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Star Wars Movies: From Worst to Best
April 28, 2023
A long time ago, we were introduced to the Star Wars galaxy. Since that fateful July day in 1977, Star Wars has grown into a multi-billion dollar franchise, which has released 12 theatrical movies. There are the main nine movies, plus the spin-offs Solo, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
These movies range wildly in the quality of their plots, acting, and effectiveness of their fit into the Star Wars canon. You have some of these movies which are on the same level as the Sistine Chapel, and others that are horrible, boring, and just a pain to watch. I’ll be ranking each of them in ascending order, so the worst will be first, and the best will be last. Will you agree with me? Read on to find out.
12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Not many people today seem to know about this animated film. However, it is absurd that this movie is what started one of the best things to come out of Star Wars, namely, Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show. That show played an important role in the expansion of the Star Wars universe by introducing characters like Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s new apprentice.
Unfortunately, The Clone Wars movie itself is easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen, featuring flat characters as who is super annoying in this movie. The characters are flat, especially Ahsoka, who is super annoying. Still, I enjoyed a few aspects of this movie, including one of the battles of the Clone Wars, some decent voice acting, and intriguingly shaky camera angles. My praise, unfortunately, ends there for this flick, which is hands down the worst Star Wars movie.
11. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Where do I even begin with this movie? The characters suck, the motivations suck, and while there is no scant development for the main characters, they do develop the main villain, which makes very little sense. This movie feels like a four-year-old playing with his Star Wars action figures. Nothing makes sense. This movie is two hours and 34 minutes long, but it would have easily been better if they’d cut out some of the subplots and shortened it down to 90 minutes.
Finn (a former storm trooper turned rebel hero played by John Boyega) is sidelined for much of the film, which is disappointing. I still stand by the fact that Finn should have been the last Jedi, not Rey. This movie also has the best examples of character assassination in movie history. Some will assume I mean the character of Luke Skywalker, who kind of channels a surprising, anti-hero theme, but personally, I kind of like what they did with his character in that it proves the warning to “never meet your heroes.”
No, I’m talking about how the writers “killed” the character of Poe Dameron, the Han Solo-type figure who had such promise in The Force Awakens. I’d argue that the director and/or writers ruin what could have been a pivotal character simply because he doesn’t listen to orders, hates generals, and can’t seem to figure out his role in the movie. Just a waste. One positive: I do enjoy the visuals of final battle on the mineral planet of Crait, and that gives it the edge over The Clone Wars.
10. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
Oh boy, this is a rollercoaster of a movie. There are some pretty cool moments, and then there’s other parts that are awful. There is so much trash in this movie that I’m surprised that it isn’t considered a landfill. Emperor Palpatine is back, with no explanation for his resurrection other than the writers had run out of ideas and got lazy. In fact, the one way Palpatine’s return could’ve been adequately explained is in the Darth Bane book series, which is no longer in the Star Wars canon. Why should we be made to read a book that’s no longer considered canon for something like this?
The writers also introduce the concept of force healing in this movie, which I personally hate. There’s some vaguely explained concept that one Darth Plagueis had been extremely powerful–so powerful and wise that he figured out how to create life. But again, it seems nothing more than a pretext for the writers trying to write themselves out of a hole. Now, in The Rise of Skywalker, we have Rey, who only learned that she even had the force about a year prior, suddenly becoming powerful enough to heal lifeforms (with no training, I might add). Really? I’m not buying it.
Predictable is the word of the day for this movie, like when Rey shoots force lightning, just so we know she is (spoiler alert!) related to Palpatine. There are a few okay moments, such as Luke catching the Skywalker Lightsaber as a ghost, but nevertheless, this movie is a mess.
9. Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
I disliked this movie as much as Anakin dislikes sand. As he says, “it’s rough, it’s irritating, and it gets everywhere.” This movie just draaags on and on. The final battle sets are all boring and bland, as is the red rock planet of Geonosis on which much of the action takes place. If we were on a different planet, such as Naboo or Coruscant, then this would be a different story. Another location, Tatooine, is back briefly to provide a pretext for setting up Anakin’s turn to the dark side, but otherwise, adds nothing.
Now for the total cringe parts: the love scenes between Anakin and Padme. Spare me, please…the ultimate odd couple. The dialogue is horrible and stilted, but at least we get to learn a bit about the backstory of Jango Fett. Overall, this movie is the worst of the prequel movies by a landslide.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Up next is easily the most forgettable Star Wars movie of all time. I just rewatched this movie and I couldn’t tell you a thing about the plot. Still, if you don’t expect much and can over how forgettable it is, it’s actually a decent movie while you’re watching it. We are introduced to much younger versions of beloved characters like Lando Calrissian and Han Solo. Donald Glover is charming as a young Lando, even sounding like Billy Dee Williams, while Alden Ehrenreich captures the growing cockiness of a young Han. I do ahve an issue with the fact that no one really asked for a Han Solo backstory movie, and considering the box office performance, most fans agreed with me.
7. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The first chronological movie in the Star Wars saga is probably one of the more bland movies in Star Wars. However, there are some good moments to balance out the bad. The Duel of the Fates is a really good duel. Seeing Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Darth Maul duel is a highlight, despite the movie’s plot holes, such as when they establish that the Jedi can use the force to speed themselves up. Unfortunately, they never use that ability again. This movie is also full of some “politics” scenes which can be extremely boring, although I personally found them interesting as they lay the groundwork for how the Star Wars galaxy works.
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This is really the start of the movies I consider to be really good in the Star Wars saga. For being the first movie using the A Star Wars Story title, this is easily the best one. The one scene that solidified this as one of my favorites is the final scene with Darth Vader in the hallway. Please Disney, more Star Wars projects on the same quality of the Vader hallway scene, less of The Last Jedi. Besides the masterpiece that is Vader in the hallway, this movie is actually pretty good. Some parts of the movie reminds me of a Vietnam movie. Other parts are not the greatest, however I will defend this movie until the day I die.
5. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens is a pretty good introduction to the final trilogy of movies, so it’s unfortunate that its two sequels turned out the way they did. I place a lot of that blame on the decision to make Rey, rather than Finn, the savior-from-nowhere hero of the triology. Rey, an orphan on the desert planet of Tatooine, is a good character up until they inexplicably make her super powerful in the force, even though she’s just learned it even exists. At least people like Anakin and Luke had to do months or years of training to be competent in their force abilities, but it comes so easily and quickly to Rey that it stretches all credulity.
Despite this, it’s a solid movie overall, with Kylo Ren as a Darth Vader-like intimidating, helmuted villain, Poe Dameron as a new, Han Solo-like supporting hero, and of course, the return of legacy characters Leia, Han, and Chewbacca. Far older and grayer than in Return of the Jedi they are still a welcome sight.
4. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
The third film in the original trilogy is probably the weakest, but it still is one of the best. The setpieces are standouts in the series, with the planet of Endor and the floating pleasure ship of Jabba the Hutt playing memorable roles. One of my favorite scenes involves the rescue of Han Solo, last seen frozen in carbonite. The special effects of unfreezing him may seem hokey now, but are pretty astounding for the time this movie was made.
I really enjoy the tortured interactions between Luke and Vader, and the Emperor is delightfully menacing as he tries to turn Luke to the dark side and Vader wrestles with his own demons. As with many fans, I have a problem with the mighty Empire being defeated by teddy bear-like Ewoks, but I can put that aside. This is a solid movie.
3. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
For the first-ever movie for Star Wars, this movie does a pretty good job of establishing the universe in which so much will happen. The mystery around Luke’s father, while quick, shows just the right amount of intrigue. Knowing what we know now about the Skywalker family, from a certain point of view, Vader did kill Luke’s father, right?
If I’m really critical, I have to admit that I do feel like this movie is missing something. Maybe it’s because some of the action isn’t quite to the same quality as the rest of the saga, but that’s besides the point, as this is a great prologue film for a huge saga, establishing the Empire as a tyrannical force, and the Rebellion as the scrappy Davids trying to defeat Goliath.
2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This movie will always hold a special place in my heart, as this was the first Star Wars movie I ever watched. This movie is easily one of my favorites. The plot twist that heard around the world about Vader being Luke’s father is brilliant. I enjoy everything about this movie,so it’s hard to come up with any criticisms. From the Battle of Hoth to the true realization of the might of the Empire, this is the first movie that I remember watching in which the protagonists lose, as Han gets frozen in carbonite, Luke loses his hand, and the Rebellion faces a series of losses.
This movie also treats us to the introduction of new characters which quickly became favorites, such as the all-wise Yoda and the peppy, flamboyant Lando. I could go on about how funny he is in this movie. Boba Fett, while barely saying anything in this movie, became one of the most popular characters in Star Wars.
1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This is it, my favorite Star Wars movie by a landslide. This movie is what really got me hooked on to the Star Wars canon to begin with. The conflicts are absolutely phenomenal, as Anakin’s growing disdain of the Jedi Order creates a dread of the inevitable. You know what he’s going to choose, but can’t help mentally screaming, “No, Anakin! Don’t do it!”
In the movie (unlike in the first two of this triology), the character of Anakin actually works, with his fall to the dark side being masterfully done. The lightsaber duels are amazingly choreographed, with phenomenal camera work. Anakin vs. Obi-Wan is my favorite fight done in any movie, ever. The shot of Anakin and Obi-Wan locked together in the lava river is the best shot in all the Star Wars movies.
I do have to admit that seeing “Order 66” (the genocide of the Jedi) put into place is a depressing scene. Seeing the once mighty Jedi Order fall is heartbreaking. While other Star Wars movies are always excellent ways to unwind, I don’t just go and watch A New Hope on a whim.
Finally, for being a movie from 2005, the CGI holds up pretty well compared to other movies at the time. The scenes with the sinister General Grievous and the seemingly miles and miles of clone soldiers are also highlights.
So there you have it: The Star Wars movies from worst to best. If you’re looking for a binge-worthy experience this summer, watch or re-watch them (in what ever order you choose), on Disney+.