Ranking the Star Wars Films

The Star Wars films are timeless tales of a youth who comes from humble beginnings and sets out on an adventure with the fate of the galaxy resting in their hands. It’s a story, in a different form, that has been told for generations which resonates with us all. There is much controversy as to which film is better than others; prequels versus originals, and now even prequels versus originals versus sequels. This article will give some insight into why some of the films are overrated, why some films are great, regardless of popular opinion, and why some of the films may simply be mediocre.

7. Attack of the Clones

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While  Attack of the Clones isn’t a bad film per se, it is a mediocre one and the worst of the Star Wars films. It is in a class of its own on the bottom of this list, which each of the other films being much closer in rank. While Attack of the Clones had a great premise, amazing visuals, and a wonderful score by composer John Williams, it was plagued by clunky dialogue and horrible pacing. The editing was god awful, and it is by far the worst Star Wars film, although it does have some wonderful moments and it is not a horrible movie.

6. A New Hope

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There was a time when A New Hope wasn’t even known by A New Hope; it was simply called Star Wars. It was the movie that started it all and is a wonderful film in its own right, but it doesn’t have the kind of depth the other Star Wars films have, which is why it is so low on this list. It was revolutionary and created the modern-day summer blockbuster, but that doesn’t make it the best Star Wars film. A New Hope’s pacing is so-so, the dialogue is a little cheesy (although this is more of a preference), much like the rest of the series, and it lacks the emotional impact that the other films do, even with Obi-Wan’s death and Luke’s eventual triumph.

5. The Phantom Menace

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Jar Jar Binks did not ruin Star Wars. There, I said it. Now, with that out of the way, The Phantom Menace had a tough job on its hands. It had to lay the foundation for an entire saga (the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker), and it did a fantastic job of doing that and establishing key plot points that would be pivotal down the road. Jake Lloyd was not nearly as terrible acting-wise as some would have you believe (he was only eight years old) and it has the best pacing of any of the Star Wars films, even at times being “mired” by the political backdrop of the prequels. These politics are important though because they all lead to one of the most important scenes in Star Wars: when Palpatine pronounces himself Emperor. Darth Maul was a really cool character and the lightsaber battle at the end was the second or third best in the series. Jar Jar was a little annoying, but he didn’t destroy the enjoyment of the film. Enough said.

4. Return of the Jedi

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Return of the Jedi saw the spiritual death of Darth Vader and the “return” of Anakin Skywalker. If only the movie had more Palpatine, Luke, and Vader scenes. These scenes were done to perfection and is why Return of the Jedi is so high on this list. The rest of the film was just okay. The beginning was important to wrap up plot points dangling from the previous film and establish Luke as a powerful Jedi, but it simply drags on for too long. The Ewoks weren’t terrible, but the Battle of Endor simply wasn’t believable and while the space battle against the Death Star was impressive, I was much more interested and invested in Luke’s story with his father, Anakin, who the whole saga is based on. Everything with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor is perfection. Everything is, well, okay at best.

3. The Force Awakens

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I was both surprised and skeptical when a sequel trilogy for the Star Wars films was first announced. I went into The Force Awakens with no expectations at all. I found it surprisingly satisfying though. On the surface, it may seem to simply be a re-hash of A New Hope, but there are so many different layers to the film on multiple viewings, and fans will analyze the “forceback” scene to no end. If Rey is a Skywalker and my theory is correct, Kylo/Ben is a mirror image of Vader before the suit, and Rey is a mirror image of Anakin Skywalker himself. Many people refer to Rey as a Mary Sue character, but I disagree. Yes, she’s resourceful, she can use the Force out of nowhere (“They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force.” – Qui Gon Jinn), and she’s kick ass in general, but there’s also a vulnerability and a loneliness to her. She also has a bit of a dark side in her, like Anakin, as she was ready to kill Kylo on the spot before the ground split during their saber duel, which was probably the best behind Sith and Empire. Regardless of all of that, the film was a lot of fun, harkened back to the glory days of the Star Wars films, and had some hidden depth. I just need the continuation of that final scene!

2. The Empire Strikes Back

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The Empire Strikes Back is lavished as the best of the Star Wars films, and for good measure. It had the depth that A New Hope lacked, it was the dark middle act in a trilogy, and it had one of the greatest reveals in all of film history. In 1980, no one could have guessed that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Whether Lucas already knew this or not in 1977 is up to debate, but, that doesn’t make the twist any less genius. It is what defined Star Wars as the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker. Yoda was an incredible character and the puppetry used to bring him to life was so realistic that I would have believed he was an actual person (if you can define Yoda as a person?). The dialogue in the film is also the best in the series, as a whole. Empire had the depth, darkness, acting, and story that is superior to almost every Star Wars film, which is why it takes the number two spot on our list.

1. Revenge of the Sith

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Revenge of the Sith is the finale of the George Lucas Star Wars films, and he went out with a bang. Action packed with a lightning-speed pace, Revenge of the Sith tells the story of the fall of Anakin Skywalker. It is not a perfect film, but if you view Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the Dark Side as a two-hour transformation into the suit rather than a one-hour turn, the story actually does work. The lightsaber battle with Obi-Wan and Anakin is the best saber duel in the Star Wars films, hands down. You really see Anakin’s struggle to do the right thing in the film, from telling Palpatine he shouldn’t kill Dooku because he’s an “unarmed prisoner” and it’s “not the Jedi way”, to telling Mace Windu to arrest Palpatine because he’s “unarmed” and it’s “not the Jedi way.” Both respond that the latter is “too dangerous to be left alive”, and while the dialogue is not perfect in Revenge of the Sith, it’s these subtleties that make the film great. It also shows the hypocritical nature of the Jedi and gives Anakin one of his motivations for turning to the Dark Side.

Revenge of the Sith has depth, it has amazing action, it has decent acting (something the prequels were criticized for), and it tells a very human tale that resonates with people. The dialogue isn’t perfect, but there are parts that rhyme with one another, like a stanza in a poem, and when noticed gives one a very gratifying feeling. Revenge of the Sith is the best of the Star Wars films, although with how strong The Force Awakens was, a film in the sequel trilogy just may overtake it, with Looper’s Rian Johnson at the helm for the next installment in the Star Wars saga.

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