Suffice to warn you now, there are spoilers ahead, through to Rogue One. NOTE as of November 2018: now this is current though Solo: A Star Wars Story…
- The Empire Strikes Back easily wins the top placement in the Star Wars franchise. It’s got everything: adventure, humor, romance, exciting space action that still holds up after all this time, and outrageous reveals. I never get tired of watching this film. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen it.
- A New Hope runs very closely to the number one spot — clipping its heels, as it were. It started off the whole mythology with a masterful, iconic adventure story. It’s an almost perfect movie.
- The Force Awakens – I wanted to cry with happiness when TFA premiered. It was Star Wars to me, finally! After decades of slogging through disappointment from the prequels, the joyous universe I first fell for was back. The new characters were fantastic, the humor worked, and everything was oh-so-pretty. I’m an absolute fan. While some say — correctly — that this is a rehash of A New Hope, I see it as a plus. The fun was baked in, and it felt like coming home.
- Solo – So sue me: I loved it. A sweet young Han, a sort-of young Chewie (he’s only 190 years old), an adorably charming Lando, and a spotless Millennium Falcon; what’s not to love? It’s a small stakes story that doesn’t bother with a Death Star/Starkiller Base/planet killing weapon (I think this is a first), and while Bad Things Happen, there’s an undeniable sense of joy and fun. Plus, it features the best villain this side of Vader himself. Watch it again, and “Let go, Luke.”
- The Last Jedi – Another divisive choice, but TLJ is undeniably pretty, absorbing, and provides a satisfying send-off for Luke. While the “casino” scenes and Poe Dameron mutiny subplots are lacking, the Rey/Luke and Rey/Kylo scenes are, for a better word, outstanding. I can only hope that the final film in the Skywalker series is worth the wait.
- Rogue One – Unlike some of the previous movies, Rogue One was not fun, joyous, or happy. I mean (SPOILERS….), everyone dies. Honestly, “I had a bad feeling about this” going in (of course no one makes it — we never see them in the Original Trilogy). The sad part is that I kind of didn’t care. Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and Rogue One’s ragtag crew…we didn’t get to really know them. This story, however, works almost seamlessly in the Star Wars universe, providing clues that the rebels weren’t as squeaky clean as we’d imagined. Sarcastic, sociopathic K-2SO is the funniest droid we’re likely to see. I also liked the force sensitive “Space Husbands” (Baze and Chirrut). The Vader fight scene at the end, the desperate pass-off of the data tape, the lead-in to A New Hope: worth the price of admission, right there. The Death Star destruction sequences were extremely compelling, making that weapon truly frightening in a way the other movies didn’t.
- Return of the Jedi – I wish I could place this higher. The opening rescue of Han from Jabba’s palace is pure gold. After that, it goes downhill fast. Han becomes an anti-version of himself; Leia is pensive and moody; Luke is inscrutable (and not in a intriguing way). It doesn’t really work, and the Ewoks still piss me off. The jokes are stale, the action sequences middling…but it’s still better than the prequels. Damning with faint praise?
- Phantom Menace – Many people probably rank this one last, saying it “ruined” Star Wars. I myself was hugely disappointed with this when it came out. Over the years, though, it’s taken on a nicer sheen. I love Qui-Gon; young Obi-Won was perfect, and there are some amazing set pieces. The Pod Race scene is great, Naboo is beautiful, the Padme/Queen storyline was compelling, and the Duel of the Fates climax with Darth Maul is the best lightsaber fight in the entire saga. As for the hated Jar Jar, the terrible Midiclorians, and that poor Anakin kid with the terrible Yippee lines: I learned to ignore them, and just watch the moments that had the right feel for the SW Universe. It’s a really pretty movie, and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is the best Jedi we see throughout the series.
- Revenge of the Sith – I honestly don’t remember much about this entire film. Maybe that’s a good thing. I never put it on re-watch. It played like a war documentary…and only felt like Star Wars in the last half hour. But it was a great last half hour, with the long-awaited payoff on the lava planet (Okay, good except for the wretched”Nooooooooo,” after “Where’s Padme?”). And the dying from sorrow bit? It doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of people felt RotS made the prequels better. I really don’t think they’re fixable. But then, I grew up with the Classic movies, so I’m just an old fart you can safely ignore. 🙂
- Attack of the Clones – This one is mostly dreck. I like the arena fight scene — great set-piece — and the stuff on Camino (the water planet). Coruscant is neat, and the early scenes of fighting on the flying cars — pretty darn cool. But the entire romance was bad. Simply, plainly bad. Bad like sand! I don’t get why Padme is interested in this whiny child. Who is Dooku, again? What is the plot about? There are clones, there are trade negotiations, and a whole lot of nothing.
I know everyone’s list will be different. Ultimately, any Star Wars is better than most sci-fi out there.
Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.