one, and it is sorely lacking in so many ways. First off, it is so heavy with political exposition, you will get lost knowing whos on which side, and what the hell everyone is doing.
Make no mistake about it, after watching these three films again to refresh my memory, much of is this is intentional by Lucas, to set up the playing field in the universe he has created. But, the execution, the writing, and some of the performances are just....stiff and boring. There is no passion early on. I felt like I was in a lecture class trying not to fall asleep. it really is kind of snooze. 

I addressed many of these gripes, in my essay on how J.J. Abrams new Star Wars will bring the energy and charm back to Star Wars. A funny thing happened to Star Wars.....and why J.J. Abrams might save it.

The things that did still stand out in the movie for me was the pod race, which is fabulous. I also love how the Tusken Raiders, sitting up on a ridge, try to pick off the speeders as they go by. This is a wonderful touch. I also think that Darth Maul was a compelling character and the Lightsaber battle between him and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is just great.
Unfortunately, he gets killed. I would have liked to see more of him.

It is very obvious that Lucas, who is a pioneer in visual effects and sound, really focused his efforts on the technology for his new film.That is fine and it looks great, but the drama with the characters really suffers. It is most evident in this movie. This is the weakest in the series by far.