A very happy May the 4th to you all! And what better way to celebrate the beloved and iconic space opera franchise Star Wars than with a good old fashioned ranking of the films.
For this list I will be leaving out the Ewok movies because I have never seen them and also the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated feature film because that was a few episodes of the series cobbled together and it is not a true Star Wars film in my estimation. There are also going to be spoilers for all the movies so SPOILER ALERT! With those ground rules in places let’s go into lightspeed and do this countdown in less than 12 parsecs:
#8 Episode I – The Phantom Menace
We waited so long for a new Star Wars movie, 16 years to be exact, and then we got Phantom Menace. Who wants Jedi fighting droids, wooden characters, an annoying kid, dull senate meetings, stinking midichlorians and the unfunny Jar Jar Binks? Nobody did. At least we got the awesome Darth Maul and a sweet lightsaber fight, so it was not a total waste.
#7 Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Things got better with the second film in the prequel trilogy but not by much. We still had to suffer through a dreadfully slow second act and a romance between Anakin and Padme that was so forced it makes Black Widow and Hulk look like Romeo and Juliet. And did Anakin have to be so angst-y and bratty? Sheesh! But we did get the super cool Jango Fett and some okay action in the final act, and Ewan McGregor’s Obi Wan is always entertaining. The last saber battle with Count Dooku and a pinball Yoda was way too cartoonish though. I don’t like sand and I don’t really like Attack of the Clones.
#6 Episode VI -Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi at number 6? Surely you can’t be serious! I am serious, and stop calling me Shirley. Now there are many things to love in Return of the Jedi: Jabba being sleazy Jabba, Vader being awesome Vader, the Emperor being wonderfully evil and that awesome speeder bike chase. But the whole Han rescue is drawn out, the assault on the Death Star is a not-so-great-copy of the original, the Luke/Vader battle is phoned in, Han barely does anything, Boba Fett dies like a punk and there was way too much Ewoks. Way too much. Yip-nah.
#5 Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Bring on the lightsaber pitchforks! Yes I am ranking The Force Awakens lower than Revenge of the Sith and I stand by it. Now I really loved the new characters – Finn, Rey, Poe and the adorable BB-8 – and it was wonderful seeing Han, Chewie, Leia and the droids again. I thought Kylo Ren was a decent villain, there is some cool action sequences, some on spot humour, and I appreciated the return of practical effects. But the plot borrowed heavily from a New Hope – super Death Star and hero on a desert planet anyone? – and that just took me out of the experience. If you are doing a new trilogy you need to step out and do new things. Hopefully things will be more original and fresh for The Last Jedi.
#4 Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
This movie felt like the movie that George Lucas was waiting to make. There is so much awesomeness packed into one film, some stilted dialogue notwithstanding. Ian McDiarmid is absolutely fantastic as Palpatine, whether he is manipulating Anakin, slaying Jedi, installing himself as Emperor or battling Yoda. The Emperor fighting Yoda? It was like a fanboy’s dream come true! We also have iconic scenes like Anakin and the Clone Troopers attacking the Jedi temple and the heartbreaking execution of Order 66. And the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight is easily the best lightsaber battle in the entire franchise. We also see Anakin become Darth Vader and the birth of Luke and Leia. What else do you want people! This movie deserves thunderous applause I tell you.
#3 Rogue One
As the very first of the Star Wars spin-off films Rogue One had a lot riding on it. But who could have expected that it would been so fantastic. A strong lead, a darker tone, engaging characters, especially mouthy droid K-2SO and and zen not-Jedi Chirrut Îmwe, a boots on the ground feel, superb action and a lot of fan service added up to one of the best Star Wars films ever. And a Star Wars movie that has the guts to kill off all its main heroes? You have to respect that.
#2 Episode IV – A New Hope
The very first Star Wars movie is practically perfect and I have lost count how many times I have watched the adventures of stargazing Luke, swagger filled Han, mighty Chewbacca, strong Princess Leia, wise Obi-Wan Kenobi and the plucky droids. And this was our introduction to the one of the best film villains of all time – Darth Vader! Almost every scene in this film is iconic, from the very first space battle to the final Death Star trench run. If you don’t think A New Hope should be number two on this list then I find your lack of faith disturbing!
#1 Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
I doubt many people would be surprised that The Empire Strikes Back is number one on this list. The sequel to A New Hope improved upon everything in the original. A deeper, more mature story, mind blowing Hoth battle sequence, a lovely romance between Han and Leia, Lando Calrissian oozing cool, Boba Fett being all kinds of awesome, super cool Yoda Jedi training, the epic Luke and Vader saber battle, and one of the biggest twists in cinema history. The Empire struck back hard and it easily hits number one on our list.
So you’ve seen my list, now it is time to vote for your favourite Star Wars film and your least favourite. May the Force be with you:
For my Top 5 Star Wars TV series story pitches you can click here.