List has been updated to include The Last Jedi.
9. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
This movie is bad in pretty much every way. I really wouldn’t say that about any other movie in the franchise in all honesty, but this one deserves it. The acting is wooden and dull, the dialogue is the worst that it’s ever been in the franchise, the action is so CGI-heavy that it looks like a cartoon, etc. I’ve already reviewed this movie so you can check out my in-depth thoughts there. Although this movie has some creativity, its execution is so bad that I really can’t give it too many points for that.
8. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
To be completely honest, this movie has quite a few redeeming qualities. It’s still a below average film, but there are several elements of this movie that I genuinely like. I thought that Darth Maul, despite not really being a developed character, was absolutely awesome and the lightsaber duel between him, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon is legitimately one of the best in the saga. I also like the practicality of the movie; it feels less CGI-reliant than the other two prequels and there are a lot of scenes filmed on-location. The real, tangible droids and aliens also really add to the feel of the settings. However, Phantom Menace is still laden with problems. Its dialogue is wooden and dry, the characters are thin, and the story isn’t all that interesting since it focuses so heavily on boring politics. But I’d be lying if I said that there aren’t things I legitimately like about this movie.
7. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This is the prequel that finally felt like it was getting somewhere story-wise. The characters are far more likable in this movie than they’ve ever been and there are some story beats, like Order 66, that are utter genius. But Revenge of the Sith still suffers from the issues that predated it with the other two prequels. The acting is still a mixed bag (although Ewan McGregor REALLY shines here) and the dialogue can still be too stiff at times. The lightsaber fights are also way too over-the-top and I feel like the motivations for Anakin to turn to the dark side were not properly set up. For as many moments that I like in this movie, there are equally as many that I dislike, which makes this movie hard to review. But overall, it’s just OK.
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I was so excited about this movie and was somewhat let down. It’s not like Rogue One is a bad movie; it’s got a ton of incredible moments. The entire second half is straight-up amazing. But the characters and story are both so thin that watching this movie is a very unfulfilling experience. I liked Rogue One a lot when I first saw it, but as I saw it again and again, the more I realized that it’s extremely hollow and bland. The final battle is incredible; I could watch it a million times and never get bored with it. It’s so good that I can forgive the lack of character depth for second half of the film. But, unfortunately, the first half isn’t nearly entertaining enough for me to give it the same pass. It kinda just drags along by plot devices without anything super interesting going on. The movie as a whole lacks the charm that makes the next four Star Wars movies so good, making Rogue One a somewhat bland film.
5. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Last Jedi is gorgeous, well-made, and has a ton of great performances. But it falls short and could’ve been so much more. It’s messy, has a couple poorly written story/character elements, and has surprises that feel like they’re just included for shock value. It’s plenty entertaining, and is definitely a step up from Rogue One in terms of story and character depth, but it simply doesn’t stand up to the truly great movies of the franchise. I enjoy it, but it’s got a ton of problems.
4. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is not a perfect movie. It’s got a few glaring issues that have been discussed by many people ever since it came out. But I’d challenge anyone who says that this movie does not wrap up the Star Wars trilogy in an emotionally satisfying fashion. There’s just so many great moments in this movie: the sail barge fight, the lightsaber fight between Luke and Vader, Vader’s redemption, the second death star blowing up, etc. Sure, the movie has Ewoks. And I’m not a huge fan of them; the fact that they are able to take down stormtroopers with sticks and rocks is beyond ridiculous. And I’d even argue that the second act of this movie is somewhat bland. But the emotional core in this movie makes up for the flaws that it may have.
3. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
I have never been more excited for a movie in my entire life. Everything about this movie was so secretive and mysterious that actually seeing it made it the greatest theater experience that I’ve ever had. Let’s just cut to the chase; this movie rocks. Not only did it set up excellent new characters, but it treated the older ones with love and respect. The story may be similar to A New Hope, but that has never bothered me because it has a very different feel to it. I do not think I could watch A New Hope and The Force Awakens interchangeably because they just are not the same movie. Aside from Starkiller Base, which I felt was unnecessary, I loved pretty much everything else about this movie. I cannot wait to see what Disney does next with these great new characters.
2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
The one that started it all. Isn’t it crazy that a movie made forty years ago is still so beloved? This movie pretty much perfect in every way. It is so infectiously fun that I always get so excited before watching it. The plot is structured beautifully and the world-building is absolutely incredible. Luke, Leia, Han, and the other characters sneaking around the interior of the Death Star is still completely riveting to this day, as is the final space battle. All of the characters have so much personality that it’s no wonder why they are still as iconic as they are. As amazing as this movie is, it’s still not my favorite movie in the franchise.
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Dark. Emotional. Intelligent. Deep. The Empire Strikes Back is about as good as movies get. From Yoda teaching Luke incredibly relatable lessons about the force to Vader’s eventual shocking reveal, this movie never doesn’t have a single dull moment. The story is expertly crafted and the performances and dialogue really sell all of the important moments. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it. Like now. Right now! Turn off your computer and run!!