Star Wars is my favorite thing of all time. Not my favorite movie or book series. Not my favorite fictional universe. Not my favorite story. Star Wars is my favorite thing. I love it more than video games, more than pizza, even more than sleeping in on a Saturday.
With that being said, here’s my list of the eight current Star Wars movies, ranked from worst to best. This list will be updated with each new release in the series, and I still can’t believe we live in a world where we’ll be getting more Star Wars movies over the next decade. What a time to be alive. Enjoy the list!
NOTE: Listen, all three of the prequels suck, let’s get that out of the way. I almost decided not to rank them at all, just to have “The Prequels” be in last place as a tie. Choosing one over another is like saying having someone fart in your face is better than being slapped. One might hurt more physically, but the other can do serious damage to your faith in humanity. However, I thought not ranking them at all would be a bit of a cop-out, especially since there are only eight movies to choose from. So, I did my best. Just know that every time I watch the prequels, I get bummed out. There are very few redeeming qualities in any of them.
Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Here it is, the worst of the worst. Honestly, I considered this a lot longer than I maybe should have, and you could certainly make an argument for any of the prequels to be the worst. But for me, that dishonor goes to Attack of the Clones for introducing us to Hayden Christensen and giving us lines like “I don’t like sand. It’s course, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like you. You’re everything soft and smooth.” Ugh, kill me.
+ Ending Jedi/Clone/Droid battle
+ Padme participates in the action
+ Count Dooku as a character
+ Opening bounty hunter chase
+ Acklay, Reek, and Nexu creatures
– Awful Anakin/Padme dialogue
– Everything that happens on Naboo
– Count Dooku/Anakin fight
– Anakin’s Sand People scene
– Jango Fett going out like a punk
Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Going into this list, I thought Phantom Menace was going to end up at the bottom. At times the movie is downright boring, which is something that can’t be said for any of the others. But its highs are definitely higher than anything in Attack of the Clones, and it at least introduced us to an awesome villain in Darth Maul.
+ Pod Racing
+ Darth Maul battle
+ Mysterious Qui-Gon Jinn
+ Opening infiltration scene
+ Getting to see the Jedi Council
– Jar Jar and the Gungans
– Meandering plot
– Introducing Midichlorians
– Misuse of Darth Maul
– “I’m a person and my name is Anakin”
Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
It was interesting, when I put out a casual Facebook poll, most people responded saying that Revenge of the Sith was not only the best of the prequels, but that it’s actually a good movie in its own right. Those people are crazy, but I suppose they’re right that it at least has the most to offer of the prequels.
+ Most of the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight
+ No Jar Jar
+ Betrayal of the Clone Troopers
+ Fun space opening
+ Last chance for George Lucas to ruin the franchise
– Rushed tie-in ending
– General Grievous
– Underused Padme
– The dialogue makes everyone a bad actor
Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
The most recent disappointment on this list and therefore the one that stings the most, the main story in The Last Jedi just didn’t deliver what I’d expect from a Star Wars movie. Look, I’m glad the rebels weren’t blowing up another Death Star, but two-and-a-half hours of running away? Not all that compelling. And that’s to say nothing of how Rian Johnson ignored the best mysteries from The Force Awakens, and the film’s poor attempts at humor. I thought about putting The Last Jedi below Revenge of the Sith. That should tell you everything you need to know.
+ Luke/Rey relationship
+ Rebel ship shooting through The First Order at light speed
+ Rey/Kylo fight with Snoke’s guards
+ Opening space battle
+ Porgs are cute, I guess
– Movie is too long given the concept
– Story doesn’t deliver on coolest aspects of The Force Awakens
– Everything on Canto Bight
– Poe Dameron isn’t given enough to do
– Cringe-worthy humor
As mediocre action/adventure movies go, Solo is an average one of those. It doesn’t tell all that compelling a story, most of its lead characters are under-developed or kind of boring, and some of its best sequences were spoiled by the trailers. Donald Glover does his best to inject the action with some personality, but he can only do so much. This is a very forgettable film in what should be a memorable, outside-of-this-world franchise.
+ Train chase on Vandor
+ Kessel run and concept of “The Maw”
+ Donald Glover’s Lando
+ Great score that feels unique yet fits into Star Wars perfectly
+ Chewy is my co-pilot
– Alden Ehrenreich lacks the trademark Han charisma
– Qi’ra is a wasted character
– Ridiculous ending double crosses
– Random, unexplained Darth Maul
I know a lot of other people are really high on Rogue One, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed (you can read more about it in my review). I didn’t care about any of the characters, and because of that, I was less interested in their journey. But the action is all pretty fantastic, and that final Vader scene had me gripping the edge of my seat.
+ Cool to see how this all went down
+ Rebel Alliance isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done
+Great set piece battles
+ Final scenes were awesome
+ Some fun fan service
– But too much of a reliance on fan service over storytelling
– Tarkin and Leia are super distracting
– No chemistry between the two leads
– First act is really choppy and rushed
– Amateurish dialogue
Episode VII – The Force Awakens
It’s very hard to compare something old and something new, but I think Force Awakens narrowly misses out on overtaking the original trilogy. There’s plenty to love about it, but I found it too derivative of the old stuff. Come on, we didn’t need another Death Star story. But who knows, maybe I’ll love it more in ten years.
+ Poe Dameron and Finn bromance
+ Great use of old characters
+ Intriguing backstory to characters and world
+ Captured the Original Trilogy “fun” that the Prequels lacked
– Third time we’ve had a “Death Star” story
– Kylo Ren is a whiny baby
– Opening was kind of slow
– Captain Phasma is useless
– Some pointless scenes
Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
When it comes to the original trilogy, I think most people would agree that Return of the Jedi is the weakest. It’s still a great film, but it doesn’t have the dark angle of Empire or the fun adventure of A New Hope. I’ll still definitely take it over any of the prequels, though, and none of the recent films have done anything fresh enough to overtake it.
+ Luke as a Jedi
+ Tatooine sequence
+ Speeder bike chase
+ Han/Leia relationship
+ Struggle between Light/Dark
– Death Star again
– Ewoks are cute but annoying
– Rebel plan was highly flawed
– Ending space battle goes on too long
– Emperor plays Luke too easily
Episode IV – A New Hope
As the introduction to a franchise, A New Hope succeeded on all fronts. It told a standalone story that was completely enjoyable and satisfying in its own right, while also introducing the concept of a larger universe with more stories to tell. It’s not a perfect film, and certainly doesn’t reach the pinnacle of Empire Strikes Back, but I’d still consider A New Hope one of the greatest films ever made.
+ Introduction to the Star Wars universe
+ Darth Vader
+ Obi-Wan mystery
+ Climactic space battle
+ That first opening text crawl and theme
– Simple A-Z story structure
– Luke’s whiny attitude
– “Save the Princess” plot
– Not enough Vader
– Takes too long to bring everyone together
Episode V – The Empire Strike Back
Surprising no one, The Empire Strikes Back reigns as the greatest Star Wars film to date. For me personally, I also consider it my favorite movie of all time, and quite possibly the best movie of all time. But that’s an insane argument for another day. Seriously though, it’s really good.
+ Hoth battle
+ Cloud City
+ “I love you.” “I know.”
+ One of the greatest reveals in cinema history
– Cliffhanger ending could be seen as a negative
– Han/Leia are basically just running from the Empire the entire movie
I tried really hard to think of five negatives for Empire to make it fair, and I just couldn’t. This movie is basically perfect.
And there it is, my current ranking of all ten Star Wars films! I’ll be very interested to see how it fluctuates as the years go by and new films are introduced. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to check out my other movie rankings!
May the force be with you. Always.
11 thoughts on “A Definitive Star Wars Movie Ranking”
“Episode III: Fun space opening”
It was a fun space opening, but Ani decapitating Dooku was fucking metal! That honestly set the stage for me, my 15 year old jaw was on the floor. That shit was only 20 minutes in, and it was glorious.
That sequence is easily my favorite part of that movie. It’s awesome, but there are just too many terrible things for me to say the entire movie is “good.”