Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars: millennium falcon, rey, chewy, chewie, poe, finn
Our Gang, 2.0

So. It’s done. After 42 years of buildup, the Star Wars Skywalker saga is over.  I liked it! But I didn’t LOVE it. Which is okay, as all I wanted for Christmas was for Rise of Skywalker to not suck. So I can happily say that Director JJ Abrams did his best to undo the problems he inherited from Director Rian Johnson from The Last Jedi. It’s good, all good: happy beeps only.

No spoilers in this review. I’ll save that for another article: read on, fear-free!

Good, goooooood… (What I liked)

YAY: the characters of Rey, Finn, and Poe had great scenes together, and interacted as a team again, recalling the classic trio of Luke, Han, and Leia. I was happy with the dialog, the humor, the friendships, and how the story used these characters.

Kylo Ren was a bit short-changed, but I liked his scenes when we got them. The split screen saber fights were brilliant. You’ll understand when you see them. What a novel storytelling device.

We had great droid stuff too. Threepio was very funny, and even poignant at one point. Looks like after nine films they figured out how to use the protocol droid properly.

The mystery of Rey? That was fine. It was one of my guesses (although not one I found appealing, just sort of inevitable). We find out about Snoke (another theory I had was right there too). Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship was…well, put to bed. 😉

We find out a lot of things I hoped would be addressed. Whatever plot threads are left dangling (especially where Maz got Luke’s saber, why the lightsaber went to Rey instead of Kylo in TFA, and why the Millennium Falcon was owned by Rey’s caretaker on Jakku) will probably be addressed in the canon novels Lucasfilm churns out. That’s fine. There was a lot of ground to cover in RoS.

Fun cameos that didn’t feel “forced”

There were also some lovely cameos, and the movie paid a tasteful tribute throughout to the late Carrie Fisher. She got first billing in the credits, to which I say: “Awwwww.” Apparently all the scenes with our princess was actually her, with unused footage from The Force Awakens (and likely a body double for some shots). There was one quick de-aged moment with CGI, but I thought it looked good. So no complaints there.

There was also a sweet scene with Chewbacca that was waaaaay overdue. I’ll let you guess this one. Think about it and you’ll probably foresee it. Just…nice.

Seriously, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find a lot of old characters in blink-and-you-miss-them scenes. I’m thinking the rewatchability factor will be high. Lots of great throw-away lines, too, if you listen.

Moreover, there is a very touching moment during the battle that I won’t spoil for you. Is the Rebellion conquered? Who’s left to fight?

Great set pieces

One thing all three movies in the sequel trilogy did right was with moving, beautiful visuals. To not spoil anything, I’m going to be vague here: there was something on a moon that we instantly recognized, and it looked both menacing and gorgeous.

We also went to some planets we’ve seen before, and you could tell everything was lovingly filmed. In each sequel episode, including The Last Jedi, the visuals are carefully crafted for beauty shots and an impressive sense of nostalgia that didn’t come across as cheap fan-service. The RoS space battle wasn’t bad either, although somehow the best space war was in Return of the Jedi, so long ago.

This happens. The T-1000 Terminator effects in the 90s was somehow better than the brand-new whatever Terminator this year that looked like tar and failed to impress. I don’t understand why old — OLD — movies have better effects than new ones, but I’ll blame laziness, since that’s a nice, easy (and lazy) complaint.

Warning: If you managed to not get spoiled for Rise of Skywalker, don’t watch this teaser trailer about the 9th and final Skywalker Saga film. Just don’t watch anything until you see the film (do a media blackout entirely). There’s a handful of things here that you might prefer to be surprised about: 

Some stuff just didn’t work

The big villain here is a mess. I didn’t need to see that particular character again. Everything with that person is…stupid. Boring. I guess I get where Abrams was going with it — coming full circle — but WHY WHY. Arg. I so want to discuss this here, but I’ll save it for my Spoiler Review. I will add this: the villain’s main henchman was also idiotic. They really need to not add new characters when a series already labors under a huge cast. It was much more fun playing Spot the Cameo. Can you find Wedge Antilles, for example? Keep your eyes open.

Also, the new droid, D-O? Cute and all, but entirely unnecessary. We already have an astromech droid or two (depending on what BB-8 is). All I can conclude is they needed to fill out the marketing quota for ‘ things to put under the Christmas tree’. They can even produce them to scale.

D-O has a few funny lines, but I would have cut the character and focused on the people actors. There was too much to cover in two and a half hours, and introducing newbies wasn’t called for.  Give more time to BB-8 or R2 — they were totally under-served, and it was noticeable. I don’t think those two did much on this outing.

I need to see RoS again. There’s a lot to follow in Rise of Skywalker, and JJ Abrams seemed to squander half of the narrative fixing Rian Johnson’s plot gaffs. Which, honestly, needed to be done.

Um… Dune?

There were also several homages to Dune, and I found those took me out of the story. Does JJ want to make a new Dune trilogy? I’m chill with this, but don’t squish it into my Star Wars, okay? It was weird enough seeing Sandworms in The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.

(Re: Dune. If I could talk to JJ, I’d ask if it wasn’t enough to continue both Star Wars and Star Trek stories — don’t be greedy. Lots of talented directors out there, ya know…I wonder what Joss Whedon or Taika Waititi would do with Dune.)

And, those planet killing weapons? I’m pretty sick of that. There won’t be anyone to rule if you keep blowing worlds up. How Naboo was occupied in The Phantom Menace seemed more relevant and frightening. What do you think? (Comment section is below.)

Anyway, there are major spoilers in this last trailer…I managed to not watch it until now and was pleasantly surprised by a few things everyone else were spoiled on. So watch this ‘Final Trailer’ at your discretion:

Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker, overall

I’m really not in the mood to complain. I was pleased. Nobody in the audience clapped at the end, which was unusual for Star Wars…but it was a Friday midday showing and the room was mostly empty. I’ve heard other audiences did clap and laugh. I was the only person dressed in proper attire — my Jedi Knight outfit. I even brought a Porg and one of my lightsabers (the one that folds down and fits in a purse — you never know what they won’t let you bring to the theaters these days). A stranger complimented me on my ensemble, and we talked for 45 minutes about Rise of Skywalker and the saga in general. #GeekingOut

I have to digest the movie (and see it again) to really come to terms with how I felt about it, but overall I’m thinking this is the 4th-best film in the franchise. I do grade some franchises on a curve, like the MCU, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. So this one is slightly less good than The Force Awakens, but a world of better than The Last Jedi.

Is this the end?

Will we see these characters again? My guess *today* is no. George Lucas envisioned the story as a nine-part arc, and I’m cool with that. Things wrapped up just fine.

But you never know. Disney might want to cash in on the popularity of Rey, Finn, Poe, and our favorite droids. Stranger things have happened… We’re even getting a new Ghostbusters next summer with the surviving original cast (RIP Harold Ramis). We’re revisiting many old franchises recently: Men in Black, Jumanji, Toy Story, Terminator, Aliens, Avatar, The Matrix, Downton Abbey, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures, and Blade Runner. Among others. Getting butts in seats is the name of the cinema game.

In the meantime, Disney is playing Shuffle the Directors with any new Star Wars stories. So, who knows? I’d like to see a young Lando movie. Donald Glover was simply magnificent in Solo. More of that, please.

I’m grading this movie on a curve within the Star Wars Universe. I can’t help it. I do the same within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and some other franchises. I’m going to update my Star Wars Ranking article soon, and the series will be all slotted neatly, by rewatchability. And then we will achieve a balance in the Force!

PS: I’m going to see Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker in 4D soon. I have a ticket Dan Fogelberg himself gave me during the 2019 San Diego Comic Con (Yes, he’s Jacob from Fantastic Beasts), and I can’t wait to use it on this film. 

Movie Grade: A-

Infographic of every Star Wars movie ranked by fans on IMDb and RottenTomatoes

Star Wars Revealed: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a lying liar who lies

Movie analysis – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars Meets Star Trek – Holdo’s Last Jedi Sacrifice is the Picard Maneuver

star trek picard maneuver
Star Wars director Rian Johnson was clearly a fan of Star Trek.

The coolest move in The Last Jedi depicted Admiral Holdo’s Resistance flagship making a super short hyperspace jump to destroy the First Order’s dreadnought. It’s a great tactic, if suicidal. And it worked.

But if you’re a science fiction nut, you’ve seen this move before.

Star Trek

Remember the Picard Maneuver in Star Trek: The Next Generation? Basically, the jist is to travel something like a Planck Second in warp drive, and then appear back in real space. Planck Units are the shortest measure of time known to man, so I’m going with this.

Jean-Luc Picard was Captain of the Federation Vessel Stargazer at the time. He tricked the attacking Ferengi vessel into thinking there were two Starfleet ships they faced. The Ferengi saw the original ship, and then the Stargazer jumped 30 light seconds right beside them to seem like a second ship, firing as it came out of warp. Very clever. It took a generation for anyone to foil this creative strategy. (Actually, it took Data to come up with a workable defense.)

Star Wars

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Admiral Holdo travels for a light-second between her ship and the First Order’s Dreadnought. She appears out of hyperspace in the middle of the Dreadnought’s location, bisecting the First Order’s flagship in an impressive montage. While only a handful of Resistance members made it out alive from the Salt Planet of Crait, it was still an impressive trick.

The thing is, it seems like an obvious move in both Star Wars and Star Trek universes. No one even has to die: just set your ship on autopilot to hyperjump into the area your enemy occupies. I don’t see how anyone could defend themselves against this move. And it’s odd to think no one’s done this before, in-universe, no matter how cool it looked in action. (And really, it did look super bombad amazing.)

Do you remember the Sovereign’s drone battle against the Guardians of the Galaxy in Volume 2? That was really the way to go. None of her people were in any danger — they basically played a video-game version of seek and destroy. It’s like using drones to wage war, which probably isn’t too far off. So why did Holdo even need to be on the bridge for her attack? The answer: to create an emotional moment in the film.

And that’s just not good enough.

Savvy Viewers

The big problem with Star Wars is that the target audience is pretty smart, and notices every plot hole. With the advent of the internet, sci-fi aficionados can reach out and publicly nit pick every dodgy moment in every Star Wars film.

This means the writers have to improve their game. Special effects have improved over the decades since 1977, when A New Hope premiered, and now the writing needs to step up too. It’s not like we aren’t going to notice these things. We’re savvy. And we’re less forgiving.

The Rise of Skywalker comes out in two weeks, and we, the fans, are holding our collective breath, hoping that it simply won’t suck. Some even hope it will be good. After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Endgame did wonderfully, concluding a 20+ movie series in spectacular fashion. Is it asking too much to want Star Wars to end on a good note? Are we allowed to have nice things?

I’m not complaining about the Holdo/Picard Maneuver. It was a great visual, and made us understand that sometimes you should trust your leaders. Or to trust the leader your leader trusted. While I think everything would have gone better if Holdo simply told Poe what was going on, it was still a sweet, sweet visual.

But now we’re stuck with a couple dozen resistance followers adrift in a cold, indifferent universe. The moral here is probably to tell your subordinates you have a plan; a good plan even. But I don’t hold Poe’s failures against him. Star Trek shows a skilled set of trained StarFleet officers on their starships, with a firm chain of command. Star Wars shows a ragtag bunch of rebels fighting in whatever they could cobble together, doing whatever they could to survive against the First Order.

It should have been the Ackbar Maneuver

One thing I don’t understand is why they needed to bring in Laura Dern for an extended cameo. Admiral Ackbar was right there in the movie. We knew him; we trusted him, and his sacrifice would have been much more deeply felt to Star Wars fans. If I could ask Rian Johnson one thing, it would be why he didn’t use Ackbar in this scene.

Someone made a fan edit that easily replaces Ackbar in the sacrificial seat:

Lastly, I’ll note that I enjoyed the use of silence in space during the ensuing explosion. You can’t hear anything in space, so this was an appreciative nod to that. What’s more interesting is how audiences reacted to the silence…movie theaters actually had to post signs up that the silence was intentional. It does seem random (nothing else in Star Wars is soundless), but it really underlined the gravity of the moment.

Back to Picard

There’s another Picard Maneuver, and I’d be remiss not mentioning it — the infamous shirt tug. Here’s an impressive collection of these moments, reminding me why the internet is so awesome:

Why The Last Jedi Sucked

star wars the last jedi
Stop screwing around. I want my Star Wars back.

Did you like Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Are you still on the fence? I don’t think anyone would say it doesn’t look pretty. It looks expensive, and on the surface seems like it belongs in the Star Wars galaxy (the one that is long ago and far away).

It’s got a few great set-pieces (Porg Island, Salt Planet, Rey and Ren tag-teaming it).

And it has a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying a whole lot of nothing. (Rey is who? Snoke is who? Why do we spend so much time on the casino planet? Admiral Holdo and hotshot pilot Poe: Mutiny? What? Why? …And, of course, we have the Deconstruction of Luke Skywalker — [shakes head, sadly].)

Here’s a detailed analysis of why The Last Jedi failed. (“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.”) Take a look and tell me what you think:

An interesting video. However, I still love The Force Awakens, and think The Last Jedi is better than any of the prequels.

(Man, those prequels suck.)

But yeah, you could fly a Corellian Cruiser through the plot holes of TLJ. I blame Rian Johnson. JJ Abrams handed him a good set-up, but Rian blew it, on so so soooo many levels. I can only “hope” (get it, haha?) that the last movie will course correct these failures. Do it, JJ. Give us what we want.

Let’s wrap up this Skywalker Saga. I’ll be waiting right here.

13 iconic scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had the RunPee app

May the 4th Be With You.  Are you celebrating Star Wars Day? You don’t want to miss a single scene in a new Star Wars film, but with the RunPee app,  suffering will not be your lot in life. We’ll tell you when you can sneak out for a quick bathroom break and not miss the best scenes.

To honor Star Wars Day, here’s a list of iconic scenes you wouldn’t have missed if you had the RunPee App. Suffice to say, SPOILERS LIE AHEAD, MATEY. Stop right here if you aren’t up to speed through The Last Jedi.

We will start, of course, with the best moment in cinematic history…

  1. “No… I am your Father.” I didn’t see that one coming, but it made total sense once I heard it. People argued Obi-Wan couldn’t have been lying, but that turned out to be a misdirect (from a “certain point of view.”) – The Empire Strikes Back
  2. “I love you.” “I know.” From Empire, again. Harrison Ford improvised this line, to make one of the greatest responses to a declaration of love ever (when I got married, it was after such an exchange happened — Yes, fact).  – Empire
  3. When Obi-Won put up his lightsaber, and Vader killed him. Or did he?  We never did find out what happened to his body, nor exactly how powerful he became. Force Ghosts don’t seem that exciting. But it was a cool moment, nonetheless. – A New Hope
  4. When Anakin and Luke both lose a hand – this is a Skywalker thing in middle movies, apparently. Maybe someone will lose his or her hand in The Last Jedi.  Empire, & Attack of the Clones
  5. The Pod Race – make fun of The Phantom Menace all you like, but this is still a fun, exciting sequence, showing how exactly the Force can guide your reflexes. “Yippee!?” Just relax and enjoy the pretty set piece.  – The Phantom Menace
  6. Dual of the Fates – again, from Phantom, we get an indelible scene, where Darth Maul expertly wields a double-ended lightsaber to fight off two powerful Jedi Knights/Masters. It didn’t end so well for Qui-Gon, but the music, the room’s closed shield moments, and the character emotions — all so very raw and powerful. While Qui-Gon meditates, Darth Maul paces like a hungry tiger. It’s a great showcase for one of John William’s  great iconic themes. Go listen to it on YouTube right now – it’s still amazing. As far as the Prequels go, this is as good as it gets.  I’m listening to the song on my Alexa right now. – The Phantom Menace
  7. When Rey uses the Force to escape her restraints – such a joy to see Rey learn to use her Force abilities, making Daniel Craig’s storm trooper untie her and leave his weapon behind. Funny as sh!t, and crucial to the plot. Yes, please, more like this!  – The Force Awakens
  8. When the Death Star explodes (for the the first time). You know you cheered. I still do. When the Millennium Falcon flies out of the sun and Luke uses the Force to guide his torpedoes, movie magic happens…set to the powerful John Williams version of The Mars Theme. “Whoohoo! Come on kid, let’s blow this thing and go home!” – A New Hope
  9. When Vader sees his son with his “Own Eyes”. Yeah, I kind of cried. So much that needed to come to pass in this epic happened in these few short moments.  – Return of the Jedi
  10. The entire rescue sequence with Jabba. This is great stuff, and the last time we really saw the Original Trio make it work. – Return of the Jedi
  11. The classic Cantina scene. What can I say? Everyone loves it. Nothing really significant happens here, but I would never want to miss this bit. The Force Awakens recreates this scene somewhat at Maz Kanata’s smuggling den, and that’s cool too. – A New Hope
  12. When the original Death Star enters Scarif’s stratosphere for one real reason – to punish Orson Krennic. He’s on the radio tower gangway, looking towards the sky, and sees his own weapon aimed directly at him. Yes. It’s a frightening moment, even though we don’t like Krennic. What a fantastic and iconic scene, with a weapon we really thought we couldn’t be moved by again, after all these years. – Rogue One
  13. The best sequence in Episode 8 by far is the dual fight with Rey and Kylo Ren. I’d already call it iconic. They way those two crazy kids mirror each other reeks of sheer beauty. The final ‘battle’ between Luke and his nephew is sleek too — with a twist I should have seen coming  but didn’t — but not as satisfyingly intimate as the new kids fighting off Supreme Leader Snoke. Like this movie or not, those battle scenes gave us true Star Wars.  – The Last Jedi

What did I miss? Add your favorite scenes in the comments below. UPDATE: Feel free to discuss Rise of Skywalker…some good set pieces there too! Since I just watched it, I have to digest it a while. 

Movie Review – The Last Jedi

It’s too soon to know how I feel about this latest installment to the Star Wars saga. A lot happens, at a brisk pace. We have fleeting introductions to a bunch of brand-new characters we never get to know; why they rounded up well-known actors for little more than extended cameos is beyond me. It’s a long movie, but maybe a lot of character development was cut anyway. I wouldn’t mind a Director’s Edition, like we saw in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

There’s a great deal of humor, but while some of it’s clever, the rest is somewhat more goofy than usual for this series. People at opening night really got into everything, though, applauding, laughing, squealing at certain appearances (no spoilers!). Definitely everyone enjoyed themselves in a totally packed theater (sold out across the nation, apparently). At least the critters are “good cute”, instead of overly cutesy, which is nice. (Porgs! Crystal Foxes!) The blue milk “cow” was admittedly very strange, but did harken back to Luke’s moisture-farming childhood. All the scenes on Luke’s planet were hugely pretty and interesting. The island scenes even had a Degobah flavor, while looking nothing like a swamp. Nicely done. In spite of trailers spoiling a lot of it, those were my favorite scenes.

Everything with Luke Skywalker…well, I’d describe those as magical. Riveting, even, as it should be. Mark Hamill absolutely carried the film and deserves a special shout out.It warmed my heart to see him back in action, in both grumpy and heroic modes.

Rey and Kylo were great, and I liked seeing them interact again. Rey did a bit better, with actual character development. Kylo was kind of stuck at the same emo place we saw him before. His parts with Rey were highlights, though — they have a great rapport! I hope to see more of it, next time. The big fight scene (being vague here on purpose) was excellent.

Poor Finn doesn’t come across as well as he did in The Force Awakens, and he was such a bright light in that film. I think having him separated from Rey and Poe made it problematic, chemistry-wise. Boyega did so well interacting with Ridley and Isaac. This time his sub-plot felt flat and extraneous. It could have been the writing. I’m not sure yet.

Carrie Fisher’s post-death swan song finalized in a strong way, and that was a huge relief. I don’t know how they’ll bring her character to a resolution in the last film of the Skywalker Saga, but it was a shock to see the actress “live” here, after her untimely demise a year ago. I worried it might feel tacky or forced. It definitely worked. She has a lot to do, and did it well. I think Our Princess would be very happy with this movie.

So, a good installment, definitely superior to the Prequels — but I’m not sure yet where I’d rank it among the others. It’s probably for the best anyway to think a bit on The Last Jedi before passing judgment. When you build something up so much in your mind for so long, better thoughts parse (or parsec?) out after time passes.

I need a second and third viewing. It took me a year to figure out where to place Rogue One, although I was so happy with The Force Awakens that I instantly gave it 3rd place. This series has been so plagued with disappointment. I don’t think Star Wars is done yet, by any means, and I’m not a hater of The Last Jedi at all. But I may not be a huge fan of director Rian Johnson.

NOTE on the 3D version: Only a few scenes made 3D worthwhile, but it wasn’t noticeably darker, as can happen with those glasses. 3D really only came into play at the end battle on the salt planet, with the red soil, and in some adorable Porg shots. I didn’t notice much else. Ultimately, I wouldn’t shell out for the extra money for a 3D showing. If you’re a huge fan, consider 3D for a one-time viewer experience; otherwise stay with 2D.

Movie Grade: B

Read RunPee Jilly’s  SW Movie Rankings.

All Star Wars Movies, ranked by personal watchablility. Now including Rise of Skywalker

star-wars-movies-ranked-ranking-best-worst
Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewie. And a few droids that aren’t the ones you’re looking for.

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. 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. 🙂
  11. 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. 

I have a bad feeling about this…

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TROOPS – A Star Wars Parody Does COPS

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
Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
The Force Awakens
Rogue One
The Last Jedi
Solo
Rise of Skywalker