All 8 Star Wars Movies Ranked

In honor of May the 4th, here is my ranking of the Star Wars films. These are the canon films only, no Ewok Adventures here. (Although it would be worth everyone's time to check out those rare gems at least once).

I also thought it would be best to exclude the theatrical release of The Clone Wars (2008) that effectively served as the introduction for the popular animated series.

Without further ado here is my ranking of the Star Wars films:

8. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

An overabundance of CGI, failed romance scenes involving awkward stares and descriptions of sand, and a poorly developed story line for the future Darth Vader are the biggest reasons why this film is at the bottom of the list. Yes, it is even worse than The Phantom Menace. This movie lacks excitement in most of its action sequences, especially the droid factory scene. This is because there is so much CGI that it feels like you are watching a cartoon. While that is true of most of the prequel trilogy it is especially true here.

Two of the biggest plot lines of the series, the beginning of the Skywalker family and Anakin's descent to the dark side, are not satisfying. This movie should have been about how an incredibly powerful youth begins to discover the extent of his power and how he falls into the temptations of pride. Instead we get a whiny kid who would not have any chance at attracting Natalie Portman.

Still, for a novice actor Hayden Christensen had his moments. I blame most of the awkwardness of his scenes on poorly written dialogue. Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman do an admirable job. The movie also has some cool scenes, mostly the ones with Jango Fett and Count Dooku.

7. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

This movie has a lot more going for it than people give it credit for. Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn, podracing, Darth Maul, and one of the best lightsaber fights of the entire series. What holds the movie back is Jar Jar Binks. Its not so much the character's story that irritates me, just the childish humor that always accompanies him. Also, it is just not that interesting to watch Jedi slice up swarms of CGI battle droids.

6. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

The only reason why this film is higher than the previous two is because of its darker, more serious tone, Jar Jar humor is kept to a minimum, the friendship between Obi Wan and Anakin is more believable, and it does an decent job of tying the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy together.

Still the romance scenes are awkward, there is too much CGI, and the part we want to see the most, Anakin's turn to the dark side, is done far too quickly to be convincing. The prequel trilogy should have had involved an idealistic struggle for good, as described by Obi Wan in Episode IV, that turns into a war of treachery and betrayal that turns friends against each other. Instead we got a war between clones and droids that replenish themselves almost infinitely, taking real meaning out of their deaths, and we barely got to see Obi Wan and Anakin's friendship. However, these are still entertaining films and George Lucas had a gargantuan task in bringing the beginnings of the Skywalker saga to the screen. He deserves credit for them being as good as they are.

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I love that the Star Wars universe is expanding into areas we haven't seen before. The scene where Cassian Andor kills an informant surprised me as did the ending where all of the main characters die. I never thought Disney would let the filmmakers go so far, but Star Wars needed to go there. The entire galaxy isn't full of Luke Skywalkers, sometimes our characters are flawed and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice must be made, not just by a lone Jedi or our favorite smuggler, but by thousands of regular people trying to make a difference.

The scenes with Vader are awesome, especially the finale scene which evokes pure terror and awesomeness at the same time. I loved the cameos from Gold Leader and Red Leader because it featured real footage that was cut from Episode IV. However, I wish more had been done with Forest Whitaker's character. I was excited to see a great actor like him as Saw Gerrera, but he was only in the film for a few moments. Also, I would have liked to see more from Baze and Chirrut because that would have been a good opportunity to expand Star Wars lore.

4. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens has some great moments and new stories. My favorite part of this movie is the relationship between Han and his son Kylo Ren, formerly known as Ben Solo. Kylo Ren believes that killing his father will make him stronger, which makes him the opposite of Luke. Kylo Ren's journey to the dark side was actually the catalyst for the breakup of our favorite heroes and it will be interesting to see his development in the future. I also thought that Adam Driver gave one the best performances in the film as a dark and disturbed force wielder.

However, I felt that the film relied on one too many plot points from Episode IV with the search for the droid and the "third Death Star". Still, this is the first Star Wars movie in awhile to feel like the original trilogy.

3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

This film has some of the best moments of the entire series. Lando leading an all out assault on the Empire, the introduction of the Emperor, and the lightsaber battle between Vader and Luke. However, the thing that I love most about this film is Luke's unwavering faith in his father and that the good side will eventually win in the end. The ending scene is probably one of my favorites in the whole series, with Luke watching his redeemed father joining Yoda and Obi Wan.

However, there are some problems. While the scenes in Jabba's Palace are entertaining at times, they also are a bit slow in some places. Also, I wish the film had gone to some new places instead of Tatooine and another Death Star.

2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Really the first two Star Wars movies released could be tied for first place. Both are among the greatest cinema ever produced. The Empire Strikes Back is introspective, it's dark, and it develops the characters and story of Star Wars more fully. The lightsaber fight is the best in the series.

However,  A New Hope takes you into a wonderful, fantastical world better than any of the other Star Wars movies. Although A New Hope was not the original title for Star Wars (1977) it fits the movie. It makes me feel more hopeful than perhaps any other movie I have seen. When I am sick with the cold, A New Hope is the Star Wars movie I go to. Also, people forget that the film is still pretty dark. Luke finding his Uncle and Aunt dead is a convincing motivator for our hero. The film is even darker in its original version, without Greedo shooting at Han first. No, when we meet Han he is a scoundrel who always shoots first when his life is on the line.

But most of all the ending scene is one of the best in all of cinema with Han coming back to save Luke at the Death Star trench, Luke using the Force to blow up the Death Star, and the heroes getting their medals at the end (except for poor Chewie). It made audiences cheer when the movie was in its original run. I still want to stand up and cheer when I see the scene today.

Star Wars, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi; Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens; Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi; the Star Wars Expanded Universe; and all logos, characters, artwork, stories, information, names, and other elements associated thereto, are the sole and exclusive property of Lucasfilm Limited.

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