A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…
After two years of waiting, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally in theatres, and as you can read in my full review, Rian Johnson (Looper) has hit a home run for the franchise and delivered an exceptional Star Wars movie.
With the eighth episode (ninth film overall) in cinemas, it’s time to start looking at the franchise and deciding where Star Wars: The Last Jedi ranks among its peers. Obviously, this post won’t contain any spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so you’re safe to take a look.
Check out the ranking below:
9. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE
Release Date: 1999
Has any film in the history of cinema been as disappointing as The Phantom Menace?
After over a decade of waiting, fans hoped for a prequel that was worthy of the original trilogy. Instead, George Lucas delivered an overly political, boring, and cheesy film, which nearly ruined the reputation of Star Wars with its horrific CGI.
As it turns out, introducing the galaxy’s most feared villain as a whining, obnoxious kid only works in theory.
8. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Release Date: 2002
With Attack Of The Clones, Lucas still failed to deliver a great Star Wars prequel, but at least things couldn’t get worse after The Phantom Menace.
This time around, Hayden Christensen stepped in to portray an older Anakin Skywalker, who enters a weird relationship (how old is she?) with Senator Amidala, portrayed by Natalie Portman. The film also features an army of CGI droids for the Jedi to easily defeat, which was cool…I guess.
Thankfully, Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi managed to give us a spark of hope that things could turn out well for this prequel trilogy.
7. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH
Release Date: 2005
Okay, so while many will argue that Revenge Of The Sith still isn’t a great Star Wars movie, it was a massive step up from The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones.
After years of waiting, Anakin finally completed his fall to the dark side and aside from some dodgy dialogue, Revenge Of The Sith delivered the prequel we waited for. Highlighted by an epic battle between brothers and the rise of the Empire, this film did a great job of leaving the prequels on a high note.
6. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE
Release Date: 1977
While A New Hope is undoubtedly the ideal Star Wars movie for those who saw it in theatres, as a relatively young fan of the franchise, my experience with the first chapter is very different.
Not many films have managed to become as beloved or iconic as George Lucas’ first Star Wars movie. From every piece of dialogue to the incredible storytelling and characters, this is a great introduction to the galaxy far, far away and one of the best movies Hollywood has ever produced.
Note: John Williams’ original soundtrack offered arguably the greatest piece of music for a journey in a faraway galaxy.
5. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Release Date: 2016
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, fans wondered what the studio would do to create original films in the Star Wars universe. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the answer, and it was a pretty great one.
Set just before the events of A New Hope, Gareth Edwards’ spin-off movie introduced Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and a team of rebels, who set out to steal the plans for the Death Star and deliver hope to the galaxy.
As an experiment for what standalone Star Wars films can be, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story turned out to be a fun, emotional, and unique chapter in the Star Wars Saga. Hopefully, Disney and Lucasfilm can maintain that same quality for future spin-off movies.
4. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI
Release Date: 1983
The conclusion to Geroge Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy split many fans, but for me, it was an epic way to say goodbye (kinda) to these characters and this incredible franchise.
Return Of The Jedi not only needed to follow the incredible Empire Strikes Back but was also required to end a story that millions of devoted fans adore. For the most part, Lucas and director Richard Marquand did an excellent job.
The conflict between the light and dark within Luke Skywalker was compelling enough to keep viewers intrigued in the mythology, while Han, Leia, and Chewy’s adventures and battles delivered action-packed fun. Ewoks aside, Return Of The Jedi is a worthy conclusion to the original trilogy and an iconic piece of cinema.
3. EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Release Date: 2015
A decade after Revenge Of The Sith, Disney released the first of its Star Wars movies with JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens. Bringing back iconic characters Luke, Han, and Leia, The Force Awakens delivered an excellent return to the original trilogy and helped to tie the enture Star Wars Saga together.
Every one of the new characters were introduced flawlessly, with Daisy Ridley offering an inspiring and hopeful new hero in Rey. As for the villain, Kylo Ren was expertly introduced, and Adam Driver delivered a compelling portrayal of the typical bad guy, perfectly portraying the conflict between the light and dark.
Granted, The Force Awakens might not have been the most original Star Wars movie, but Abrams did what the franchise really needed and restored the franchises reputation after the prequels.
2. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Release Date: 1980
Hailed by many as the greatest Star Wars movie ever and arguably the best film in cinema history, The Empire Strikes Back is a triumph in storytelling, character, and shocking twists.
Picking up where A New Hope left off, The Empire Strikes Back doesn’t miss a beat and adds to the epic mythology that George Lucas flawlessly introduced, taking these characters on a thrilling, scary, and painful journey.
1. EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI
I know that this opinion will likely upset many fans of The Empire Strikes Back, but it is my honest opinion.
Following JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens, director Rian Johnson has created an epic-scale Star Wars film that isn’t held back by creative limitations. The Last Jedi is very clearly a fresh and unexpected chapter in the Star Wars Saga, and its ability to take risks and tell a great story, all while maintaining a sharp focus on character is exciting.
Without spoiling the film, Rian Johnson has taken these characters in an unexpected direction, and while that might upset some of the die-hard fans, I’m all in on this insane adventure.
That’s it for my ranking of the Star Wars franchise. Let me know how you would rank the films in the comments section below.