What is rewatchability? It means I can put in a movie and watch it all the way through for fun, over and over and over again through the years. (This is different than having a movie on in the background while cleaning house or something…that’s another category). I want something to lift my spirits, which is why a really great movie like Rogue One is not in the top half, for me.
Your mileage may vary, of course. That’s what makes movie lists fun.
Suffice to warn you now, there are Star Wars spoilers ahead!
- 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 that changed science fiction films forever.
- The Force Awakens – I wanted to cry with happiness when The Force Awakens 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.
- The Rise of Skywalker – Have to be honest here. All I wanted from this movie was not to suck. I wanted my Star Wars Saga to end well. It…it did! I can’t wait to see it again, but I’ll already say this one made me happy. Great humor/chemistry, pretty set pieces. The main thing I missed was a distinctive John Williams score. (After Duel of the Fates, I can’t remember a single music track or theme. Possibly Williams is “over” Star Wars by now). I didn’t love Rise of Skywalker, but at this point the bar is set so low that I was willing to ignore the plot holes and just let the characters take me away. I liked it a whole helluva lot. We have so much to say about this movie as a team, and we’ll pull it all together as a hub eventually, but for now, YES. This is the 4th best Star Wars film: I am confident it belongs in this position. (The only thing that potentially brings RoS down is the poor use of some…villain…you’ll know when you see that individual.)
- The Last Jedi – I finally saw the extended version of The Last Jedi and I loved it. In fact, now I get to rank it higher than Solo. This is a 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. Also, the extended cut should have been the theatrical version and I think a lot of people would have been much happier with the finished product.
- 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.”
- Rogue One – Unlike some of the previous movies, Rogue One was not fun, joyous, or happy. I mean (SPOILERS, again….), 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” (Blind Baze and trigger-happy 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 personal and 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. Feel free to discuss The Mandalorian, which is superior Star Wars, but ain’t a film, and is on-going, so I can’t in conscience list it here.
Here’s the list of all 11 Star Wars movies (in production order) if you want to copy/paste/rearrange into a comment below, to add your own rankings.
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
The Force Awakens
The Last Jedi
Rise of Skywalker
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)