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From I to IX and everything in between: A ranking of all 11 ‘Star Wars’ films

From I to IX and everything in between: A ranking of all 11 ‘Star Wars’ films

From I to IX and everything in between: A ranking of all 11 ‘Star Wars’ films
December 23
15:35 2019

The wait is over. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is out, and we’re all completely satisfied with the legacy Disney has left on the “Star Wars” name. Or at least we wish we were. 

After seeing the movies scores of times, I’d wager that the direction Disney has taken the brand has left a lot of fans in a perpetual state of debate on the quality relative to the original trilogy and the prequels. What better way to extend those debates than with my definitive ranking of every “Star Wars” film to date now that the Skywalker Saga has officially concluded.

11. “Attack of the Clones” 

“Attack of the Clones” is a case of too much computer-generated imagery (CGI) and not enough practical effects, which ruined the film. None of the set pieces feel real at any point, and it shows in the actors’ performances as they have very little to work with on an all-blue set. Without any sort of tangible environment to work with, every performance feels keyed in with bad CGI by 2019 standards. Or maybe it was the nonsensical script and cringe-worthy acting from nearly every actor of note. Either way, there’s very little substance to be found.

10. “The Phantom Menace”

One name: Jar-Jar Binks. Okay, but on a serious note, The “Phantom Menace” is a pretty weak set up for the origin of possibly the most well-known villain in all of pop culture history. We got a poorly written and executed story with random, goofy detours and a seemingly unsure tone relative to the following two films. It feels like George Lucas hadn’t truly settled into the tone and ambiance of the world by this point, and it feels disjointed from “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith.”

9. “Revenge of the Sith”

The best thing I can say about Episode 3 is that it has some well-choreographed lightsaber duels amidst a script not much better than “Attack of the Clones.” The visuals somehow managed to get more out of control in terms of quality than the previous outing. Though by this point, the cadence and style of the prequels are set, and the visual abnormalities are more palatable compared to what came before. 

8. “The Last Jedi”

I could write a whole manifesto concerning the ways “The Last Jedi” ruined a lot of what I love about “Star Wars,” but that’s dramatic and I think it’s less offensively bad than a lot of “Star Wars” purists would say. Let’s just say it is a far better action movie than it is a genuine “Star Wars” movie. I feel that besides the Rey and Luke dynamic, a lot of what happens in the movie is inconsequential and way too convenient. Finn’s detour to the casino planet of Canto Byte has almost no bearing on the plot, and Poe acts really dumb throughout the film.

7. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” 

Both “Solo” and “Rogue One” had notoriously tortured production woes and I think “Rogue One” pulls off its premise a lot better. That being said, I really enjoy watching this movie. It switched out directors deep into production and the majority of the film was reshot, therefore feeling disjointed. The pacing is off, but that main problem is largely offset with a great performance from Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Alden Ehrenreich does a decent job as a young Solo, but he as Solo still feels a little miscast.

6. “The Force Awakens”

Episode 7 brought us back into the world of “Star Wars” fans loved from the beginning after the prequels veered into territories unseen and unwanted. Though the main cast isn’t nearly as interesting as the cast of the original trilogy — mainly because we don’t see them all together in any meaningful way until Episode 9 — they do a great job of leading the story into Episode 8. I don’t think enough character development happens for Rey here, but her payoff is in Episode 9 and it validates a lot of what I didn’t initially like here.

5. “The Rise of Skywalker” 

This film is kind of a mess and I love it. The plot is a little outrageous and ridden with fan service, but I honestly think it was a good move after the controversial Episode 8. It’s a heartfelt goodbye to the Skywalker saga, and while decidedly long, part of me really wishes the first half of this film replaced Episode 8.

4. “A New Hope”

This is the film that started it all. Millions fell in love with the Saga in 1977 and despite a budget that cowards in comparison to 2019’s standards, it is still a classic for a reason. Its campy ho-hum take on space adventures coupled with the introduction of Darth Vader makes it still a thrill ride four decades later. The main cast has a kinship we’ve not seen in “Star Wars” since and we got to see Han and Leia’s relationship begin here.

3. “Rogue One”

“Rogue One” is my favorite “Star Wars” movie, full stop. The greys of war were finally explored in the “Star Wars” universe with some of the rebel’s more shady dealings. I never really had a problem with the size of the vents relative to the size of the base, it is a small moon by the way guys. It needs vents. But the explanation and retcon for the famous issue is excellently done, introducing Gyn Erso and her cast of spirited rebels and giving us an amazing moment involving Vader.

2. “Return of the Jedi”

While I don’t like this film as much as “Rogue One,” I think it’s a stellar conclusion to the initial Skywalker trilogy. Every payoff is met and every relationship progresses beautifully. Endor is a great planet to end with and I can’t lie, the Ewoks are pretty damn cute. Luke’s development into a full-fledged Jedi is stellar writing at work and they nailed the pacing. 

1. “The Empire Strikes Back”

Episode 5 is the closest thing to “Star Wars” Nirvana we’ll ever get, and that is really unfortunate because this movie is damn near perfect. Seeing the bad guys get a huge leg up in the story is both gratifying and sets them up as a serious threat. Boba Fett is mysterious and cunning and him cutting a deal with Vader to trap the group on Bespin is by far the coolest part of the film. 

Now that the Skywalker saga is over, it’ll be interesting to see what direction Disney takes the “Star Wars” series. With the Expanded Universe still around in books and TV shows, there are a lot of stories to be told. Let’s just hope George Lucas gets a bigger role next time around.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Zachary Helms

Zachary Helms

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