A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Happy May the 4th! I had to do something Star Wars today. Duh. Since I started my blog, there's been barely any Star Wars content, so I haven't gotten to talk about it that much. I've reviewed the prequels, but that's about it. I love Star Wars. It's one of the greatest fictional worlds ever created. The movies are of varying quality, but the best are some of the best of all time. Anyway, here's my ranking of the movies. May the fourth be with you.
11. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
I hate Attack of the Clones. I simply do not understand how anyone can like this movie. It is so shockingly bad. I don't like Phantom Menace, but I find it watchable. Attack of the Clones has no redeeming qualities. From the awful dialogue to the stale performances to the headache-inducing CGI, I hate everything. Ewan McGregor's performance is good. And there's a scene of Palpatine standing over the clone army with the Imperial March playing. Those are the two things I like about this movie. Everything else, I despise.
10. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace is a rocky start to the prequels, but I don't hate it as much as everyone else. Of course, there's the usual complaints. Jar Jar sucks. The dialogue is terrible. Space politics are boring. But I think the pod-racing scene is fun. I love the ending duel with Darth Maul. I think Phantom Menace is the most uninteresting entry in the Star Wars canon. The CGI looks like a PS2 video game. It's not a good movie at all. But I don't think it's horrible.
9. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
Last Jedi is the single most disappointing movie I've ever sat through in the theater. Force Awakens sets up these awesome mysteries and character arcs. Who are Rey's parents? Who is Snoke? Can we learn more about Finn's backstory as a stormtrooper? What has Luke been up to all these years? Who is Phasma? You would think that maybe The Last Jedi would answer those questions in a satisfying way. But no. Rey's parents? They're no one. Snoke? He dies in this movie without a second thought. Luke's been drinking green milk and becomes a cynical Jedi. We aren't going to learn about Finn at all. Instead, he's going to go on a journey to find a codebreaker that's really stupid and doesn't end up contributing to the story at all. This film gives you all the wrong answers, and it sets up Rise of Skywalker for complete failure.
8. Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
I really enjoyed Rise of Skywalker upon first watch. However, as I've thought about it more, it's a really frustrating movie. Because Last Jedi answered all of the questions from Force Awakens in a really unsatisfying way, Rise of Skywalker tries to course-correct and loses all emotional payoff in the process. There are awesome things here. Kylo Ren's redemptive arc is great. The action is cool. But in having Palpatine return, it kind of wrecks what the previous Star Wars movies set up. Darth Vader is no longer the chosen one. The Force can heal, like, any wound. It's not a very good movie. It's an entertaining one, but it really frustrates me, and I really don't love that it's the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga.
7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
I fully acknowledge that Solo is not a great movie, but it's a nice departure from the Skywalker Saga. Of course, no one was asking for a Han Solo movie. But Alden Ehrenreich is a great Han. Donald Glover is a great Lando. The story is a cool little crime story. I like exploring the Star Wars underground. It's not a film I've felt the need to rewatch, but it's a fun entry in the canon.
6. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith is two halves: one is the quality of Attack of the Clones and the other is the quality of a Force Awakens. The last thirty minutes of this film is almost top-tier Star Wars, but it's bogged down by a terrible first half. I love watching Anakin's turn to Vader. The Battle of the Heroes is a super emotional finale. Everything fits into place here. It's a dark, thrilling journey...but the first half is really, really bad. So I think it deserves it's place right here: in the middle.
5. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens is a nostalgic return to the galaxy far, far away that was a nice return to form after the prequels. On its own, this movie is great. It's a very entertaining watch that has cool action, great new characters, and a beautiful new look at the Star Wars universe thirty years later. Kylo Ren is a worthy Star Wars villain and Rey serves as an interesting new protagonist. There are complaints about it being too similar to A New Hope, but I don't mind that. The thing that knocks it back is actually The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Those two movies didn't payoff what Force Awakens set up, so I can't put it much higher.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I think Rogue One is criminally underrated. This is the best Star Wars prequel, even though it isn't a part of the actual prequel trilogy. This spin-off gives us our first true look at the dark ages: the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The story is intriguing and connects to the original trilogy in an interesting way. The characters, while not particularly memorable, are still likable and fun. And the last twenty minutes of this movie is modern Star Wars at its highest point. The Darth Vader hallway sequence is one of the coolest scenes in Star Wars. Rogue One is an awesome movie, and I think its the best Star Wars movie of the last thirty-eight years.
Let me preface the top three with this: The original Star Wars trilogy is easily my favorite film trilogy, so, while I love Rogue One, there is a massive jump in quality. Nothing comes even close to these movies and nothing ever will.
3. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
May 25, 1977. The day that the world of movies changed forever. Star Wars changed everything. Pretty much everything about this film became instantly iconic. From Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader to X-Wing Fighters to the Millennium Falcon to the Force, Star Wars is the cause of forty years of blockbuster filmmaking. While I appreciate the importance of this movie and love it for the nostalgia and all of that, I do think it's the weakest of the trilogy. There's a lot of setup and exposition and I was surprised to learn that it was a little bit slow upon rewatch. However, this is still one of the most important movies ever made and I absolutely am so grateful for it.
2. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is a very satisfying conclusion to the first chapter of the Skywalker Saga. The best part of this movie is the continuation of the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Vader's redemption is the perfect end to a great villain, and Luke's transformation into the Jedi that he was destined to be is just so awesome to watch. The last forty or so minutes of this movie is just as good as The Empire Strikes Back that it's easy to forget that the first half is probably one of the weaker parts of the O.G. trilogy. Jabba's palace, while awesome, feels like an episode of a TV show that should've been, like, a prologue to Return of the Jedi. Still, this movie is absolutely, one hundred percent amazing.
1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
The Dark Knight is my favorite movie of all time. The Empire Strikes Back is an extremely close second. I have nothing negative to say about this film. A New Hope scratched the surface. The Empire Strikes Back tore the surface open and dug way deeper. The Star Wars mythology is expanded. The characters are more intricate. We understand Luke's character and the things that make him flawed. This is the film that cemented Darth Vader as the greatest fictional villain of all time. The lightsaber battle between Luke and Vader is, for my money, the best film climax of all time. We're introduced to Yoda. We're introduced to Lando. We're introduced to the Emperor. We're introduced to Boba Fett. This is the first time that we heard the Imperial March. I cannot express my love for this movie anymore. It's perfect. So it comes in at number one.