With the recent addition of Star Wars sequels and anthology films, the hype for the globally acclaimed intergalactic franchise has never been greater. Fans chase after trivia, memes and Easter Eggs to make the best out of a vast and oh so interesting universe. Most of all, they spend time debating over what the “best” Star Wars movie is. Is it Return of the Jedi? Does The Force Awakens trump all other Episodes? Over the last 40 years, Star Wars fans have truly felt like a family but one thing that often tears them apart is this classic debate.
Although a dangerous path to take, here’s our attempt at ranking all Star Wars movies from 1977 until today…
10. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
The Phantom Menace was a highly anticipated prequel to the saga that seduced many fans around 20 years prior. An origin story giving an insight into the Skywalker family and featuring a whole new cast of characters sounded super-exciting after all, but unfortunately, in spite of the long-awaited special effects progress for the excited fan-base, the movie was a creative flop.
Alongside extremely flat acting, even from its amazing cast (Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in the lead roles), and embarrassing visuals, Episode I had a rather slow-paced, unengaging plot that left many people, even the greatest of fans, yawning. Let’s not forget the fact that Jar Jar Binks was the actual worst and child Anakin was pretty damn annoying.
9. Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones improved slightly compared to its preceding flop. To avoid more criticism, George Lucas attempted to add a little more action and excitement to his storyline. Unfortunately, the few redeeming qualities the movie had, such as Obi-Wan’s plot with the clones, was painfully dragged by an attempt to tell a powerful love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padme. In fact, the entire movie was just a tad too long.
It had cheesy dialogue, a terrible performance by Hayden Christensen Anderson and ridiculous CGI that made us want to pull our hair out. The result was cringeworthy at best and although the movie was better than its predecessor, it remains largely average and completely forgettable.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
It may have been one of the most successful movies of 2018 but in our opinion, Solo, the Star Wars anthology movie, had no reason to exist. This pointless side-story had hardly any visually pleasing scenes, a downright boring villain and action scenes that were pretty much all over the place. Simply put, Solo was probably the worst movie since Attack of the Clones. It featured a decent performance by Donald Glover as Lando and it was basically an excuse for us to see Emilia Clarke again. We said it from the start, Han didn’t need a prequel story, and especially one without starring the man himself, Harrison Ford.
7. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The final opus of the prequel trilogy was by far the best of the three. It didn’t reach the creative heights of the original Star Wars movies, or of the late 2010’s installments, but it still felt like a pretty legit film compared to the two failures that came before it. The actors suddenly seemed like they’d done some character research and it was as though Lucas finally realized where he was taking this story.
It took three movies to finally give fans what they’d been waiting for – at long last, we got to witness Anakin Skywalker’s descent into madness and his transformation into Darth Vader – I mean, that’s all we cared for since the start, am I right or am I right? Despite his cringe-worthy acting in the previous movies, Hayden Christensen actually did a good job in portraying Anakin’s downward spiral, to say the least.
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One was an ambitious and overall, very satisfying stand-alone Star Wars story that beautifully complemented the main plot with superb actors, perfect scenery and striking visuals. That being said, it never quite reached its full potential, with a slight imbalance in tone, some parts as gritty as a grounded war movie while others were much more in the line of a Disney franchise.
Overall it was a decent and watchable movie, but it gave the impression that it never quite knew where it was going. Hopping between locations, and far too many characters, it just didn’t hit the mark as expected. Despite this though, the cinematography was impressive and that scene with Darth Vader emerging from the shadows was crowd-pleasing and nostalgic, indeed.
5. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Return of the Jedi was the final movie in the original trilogy and although it had an epic climax, it was certainly the weakest Episode of the three. Episode VI was an interesting ride but the most compelling part of it lay in Luke and Darth Vader’s relationship, the rest of the story being a little negligible. Although it made sense in terms of character growth, Han Solo in this opus was almost too nice and didn’t have that anti-hero charm or swagger anymore.
Ewoks were cute and all, but came across quite irrelevant to the plot and just too lighthearted for Star Wars. Let’s not even tackle Leia’s slave-bikini and the twisted fantasy this part of the screenplay seemed meant to serve. On a brighter note, it’s safe to say ROTJ delivered one of the most iconic and powerful final battle scenes between Vader and Skywalker. That definitely deserves a round of applause.
4. Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
The Force Awakens was a brilliant introduction to a new trilogy, with a fantastic and innovated scenery, a tone faithful to the original movies, and a wonderful set of actors. The plot similarities with that of A New Hope were obvious indeed, but Rey was also her own person instead of just a genderbent version of Luke Skywalker. She’s stubborn, clever, kind, and has her own way to go about the world. Poe, Finn, and Kylo, felt a little bit like déjà vu, but they remain fresh in the sense that they’re not entirely copy/pasted from the original series – ultimately, they gave us the ride we paid for.
The story was enticing, the special effects were breathtaking and in short, this was the opus that proved to us it was possible to absolve the Star Wars franchise of its past mistakes and move on to something brand new.
3. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
The Last Jedi was an enjoyable ride, with a story thankfully ditching all the tropes the Star Wars franchise had become so accustomed to. Kylo Ren’s character development was an important part of the story, if not the center of it, and we finally realized that all the unpent anger he felt did have a genuine source. As much of a villain that he is, fans were somehow lured into warming towards Kylo Ren and understanding his motives. In fact, some were even tempted to join the Dark Side. It was refreshing to see a villain depicted with more than just a basic “I want to rule the world” approach.
Meanwhile all other characters, specifically Rey, got the character development they deserved, and the installment made us eager for more. Let’s not forget we saw the return of a Star Wars legend, Luke Skywalker, which really sent fans down memory lane. The Last Jedi was a fantastic movie, but it was impossible to rank it higher than the original trilogy’s first two Episodes.
2. Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
A New Hope was the movie that introduced the world to the greatly popular cinematic universe that Star Wars would become, and it was a huge hit upon its release in 1977. Although the movie reunited almost all of the “hero’s journey” tropes imaginable, A New Hope managed to be magical in its own unique way, with compelling characters that you’d definitely want to follow for several years, and a well-paced, gripping tale of good-versus-evil.
Most importantly, it introduced us to the infamous and greatest villain of all time, Darth Vader. The space battles were unique in their time and are still a pleasure to watch even today. Episode IV was simple but it worked and for that reason, it has become an undeniable and unforgettable classic that now ranks second in our list.
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Empire Strikes Back ranks first in our list simply because it improved the saga by giving the story the grey areas it needed to feel a little more subtle and complex than your average “hero vs. villain” tale. More character development for our main trio, an improved narrative, more iconic scenes such as Luke and Darth Vader’s lightsaber battle, Han and Leia’s first kiss, the list truly goes on.
It was the darkest movie of the original bunch and it gave us one of the most epic movie twists (and quotes) in the history of film. There’s no arguing about it, The Empire Strikes Back was a masterpiece and the most complete and captivating episode of the 10 movies. It gave us tension, it thrilled and it definitely goes down in history as the BEST Star Wars movie of all time.
Over the years, Star Wars has never failed to please and wow its fans, with the release of new movies, and a renewed craze for the merchandise and lore. We don’t know when it will end, but we’re not sure we ever want it to.
To sum up, every Episode is a classic and will no doubt make people’s joy for many years to come, but of course some trump others. What did you think of our ranking? Do you agree with it or is yours completely different? Feel free to share your opinion, and as always, may the force be with you.