Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his writings will help launch his careers.
Star Wars has been around since 1977, dazzling one and all and gathering a huge fanbase in the process. Some are great, some not so great. So which one's the best? Which is the worst? Below I have arranged all the Star Wars films, including the animated The Clone Wars film, from best to worst. At the bottom, I have listed all the films in chronological order with my ratings of each film.
#1: The Empire Strikes Back
I consider The Empire Strikes Back as the best film of the series. Not only was the story intriguing, but it was more of a thriller because you never knew who to trust. The film was full of surprises and a rather intense face off between Luke and Vader that ended with the most shocking twist of all. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
#2: A New Hope
A New Hope was the film that started it all, thrusting us into a space battle first thing. This film had some revolutionary camera work and incredible effects for its time, making each moment feel real. There was a lot of humor and a lot of tense moments, but the best scene was also the most emotional one which set Luke on his path to greatness. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
#3: Rogue One
I must admit, when I first heard about the plot for Rogue One, I wasn't too excited for it. I figured what we needed to know was explained during the title crawl of A New Hope and that this film would be pointless. Well, I'm here to tell you I was wrong. Rogue One had so much more depth and meaning to it than I ever thought it would. It's safe to say I severely misjudged it.
The story begins with Galen Erso nudging his family out the door, telling them to hide. Orson Krennic and a few stormtroopers are arriving to take Galen back to their ship so he can help finish constructing the Death Star. Years later, we see Jyn has grown up and has been getting into a bit of trouble on her own. She is rescued by the Rebels and soon finds out her father is still alive. The Rebels assume him to be an enemy and want Jyn to help them find him.
If you've seen the other Star Wars films, then you pretty much tell what's coming, especially toward the end. If you are new to the series and know nothing about Star Wars, then you'll find the film shocking and emotional. For the true fans, it's hard to get emotional during this film because the ultimate outcome is obvious. That's not to say the film is bad in any way because it's extraordinary. You still cared about the characters and the film was still remarkably well done, especially the battle sequences.
Tony Gilroy was one of the main writers of the film, which was a huge help. If you don't know, Mr. Gilroy wrote the first four Bourne films. If that's not reason enough to see Rogue One, I don't know what is.
The acting was wonderful. Felicity Jones, Alan Tudyk, and Donnie Yen were the shining stars of the film. The actors worked so well together and had such a great chemistry with one another that it's almost a shame this is a "one shot" film, meaning it will not have its own sequel seeing as how A New Hope picks up immediately where this one leaves off.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed and entertained. I recommend this to all fans, new and old alike. I give the film a 4 out of 4. I didn't like the fact that the iconic title crawl with the Main Theme in the background was not included. That may be because this was not an official "Episode" like the other films, but honestly that's what makes Star Wars special and unique to its fans. I'm not going to count off for it though because in the grand scheme of things, it's a small flaw. Other than that, the film was perfect.
#4: The Rise of Skywalker
I've loved the past two films in the new Star Wars trilogy. Despite what haters skulking around on social media might have you believe, the films have been full of heart and humor and brought out the best of what we loved about the original trilogy. I'd very much been looking forward to the final chapter and my hopes were not wasted.
The new film, The Rise of Skywalker, follows several different story lines before finally merging into one. First, Kylo Ren has become Supreme Leader and is searching for a Sith Wayfinder in order to track down the still-living Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine makes a few incredible revelations and Kylo's sent on his way to track down Rey. That brings us to our second plot point. Rey, who has been training hard since the events of The Last Jedi, makes a discovery of her own and decides to also go in search for the second Sith Wayfinder in the hopes of finding and stopping Palpatine. Poe and Finn elect to go with her. Our third plot point merges the two stories together and brings us one spectacular final battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
Okay, so, obviously the film has a lot of story and a lot to get through in just a couple hours. The film requires your attention and certainly deserves it. JJ Abrams somehow managed to pull together all the loose ends and deliver not only a great story but also a great finale. There's two face-offs between Rey and Kylo and one final showdown between Rey and the Emperor. We pretty much all knew it was coming down to this, but the way the story unfolds doesn't feel predictable at all, especially with that outstanding opening scene. Don't worry, there are answers given to all the questions that have been raised over the past two films.
One concern I had going into the film was just how Leia's story would be handled since Carrie Fisher tragically passed away. JJ brilliantly pulled off the archival footage, making it look as if she was still with us.
I felt that the film was perfectly paced and, considering how much ground was needed to be covered, nothing felt rushed. I never once wondered what time it was or how much longer was left in the film. From the opening titles to the end credits, I was hooked.
Side note: listen carefully during the final showdown. There's a ton of cameos of past Jedi Masters speaking to Rey. I could hear Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Yoda, and Qui-Gon for sure. There supposedly was a few more but I'd have to revisit the scene to catch the others. Let me know if you heard any others once you see the film!
In conclusion, I have zero complaints. I loved the film and I felt that it was a fantastic conclusion to a spectacular saga. I'm looking forward to what the future holds, from The Mandalorian to the announced Kenobi series and, who knows, there may be more films in the future! We'll just have to wait and see. I give The Rise of Skywalker a perfect 4 out of 4.
#5: The Force Awakens
The last we saw of Luke Skywalker was in Return of the Jedi in 1983. 32 years later, we are given a new film and teased with Luke's grand return. We also meet a young woman who is about to find out just how special her destiny really is. Even though there were some similarities to A New Hope, this film stood on its own very well and helped usher in a new generation of people to the Star Wars franchise. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
I love when a film surpasses expectations, especially when those expectations were low to begin with. When the Han Solo film was announced, I was convinced there was no one who could possibly replace Harrison Ford. I fully expected Solo to fall flat. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the film turned out and I have to give full marks to Alden Ehrenreich for successfully channeling Harrison Ford into his role as young Han Solo. Full marks are also given to Donald Glover for his excellent performance as Lando Calrissian. Donald didn't just channel Billy Dee Williams, but he also changed his voice so that he sounded identical to Billy Dee. If you closed your eyes, you almost wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two.
The film follows young Han Solo as he and his sweetheart Qi'ra attempt to escape their home planet of Corellia. After being separated, Han joined the Imperial Army in order to train to be a pilot. He was kicked out of the flight academy and put with the ground forces. There, he meets Tobias Beckett, an undercover thug who was preparing to escape the Empire's grasp and rob them blind. Han joins his team and thus begins the legend.
Before going into the film, I had a small list of events mentioned throughout the Star Wars films that I wanted to see explained in this film. How did Han meet Chewbacca? How did Han acquire the Millennium Falcon from Lando? What is the meaning of those gold dice Han always has in the cockpit? And what exactly is the Kessel run? All these things are explained and brought to light in this film. In fact, it pretty much sums up Han's greatest hits so to speak and brings us to the point where we meet him in A New Hope. While there's still a good 10 years of untold story between the end of Solo and the beginning of A New Hope, we at least now know the origins behind the legend.
There's only one negative comment that I have about the film. Lando's companion droid L3 seemed like a real waste of time and space. Yes, there were a few comedic moments from her but L3's presence just felt like a cashout after the popularity of fan favorite K2-SO in Rogue One. There doesn't need to be a smartass droid in every film. Don't try to improve on perfection.
In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised by the film and I fully acknowledge the brilliance behind it. Director Ron Howard pulled off a fun adventure and the father-son writing duo did a great job incorporating original to new. I give Solo: A Star Wars Story a 3.5 out of 4.
#7: Return of the Jedi
The film that wrapped up the initial trilogy had its silly moments, but it was good fun and ended on a high note. The final face off between Luke and Vader was emotional and intense, giving us one last twist before we said goodbye to the galaxy far far away for a few years. I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.
#8: The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi is the 8th "episode" and 10th entry in the epic Star Wars saga. The film follows three storylines: 1) Rey on her journey to become a Jedi, 2) The Resistance as they face seemingly insurmountable odds, and 3) Kylo as he continues to try to overcome the conflict inside of him. The three stories eventually merge for one fantastic conflict that literally blows the mind and satisfies new and old fans alike.
Wow, I really don't even know where to start. I was so blown away by this film that I almost have no words to describe how fantastic this film is. Because this is a major series and everyone already has their own opinions about the franchise, I'm just going to jump right into the positives and negatives.
Let's go ahead and get the negatives out of the way. There were very few issues with the film and the issues are only minor. First of all, there were a few moments where you could tell that the Porgs were puppets. It could take away from the scene at times but thankfully those moments were limited to just two times. The other issue was a lack of information relating to Snoke and a slight letdown involving Rey's heritage.. I don't really hold this against the film because there still may be a big reveal in Episode IX in 2019. I won't go into details because that would be major spoilers but you'll see what I mean when you watch the film. Yep, those were the only two negatives.
Now we move to the best part of the review: the positives. The CGI was top-notch, the acting has improved greatly from Force Awakens and seeing Luke and Leia together again was heartwarming. There's a moment in the film between Luke and Leia that is already tearjerking enough but knowing that Carrie Fisher actually passed away made that moment truly heartbreaking. What stood out most of all was the surprises in the storyline. There's tons of twists which make me wonder just how Episode IX will unfold. Writer and director Rian Johnson showed his brilliance with this film. Sure, Looper displayed Rian's talents but this film exceeded all expectations and breathed a new life into not only the Star Wars saga but the sci-fi genre as a whole. Despite the minor flaws, I give The Last Jedi a 3.5 out of 4 just for the fact that it was the most fun I had at the theater in a long, long time.
#9: Revenge of the Sith
This was the film where we finally got to see Anakin's transition from good to evil, ultimately turning into Darth Vader. The biggest emotional hit is when Anakin succumbs to the Emperor's will and fully commits himself to the Dark Side. The fight scenes are all fantastic, but what really kills the film is the length. There are moments that could have been shortened or cut out but mostly this is a solid entry and a necessity to the saga. I give the film a 3 out of 4.
#10: The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace had its share of problems such as Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass, and a badly acted Anakin Skywalker. The emotional moments weren't as impactful as they should have been and Darth Maul was barely seen before being sliced in half, but I do have to acknowledge that the lightsaber duels and the space battle was amazingly choreographed and well directed. I give the film a 2.5 out of 4.
#11: The Clone Wars
Okay, yes, I know this isn't an "official" entry but it is a part of the series. It was released theatrically and served as the midpoint between seasons 2 and 3 of The Clone Wars TV series. The film itself was sloppy and not very well made. The animation was a new-gen type thing and I understand that. I may not be a fan of that particular style but it has become rather popular. What I'm deducing from this film was the fact that it seemed to drag along as if the writers made it up as they went rather than planning it out. The voice work was done by mostly different people, which also affected the film in a poor way. All in all, I give the film a 1.5 out of 4.
#12: Attack of the Clones
The biggest problem with this film was the fact that Anakin went from a confident, hopeful, big-dreamer to a whiny young adult. It absolutely killed the film. No one wants to listen to the hero of the film whine and complain and act like the universe will end if what they want isn't given to them. Several scenes were entirely too long or even unnecessary and the only good parts were the arena battle and the final saber duel. Overall, this was a poorly written and poorly acted film. I give it a 1 out of 4.
Complete Film List
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - 2.5 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones - 1 out of 4
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars - 1.5 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - 3 out of 4
- Solo: A Star Wars Story - 3.5 out of 4
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - 3.5 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - 4 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - 4 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - 3.5 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - 4 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi - 3.5 out of 4
- Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker - 4 out of 4
Star Wars is an epic journey, no doubt about it. Once you start and fall in love with the characters, you just can't stop reliving the journey. As we anxiously await Episode VIII, let us all enjoy the films we have and welcome new generations into the fold.
© 2016 Nathan Jasper