Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
I’ve been a Star Wars geek since my parents took me to the drive-in to see the first film upon its opening almost 40 years ago. Now I have the pleasure of watching my kids discover this universe for themselves and an excuse to keep scoping out the latest action figures in the Target toy aisle. I took my oldest and his cousin to go see the latest installation in the series, Rogue One Christmas night. So how does it rank in comparison to the rest of the films? It doesn’t match the excellence of the original trilogy, but it is well worth going to see. Read on for my ranking of all eight films, least to greatest.
The Phantom Menace (1999)
This film is the George Lucas equivalent of Godfather III. The characters you loved as a kid have returned to star in an abomination that makes you long for a return to your childhood. New baddie Darth Maul and John Williams’ excellent score are the only reasons to watch this dismal effort.
Attack of the Clones (2002)
Lucas’s second attempt in the new millennium has several cool battle scenes and some impressive CGI, but Hayden Christensen is simply awful as our newly grown-up hero. Every line of dialogue lands with a thud and his scenes with would-be love interest Padme (Natalie Portman) are excruciating.
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Retaining the terrible acting and dialogue of its two immediate predecessors, this film improves upon those two outings based on having the most interesting story to tell, but it’s still pretty bad. Ben defeats Anakin simply because he stands on a taller rock?
Rogue One (2016)
As much a war movie as a Star Wars film, the storyline and several of the secondary characters are what make this one special. The effects and battle scenes are as amazing as always, but the two major CGI characters were disconcerting. Of larger concern, I just didn’t find the main protagonist as engaging as last year’s similar hero, Rey.
The Force Awakens (2015)
As many have already pointed out, this one is largely just a remake of the original, replacing the boy protagonist with a girl. Nevertheless, it hits almost all the right notes. If J.J. Abrams had done a better job with the ending of this one, I’m looking at you Chewbacca and R2-D2, it might have rivaled the original trilogy.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Ewoks and George Lucas’s increased focus on selling toys over storytelling takes this film down a notch or two, but it still has a ton going for it. The opening sequence alone is worth the price of admission. Luke Skywalker showing off his new powers inside Jabba’s palace and again on his barge are some of the best scenes of the series.
Star Wars (1977)
The movie that started it all, George Lucas proved that there was a huge audience for sci-fi if done right. Despite his later efforts to mess this one up with new edits and even a new title, Star Wars remains a classic. And Han shot first.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Rarely do sequels improve upon the original, but this one did. Empire has more bad guys, more lightsabers, and the tightest script of the series so far. If Boba Fett doesn’t get his own standalone film at some point, Disney might just find itself with a date in the Sarlacc Pit.