Ranking All The ‘Star Wars’ Movies From Best To Worst
Alternative universes and cult followings have long been inspired by old fables, stories passed through ancient decree, and more recently comic books and feature films. However, there have been few stories, if not none, which come close to the worldwide phenomenon called Star Wars.
Ever since George Lucas enthralled the global audience with a film which had a massive budget, mind-boggling creativity and cutting-edge CGI (for 1977), the world has seen the steady growth of an ardent and thoroughly loyal fan-base which could rival most organized religions on our planet. While mankind was still at the cusp of exploring the recently broken frontier of space, George Lucas effortlessly adopted the outer extremities of space to make it the central plank of an ‘out-of-this-world’ story called Star Wars. They had all the right ingredients for a blockbuster movie experience which involved Heroes, Super-villains, Good Vs Evil, a brilliantly connected story and a Star Wars universe that was so vast and brilliant in its unconventionality and detail, that many of the audiences took some time to catch up with a movie/story which was billed to be ‘way ahead of its time’.
All in all, the focus of this franchise has always been the movie adaptations which are billed as the Star Wars ‘Episodes’. And in an unconventional twist to most movie formats, George Lucas decided to start the entire line of Star Wars films with sequels beginning with ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’. This gamble by George Lucas seems to have paid off with the initial tranche of Star Wars films – Episodes IV, V & VI, achieving never before seen box-office numbers previously unknown to sci-fi thrillers.
With a 16 year gap between the last sequel (Episode VI – The Return of The Jedi) and first prequel (Episode I – The Phantom Menace), there was a brief lull in the Star Wars cinematic hyperbole which was somewhat exacerbated by the lack-luster comeback of The Phantom Menace. The second and third instalments added more to the grief.
Now with the change of guard (& owners) at Lucas Arts which produces the Star Wars compendium, we are seeing a massive comeback in Star Wars fever among fan-boys. And with the advent of social media, there has never been so much buzz surrounding the Star Wars universe, which in turn is excellent news for the franchise.
More reach = More fans
As a tribute to Star Wars fans all over the globe, this May the Fourth, we’ll aim to rank all 8 Star Wars films starting with the least favourite (Yes, we’re including Rogue One and we won’t apologize for NOT including un-remarkable features like the Holiday Special & An Ewok adventure). We have dropped these two in a Galaxy, far far away.
8) Star Wars: Episode I – THE PHANTOM MENACE
After a 16 year cool-off period, George Lucas decided the time was right to re-start the Star Wars mania by launching the prequel saga to the Star Wars Episodes IV, V & VI. The movie did not go down as expected with the over-eager Star Wars fanboys and fangirls. Not only did the presence of the annoying Jar Jar Binks (Damn! He was annoying) rile people, but also the fact that the performance rendered by the child actor Jake Lloyd as young Anakin aka Darth Vader, THE MOST ICONIC CHARACTER OF STAR WARS, was a real travesty of cinematic justice. However, the only saving grace of this new series was Liam Neelson who played the knows-all and well-balanced Jedi Master Qui-Gong Jinn and his young and somewhat inexperienced apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi.
What to watch out for: The deadly lightsaber duel to the death between Darth Maul on one side and Quin-Gong Jinn with Obi-Wan Kenobi by his side. Great action and very well shot.
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%
7) Star Wars: Episode II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Despite the fact that the second instalment of the Star Wars prequel series gained much more ground than Episode I, there was a lot which simply put off the fans. Not to say that this movie was a complete disaster story-wise, but the thoroughly weak performances by Natalie Portman as Princess Amidala and Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker simply did not cut ice with the fans. Their expressions seemed force and acting was plastic. Their un-inspiring love story lacked much substance, unlike the passionate story of Han Solo and Princess Leia.
What to watch out for: The epic clash between equals, Obi-Wan Kenobi & Jango Fett. Yoda also unleashes his lightsaber mastery with a battle to save Obi-Wan Kenobi from the clutches of Dark Lord, Count Dooku
IMDB rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 65%
6) Star Wars: Episode VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI
Don’t get us wrong, by no means does this ranking take away from the fact that Return of the Jedi was an iconic ending to an iconic series of sequels. Luke Skywalker finally starts to become what he was born to be, a Jedi warrior, resurrecting the old Jedi code and spirit while simultaneously keeping back the temptations of the ‘Dark Side’ of the Force. All this culminates in the stunning role-reversal where Darth Vader’s clash of conscience vis-à-vis his son brings him back from the Dark Side to save his son from Sith Overlord Emperor Palpatine. However the highly distracting and un-impressive scene where the mighty Empire’s war machine is bogged down by a group of teddy type Ewoks is something that just didn’t go with the pace of this epic saga. Ewoks, you filthy little buzz killers!
What to watch out for: Han Solo is unfrozen from the carbonite by Princess Leia, only confronted by the grotesque interstellar criminal, Jabba the Hutt. Also don’t miss out on the final battle for survival for the Jedi spirit resulting in the death of Emperor Palpatine.
IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
5) Rogue One: A STAR WARS STORY
Ever since Disney took over the rights for the Star Wars Franchise from George Lucas, there seems to be an uptick in the expectations from Star Wars fans all over the globe. Their promise of a Star Wars feature film every year continued with the release of Rogue One, a film dis-jointed from the parallel Star Wars Episodes, but still a robust enough story in itself. Set just before the beginning of Episode IV – A New Hope, Rogue One deals with the story behind the Death Star and how a rebel sympathizer Galen Erso, also the designer of the deadly machine, deliberately sabotages it which is ultimately destroyed by the rebel fleet in Episode IV. With a fairly average story baseline which borrowed heavily from the existing story, Rogue One still managed to deliver a decently made feature film which served the purpose of it deserving a place in the Star Wars ‘Hall of Fame’ feature productions.
What to watch out for: The Epic battle between the Rebel fleet led by Admiral Raddus and its eventual withdrawal after the arrival of the Imperial Fleet led by Lord Darth Vader
IMDB Rating: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
4) Star Wars: Episode III – REVENGE OF THE SITH
The ‘must see’ status of this episode lay more in the absolutely pivotal connection this Episode is to the entire Star Wars Saga. It is through Episode III where the deceptive ways of the Sith truly come to fore resulting in the subsequent destruction of the Republic and the establishment of the First Galactic Imperial Empire. It shows the slow descent into darkness of Jedi Protégé Anakin Skywalker who instead of being the savior of the Jedi Order, ended up destroying it, all for some twisted idea of protecting the love of his life Princess Padme Amidala from certain death. He tried, he failed and fulfilled his destiny to become the deadly Sith Lord, DARTH VADER! Hurray!
What to watch out for: Anakin’s descent into darkness compels him to face off against his mentor and closest friend Obi-Wan Kenobi in an epic lightsaber battle which leaves Anakin battling for his life and on the verge of death. Also watch out for Anakin’s blood-curdling betrayal of the Jedi Order and ends up killing younglings while he desecrates the Jedi Temple. That was dark.
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
3) Star Wars: Episode IV – A NEW HOPE
As the original STAR WARS film, the beautiful sense of foreboding which one sees the opening scene where a young Luke Skywalker looking over a beautiful dual sunset at this Home Planet on Tatooine has come to define the advent of an age which would stretch over decades and millions of fans. Set as the opposite side of the same coin with reference to Rogue One, a young Luke Skywalker unravels his premeditated future as he meanders across the travails of his legacy with the help of a silent benefactor Obi-Wan. And with this, started a sci-fi revolution which may never be replicated on this scale ever again.
IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
2) Star Wars: Episode VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS
We should try to look beyond what looks like us taking sides in the George Lucas VS J.J. Abrams issue, and focus on what was actually delivered to the impatient and charged up fan club. The Force Awakens was a more than welcome addition to the Star Wars saga which was delivered in a crisp and exciting format without straying too far away from the original storyline. Set in post Palpatine-Vader era, the galaxy is still dominated by the Imperial Forces led by new Vader ‘Kylo Ren’, Han & Leia’s son who turned to the Dark Side. But the credible rebel alliance led by Princess Leia is compelled to act on a new ‘Planet Killer’ Death Star, which sets up the premise for an epic reunion between the Princess and her estranged lover Han Solo and Chewie to confront their ‘misguided son’. All this is part of a bigger game which sees the return of the Last Jedi Luke Skywalker which we will see in Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
What to watch out for: Stellar performances by a slew of new characters and well-paced storyline betray J.J. Abrams penchant for wit & brilliance.
IMDB Ratings: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
1) Star Wars: Episode V – EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
When the ‘Empire Strikes Back’, it strikes back hard!! Episode V has earned its place in Star Wars folklore as the undisputed King of the Star Wars feature film franchise. What stuck out was the amazingly smooth transition from the previous episode leading viewers into an action packed sequel which has more twists than a pig’s tail. The cliffhanger scene where Darth Vader reveals his parentage to Luke Skywalker has come to be universally recognized as THE defining moment in this momentous saga called Star Wars. All in all, a true winner in one of the most difficult ranking lists ever made.
What to watch out for: The revelation of the ‘Universal Star Destroyer’, the flagship of Lord Vader’s imperial fleet as they chase Han Solo and his crew into the asteroid field along with the lightsaber duel towards the end.
IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
We will admit something, the biggest problem with ranking an art is that the value derived is all about perspective. Perspective for different artistic ventures like movies is again all about perspective, but we tend to follow a general consensus among movie-goers as to how impactful the story really is. Star Wars has enthralled three generations with its brilliant storytelling, out of this world special effects and sheer scale of the endless Star Wars universe. The release of The Force Awakens under their aegis of the Disney brand led by a creative team under J.J. Abrams has stalled any apprehension that was harboured by us, the fans. It has in fact catapulted us into a zone of major expectations from the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, due for release towards the end of this year. We wonder, what effect would The Last Jedi have on this present list? I guess we all will just have to wait to find out.
May the Fourth be with you!!!