It is one of the most splendid times of the year, when fans of a certain series of movies come together and celebrate their love for a galaxy far, far away. Of course, I am talking about May 4th and 5th, or “May the Fourth (be with you)” and “Revenge of the 5th!”
Sure, I could go on about my love for the franchise and how the future for Star Wars has never been brighter. However, there are plenty of those articles making their way around the interwebs today. So, let’s take a darker (dare I say Sith-like) approach and bring up the argument that always seems to boil over into hatred and constant debate:
Let’s rank the Star Wars films, starting at the very wart-filled worst, and ending at the saga’s finest example of spectacular space-opera. I have a feeling you already know what’s coming first…
8. The Phantom Menace
Is this movie really as bad as everyone remembers? The obvious answer is, “Yes.” We finally get our first look at a young Darth Vader, only to discover he’s a young, annoying kid who is constantly screaming “yippie“.
There’s also the introduction of Jar Jar Binks, a name that still causes visible stress when mentioned to any Star Wars fan. Sure, the movie did bring us two amazing new characters in Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul, but neither made it to the end of the movie!!!
It also brought up plenty of discrepancies and inconsistencies with the original trilogy, meaning this did more damage to the overall story. Positive note: it did deliver us a solid “Weird Al” Yankovic song.
7. Attack of the Clones
In the wake of midiclorians left behind by The Phantom Menace, the only way to go for the Star Wars franchise was up. Attack of the Clones was only better by comparison.
Flooded with more political jargon than Jedi storytelling, the redeeming moment of AofC is the final sequence featuring the Battle of Geonosis. We finally got to see an amazing Jedi action sequence, including the introduction of Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber.
Sure, the movie has its flaws, but the final 30-minutes of this movie make the previous two hours all worth the wait (almost).
6. Return of the Jedi
Now, there’s a lot to love about Return of the Jedi, like Jabba’s Palace, Darth Vader’s redemption, and the first appearance of Admiral Ackbar. However, there’s also a plethora of problems.
The badass Boba Fett is relegated to full background character and gets dumped into the sarlacc pit before he even gets a chance to shine. Then there’s the Ewoks. They are part of Star Wars history, but the fact that a primitive coalition of anthropomorphic teddy bears can easily take out an advanced group of Empire soldiers still bugs me to this day!!!
What I need in The Last Jedi is a group of Death Troopers back on Endor laying waste to prove who’s boss. (I am also ranking RotJ this low since George Lucas thought it was a good idea to put an awful musical number in Jabba’s Palace for the 90’s re-release. It’s painful to watch.)
5. Revenge of the Sith
How could any prequel movie be ranked above the original trilogy? It’s easy when you have the best lightsaber battle ever put on film. The final showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the newly formed Darth Vader was everything you wanted it to be. You can tell Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen put in the training to pull that entire sequence off.
RotS also gave us General Grievous. While his time was short (much like Darth Maul’s), the idea of a four-armed cyborg swinging a quadruplicate of lightsabers around is still a sight to behold. Like its fellow prequel films, RotS has problems, but unlike its predecessors its action sequences and stellar emotional moments push it into the top five.
4. The Force Awakens
I feel like I need a disclaimer for putting The Force Awakens at number four. I enjoyed the movie. It was entirely serviceable and made me forget all about the issues I had with the prequels. I loved all the characters that were introduced and found the movie offered some extremely memorable moments for the Star Wars franchise. However, I cannot get over the fact that its premise is still extremely similar to A New Hope.
Now, there is nothing wrong with that, and it still ended up being one of my favorite movies from the past decade. Call me a traditionalist, but I am a firm believer that you can’t reinvent a classic. The Force Awakens is “New Coke“. Sure, it might be good, but it ain’t the original. Which brings me to…
3. A New Hope
The one that started it all. It not only brought this Universe into everyone’s lives, but also gave us characters that we’ll never forget. Luke, Leia, Han, Obi-Wan, R2-D2, Vader, Jek Porkins… everyone that mattered was involved in A New Hope. I don’t need to continue to praise it. It’s constantly topping the lists of the greatest movies ever made. So, why isn’t it number one? This is where things might go off the rails.
2. Rogue One
Say hello to the new kid on the block. I know it’s weird that the 8th Star Wars movie is really a sequel to the prequels — while being a prequel to the original — but that doesn’t matter.
By distancing itself from the Skywalker saga, Rogue One has become a unique film in the franchise while still capturing everything that made you fall in love with Star Wars to begin with. It’s darker and grittier than nearly every other Star Wars movie, which gives Rogue One its own vibe.
The collection of characters brought into the movie were different from previous heroes we’ve encountered, and even though their fates were sealed by the movie’s end, their demise only raised the bar for the emotional impact Star Wars movies can have.
It was an instant classic from the moment it hit theaters and, as time passes, Rogue One will take its place as one of the best Star Wars movies of all time (or until The Last Jedi blows us away and proves I peaked too soon with my Rogue One prediction).
1. The Empire Strikes Back
Listen. There’s a reason other movies call themselves the “Empire Strikes Back of (their franchise)”. It’s because ESB is the greatest sequel of all time (uh-oh… here come the Godfather 2 peeps). It one-upped its predecessor while changing the tone of the franchise from a positive movie about overcoming the odds, to a darker, “everything is going to hell” feature.
The movie also delivered one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history, even though people still say it incorrectly. (No. I am your father!). Throw in the presence of Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett and Yoda, and you have the recipe for the perfect Star Wars movie.
People are already saying The Last Jedi will be in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back, but those shoes are just too big to fill. It can’t be topped, because The Empire Strikes Back is the Empire Strikes Back of Star Wars (and that somehow makes sense).
So, what do you think? Agree with this list, or are you ready to drop your glove and go full hockey brawl over your disdain for Rogue One being too high? Well, come at me bro, and let me know which Star Wars movie tops your list of the greatest Star Wars movies in the comment section below!