Star Wars Films Ranked

I was born 4 days after The Empire Strikes Back was released.  My mother saw it just before I was born.  My birthday is May 25th, the very day A New Hope was released in 1977.  So, I hold a special bond with Star Wars…we were both released on the same day, BOOM!

I have been thinking about Star Wars a lot lately.  Currently, I am reading the Dark Horse run of Star Wars graphic novels, starting with the short lived Dawn of the Jedi and moving on to John Jackson Miller’s Knights of the Old Republic.

You see, I am not only a Star Wars movie fan, but an complete fan, comics, video games, books and action figures.  Star Wars has been a big part of my life and a huge influence on me in many ways.  I would be lying if I said Star Wars was not the reason I want to be a writer.  In many ways, George Lucas, the maker, himself is a personal hero.  I know people hate him for some of the things he has done, special editions edits and the prequels.  But, let us not forget, he created Star Wars.

This is a hard topic for me, I have stated many times I cannot pick a favorite Star Wars movie.  By listing the movies as worst to best is a different situation.  I personally love The Empire Strikes Back and it will no doubt be number 1, but I do love Revenge of the Sith a ton.  But in all of this, where does the Force Awakens lie?

Well, with a new Star Wars movie coming every year for, well the next few years. Rogue One is the reason I am making this list.  We will see what comes of Rogue One, hopefully I will have my review up for Friday.

As I often say, On with the list!

7. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

It had to be one or the other, I guess.  I will take you back to 2002 and the release of Attack of the Clones.  I walked out of the theater with my jaw wide open.  I could not believe everything that happened in the movie.  In the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, we heard Obi Wan talk about the Clone Wars.  We got to see the beginning of something I always imagined.

But, there is way too much CGI, the sets look fake and every single actor seems to be off their game.  The only exception is Ewan McGregor.  The story is rushed, as is the love story between Anakin and Padme. I still think this should be Episode I, with some parts of Episode I merged in.  It was once great, but now…now it is hard to watch.

6. Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars is back!  Kinda…

I have, many times talked about my midnight show experience.  In short, the speaker system in the theater went out and we waited for 3 hours.  We left the theater at first light the next morning, it was a great experience.  I enjoyed the movie and my obsession with Star Wars returned in a bigger way.  I was always interested in what a Jedi could really do, the Phantom Menace showed me in a big way.

Watching the movie over the past 17 years, makes it more and more of a snore fest.  I don’t like the podrace scene and I do not like Jar Jar Binks at all.  But Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor steal the show of course.  The duel between Darth Maul and the Jedi is legendary, if only Maul would have lived…for the other movies.

5. Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The best of the prequels for sure.

I love this movie, sure it has its problems, there is no perfect movie.  It was exciting and sad all the same in the theater and for some time I called Revenge of the Sith my favorite of the six Star Wars movies.  Great light saber duels, the score was good and even less Jar Jar Binks.  The duels between Anakin and Obi Wan, along with Palpatine and Yoda were fantastic and left me wanting more.

No prequel would have ever measured up to the original trilogy, no matter how good.  I am sure, Rogue One or any of the coming sequels, as well as The Force Awakens will ever meet or beat the Original Trilogy.  With that said, I think Revenge of the Sith is a fine film and for me, my second favorite Star Wars movie.

I cried when the credits rolled, I thought it was the last Star Wars movie I would ever see.

4. Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens (2015)

It only took 32 years to get a sequel to Return of the Jedi, was it worth the wait?

Nope, I like The Force Awakens, but I find it hard to say, “I want to watch Star Wars” and go for The Force Awakens.  I think if we would have gotten Star Wars in 1993, it would have been better.  Younger cast and a different story.  We could have gotten to see Luke in his prime.  I say 1993, giving a 10 year gap.  The prequels could have been pushed to the mid-2000s and they would have been different.  1993, 1996 and 1999 the sequel trilogy should have happened, it didn’t.

We got something many years later and under Disney’s command.  That is not terrible.  The Force Awakens is very good, it has a good cast and we get to see some old faces.  I do not mind the story, but the absence of Luke still lingers.  I would have liked to see more of him, but I guess it wouldn’t work.

There are many who criticize the movie for being too much like A New Hope.  Well, The Force Awakens tried to get back to the Star Wars basics.  To fix and stay clear of the effect the prequels had on the series.  It worked and it was safe.

3. Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)

Return of the Jedi wraps up the original trilogy perfectly.  Redemption for Vader, the fall of the Galactic Empire and Luke Skywalker is finally a Jedi…like his father before him.

Return of the Jedi could have gone a different way, Luke could have fallen to the darkside.  But in my heart of hearts, I believe this, Return of the Jedi was meant to be the final installment of the Star Wars saga.

Sure the Ewoks suck to some people, but Return of the Jedi needed a lighter tone than the ever dark Empire.  It was a movie of change and revelation, it moved to story forward, while giving it a fitting end.  Return of the Jedi may be the most well rounded Star Wars movie of the seven.

2. Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (1977)

Ah, the gateway Star Wars movie.

A New Hope as it is referred to now, is the first movie anyone should see.  Star Wars as I still refer to, it is the beginning of the journey, sure it is in the middle of the story.  There is no touching the original trilogy.  It’s opening act is something to behold.  It started so many things and without it, we would not have so many advancements in cinema today, in story telling and effects.  Bash Lucas all you want, but without him pushing the envelope forward, we might not be where we are today.

Classic hero’s journey of course, but the characters are colorful and you immediately care about each one and their purpose.  We are introduced to Luke, Leia, Han and Chewy, R2D2 and C-3PO and everyone fell in love with the world of Star Wars.  The storm troopers are so iconic, when you first seen them, are they men or robots?  Darth Vader is so menacing, without a single word of dialog you can feel the dread when he enters the room.

Star Wars would be nothing without this movie.  I love it so much and I do owe so much to this film alone.

1. Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I know, I know, you knew this was coming.  You could probably look at 100 ranked Star Wars lists and 99 will have Empire as the number 1.  It is all about the journey, like the movies.

What could I say about Empire that has never been said?  Every time I hear the word “Empire” the Imperial March pops in my head.  How about that?

Talk about a sequel that exceeds the original.  Empire moves the story forward with a dark tone, usually movies with a dark tone do not work like this.  At the end of the movie, it looks like the Empire has broken the back of the Rebellion.  Luke lost is hand and found out Vader is his father and Han Solo is being transported to Jabba the Hutt by Boba Fett.  How much more grim can it get?  Well, the very end, we see Luke with a new hand and there is yet hope at the end of the movie.  It is so dark and it ends with hope…perfection.

The Empire Strikes Back is the best sequel.  It is the perfect Science Fiction film.  It is the best Star Wars movie.

Well, I hope this pleases.  How do you rank the Star Wars movies?  Which is your favorite?

I hope everyone enjoys Rogue One this weekend!  I hope there is no light saber ignited in the movie.


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