You’ve probably seen lists like this in every community forum you’ve ever been to, the ranking of Star Wars movies from worst to best.
Thing is, it’s very rare you will get two people who rank them the same way apart from a few stand out movies. I guess in many ways this is indicative of just how broad the Star Wars fan base truly is. It’s also a franchise which has spanned three generations already, and depending which generation you are from, might influence the way you rank the movies. After all, nostalgia does play a huge part in the way we feel about movies from our youth.
So, for no other reason than to generate some discussion amongst our readers, here is my Star Wars movies ranking from worst to best, with a little explanation into my thinking for each one, and a little video highlighting some bad and good moments. It’s doubtful anyone will flat-out agree with all my choices, so let me know why I am wrong with your own lists.
Obviously this list is going to change more and more as we get new Star Wars movies in the coming years, is it possible somewhere in that future slate of movies there is one that can rise up to top billing? Tough task. Anyway, without further ado.
The Phantom Menace
One of the most hyped movies of all time, The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film to be released since the end of the Original Trilogy, and promised to explore how Anakin Skywalker became a Jedi and then turned into Darth Vader. The rough plot was okay, if a bit too political for a Star Wars movie, but we were left with an Anakin far too young to have any kind of character development.
It also suffers from a severe lack of screen time for both Darth Maul who hardly speaks and Obi-Wan Kenobi who hardly does much at all until the end of the movie. Whilst the movie had some good moments on Tatooine and an excellent three way saber duel, the good parts were far outweighed by the bad dialogue, boring characters, and the accursed Jar-Jar Binks toilet humour.
I was as hyped as any Star Wars Fan and even tried to excuse its flaws in my own mind for years until I had to admit it was just a poor movie. It feels, in many ways, like Star Wars for ten-year-olds, and whilst Lucas always maintained that Star Wars is a kids movie, the tone doesn’t match the supposedly more political plot. In many ways The Phantom Menace outline could have made for a more mature themed movie. It also simply doesn’t move the overarching plot of the trilogy on fast enough. One wonders what this movie could have been by writing out Binks and the Gungans altogether and focusing more on Maul, Kenobi and an older Anakin.
Attack Of The Clones
It was going to be tricky for Attack of the Clones to achieve much, having TPM as its predecessor. However the basic plot of the movie is again decent enough for an idea, the actual script itself though is weak, and may have even worse dialogue than The Phantom Menace did. Obi-Wan, whilst better in this movie is still underdeveloped as a character, and Anakin is simply not given enough to do in this movie.
The entire love story plot is frankly cringeworthy and the film would have benefited far more from Anakin and Padme having to outrun danger whilst slowly falling for one another — you know that classic movie formula of putting the leads in danger as they fall in love. As it stands, it becomes hard for the audience to work out why Padme ever falls for Anakin instead of getting a restraining order against him. Either she has no experience of relationships, or she must be desperate for attention, as Anakin is verging on creepy here.
The mystery of Syfo Dias and how the Clone Army were created just disappears midway through and is never mentioned in the series again. Who was he, really? One must question why Yoda was happy to accept and use a Clone Army none of them asked for, and has origins linked to the assassination attempt of Padme Amidala. Hayden Christensen gets some terrible flak for his acting chops in this Trilogy, but it’s hard to imagine any actor delivering these lines in any better a performance than he did.
Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Christopher Lee and Samuel L Jackson are all great actors and yet everyone looks like they’ve only had a few amateur dramatic lessons. Okay, Christensen takes this to an even lower level on a few occasions as well, but it has to partly be down to having such bad dialogue, incomplete arcs and poor direction. Still…..Visually it’s a treat, and it has perhaps my favourite closing montage of any Star Wars film, as Yoda pronounces the Clone Wars have begun, and the Imperial March kicks in as we see the Clone Army being deployed across the Galaxy, intercut with Anakin wedding Padme on Naboo. That’s the frustrating thing about AotC: it has potential and it was completely squandered. As a standalone movie, it’s just all over the place unfortunately and at times actually cringeworthy to watch on repeat viewings.
The Last Jedi
Ok it’s a bit too soon for YouTube videos so I’ll leave this weird scene here instead.
I don’t think there is much I need to say about the most recent Star Wars movie. Some love it, and a good many more seem to despise it. The Last Jedi has the exact opposite problem from the two movies mentioned lower on this list. It has better dialogue, better acting, more emotional character development (though not the right kind for me), and it tries to be more mature in its themes.
However, the basic plot the writer uses to place all his pieces on the board just doesn’t cut the mustard for me, choosing to ignore or dismiss the various ‘mysteries’ set up in The Force Awakens. It also feels like a film that’s got nowhere much to go in its conclusion and that’s something I can’t say about Attack of the Clones as a middle chapter. If anything, this movie needed to have an outline, or an end goal for Episode 9 which the writer was working towards. After listening to his many, many explanations, it appears as if all he wanted to do was tell his story and let others work out what happens next.
I could go on, but we here at LRM have debated and discussed this movie from many angles and sides since its release. Ultimately The Last Jedi feels like fan fiction to me rather than a proper instalment in the Star Wars saga and whilst it may work as a sequel to The Force Awakens, it does not work for me as episode 8 of a 9 chapter story. I am a fan of Rian Johnson the director, I am not a fan of Rian Johnson the writer. This one has hurt the franchise fan base as much as The Phantom Menace did, but it’s nowhere near as bad a movie, overall.
Revenge of the Sith
The concluding part of the Prequel Trilogy and certainly the best of the three Prequel movies. If anything, the problem with Revenge of the Sith is how much Lucas left to be told in this movie. The first two movies just didn’t move along quickly enough to be able to buy as an audience how quickly things escalate in ROTS. Some of the dialogue is a little better this time around, but still not what one would call quality writing. It does have some outstanding scenes which rank amongst fan favourites, the opera scene with the Darth Plagueis story is excellent, and really allows Ian McDiarmid to show his true talent for once in these movies, he was so wasted when you watch his Return of the Jedi performance.
This is also, for me, Lucas’ most poorly edited movie and that’s usually his best skill. There are scenes where you can almost see they started the edit too long before the call for action, and it removes the audience somewhat from the immersion. I am also of the opinion that the final duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the worst in the series, as there is so little emotion other than the very start and the very end of the fight. They literally don’t say a word from the first saber clash until separated on the lava flow about 10 minutes later. Sure, it has some good moves and flashy action, but there’s no heart. Not to mention that classic meme of Obi-Wan triumphing by declaring to Anakin it is over because he has the high ground. Fans are still scratching their collective chins on that one over a decade later (see video above).
The final nail in the coffin for this movie is probably the crazy idea to have Padme die in childbirth, not because of complications, nor medical reasons, but of a broken heart……… Come on, Lucas, really? I mean you could have had Yoda and Obi-Wan have to choose whether to save the kids or save Padme and weigh up those moral choices, but no, broken heart…sigh. It almost makes me wants to stand up cast my head back in despair and shout Nooooooo for a really long time. Yeah you get it!
Better than its chronological predecessors for sure, but really not that great overall. Also after all these years can anyone tell me what the hell happened to Palp’s face and why the Jedi couldn’t sense him at all? I was waiting to hear that Darth Sidious had found a way to disguise his power and thus his looks as well and that the twisted dark side ravaged figure we see in Jedi is his true appearance. Nope apparently he got burned off his own lightning in a very weird, bad CGI way.
The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens has gone down on my list upon seeing The Last Jedi, though it is still in the top half. It is clear to me now that JJ Abrams seems to have had no idea at all what was going to happen at the end when he made this movie. The mysteries he set up, he seemingly gives no guidance about to Rian Johnson who was allowed to simply dismiss at will (we reserve right to change our minds after seeing Episode 9).
When you take this element out, what is The Force Awakens other than a gigantic bigger scale copy of A New Hope? Sure, I love it when Rey and Finn escape aboard the wrecked Millennium Falcon, I loved seeing Han and Chewy again, and I even had goosebumps when that lightsaber flies past Kylo Ren into the hands of Rey, but unless I am extremely surprised by Episode 9, it feels like one giant expensive piece of fan fiction built upon cool set pieces rather than an interesting narrative.
If anything, I think many fans like me would have been far more interested in beginning this story with Ben Solo beginning to train with his Uncle Luke, the rise of the mysterious Snoke, and the First Order rising from the ashes of the Empire upon an impotent Republic. Then the turn of Ben Solo and the resulting sundering of Leia and Han. It’s great to have 20/20 hindsight, but for me, my imagination isn’t good enough to create en ending for this trilogy which will make all three movies feel satisfying and a true conclusion to not just this trilogy, but a nine movie arc. I have a bad feeling about Episode 9. I think the only character I feel is complete and I enjoy watching in this Sequel Trilogy is Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. The rest feel somewhat like cardboard cut outs to me.
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