Happy Star Wars Day! One of the greatest film franchises in history, Star Wars concluded last year with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Star Wars films have varied quite a bit in terms of quality. While we did have an absolute humdinger of a film that was The Empire Strikes Back, we also had some duds like the prequel trilogy.
Here is the worst to best ranking for the nine Star Wars films (not including standalone movies). Be forewarned, there will be spoilers.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
The actors were great, we were about to know the origins of Darth Vader, one of the greatest movie villains. Everything seemed nice, what could go wrong? Almost everything, actually. Maybe the novelty factor had worn off, but there was simply no redeeming factor in The Phantom Menace. It remains the biggest blemish on the franchise.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
If there was something interesting about Attack of the Clones, it was the fact that the prequel trilogy was finally getting on track. Attack of the Clones was still a terrible film, though. Besides being overlong and muddled, it had awful effects and a badly done romance between Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker and Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
This film was all about repairing the supposed damage that the previous entry in the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi, did. Essentially, it tried to please fanboys and turned out to be so messy that it did not please anybody. The conclusion to the Skywalker saga is a weak film with little coherence.
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
The first and only watchable film in the prequel trilogy. In spite of being almost as long as Episode II, The Revenge of the Sith felt taut and paid off the patience of the viewers who had been waiting to see how Anakin Skywalker actually turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. The Revenge of the Sith had some great moments (Yoda vs Emperor Palpatine!).
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
The weakest film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi concluded the story of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (who had been aware of a particularly troubling thing about his parentage). Return of Jedi aspires to be as epic as The Empire Strikes Back, but ends up being more like Revenge of the Sith.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Sure, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi had flaws and a few character motivations made no sense whatsoever. But it was an entertaining and courageous film that dared to evolve the tired old franchise tropes.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The most successful Star Wars film to date, commercially speaking. The Force Awakens was basically A New Hope with a few adjustments. Kylo Ren, a talented apprentice like Anakin Skywalker, was seduced to the dark side by Supreme Leader Snoke and Emperor Palpatine. While it lacked originality, it ultimately worked because it ticked all the right boxes.
Star Wars: A New Hope (originally Star Wars)
The film that kicked off the space-opera franchise. A New Hope gave us a protagonist, Luke Skywalker, whose story still continues in the ongoing sequel trilogy. It gave us an immersive world (galaxy, to be precise) full of interesting characters, beings, exciting space battles and ruthless villains. 40 years after its release, A New Hope still remains THE Star Wars film.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Not just the best Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back is also one of the best films of *any* kind ever. In the film, our collective minds were blown off by what is probably the biggest twist in cinema ever. Yes, I am talking about Darth Vader’s “I am your father.” The Empire Strikes Back was an extraordinarily thought-provoking film with gorgeous visuals that still make viewers wide-eyed with delight. This film is easily also one of the greatest sequels of all time alongside Star Trek’s The Wrath of Khan and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.