I rewatched all 9 films in order to make this review, and I am quite the connoisseur of Star Wars media.
Just want to make this very clear that all of these rankings are based on my opinion. If you rank these films in a different order or like the films that I put at the bottom of the list, then do not feel bad for liking those films. It's just my opinion on the matter and you do not have to conform to my opinions. I would instead encourage you to have friendly discussions about the films, and I can even discuss them with you if you want.
The ranking of the films will feature an introductory synopsis of my thoughts on the film, and I will list the best part of the movie, and the worst part of the movie.
Also, *SPOILERS AHEAD*
With that disclaimer out of the way, let's finally get into the ranking.
#9: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Introduction: I did not like this film when I was a child. And I still do not like the film. There are some solid parts of the film, but most of it features cardboard cutout characters, and a plot filled with so many infodumps about politics and world building that that I got bored to death halfway through. And the dialogue. The supposed "Shakespearean" dialogue wanted to make me stab knives into my ears so that my screams would drown out the noise of the characters talking. This is not a good film.
Best Aspect: Final Fight (Duel on Naboo): If there is one thing the movie did right, it was the choreography of the final fight between Maul and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. Being accompanied by an incredible score by the talented John Williams, the fight feels intense and fun. Although Qui-Gon's death really did not hit me emotionally, I still did feel for Obi-Wan, and Ewan McGregor did a fantastic job playing the character. This fight scene set the course of action for other fight scenes in the prequels, that being greatly choreographed lightsaber fights that absolutely blew up the dopamine cells inside my head when I was a kid.
Worst Aspect: Boring Worldbuilding: George Lucas is amazing at worldbuilding, and he builds such complex and interesting worlds for Star Wars. The prequels are no exception, as the worldbuilding for all 3 films is extraordinary and really fits into the timeline and world of the original films. That having been said, the way Lucas went about worldbuilding in this film was subpar. Politics. That's really all I can say about the worldbuilding. There is a lot of talk about politics in this film, so much so that when rewatching it, I realized why I never liked this film when I was a child. So much of the film is dedicated to talking about the trade federation and Naboo and the Jedi Council that it all becomes a mundane info dump that I could care less about. Pair that with the one dimensional characters and you got yourself one boring experience.
#8: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Introduction: A dull and embarrassing end to the Skywalker Saga, this film is a disaster not only as a Star Wars movie, but as a movie in general. Pivotal characters from the previous film, The Last Jedi, are now used as background characters with only a few lines of dialogue, such as Rose. The plot is also all over the place. It seems that they had no general direction to follow so they just made it up on the spot. A new plot device is introduced every 10 minutes and the film is so predictable that I had already figured out its copied Return of the Jedi ending.
Best Aspect: A Fun Film: When I say this is a "fun film", I mean the type of film that, when you turn your brain off and watch it, the film is fun to watch. There are some scenes that I enjoyed, such as any scene that included Kylo Ren. It's still a beautiful looking movie, and that really compliments the action scenes as they look amazing, and are fun to watch. This film is okay if you just watch it for the action, and not if you want a well structured and emotional story.
Worst Aspect: Wasting the Characters: This film takes all the characters of the sequels, and absolutely dumps on them and leaves them out in the sun to marinate in that dump. They completely ruined the entire purpose of Rey's character. She was supposed to be the character that showed that anybody, regardless of who you are, can be something special. But no, they instead opted to have her be a Palpatine and to say to kids that only if you have some special lineage can you make something of yourself in life. Finn is also reduced to screaming "Rey!" every time he's on screen and to have another heterosexual love interest, because god forbid a Star Wars movie has homosexuals in it. Poe is still the arrogant pilot he was when the sequels started, and he has not shown any character development over the course of the films. They also killed off Leia in the dumbest way possible that I am still mad about now. They also made Kylo Ren become good and die, just like Vader. Did you get it? Did you see the parallels between Kylo Ren's redemption and Vader's? Bet you didn't see that coming, right? Of course you did. Everyone did. To summarize, every character here was wasted of their potential to be a well written character.
#7: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Introduction: I want to start off by saying that this film gets a lot of hate and is considered to be one of the worst Star Wars films. And although I agree that this film is bad, it's certainly not the worst. It is more interesting than The Phantom Menace and it was still a movie that I enjoyed as a child, so maybe my nostalgia is playing into how I view this film as not being the worst. Nonetheless, it still has its flaws, but also some good aspects.
Best Aspect: Action: This is really the largest redeeming quality of Attack of the Clones. The action sequences are great, aside from the Yoda and Dooku fight, which was a CGI mess. The Battle of Geonosis was still as fun as I remembered it to be from when I was a kid, and the lightsaber fights are still fun to watch. Like The Rise of Skywalker, this film is not so bad if you turn your brain off and watch only for the action sequences.
Worst Aspect: Dialogue: The dialogue in this movie is one of the worst I have ever had the displeasure of listening to. There's a reason why the prequels are the largest supplier of Star Wars memes. It's because of the shaky, uninteresting, and uninspired dialogue. Every time a character spoke it was as if I was back in middle school trying to write my essays like Shakespeare in the hope that my teacher would perceive me as being intelligent. Take the garbage dialogue and pair it with the awkward love scenes with Anakin and Padme and you have yourself literal torture. I'm sure a form of CIA torture methods include having prisoners listen to those scenes between Anakin and Padme. The film wouldn't be so bad if the dialogue wasn't trying to sound so smart and sophisticated, because it falls flat in that regard.
#6: The Last Jedi (2017)
Introduction: One of the most controversial Star Wars films, The Last Jedi has its fair share of ups and downs in terms of how well of a movie it is. On one hand, there are phenomenal scenes and imagery, thanks to the beautiful cinematography. There would be a well-made scenes such as Luke vs. Kylo Ren on Crait, but then the film would show you Rose stopping Finn from sacrificing himself and saving the Resistance, just so she could kiss him. This movie is a mess, but it was one that I still quite enjoyed viewing.
Best Aspect: Luke’s Character: I know many would probably disagree with me on this point, but I feel that Luke’s character in The Last Jedi was handled very well. To have Luke learn that failure is the best teacher, and to have him redeem himself and help save the remaining members of the Resistance, it was all done so well. Sure, I didn’t really like the reason why Luke became a hermit, because it literally contradicts what he did at Return of the Jedi, but the way Rian Johnson handled Luke slowly coming out from his hiding and being the hero one last time was amazing. That scene of Luke on Crait was definitely one of my favorite moments in Star Wars.
Worst Aspect: Failed Comedy: There are quite a number of things wrong with this film, but I think the “comedy” is the worst. The film tries too hard to be a Marvel movie, and it falls flat in that regard. The movie starts out with Poe making a joke about Hux’s mother, and although I did chuckle at it, I question whether it was because it was genuinely funny, or if it were because I couldn’t believe they thought that joke would make the audience laugh. Very few times did this film make me laugh, and most of the time the comedy was made up of gags and dry, unenthusiastic jokes. I hated how the film tried to incorporate comedy into the story, because the movie was very entertaining when it took a serious tone for things, such as the Luke vs. Kylo Ren duel, or when Luke approached Leia on Crait. It was so well-made, but the stupid forced comedy, especially that found in the Canto Bight part of the film, brought down the quality of the movie.
#5: The Force Awakens (2015)
Introduction: I was hyped to see this movie when it was announced. Back in 2015, it had been over 10 years since the last Star Wars film, and I was excited to see what was in store for me. And I was not disappointed. This movie was fun and provided a great sense of adventure into the franchise, something that I feel the majority of the prequels failed to accomplish. This was the start of the sequel franchise, and needless to say, this was the best of the three.
Best Aspect: A Fun Film: This film is one of the more fun ones to watch when looking at the Star Wars saga. It has great CGI and a great soundtrack, courtesy of John Williams, and all of this equaled to a movie that was very much enjoyable. The new characters were interesting and it was great reconnecting with Han and Leia after the original trilogy. Overall, this was a film that I could watch more than a few times, just because of how fun and entertaining it is. This is, yet again, another film that works best if you don’t pay much attention to things such as plot, because in that regard, this film is a bit lackluster.
Worst Aspect: Unoriginal Plot: This film is essentially A New Hope 2.0 in the sense that it follows the same major plot points, and all the characters are similar to those of the original trilogy. Rey is Luke, Kylo Ren is Vader, Hux is Tarkin, Han is a smuggler again, and Chewbacca is still himself, as always. The plot really did not feel all that different, and I think that was what J.J. Abrams was going for, seeing that the parallels between The Force Awakens and A New Hope can’t possibly be accidental. But I did not like this direction. It would have been better of following a different plot, rather than the same old plot of there being a big bad weapon that conveniently has a weak spot that gets exploited and the day is won for the good guys. After some time, it gets old and boring. I feel that they followed the plot of A New Hope a bit too much to the point where this film seems to copy the other verbatim.
#4: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Introduction: The last film of the original trilogy, this was one that I did not necessarily enjoy all that much at first. Following the coattails of the widely successful and popular The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi had a big act to follow. And for the most part, it did well in that regard. The conclusion of the film was great, and the stakes were high. As stated before, I didn’t initially like this film, but it grew on me as I watched it more and more. It was a good end for the trilogy, and it was overall a well-made movie.
Best Aspect: Duel on the Death Star II: The fight between Luke and Vader was amazing. It had so much emotional tension to it, and the performances were amazing as well. Luke getting angered by Vader upon him mentioning Leia was impactful, as soon the audience witnessed Luke go crazy and beat down Vader and take his arm off. After, Luke showed remorse and regret for what he did, showing that he was and still is, the most relatable character in the franchise. The entire lead up of Vader’s redemption came from this fight, and Luke’s hesitation to kill Vader because he saw good in him. It was all done so well and I applaud the movie for taking that route, as I believe it was the best thing, they could have done with ending the franchise. Kill Palpatine, redeem Vader, and have Luke save the Rebellion and destroy the Empire.
Worst Aspect: Endor: Don’t get me wrong, the Battle on Endor was entertaining, but it was also stupid if you were to look back on it. I’m mainly referring to the Ewoks. I hated the idea of the Ewoks. They are to Return of the Jedi that the Porgs were to The Last Jedi. Essentially, both were put in the film for marketing purposes and to sell toys. This can be seen when viewing any scene with the Ewoks, because they provide no point to any of the scenes, they are in. You could take out the Ewoks from the Battle of Endor, and it would make the conclusion much better. Instead we got teddy bears taking down a highly trained and deadly marine corps, just by using sticks and rocks. They saw that kids liked Star Wars, and so they decided to bank off of that, by putting in teddy bears to make as plushies. This of course did not ruin the film, but it did make the main conflict feel a bit silly and childish when, again, you had teddy bears taking down literal space marines.
#3: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Introduction: This film is the best of the prequels, and by a long shot. Although the film is notorious for its awkward dialogue, which is what the prequels are known for, it still connected perfectly to the story of the original trilogy, and it was by far my favorite movie as a kid growing up. The score by John Williams, the plot, the conclusion, it was all done so well, that it is 3rd on my list of best Star Wars films.
Best Aspect: Duel on Mustafar: You know that I was going to put this here. Of course, the last part of the film is its greatest. The conflict between Obi-Wan and Anakin was emotional and fun to watch. The lightsaber fight was choreography perfectly, and the scene when Anakin is burning and Obi-Wan shouted, “You were my brother, Anakin!” That broke me. That line hit the hardest, and it is one of the best lines from Star Wars, rivaled only by Leia and Han’s “I love you” and “I know” lines from The Empire Strikes Back. My only complaint about the ending of this film was the reason at which Padme died, because, that was a really stupid reason. Sadness? She died of sadness? They couldn’t have just made her die because of complications during childbirth? But that is beside the point. The soundtrack that accompanied this duel is my favorite song from Star Wars. "Battle of the Heroes" is such a great song that fit well into the tone and mood of the duel. The ending was still one of the best in Star Wars, and if it were not for the shaky first half of the film that was not made as well as the other half, Revenge of the Sith would be higher on this list.
Worst Aspect: Padme and Anakin's relationship: I never enjoyed the romance between Padme and Anakin, as it drove me to cringe when hearing the shaky dialogue. This was not a large problem, nor was the obligatory garbage dialogue of the prequels, because this film notched down the bad dialogue, and I can actually listen to what characters are saying without having to cringe. Nonetheless, the dialogue only makes the awkward romance worse. I really could not convince myself that Padme and Anakin were in love because of how terrible the relationship was. Compare Padme's and Anakin's relationship to that of Han and Leia. Han and Leia's relationship was realistic and organic, while Padme and Anakin's seemed forced and not organic. Again, this was not a huge deal breaker for me with this movie, it's just that any scene with Padme and Anakin together was awkward.
#2: A New Hope (1977)
Introduction: The film that started it all, this was a technical marvel of a film. It was this film that not only started the Star Wars franchise, but it also acted as the flagship for the Sci-Fi genre and inspired a whole genre of film. For what it is, this film is great. The characters are great and you care about them, the plot is unique and interesting, and the special effects still hold up to this day.
Best Aspect: Influence: The pinnacle part of this film would have to be its influence over pop culture and media. It features everything that is associated with Star Wars, that being Luke, Vader, Leai, Han, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, X-Wings, Tie-fighters, and the Death Star. This is a great film to watch regardless of the reason, that being whether you want to view a story featuring great characters, or if want to have fun, or if you want to relive the nostalgia that you had gotten when viewing this. Overall, the best aspect of this film is that it is a cultural behemoth and that alone constitutes this film as being #2 on the ranking of best Star Wars films.
Worst Aspect: Special Effects Limitations: Albeit the film does have some pretty good special effects for the time, rewatching it in 2020 does reveal the somewhat wonky looking effects. Of course, this film was made in 1978, and at the time it was a technical marvel, but as said before, viewing this film in the present, it is the worst looking of all 9 films. Nonetheless, this does not negate the fact that the #2 spot on this list most definitely deserves to be given to A New Hope.
#1: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Introduction: Let's be honest here, this was obviously going to be put at the #1 spot. This film is usually always considered to be the best Star Wars film because it does everything so well. This film is always fun to watch and serves as one of the few sequels in film history that is better than the original.
Best Aspect: Luke and Vader Duel: The famous Bespin duel scene is considered one of the best fight scenes in film history. The tension and the entire fight definitely outweighs any fight that is in the prequels or sequels. The atmosphere and tone greatly helps to serve the tension, and the fact that the duel ended with Luke losing because he did not head to Yoda's warning. It teaches Luke about failure and it does it so well. Also, the "I am your father" revelation was one of the best surprises to have ever occured in a film.
Worst Aspect: No Idea: To be quite honest, I have no idea what the worst aspect of this film is. There are parts of it in which I did not fully enjoy, however I feel that those are nitpicks. There really is not a large glaring problem with this film, and I feel that it does everything well. Of course, this does not mean that the film is perfect, no movie is. However, it's made so well that it most definitely deserves to be placed here at the #1 spot.
© 2020 Danny Grove