After the Skywalker saga, which spanned nine major films and two spin-off feature films, finally ended, we decided to make – as usual – the best and most authoritative list ranking the Star Wars movies. These eleven films marked and raised not just one but many generations of film lovers. And therefore – May the Force be with you and enjoy!
The rules and ranking criteria are the quality of the film itself, historical significance, consistency in narration and character development, originality in approach, and so on – with the proviso that this list will not have ratings. Still, the films will only be ranked by their quality, with explanations.
The reason for this is the fact that, and I have to admit this openly, I’m not objective enough to give ratings to individual films, as I could with earlier charts. Star Wars is much more to me than a regular movie series, and I tend, even when I might not need to, to ignore the shortcomings and share higher ratings for these films because they are so much more than any single film. They are – Star Wars! (Now imagine Williams’ introductory composition playing and enjoy the top list.)
11. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
Lucas’ Episode II is probably the biggest mess of all Star Wars movies, which acted as a weird blend of children’s movies and what Star Wars should be. Although she had her own narrative role and fine-tuned the stories of Anakin and his mentor Obi-Wan, the fact is that the final product was below average and quite uninteresting compared to the other films.
On the positive side, we should point out the genesis of Stormtroopers, Young and Boba Fett, and the introduction of Count Dooku. Still, everything else, unfortunately, was unworthy of the rest of the series.
10. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
This second anthology film wasn’t all that bad in itself – it had great scenery, good action, and a story that very nicely filled in the gaps in the history of Han Solo and Chewbacca – but after watching it, you can’t help but think that the film was missing something big. Although he used a lot of proven formulas from Lucas’ films and inserted an element of anti-tyranny, Solo simply failed to break through the dimensions of the commercial action spectacle.
Good new characters, the great Donald Glover, as well as the return of Darth Maul, managed to give the film a certain charm, but not enough for a higher place on the list. Still, it was better than its predecessor only because the story of this film was more complete than Episode II.
9. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Objectively, Episode IX is the worst sequel to the so-called The Sequel trilogy, which, much like Episode VII, copied a lot, being even less successful than Abrams’ first Star Wars movie.
Although it rounded off the story well and served as the perfect epilogue to the Skywalker saga, this film, viewed as a stand-alone work outside of its serial context, deserves no more than ninth place.
8. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
The long-awaited revitalization of the Star Wars series came by J.J. Abrams, who brought this film its usual quality and spectacular production, but not the soul of Lucas’ films. Although Episode VII was almost a plagiarism of Lucas’ Episode IV with new faces and a slightly changed narrative, it was at the same time enough to offer some initial enthusiasm but also not enough to permanently valorize such a lack of originality.
Like Episode IX, Episode VII is by no means a bad movie, but it is too sure and too famous for great new characters (Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron, Snoke) and beloved legends (Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker) to have some more lasting significance.
7. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
This is the first film whose placement I doubted, given that this is by far the bravest, if not the best, part of the so-called Sequel trilogy. Johnson made a different Star Wars film and, miraculously, did it quite well, with which most of the world’s critics agreed. Mark Hamill masterfully performed his role and really brought out the whole film, showing how Luke Skywalker – despite all the comic and, at first, perhaps atypical scenes for him – really matured into a true Jedi master who can stand alongside his mentor, Ben Kenobi, and Yoda.
While I’m sure it could have made it a little higher on the list, I put Episode VIII in this place solely because Lucas’ original trilogy has undeniably greater historical and cultural significance. However, Ryan Johnson’s courage, good story, outstanding production, and a new series of powerful acting interpretations make this film worthy of all praise and a potentially cult classic for decades when impressions subside, and its actual quality is objectively valorized.
6. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Although I’m a big fan of Ewok, Episode VI ultimately seemed to me to be the weakest part of Lucas ’original trilogy. Although it had everything that the previous two films had, including an emotional and strong ending, Episode VI had the problem concerning New Hope and – especially – Empire Strikes Back. It offered absolutely nothing new but used a well-constructed story and a proven formula to conclude the trilogy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the fact is that other films are better because of that.
5. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Although critics mostly state that Episode I is the worst part of the whole series, it seems to me that with age, the beginning of the so-called prequel trilogy experienced numerous apologies. This film offers a lot – great Qui-Gon Jinn and young Obi-Wan Kenobi, the beginning of the story of Palpatine and Darth Vader, great set design, creepy Darth Maul – and I think, in retrospect, it was one of the more daring Star Wars films.
The Phantom Menace is different, but it has everything that an introduction to such a big saga should have, and if Lucas also commercialized the saga a bit with this film – he shouldn’t be blamed so much. After all, when a movie offers you a song like “Duel of the Fates,” you don’t complain; just sit back and watch enthusiastically.
4. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
The film, which was officially introduced in 1977 under the title Star Wars, marked the beginning of the greatest film story ever told. Although critics initially disliked it, believing that a film like this, in an era when Hollywood explored complex, dark dramas, seemed childish, George Lucas’ vision turned out to be more enduring than many of its competitors.
With some beginner’s mistakes, Episode IV offered enough in the field of characters, production, set design, and, most of all, narration to become a timeless classic and one of the most important films in history.
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One is undoubtedly the best movie from the “Disney era” of Star Wars. Gareth Edwards picked up the best from Lucas, including that essence (which turned out to be very complex to copy!), And completed the story between Episodes III and IV in the best possible way.
With a tense story, extraordinary production, and the best that modern technology can give in terms of scenography, Rogue One did “waste” its characters. Still, it did it in the best way because it managed, with only one film, to make Jyn, Cassian, and the inimitable K-2SO that we truly miss as worthy members of the Skywalker saga.
2. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Episode III concluded the so-called Prequel trilogy in the best possible way and offered some of the best parts of Lucas’ vision we’ve seen over four decades. With a tense story, (un) expected twists, and a story about the death that gave birth to the Empire, Revenge of the Sith is a masterfully made film that best portrays the collapse of the Republic and the essence of the struggle between the Jedi and the Sith.
Williams’ music wonderfully complements the sword fight scenes, and the protagonist’s excellent acting interpretations make this film the second-best work in Lucas’ saga, which is an indispensable part of that great puzzle.
1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Empire Strikes Back is not only the best film in Lucas’ story, but without further thought, it is one of the best films ever made. Lucas’s mentor, independent filmmaker Irvin Kershner, did a masterfully unique directing job, bringing Star Wars closer to art film as much as possible.
With a beautiful story that took us through the wonderful space scenery (the segment on Hoth is still one of the best parts of the whole saga), a display of all the power and danger that Darth Vader and the Empire carried with them, introducing new characters, Lando Calrissian, Yoda) and shocking discoveries, Episode V also managed, in the best possible way, to embody the essence of this series, successfully combining it with the best and most impressive production, which is why it is unrivaled in this place, just like the timeless, cult classic.
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