It’s May Fourth, the unofficial official Star Wars day and there’s no better way to celebrate the day than to revisit the series and rank them all from best to worst. Or just watch them while endlessly debating over the existence of the prequels. You do you.
The iconic movie series has spanned decades and expanded into video games, spin-off TV shows, and much more. George Lucas’ space opera about a farm boy, a princess, and a space wizard has pervaded most aspects of pop culture around the world and even if you’ve never seen a single Star Wars movie, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the main characters and story arcs. The movies have earned billions at the box office and are the OG for sequels and franchises.
Now the debate for the best (and worst) Star Wars movie has torn friendships and families apart so read the following list with discretion and be warned, it will cause you to ignore all your tasks and binge-watch your favourite Star Wars movies all day…
(The following list has all the live-action Star Wars movies ranked from best to worst. This means the animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) has not been included)
Star Wars: Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
What happens when a studio bends to the miffed fans and succumb to fanservice? We get a disappointing film like The Rise of Skywalker. The last part of the sequel trilogy just didn’t land. The movie was riddled with production troubles and undid all the good work of Rian Johnson’s previous installment in the franchise (more on that later). It would have been forgiven had it at least been a watchable movie but, sadly, it was a non cohesive mess.
Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones (2002)
With nearly every shot of the movie made using CGI, the movie is the weakest, even in the already heavily criticised prequel trilogy. It didn’t help that it introduced us to Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker who ahd zero chemistry with Natalie Portman’s Queen Padme. The only redeeming parts of the movie are Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and the superb final battle sequence.
Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace (1999)
This one started off the much-derided prequel series but did an OK job of setting up the universe and lay the groundwork for the origin of the Empire and the mysterious Force. It also introduced us to Jar Jar Binks, one of the most-punchable characters in cinematic history. The movie explained Darth Vader’s immaculate conception (thanks, midichlorians and the Force) and, to make up for Jar Jar Binks, gave us Darth Maul, albeit briefly.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
On paper, the movie worked immediately. Who wouldn’t want to know the origin story of one of the most bada*s movie characters and find out more about how he became who he was when we first saw him? But sadly, in reality the movie was a big let down. Endless production issues and a weak storyline caused this to be the first box office failure for the franchise.
Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The last of the sequel trilogy deviates from its predecessors by focussing on the storyline and the arc of Anakin Skywalker being lured to the dark side to become Darth Vader. Even though many criticise its rushed ending, it does a solid job of setting up the original trilogy.
Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens (2015)
Many had pronounced the franchise finished after the prequel trilogies, so when J.J. Abrams was tasked with reviving the series, it was clear that the franchise needed a rehabilitation. Abrams played it safe and stuck to familiar themes of an orphan hero rising up to face off against a tormented villain, with many thrillign callbacks to the original series. We got to see many old faces and met new ones in the form of Rey, Kylo Renn, Finn, BB-8. and Poe.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Many will argue that the first Star Wars spin-off doesn’t deserve such a high place on the list, but the fact that it brought back so much of what we loved about the franchise back in the fold should be celebrated. Set right before the events of A New Hope, it showed us how the Rebel Alliance managed to steal the plans of the Death Star that would be crucial to destroying the Empire in New Hope. It features some iconic moments, including Darth Vader’s entry and one of the best final acts of recent times.
Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi (1983)
The last movie of the original sequel is a near-perfect sci-fi film and gives the series a great conclusion. It has its weak moments, especially the terrifyingly cloying Ewoks of Endor, but the Jabba sequence in the opening, with Leia and Luke rescuing Han and the final confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader is flawless.
Star Wars: Episode VIII- The Last Jedi (2017)
This Rian Johnson masterpiece has divided fans of the series and caused Disney to backtrack and present us with the horrible conclusion that was Rise of Skywalker. Johnson subverted expectations and gave us a movie with breathtaking visuals and introduced the concept of a flawed hero to the franchise with Luke’s depression and Rey’s realisation that she’s not special and the Force chose her randomly. It brought something new to the franchise and injected new energy in it.
Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope (1977)
Watching it now might make you feel that it has been placed too close to the top of the list, but it changed the trajectory of cinema as we know it. Lucas introduced the world to Star Wars’ universe with A New Hope back in 1977. This is what started it all off and showed us a lived-in universe with different planets, creatures, and a giant, looming threat that could only be defeated by an unaware farm boy on Tatooine.
Star Wars: Episode V- Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Inarguably the best movie of the franchise, and gold standard in sequels, Empire Strikes Back is darker, emotionally deep, and grounds the expansive universe comprising of different planets and landscapes with powerful storytelling. The iconic cliffhanger revealing Luke’s true parentage and Han’s reply to Leia’s confession are one of pop culture’s most enduring moments.
Agree or disagree with the list, it’s a good excuse to binge watch all the movies now! May the Force be with you...