Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.
Star Wars is one of the most iconic and important franchises in pop culture. There are people who often treat the series like a religion by buying all the merchandise and memorizing every piece of trivia from the movies. It is so engrained in our culture that even if you have not seen the movies, you probably know who Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are. However, with passionate fans comes a lot of differences in opinions, and sometimes these debates get heated between fans, especially with the newer movies. Star Wars has had its share of division between the fans, but all the fans can agree that Star Wars is awesome. Here is my ranking of all the Star Wars movies (so far).
11. Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones is easily the sloppiest Star Wars movie. The story is very boring and spends way too much time with the love story between Padme and Anakin, which is by far the worst part of this movie. The dialogue between them is very awkward and unrealistic. It's hard to tell whether Hayden Christensen is a bad actor or the dialogue is just so bad it's impossible to make it work. Natalie Portman is an excellent actress as we've seen, but she can't figure out how to make this role work. Besides that, Portman and Christensen have very little chemistry in their weird, honestly creepy relationship. The film also has way too much CGI that has not aged gracefully. All the action scenes look like a cutscene from a video game since everything is computer generated. The lightsaber scenes aren't even cool since there is so much CGI going on. It is not all bad, though. There are some good elements, such as the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett and John Williams score, but most of this movie is cringey and boring. It is cool to see so many Jedi, but even then, they don't do much except talk about politics, which isn't interesting at all. Even the title doesn't make any sense as the clones never actually attack. This film has a lot of problems and is definitely the worst Star Wars movie.
10. The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace has a lot of the same problems that Attack of the Clones. The acting is very bad, the dialogue is awkward and cheesy, and the story is pretty boring. The start of Anakin and Padme's relationship is very strange and Jake Lloyd's performance as young Anakin is unfortunately very awkward. Probably the worst feature of this movie is Jar-Jar Binks, who is by far the worst Star Wars character. He is so bad that Lucas supposedly had to limit this character's screen time in later movies because fans hated him so much. On top of that, there is a plethora of racial and cultural stereotypes portrayed in many of the characters. There is way too much CGI usage in this movie and it does not hold up at all now. This movie isn't that old, but the effects in the original trilogy honestly look way better. Even the inclusion of more Jedi is very boring as all they do is sit around talking about galactic taxation. There are really only two reasons why this movie is higher than Attack of the Clones. There are fun moments to be had, such as the pod racing sequence, but there is really only one scene that boosts this movie ahead of Attack of the Clones and that is the lightsaber fight between Qui-gon Jin, Obi-wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul. It may be over-choreographed at times, but Darth Maul is a cool villain and the fighting is done pretty well. John Williams' Duel of the Fates in the background is one of the best pieces of Star Wars music and really adds to the battle. The Phantom Menace is very similar to Attack of the Clones in terms of quality, but if I had to pick one or the other, I'd choose Phantom Menace simply for the Darth Maul battle.
9. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo is honestly a pretty fun movie. I like a lot of the action scenes and there are a lot of likable characters. Alden Eirenreich is a solid Han Solo and is able to be convincing without having to do a total impersonation of Harrison Ford. Donald Glover is also a perfect Lando and really captures the smoothness that Billy Dee Williams brought to the character. I also liked Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke as additions to the crew and, of course, it is always great to see Chewbacca. However, this movie is just forgettable. It's not bad, but it's nothing special. It feels like a cool, sci-fi action movie, but doesn't necessarily feel like a Star Wars movie. The film is also very weirdly shot as many scenes only have one color or are shot so dark that it is impossible to see what is happening. I think Ron Howard did make some odd choices in his direction, but he does a good job for the most part. There are also moments that tried to set up origins for certain pieces of Han Solo's character and they felt very forced. This is an enjoyable movie, but if I don't see more of Ehrenreich's Solo, I don't think I'd be too disappointed.
8. Rise of Skywalker
This movie had an unfortunately tough task at hand. It needed to try to appease Star Wars fans who hated The Last Jedi as well as pleasing fans who actually liked this new trilogy. Unfortunately, it didn't really do either. There is enjoyment to be had with this movie. It has a very fast pace and fun action sequences. It is pretty well shot and looks great. J.J. Abrams at least directed the movie decently enough. The main issue with Rise of Skywalker is the script. It is clear that Palpatine's involvement was a last minute decision by the studio after the events of The Last Jedi. Even though it is always great to see Ian McDiamid as Palpatine, the way he is brought in does not make a lot of sense and is poorly explained. There is way too much exposition in this movie and a lot of plot holes. The best part of this movie is Rey and Kylo Ren's story and their connection, even though I wasn't a fan of where it ended up. Finn and Poe, unfortunately, have been sidelined and feel like their storylines were not given nearly enough attention. I was a fan of this trilogy, but just didn't really like where this film took it. It is clear that Lucasfilm just didn't have a clear direction where they wanted to go with the trilogy when they started it. There are ideas set up in The Last Jedi that I thought were very interesting that were completely ignored by this movie. I have a lot of issues with this movie, but I can't say I wasn't entertained while watching it. This movie is entertaining enough, but the glaring issues with the script really bring this movie down.
7. The Last Jedi
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The Last Jedi is a tricky one in terms of where I stand on it. There are things about The Last Jedi that I absolutely love. I think that everything involving Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren is great. It brings up interesting ideas that have never been in Star Wars and challenges some of the previous concepts in the franchise. Mark Hamill is great as Luke in the movie and I personally like the direction that the movie went with his character. It didn't go in an easy direction and I respect this movie for taking a lot of risks. That being said, the other two story lines are definitely not as strong. Finn and Rose's storyline could be completely erased from this movie and nothing changes. It is pointless and honestly just isn't very interesting. The casino stuff feels out of place and it just felt like a waste of time. Poe's story line is better, but it just feels like it is taking away from the scenes with Rey and Kylo Ren. Aside from the story, I do think that this is the best looking film in terms of direction. Rian Johnson really does an excellent job at filming space battles and fights. The last scene on Crait is just beautiful to look at. I know that this is a very controversial film and really divided the fan base for this trilogy. Overall, I am on the side of liking The Last Jedi. Despite its flaws, there are certain ideas and concepts that I found to be new and exciting that had me really appreciating what this movie has to offer.
6. Revenge of the Sith
Similar to The Last Jedi, there is a lot to like about Revenge of the Sith, but it still has a bunch of problems. This was the film that was meant to show Anakin's completion to the dark side and there are moments that work and moments that don't. I think that Palpatine's manipulation of Anakin is done really well. Ian McDiarmid is great and Hayden Christiensen is not great, but he's still much better than he was in Attack of the Clones. However, I think Anakin's full transition is done way too quickly. One minute he is trying to follow the Jedi way and then the next, he is murdering children (or younglings as they are called). I was never convinced that he became evil that quick. Ewan Mcgregor is probably the best part of this movie as Obi-wan as you can tell that he clearly loves playing this character. His charisma and charm just flies off the screen. Like I said, this movie is a bit of a mixed bag. There are a lot of cool action scenes, the CGI has improved a lot over the other prequels, but the movie still devotes a lot of time to Anakin and Padme's crappy romance. Christiensen and Portman have zero chemistry and are given the worst dialogue. Despite these flaws, I have grown an appreciation for this movie over the years as some moments have become iconic within the Star Wars community. The fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, Obi-Wan vs. Grievous, and Palpatine's dialogue have just created some great moments that are celebrated by Star Wars fans. It is unclear whether these scenes are cherished because they are great or just so damn cheesy, but either way, they are a lot of fun. This movie is easily the best of the prequel trilogy. Revenge of the Sith is a movie that still has a bunch of flaws, but it is easily one of the most entertaining Star Wars movies, which is why it is placed here in the ranking.
5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One is the first movie on this ranking that I think is a great movie. It does take its time in terms of pacing, but the final act of this movie is epic. The space battles look amazing and feature some of the best action in Star Wars. The film does a good job at connecting to the other movies without any of the scenes feeling forced. The only place where this movie falters is with its two main characters. They're not bad, but just somewhat forgettable. They aren't very charming and don't feel very unique. I know that they are one-off characters, but I wanted to feel more when they died (spoiler alert) than I actually did. I do like a lot of the supporting characters, however. Alan Tudyk as K-2S0 is one of my favorite droids and Ben Mendelsohn is a good Star Wars villain. The film also does feel a bit slow in the beginning, but definitely turns it on in the third act. Rogue One is a really cool film that gives Star Wars fans a taste of the old while still bringing something new.
4. The Force Awakens
It really is a bummer that the sequel trilogy didn't turn out to be great because this movie did a great job at setting it up. Is it almost beat for beat A New Hope? Yes, but I understand why. You needed to introduce a new generation to Star Wars, while also reminding Star Wars fans why they love Star Wars. The new characters are also really good. Daisy Ridley is great as Rey and is very likable. Finn has a very interesting story that unfortunately didn't go anywhere and Poe is a really cool pilot. BB-8 is one of the best droids in the franchise and is adorable. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren ended up being my favorite part of this trilogy and is set up very well here. Harrison Ford is still great as Han Solo and him and Chewbacca continue their great chemistry. I also really respect for bringing back a focus on practical effects, while still using some good CGI. The Force Awakens is formulaic, but honestly it is a formula that still works very well.
3. Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is definitely the most action-packed of the original trilogy. The final battle between the Empire and the rebellion is epic, especially the battle involving Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Emperor Palpatine. That scene is incredibly tense and features a great lightsaber battle between Luke and Vader. Palpatine is just such a delight to watch as he chews up every scene he is in. The Endor stuff is a lot of fun and Lando leading the charge in space is great. The only flaw in this movie is that the opening sequence in Jabba's palace is just too long and features some very strange moments. Empire Strikes Back created very mature themes and the Jabba stuff just seems very goofy. I know some people don't like the Ewoks, but personally I don't mind them, however, seeing stormtroopers and walkers getting take down by rocks and spears does seem out of place. Those things aside, you come to Return of the Jedi to see the ending of this great trilogy and it really delivers. It ends very strongly, even if it is the weakest of the original trilogy, but that it does have tough competition.
2. A New Hope
A New Hope is the one that started it all and it is still one of the best movies. It introduces us to this world incredibly well through the eyes of Luke Skywalker, played wonderfully by Mark Hamill. We get other great characters like Han Solo, Leia, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Obi-wan Kenobi, who are all iconic characters. It is a typical hero's journey where a supposedly random kid must rise to the challenge to take on an enemy much larger than himself, but the lore of this universe makes it so endearing, along with the great characters. There are elements that have not held up as well. The battles don't look as good when compared to modern battle scenes and there is a lot of cheesiness, but it just adds to the nostalgia for this movie. Obi-wan training Luke and teaching him the ways of the Jedi perfectly captures why Star Wars is such a unique and beloved franchise. The physical sets and John William's score also help to create an amazing sci-fi atmosphere. A New Hope still holds up very well and did an excellent job creating a franchise that is still loved more than 40 years later.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back takes everything great about A New Hope and expands on it. It digs deeper into the lore, yet also gets much darker in terms of its themes, to the point that it doesn't even end with a happy ending. It leaves us wondering whether our heroes are even going to win. What people remember most from this movie is the plot twist that Darth Vader is Luke's dad. It is unfortunate that this is so synonymous with modern pop culture that it is now spoiled for everyone, but I imagine for people who don't know that this is a great twist. The twist really adds a new dimension to the dynamic between the hero and the villain that makes their opposition a lot more interesting. I love the addition of Yoda as the wise, mysterious Jedi and the way that the dark side looms over the film. Han and Leia also have great chemistry and Han became my favorite Star Wars character after this movie. Billy Dee Williams as Lando is another great addition. I really appreciate this movie for having a darker tone and challenging our main characters. It puts them in more perilous scenarios which makes Return of the Jedi even more satisfying. The Empire Strikes Back is not only the best Star Wars movies, but is also one of the best sequels ever made.