Ranking the Galaxy Far, Far Away

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A long time ago (the 70s), in a galaxy far, far away (Hollywood), our hero, the aspiring George Lucas, attempted to obtain the rights to a childhood favorite of his, Flash Gordon, so he could make his own adaptation. However, upon failing to obtain these rights, he attempted to create a space adventure that, unbeknownst to him and the world, would go down as one of the most momentous movies of all time. Of course, this movie was Star Wars. And 40 years later, the franchise has shown no signs of slowing down. Lucasfilms still pumps out Star Wars movies to this day, and one can see the evolution of the story. As of now, ten movies have been released in the main cannon of the franchise, with a new movie on the horizon. And here, we have compiled a list ranking all ten of these movies in honor of May the Fourth and Revenge of the Fifth. So, may the force be with you, young padawans, as we talk about the Star Wars franchise.

10. Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones is easily the worst of the movies in the prequel trilogy. Many of the scenes drag on for way too long. Along with this, it suffers from the same issue of the prior installment in terms of characterization. Many characters are relatively devoid of life, and those that were annoying in the The Phantom Menace are somehow written even worse. It is unfathomable how poorly characters such as Padmé and Anakin Skywalker are handled throughout the movie. Another trope exemplified is the underwhelming characterization of the main antagonists. This movie introduced many villains like Jango Fett and Count Dooku. However, none of these characters receive the attention they deserve until the spin-off series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which didn’t air until years later. This movie does not even have the iconic meme-worthy moments that other movies in the franchise have. Not only is it a poorly executed movie, but it also lacks the hilarious moments that exemplify the Star Wars franchise. Overall, the movie doesn’t wholly feel like a Star Wars film. It has the flashy fights, the intergalactic environments, and the iconic characters, but lacks the same charm that other movies have, and is a bit of a boring installment in the series.

9. The Phantom Menace 

Episode I of the Star Wars franchise is often met with negative reviews. It is often panned for the boring and borderline annoying characters throughout, such as Young Anakin Skywalker and, the infamous, Jar Jar Binks. Along with that, it suffers from the major issue of characterization. It isn’t really done right for any characters besides Obi-Wan Kenobi, who really is the shining figure of the prequels. This is sad, as many of the characters have interesting setups, but their true potential is never seen. Even the villain, Darth Maul, is incredibly lackluster, and his presence seems inconsequential in the grand scheme of the series. However, something notable about Maul is his double-edged lightsaber, and his iconic fight scene with Obi-Wan and his master Qui-Gon Jinn. To this day, it remains as one of the finest scenes in all of Star Wars. Another incredibly iconic scene in the movie is that of the pod-racing scene. Besides this scene, many of the others are not too impressive. Many landscapes look very muddy and dark, or over polished to a point where they look too surreal, even by Star Wars standards. Despite many of its flaws, it’s saving grace is the iconic scenes, and the many (often unintentional) hilarious moments scattered throughout.

8. The Last Jedi

During the seventh episode, The Force Awakens, many interesting characters were introduced, and many interesting plot points were set up. Will Rey actually train with the legendary Luke Skywalker? Who really is this mysterious Snoke character? Will our new characters be fleshed out even more than they were in the prior installment? To answer these questions –yes, Snoke gets killed and most characters are worsened. Yes, it’s kind of sad if I’m going to be completely honest. Kylo Ren kills Snoke to establish dominance over him and show that he is not just a puppet of Snoke’s will, which is great character development for a character that was underdeveloped in the first film in the trilogy. This and Rey’s development are two great successes in the film. Along with that, the relationship between the two was fleshed out relatively well, and the scenes including the two of them were some of the best in the entire film. The issue is every other character was dulled down, greatly. Finn, an interesting character in the first film, is just led on an expedition that means virtually nothing in the long run. This adventure is continued with a new character named Rose, who is, honestly, quite a boring character. The only thing notable about her is she has a sister who died honorably for the rebels, and she wants to help the rebels win. She is meant to be the love interest of Finn, but it comes off as forced throughout much of the movie. Along with this, these two characters’ expedition leads them to the planet of Canto Bight. Here, the most drawn-out and unimportant scenes take place. Other scenes are also rather dull. For those that have seen the movie, Leia’s “skywalking” scene and Poe’s mutiny come off as rather off colored, forced, and, ultimately, make little sense. There is not much notable besides the fact that the scenes are rather aesthetically pleasing. Along with that, many of the other landscapes were beautiful, and many scenes left us in awe. Overall, the movie is good, but suffers from some poor writing and drawn out scenes.

 

7. Solo

On release, many fans disliked this installment. Some people felt that this movie came at a weird time as it was released in the months following The Last Jedi. And, considering Han Solo had been dead since Episode VII, and didn’t appear in any capacity in Episode VIII, it felt out of place that they would show his backstory now of all times. Despite this, Solo: A Star Wars Story still is an incredibly solid installment in the franchise, and much of the hate it has received appears to be unwarranted. The movie tells the tale of a younger Han Solo. It explores how he was raised into a life of crime, and how that is the only way he is able to survive. It shows him being a member of the Imperial Military, and the drastic turns he had to take to escape that lifestyle. Not only does it discuss some of his upbringing, but it also explains some of the most iconic aspects of his character. It explains aspects as large as his relationship with Chewbacca, or details even as miniscule as how he obtained the iconic pair of dice that hangs inside of the Millenium Falcon. These little tidbits that are learned about the iconic con-man help the movie feel important to the franchise, and make it better to watch. Along with this, the movie introduces many characters such as Tobias Beckett, a thief who is known galaxy wide for killing acclaimed bounty hunter, Aurra Sing and Qi’ra, a former love interest of Han and member of the criminal syndicate, Crimson Dawn. It even has Donald Glover playing the iconic character of Lando Calrissian. It’s also one of the most linear in the Star Wars series. It only follows one primary plot-line that centers around the titular character and his journey, as opposed to having multiple plot-lines that occur simultaneously. Many movies in the franchise attempt to have multiple overlapping stories, but can fail as it just appears to have too much going on. However, this movie does not suffer from all too many flaws that make it as bad as the entries lower on the list. The primary issue falls on some characters not present in the movies that follow chronologically. Also the “Marauders” (a group present throughout the movie) only show up in a handful of scenes, despite the fact they are incredibly important in the grand scheme of the series. The movie is much better than the prequel franchise, but only slightly worse than the original trilogy and some of the newer releases.

 

6. Return of the Jedi

Episode VII, the chapter in the Star Wars saga that was meant to be the final chapter in the original films from the 80s. This movie was meant to be the thrilling conclusion to Luke Skywalker’s story of heroism. And while it effectively does this, it still has a few flaws compared to other movies in the franchise. The native species on the planet of Endor, the Ewoks, are often seen as a way to sell toys to children, similar to how porgs are portrayed in the new trilogy. While often humorous, many scenes that they star in seem sort of like filler for the movie. Along with this, it underutilized the character of Boba Fett. In the movie, he dies relatively early on by a blinded Han Solo. This is especially upsetting as he was built to be a decorated hunter who can take on the best of the best, and he was killed by a blinded man. Despite these flaws, the movie still is one of the greats. Not only does Luke Skywalker’s saga end, but so does the story of his father, Darth Vader. It’s not hard to see why Vader is one of the shining figures in the movie franchise, as throughout the span of the movies, he undergoes some of the best characterization. In the final episode, he sacrifices himself to protect his son, and kill the Emperor, ultimately ending the control of the Empire. Along with this, many other characters are written well, besides those select few mentioned prior. Characters like Luke, Leia, Han, C-3PO, and many others have some pretty great scenes where a lot of their personality shines through. Overall the movie is a good send-off to the first trilogy in this iconic franchise.

 

5. Rogue One

Rogue One is the first of the Star Wars spin off movies, which take place outside of the Skywalker Saga, and is the second movie to have a female lead. The movie is meant to be just a fun action-packed adventure to hold us off between the installments of the main saga. Rogue One does this successfully but does not attempt to do anything more than that. In other words, it was a very safe movie to make, a sure fire blockbuster that does nothing to push the franchise further. The characters aren’t well written and the movie only serves the purpose to fix a plot hole from A New Hope. This leads to a pretty anticlimactic ending with very little emotional weight. Another drawback from the movie is it’s CGI revival of the late actor and actress Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher. It’s not terrible but to astute film fanatics, like myself, it is off putting and looks like something straight out of the uncanny valley. However, the cinematography and visual effects are absolutely stunning and makes Rogue One my favorite Star Wars movie from a purely film-making standpoint. Also Darth Vader is one of the movie’s saving graces. Throughout, he remains cold and ruthless, embodying the menacing figure that moviegoers came to fear from the original trilogy. The final scene with Darth Vader making quick work of Rebel grunts is jaw dropping and easily one of the dopest scenes in the franchise’s history. Rogue One is a pretty good first attempt at making a Star Wars movie that doesn’t directly relate to the main story; but, if Disney plans on continuing to make these spin offs, they will need to improve their quality.

 

4. The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens was given a daunting task when the idea of it first came to fruition: revamp a beloved franchise that has been fairly dormant for a decade. Disney had to balance staying true to the previous Star Wars films while adding a fresh take. Somehow they pulled it off. Episode VII was able to give the world everything they wanted from a Star Wars film and included a bunch of new concepts to give the saga a new feel. It is a perfect transition between the trilogies. The film has many of the characters that we fell in love with in the original trilogy and plenty of new faces like Rey, our first female main protagonist in the series. Now the movie faces a lot of scrutiny for having similar plot points to A New Hope, but that is simply ridiculous. The Force Awakens isn’t just ripping ideas from the Episode IV; it’s simply paying homage to the movie that set it all in motion and provided a necessary nostalgic feel to the movie. This movie accomplished what it set out to do by, carefully, showing the past some love while setting up for an exciting future for the franchise.

 

3. Revenge Of The Sith

Most people will be shocked that a movie from the infamous prequel trilogy found its way into the top three –but, hear me out. Lucas learned from his mistakes with the first two films of this trilogy. Unlike its predecessors, Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith isn’t bogged down by Episode IV: A New Hope unnecessary scenes about galactic politics and Jar Jar Binks cracking dumb jokes every five minutes. Besides the romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala that gets a old quickly, this movie is jam packed with action and drama. Anakin, finally, becomes an enjoyable character and his journey to darkness holds a great deal of weight with the audience. Also the visual effects are stunning, as per usual, and has aged pretty well despite how advanced visual effects are nowadays. Not to mention the outstanding score, provided by legendary movie composer John Williams, perfectly compliments the film and amplifies the emotion in every scene. Duel of the Fates still manages to fill me with awe every time I hear it. Episode 3 provides a very well executed origin Darth Vader and shines in an otherwise lackluster prequel trilogy.

 

2. A New Hope

The movie that started it all. Despite initially being turned down by multiple studios because the idea seemed too absurd, George Lucas continued to roll the dice with his grand space opera. To say it paid off big time would be a major understatement. Lucas was able to turn a “worthless” idea into an entertainment Goliath that is worth anywhere from $27-42 billion, but enough about its creation; let’s talk about the film itself. Episode IV: A New Hope can be considered one of the most ambitious movies ever. At the time, besides 2001: A Space Odyssey, no sci fi movie was able to impress audiences this much. All of them relied on half fleshed out and uncanny stories with wacky characters to make the movie somewhat interesting, but then came A New Hope which was able to accomplish so much more. Lucas went above and beyond in order to create a movie going experience that everyone could enjoy. He combined a heartwarming tale of a hero’s journey to find his destiny with spectacular visual effects that were way ahead of their time. Episode IV: A New Hope raised the bar sky high for sci fi movies, and movies in general, which is why it is ranked number 2 on our list.

 

1. Empire Strikes Back

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is undoubtedly the best movie in the storied franchise’s history. The film has received rave reviews from movie critics to die-hard fans alike and is in the conversation of best movie of all time. Compared to the previous film, Episode V has a darker tone. The series has lost its brand new glamour now that the universe has been established and the characters no longer have the peppy attitude they expressed in Episode IV. After suffering heavy losses right at the start, the Rebellion spends most of the movie trying to escape the clutches of the Empire. Our main group of characters are left to fend for themselves while Luke seeks to be trained by Master Yoda. The story switches gears from an action packed sci-fi movie to an emotionally taxing drama that forces you to be invested into its characters. And, to top it all off, it has the biggest plot twists of all time. This movie improves upon every aspect of the previous films while managing to keep the story feel fluid. It’s no surprise that The Empire Strikes Back tops the list of Star Wars films.

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