I know there are countless lists, videos, and posts on the internet about the Star Wars films, why they’re great, why they aren’t and everything in between. It may be pointless to add to this with my own thoughts, but I love Star Wars. Return of the Jedi is the first film I remember watching. Force Awakens was the first film I saw as a midnight release and then saw it twice in cinemas. I’ve watched the first 6 in a single sitting on two occasions. I’m so nerdy about the lore of Star Wars, that I’m known for it at work and a friend I work with called me quite late after he watched the second season finale of The Mandalorian to ask me questions about the wider lore and I spoke to him for ages about it. I know each Star Wars film has flaws, some bigger than others, but this is the only series of films I can completely overlook the bad stuff and just focus on the good. I will probably never write a formal review for any Star Wars release, because it would most likely be gushing. So let’s begin.
Episode One – The Phantom Menace
I think the start of this film is a mess. The editing is atrocious for the first half hour. It’s jumping all over the place, the scenes feel rushed and then it settles down and it’s a great film that really develops the world. I know the trade dispute is boring in a lot of people’s eyes, but I really like how it builds the world. The pod racing scene is great, the effects were incredible at the time and still stand up, then you get to the final duel with Darth Maul and it’s just pure entertainment. The music, the choreography, the final moments. Perfection. While the prequels get a lot of slack for the overuse of CGI, there is a ton of practical effects and miniatures used here and it’s not given enough credit for it.
Episode Two – Attack of the Clones
This is my least favourite Star Wars film. The dialogue is so cringy it’s funny. It’s way too long, but it has the Geonosis section which is fantastic. I really like the way that Anakin starts to take his path towards the dark side when trying to save his mother, it’s a perfect building block for the next film. Count Dooku is one of the more interesting villains in the series. It has a lot of great moments, even if it’s the weakest one. One of them had to be.
Episode Three – Revenge of the Sith
This is an almost perfect film. Every time I watch it, I notice more things. The tragedy of Anakin falling to the dark side and how that is built up is just excellent writing. It’s Shakespearian in the sense that there are so many opportunities for it not to happen, but it has to. The final fight on Mustafar is one of the best fight sequences in the series. The ‘higher ground’ thing makes no sense, but it’s still an epic moment from Obi-Wan.
Episode Four – A New Hope
Talking about perfect films, the original is almost unbeatable. It’s just fantastic from the first moment to the end. The music, the characters, the designs. There isn’t really a bad thing about it. It does look a little dated when compared to the rest of the series, but for a film that is reaching 45 years old, it still looks incredible. It’s where it all started and nothing more needs to be said.
Episode Five – Empire Strikes Back
One of the darkest entries to the series. The rebels are on the losing side most of the way through. It has so many great moments from Hoth, to Yoda’s training and the whole Cloud City sequence. Everyone knows this is an almost perfect film and there’s nothing new that can be said about it. The big reveal at the end is one of most iconic moments in cinema history.
Episode Six – Return of the Jedi
Is there a better trilogy in the history of cinema than the original Star Wars trilogy? The final part is excellent. I love how Luke is in full control of his powers, his costume looks cool. His light saber is my favourite from the entire series, and there’s a deleted scene where he creates it. You can find it on YouTube, or even on the extras on Disney Plus. I like the Ewoks, the final fight is great. It looks really cool. At one point David Lynch was asked to make this one, that would have been very interesting to see.
Episode Seven – The Force Awakens
I think, apart from Endgame, this may have been the most hyped up film of all time when it first came out. Yes it is essentially a remake of A New Hope, but it’s still brilliant from start to finish. Adam Driver is such a good actor, he’s too good for Star Wars, and Kylo Ren is a great villain. I do wish we got one final scene of Luke, Han and Leia together, but I’ve gotten over that since then. The ending is iconic.
Episode Eight – The Last Jedi
Whatever hesitation I had to write this post, is caused by my love of The Last Jedi. I’ve had people tell me online that I’m wrong about this film, and someone I used to work said to my face that I don’t understand Star Wars because I like this film. People hate it so much, and I kind of understand why, but I do think most people’s complaints can be explained. Yes, it’s a tonal shift from episode seven, but so is Empire from the original. Snoke doesn’t get much build up, but neither does the Emperor in the original trilogy. Finn’s subplot doesn’t amount to much, but it’s still entertaining and builds the wider universe in a way that the mainline films hadn’t before. I don’t think they do any injustice to Luke’s character. If you follow his character arc from the end of Jedi, through the second season of Mandalorian, it’s easy to get to The Last Jedi. When he does face down Kylo Ren at the end, it’s simply fantastic. This is the most beautiful film in the series and Rian Johnson deserves his trilogy to be made.
Episode Nine – Rise of Skywalker
When I first saw this, I was expecting a mess. From afar, it is a mess. Still when I saw it in the cinema it’s the most excited, I’ve been during a film in a very long time. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, almost moving about with the ships at the beginning. When you think that Chewbacca might be dead, I felt that like a gut punch. I don’t mind the Emperor coming back. Going back to the Death Star is great and that fight sequence is incredible. Han Solo coming back is a great moment. The final fight is pure adrenaline, Kylo and Rey working together had a smile on my face the entire time. I do think it’s easy to criticise this one, but it’s still a lot of fun when you’re watching it.
Bonus Round – Rogue One
I know a lot of people love this one, but I think it’s the weakest of the Disney films. For one simple reason. The characters are really weak. I walked out of Force Awakens, where I’d avoided all marketing, knowing every character name and who they were. With Rogue One, I’ve seen it 4 times now and beyond Jyn Erso, I don’t know their names. I just didn’t care about them in anyway. It does fix a plot hole from the original, which is the best thing about it. I like that it has really dark moments that feel like a war, the ending is great with how it blends into the original, but I don’t have much else to say about it.
Bonus Round – Solo
I think Solo is a lot better than some people make out. I really like the new characters that are introduced. I love the idea of Crimson Dawn and Darth Maul and I think it’s a real shame that the sequel never happened. It has some great moments and while it’s not the most essential film in the series, it’s still full of great moments. Han and Chewbacca meeting for the first time is excellent.
Final Thoughts and Ranking
So if you’ve made it this far, thank you. I think Star Wars is more alive than ever with all the new shows coming out and films in the works. It’s a good time to be a fan. I do wish that certain aspects of the fanbase weren’t so toxic, but what can you do? It’s just a series about space wizards with laser swords. So my ranking from worst to best:
11 – Attack of the Clones
10 – The Phantom Menace
9 – Rogue One
8 – Solo
7 – Rise of Skywalker
6 – Force Awakens
5 – Return of the Jedi
4 – Revenge of the Sith
3 – A New Hope
2 – Empire Strikes Back
1 – The Last Jedi
Thanks for reading and until next time,
great post – a couple i disagree on, but i find those differences refreshing rather than alienating, and you explain your views really well. don’t know if you ever heard, but Rian Johnson mixed a version of TLJ with only the score and it’s turned up on d+ (not sure when – i only found out on weds, but it might have been there forever). i watched it last night, and it’s like a symphony! lets Steve Yedlin’s cinematography shine even brighter, and the emotion is off the scale.
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Thank you! I didn’t know about that, but it sounds great. I know what I’m watching this weekend
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This is probably my favorite post of yours. I, too, love everything Star Wars (including Last Jedi); I’ve spent this year obsessed with The High Republic. I love when people focus on joy and the things they like. Such a wonderful list.
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Thank you! What I’ve read of The High Republic has been really good, I need to catch up with it.