A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…Solo: A Star Wars Story was released and it made Younglings cry with its mediocrity. But that’s the bad news. Good news is that Solo is the 10th live action feature film in the franchise and the perfect excuse to do another Star Wars ranking. And, unlike Solo, I have a really good feeling about this.
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 for everything before Solo. With those ground rules in places let’s go into lightspeed and do this countdown in less than 12 parsecs:
#10 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 wanted Jedi fighting droids, wooden characters, an annoying kid, dull senate meetings, stinking midichlorians and the unfunny Jar Jar Binks? The answer – nobody. At least we got the awesome Darth Maul and a sweet lightsaber fight set to Duel of the Fates, so it was not a total waste.
#9 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.
#8 Solo: A Star Wars Story
A prequel movie featuring the galaxy’s favourite smuggler? What could go wrong? A lot. A lot could. You had a leaden lead in Alden Ehrenreich with not one iota of the charm and charisma of a young Harrison Ford and had zero chemistry with Emilia Clarke’s character. There was also an uneven yet crammed plot, forced humour, bland villain and overall everything feeling inconsequential. At least Woody Harrelson’s Beckett was cool, Donald Glover brought some life as young Lando and there was some action and excitement to be had. So thankfully it is not Phantom Menace bad but still so very disappointing.
#7 Episode VII – The Force Awakens
When news came out of a brand new trilogy there was a gasp of excitement throughout the galaxy. And then The Force Awakens came out and it was…okay. Now I enjoyed 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 were some cool action sequences, some on spot humour, and I appreciated the return of practical effects. But the plot borrowed too heavily from A New Hope – super Death Star and hero on a desert planet anyone? – and that just took me out of the experience.
#6 Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
You take the good, you take the bad, The Last Jedi, The Last Jedi. When Rian Johnson took over from JJ Abrams he was like screw The Force Awakens, I’m doing my own thing suckers! The good: Mark Hamill was fantastic as old Luke though I was not a huge fan of his arc; Kylo Ren was more fleshed out and became a great villain: that ship explosion was epic; Rey and Kylo taking down Snoke’s guards like bosses; and that scene of Luke facing down the First Order. The bad: Snoke going down without doing anything of significance; irritating Porgs; poor pacing; and the biggest waste of Star Wars screen time since the Anakin/Padme romance in Attack of the Clones – Canto freaking Bight! So many highs, so many lows, that’s The Last Jedi.
#5 Episode VI -Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi at number 5? 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 many Ewoks. Way too many. Yip-nah.
#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 breezy 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.
For my full The Last Jedi review you can click here.