Star Wars, I love it with all my heart. However, I fell out of love with talking about it in recent years or sharing that joy with others because the conversation/fan base surrounding the franchise has gotten insanely toxic. But you know what? Screw that. I feel like talking about Star Wars, so here’s my definitive ranking of the live-action Star Wars films.
Opinions are my own, go debate with somebody who cares <3
11. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
The first Star Wars movie I ever saw in theaters (I was born in 98 gimme a break), I loved Attack of the Clones growing up. The amount of lightsaber action, as well as the entire battle on Geonosis, I ate it all up. I remember thinking Jango Fett was the coolest looking character ever. Of course, I’ve rewatched Episode II several times as a young adult, and man, it pains me to say it but that movie blows. It’s horribly written, awkward, and doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. This is the movie where the infamous “I hate sand” comes from. There are few redeemable elements.
10. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Let me ask you something - who is the main character of this movie? Serious question. The Phantom Menace has no direction, no heart, and worst of all, it’s boring. However! It has the Darth Maul vs Obi-Wan and Qui Gon duel, as well as Duel of the Fates, some of the best music in all of Star Wars. That alone is enough to propel it above Episode II.
9. Solo: A Star Wars Story
There is actually a scene in this movie where an imperial officer asks Han for his surname, to which Han replies “I don’t have one.” The officer then decides to call him “Solo” since he doesn’t have any people. I just think it’s remarkable that somebody wrote that scene and that it was actually shot and kept in the final cut. Madness. However, Solo has some damn good action sequences, and has just as good of special effects as you’re going to see in any Star Wars movie. Plus, we get Donald Glover as Lando, which was truly a gift.
8. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
I’ve never WANTED to love a movie more than I wanted to love The Rise of Skywalker when I saw it on opening night. I really do love the characters in the sequel trilogy, but felt like so many of them were done a disservice in this movie. Finn’s character fully devolves into just yelling “Rey!” every 5 minutes. We get a hint that he’s force sensitive, but it’s all ambiguous. Rey, one of my favorite Star Wars characters, is revealed to be a descendant of Palpatine. This decision erases nearly everything that I love about the character. She was a nobody, she didn’t have to come from something greater in order to be special. This entire movie felt like it was trying to appease the people that whined over The Last Jedi. Bummer.
7. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
As a kid, my two favorite movies of all time were Jurassic Park and Revenge of the Sith. An integral part of my childhood, I loved how epic this movie felt. Despite the fact that I now see all of its glaring issues, I can’t help but smile when I rewatch Episode 3. From Anakin and Obi-Wan’s emotional duel on Mustafar, to the sinister Palpatine becoming the iconic Emperor, Revenge of the Sith is easily the best of the Prequel trilogy.
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The very first Star Wars spinoff film, Rogue One is pretty solid. Most of the characters are fairly flat, but the movie is just so fun from start to finish. It’s a story we didn’t need, but I thought it was cool seeing how the Death Star plans were nabbed. The action sequences in this movie are also insanely good. Speaking of action, how about that Darth Vader hallway scene? The final 15 minutes alone make it better than a quarter of all the Star Wars movies. Many rank it as the best of the Disney-era Star Wars flicks, but I wouldn’t go that far.
5. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Surely the most controversial among the Star Wars movies, and easily the one I’m most tired of hearing about. The Last Jedi is not what I wanted, nor was expecting from a sequel to Episode VII, but I really do think it’s a damn good movie. It does so much for the franchise lore, expanding what we know about the force, while also giving some layers to the character of Luke Skywalker. We see how failure and defeat can ruin a person, as well as how everything in Star Wars doesn’t have to be black and white. The only thing that really bummed me out was that Rey and Finn are separated for the entirety of the movie, as their dynamic is one of my favorite aspects of the Sequel Trilogy.
4. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is an excellent close to the original Star Wars story arc. From the assault on Jabba’s Palace, to the wild battle on Endor, there’s so many memorable moments in Episode VI. My favorite scene is the battle between Luke and Vader in front of the Emperor. One of the most tense and emotional scenes in the entire series. Even as the worst movie in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi is one of the best in Star Wars.
3. Episode IV: A New Hope
The original Star Wars is easily one of the most influential films of all time, and for good reason. Interesting characters, a scary villain, and groundbreaking special effects. Luke, Han, and Leia have tremendous chemistry, with Carrie Fisher’s performance always being my personal favorite. Add on John Williams brilliant score, and you’ve got yourself an excellent space opera. One that changed film forever.
2. Episode VII: The Force Awakens
I could write another 1000 words on why I love The Force Awakens. I’ll never forget seeing this movie on opening night back in 2015, and the amount of joy it filled me with. It’s got everything that makes Star Wars amazing: thrilling action, drama, and heart. Rey is one of my favorite characters in the franchise, and I love that this movie introduces her as an absolute nobody. The message that any random person can rise to the occasion and be something special still resonates with me.
We also meet Finn, a defective Stormtrooper on his way to being a resistance hero. It’s a super original arc in a movie that is often criticized for being unoriginal. Finn’s relationship with Rey is one of the sharpest in the series. Look no further than the scene where they steal the Millennium Falcon and escape from the First Order on Jakku and the ensuing conversation as to the reason I love this movie so much.
Episode VII is full of amazing moments. The opening sequence with Kylo Ren and Poe, the escape from Jakku, the reunion of Han and Leia, Han Solo’s death, the battle between Rey and Kylo, and one of the best movie cliffhangers I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched it more than any other Star Wars movie, and putting it on always lifts my spirits and puts me in a good mood. While I may say that Empire is the best Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens is my favorite.
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The film lover in me simply won’t deny that The Empire Strikes back is the best Star Wars movie. I mean, hell, it’s in the conversation for best movie of all time. From the character growth, to the sense of danger, Empire is exhilarating from start to finish. It does exactly what a sequel is supposed to do, raise the stakes. Empire does this by dropping the greatest plot twist in movie history in its third act. It’s hard to find any negatives when talking about Episode V, it’s nearly a perfect film.
Wow! I did not mean to write 1300 words on this. I love all of Star Wars, even the worst movie on this list holds a special place in my heart. As a small child, a teenager, and now a young adult, I’ve learned so much from this franchise. It greatly shaped my outlook on pop culture and entertainment. Thanks for reading, may the force be with you!