With the release of Episode 7 of Star Wars this weekend, I think it’s time I ranked all of the movies in the series so far. From worst to best, below is my definitive ranking of the Star Wars movies.
7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Everything that is wrong with this movie can be summed up in three words: Jar-Jar Binks. George Lucas nearly turned what was a respected and beloved film series into just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film. Even with the likes of respected actors Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor could not save this film from being just plain awful.
6. Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
In attempting to placate fans and make up for the awfulness that is The Phantom Menace, George Lucas moved the story forward. Replacing Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin with Hayden Christensen as a teenage Anakin did nothing for this film. It continued to be just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film. Thank you, George Lucas for nearly killing what was good and pure and true in Star Wars.
5. Revenge of the Sith (2005)
In the final prequel of the Star Wars Series, George Lucas makes the second attempt to placate fans, again making up for the awfulness that is Episode I and II, while tying up the story lines that will lead to the Episodes 4, 5 and 6. While this film was the best of the prequels, it still does not hold up to the first three films.
4. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
This movie is an icon by itself. Without it, the movies today would not be what they are. In a sense, the story is a copy of the science fiction novels and books of the past, but it is so much more. It is entertaining, it is fun and it takes the audience out of their world and into a new one for a couple of hours. In short, it is perfect.
3. The Force Awakens (2015)
Finally, Star Wars fans have a worthy successor to the first three films. Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams took out what did not work in the prequels and returned Star Wars to what it was. Practical effects, a nice mix of older cast members and newbies and a plot that feels true to the Star Wars universe makes for a dam good film.
2. Return of the Jedi (1983)
The final film of the first three in the series begins with the rescue of Han from Jabba’s lair. It ends with a satisfying conclusion. The empire is defeated, Darth Vader has returned to the light side and our heroes have won. All of the strings are tied together perfectly. But that did not keep fans from wanting more.
1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Empire is the best of all of the films for a reason. Expanding the universe and the plot lines, the characters feel less 2-D and more 3-D. Breaking from their 1940’s science fiction molds, each character is given the chance to grow and change in new ways. And of course, there is one of the most famous revelations in film history:
Here’s hoping episodes 8 & 9 are just as good as 4-7 and not a repeat of 1-3.