The Mandalorian has breathed new life into the Star Wars universe. It's hard to tell if there will ever be another Star Wars movie, or if new offerings will only be a Disney+ series.
If that's the end of the movies, it's worth taking a look back to rank all 11 of them and this order will go from worst to first.
Attack of the Clones
Many people strongly dislike this movie and it comes in at last choice. The acting is bad; it looks like one long video game, and it just feels so clunky and lost.
This was one of the first movies that was shot 100% digitally. The issue is they filled the screen with as much technology and CGI as possible and this just distracts from the heart and soul of Star Wars.
Here, technology takes precedence over everything else. This was the second part of a new trilogy and many had expectations for another Empire Strikes Back. But the film just seemed to drag on talking about trade embargos and government issues.
The Phantom Menace
In fairness, how in the world was this movie going to live up to the hype? It was borderline impossible, but it has some redeeming moments.
Most people wanted more of a rehash of the original trilogy, but that wasn’t the point of this film. Still, when it first came out, many left the theatre feeling hopelessly let down.
What stands out is the pod racer scene, the Darth Maul duel, and some of the best music John Williams has ever composed. It’s unfair to criticize something for not being exactly like the original movies: because we still have those to go back to.
The problem is The Phantom Menace completely lost the tone created by the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It seemed a little too cartoony and having Jar Jar Binks didn’t help, either.
The most telling sign that The Phantom Menace didn’t work is from the documentary “The Beginning: Making Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace.” As he watches some first cuts of the film, you can see the dread coming over George Lucas.
Revenge of the Sith
Many felt like they sat through all the prequels just for the last 10 minutes of this movie. It’s definitely the best of the original prequels, that’s not saying much.
The darker tone of this film and seeing Anakin’s descent into Darth Vader are some of the high points. Ewan McGregor is great as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The progression of Palpatine into what will ultimately be the Emperor is also interesting to watch. With Revenge of the Sith, the prequels ended on a high note. Finally, these movies were all connected.
The problem is there’s not a lot that’s memorable in Revenge of the Sith. But it ties up Anakin’s journey.
And that’s the best way to look at all 9 movies: The originals are about Luke; the prequels about Anakin, and the last three about Rey.
The Last Jedi
The movie that caused a massive division. Many people despised this film, and some thought it was brilliant.
Reactions were strong, and this is the movie that pushed people away from Star Wars for good. The lack of consistency is the core issue. It just seems so disjointed; Rey’s background now meant nothing; we had a new Supreme Leader out of nowhere, and a lot of it was eye-rolling.
The Last Jedi left a lot of people concerned with the direction of the Star Wars universe. However, it’s visually stunning and probably has the most impressive visuals of anything in all of Star Wars.
The public was pretty indifferent about Solo. it should have been a huge hit: but wasn't. It still is a fun adventure.
This movie faced a lot of disjointedness and Ron Howard had to be brought in to finish it--and it shows. At its core, Solo is a heist movie, and that’s what makes it fun.
The problem is Han Solo takes a back seat to too many other characters. Donald Glover is superb as Lando and seeing the origin of when Han and Chewbacca met fills in a lot of gaps. It’s still good, but not as great as it could have been.
The Rise of Skywalker
J.J. Abrams had a mess on his hands. He had to come in and try to put the pieces together to conclude this trilogy.
The return of the Emperor also caused a lot of division among fans. They made him even more sinister and the scenes of his return and confrontations with Rey are wonderfully intense.
The ending seemed a little too similar to Avengers: End Game, but it was the culmination of over 40 years so was to be expected.
We finally got some clarity regarding Rey’s lineage. Many were hoping she was a Kenobi, but it created a better dynamic than her having no lineage.
As a series, this ended as well as it could. Many didn’t like that they had to go back to the well and bring back the Emperor, but it was a simple way to tie together the entire legacy.
The Force Awakens
There was so much anticipation for this movie. It had been so long since Revenge of the Sith, and expectations were through the roof.
Looking back, it may not be as great as we originally thought—but it made a great impression when it was first released. It was a happy surprise that The Force Awakens was good.
Many expected the worst and got a glorious return to the Star Wars universe. With enough time passed, it does seem like a rehash of a New Hope, but that doesn’t diminish it.
It gave Han Solo the send-off that Harrison Ford had always wanted, and seeing Star Wars in a new world of advanced technology made it feel right.
Rey is a great character, and it’s filled with some iconic imagery. Kylo Ren works well as a suitable adversary and I think Adam Driver is brilliant in it.
It’s easy to re-watch The Force Awakens, and it feels as if it will hold up well for years.
A New Hope
The film that started it all. When you go back to watch it, it’s pretty cheesy. The dialogue is absurd, and the performances aren’t that great.
The story is also very simple. But that doesn’t matter. This movie is still astonishing when you consider it’s now considered middle-aged. If you watch a 4K copy of it, it looks like it was made only 5 years ago.
Even with the technical limitations of the 1970s: it’s a remarkable spectacle. Star Wars, along with Jaws, changed movies forever and created the blockbuster as we know it.
Fun Fact: we get the term blockbuster from lines at movie theaters stretched around the blocks trying to get into Jaw and Star Wars.
Many love Rogue One as it improves the viewing of the original Star Wars. This movie is unique in that it's based on just two lines from the opening crawl in A New Hope.
It’s dark, violent, and lets us deep into the characters. It has one the best scene in all of Star Wars when Vader destroys everyone while trying to retrieve the stolen Death Star plans.
This movie--and that scene--put in place the essence of Star Wars and Vader’s revelation of the coming rebellion. Everything that happens in this movie feels important because we know how it will play out.
It feels raw and gritty. The battle scenes are astonishing and it created some of the best drama of any of the movies.
The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back was thankfully not a rehash of the original and took us deep into Star Wars mythology. We got a better understanding of who Luke Skywalker is and it contains the best reveal in movie history.
It’s also visually stunning. It had only been three years since A New Hope, but the advances in filmmaking and technology seemed to jump by light-years. If Star Wars was more of a kid’s movie, The Empire Strikes Back became more adult.
As writer Lawrence Kadsen says, the second part of a three-act play is often when things go to hell, and that’s often the best act in a play.
That’s exactly what happens in The Empire Strikes Back. We are left very unsure of things with no idea where we’ll go from here. More than forty years later: this movie is still flawless.
Return of the Jedi
At number one is Return of the Jedi. This is the film that brought everything together so perfectly. What makes it stand out is the excitement and action throughout the entire film.
Where The Empire Strikes Back slowed things down: Return of the Jedi came back full throttle.
The space battles were epic, we saw the destruction of Jabba the Hutt, and experienced the battle on the forest moon of Endor. It reveals Anakin Skywalker's true humanity and wraps up the whole trilogy nicely.
We see the full journey of Luke. It shows how resilience and heart can overcome any obstacles. In this case: the little guy won.
Return of the Jedi has always been the favorite of many and each time you watch it, you're transported back to that little kid who was in absolute awe of what they were seeing.
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