Now that I have spent time sharing my thoughts on all of the Star Wars movies, I thought it might be fun to share my definitive (as of 2020) ranking of all the Star Wars films.
A couple of caveats:
a) Often times this list can change depending on stage of life, mood, etc. I am trying to stick with my most common rankings.
b) This list is based on my own feelings, which include nostalgia and emotional connection. If I had to rank the movies based on the quality of the film, the list would probably look significantly different.
Here we go, starting with my least favorite and working up the ladder.
11. Attack of the Clones - While the action sequences in this movie are great and Ewan MacGregor is a highlight, the romance is forced and the excessive CG make it feel more like a video game.
10. The Phantom Menace - This movie does an excellent job of visualizing a different period in the history of the galaxy and a lot of the CG and miniature work holds up well, but the pacing and clunky acting often hold this movie back. Also, I still love the pod race scene.
9. Revenge of the Sith - I considered moving this one a little higher, but the clunky dialog and still undeveloped characters kept it toward the bottom. The lightsaber fight, however, is one of the best in the series and the second half of the movie is the right amount of dark, tense, and tragic.
8. The Rise of Skywalker - It may be too soon to definitively rank this movie since I have only seen it twice, but the plot makes too many weird choices and does not give its characters enough room to breathe. On the flip side, I do love the new characters and felt their storylines concluded in a satisfactory way.
7. Solo - This movie gets an unnecessary bad rap, but it was a ton of fun and introduced a lot of new great characters. If you can get past a new actor playing Han Solo, everyone clearly enjoyed making this movie, and it is pure fun to watch.
6. Rogue One - Many people say this is the best of the Disney Star Wars movies, and I love this movie, but the beginning feels a little hectic. Once it gets going, about 30 minutes into the movie, it really clicks. I am afraid, however, that the CG Tarkin will not age well.
5. The Last Jedi - Like many, I came out of the theater a little dumbstruck after this movie. Nothing progressed as I expected, but I knew right away that I liked it. The more I watch and think about this movie, the more I like it. The way it handles deconstruction and reconstruction, as well as greater spiritual issues is emotional and powerful.
4. The Force Awakens - This movie was the best way to resurrect a franchise. The new characters were fresh and incredibly likable, the story was tight and engaging, and a whole new generation of girls were drawn into the franchise. The plot was definitely familiar, but I was able to forgive it thanks to the great new characters.
3. A New Hope - The first time anyone ever saw X-Wings, lightsabers, Jedi, Darth Vader, and the Millennium Falcon is hard to keep off the top of the list, but at this point I have to appeal primarily to emotional connection. While this movie is incredible and occasionally spends time in the number one slot, the next two have more emotional connections to barely beat it out.
2. The Empire Strikes Back - Twenty years ago, I would have been shocked to see this one so high on my list. Until the prequels, it was my least favorite Star Wars movie. As I have matured, I have become more familiar with the trials the characters experience and view the darkness of the plot with much more understanding.
1. Return of the Jedi - While not the best film of the originals, I have the most positive memories wrapped up in this movie. Luke's green lightsaber moment, speeder bikes through the forest of Endor, and the biggest space battle I had ever seen sum up what Star Wars means for me. I think any future movie will have a hard time dethroning this one!
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