Ranking the Star Wars Movies

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SAN DIEGO - JULY 14: Dale Silva, 9, demonstrates his Darth Vader costume at Comic Con International July 14, 2005 in San Diego, California. Comic Con is the largest comic convention in the world and features comic vendors, game and movie premieres, celebrity autograph signings, portfolio reviews. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Is there any film franchise in the history of Hollywood that is more beloved than Star Wars? Since the series began back in 1977, George Lucas’ masterpiece has captured the minds and hearts of generations and generations of boys and girls. But as is the case with any popular series, there is an eternal debate. Which Star Wars movie is the best? Which is the worst? Here they are, ranked from the very worst to the very best. Also, this seems obvious but… spoiler alert.

Ranking the Star Wars Movies

The Phantom Menace

It’s hard to imagine there being much of a debate about this one. The fourth movie (but also the first) is easily the most despised by fans young and old. After a 16 year hiatus, Star Wars made it’s return to the big screen. Fans were more excited than ever to see their favorite stars once again.

What did they get instead? The prequels. The prequels are very controversial. Some people love them simply because they’re Star Wars movies, and others absolutely despise them. Somehow, Lucas managed to take the origin story of fiction’s best villain and ruin it. The Phantom Menace is easily, easily the worst Star Wars movie.

The Best Part

Easily the best part of TPM was the new villain, Darth Maul. With pitch black skin, red eyes, and actual spikes, Darth Maul was really cool. Throw in the fact that he had a double-sided lightsaber and fans were hooked. Easily the best part of the movie was the duel between Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, set to the amazing “Duel of the Fates” score by the brilliant John Williams.

The Worst Part

If yousa wonderin’ what the worst part of dis movie was, lookie lookie no further. While TPM introduced Darth Maul and the Duel of the Fates song, it also debuted Jar Jar Binks, the biggest accidental heel since Roman Reigns. Cheesy, racist, and the exact opposite of what fans grew up loving about Star Wars, Jar Jar Banks became the mascot for the mediocrity of the prequels.

Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon was able to save a young Anakin, but he wasn’t enough to save this movie. The podracing was cool, and as corny as it was, it had a certain campy charm (like Mr. Right), bu this was objectively the worst Star Wars movie.

The Clone Wars

After the abysmal Phantom Menace, fans were still willing to flock to theatres to see the Clone Wars. What they got wasn’t quite old Star Wars, but it was a lot better than its immediate predecessor. Anakin was older, Obi-Wan had a mullet, and Samuel L. Jackson still refrained from using his favorite phrase. It introduced Jango Fett, Count Dooku, and teased a relationship between Palpatine and Anakin that would define the future of the galaxy.

The Best Part

Sir Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Count Dooku was actually even cooler than most people are aware. Firstly, Christopher Lee might’ve been the coolest man to ever live. First off, he was Dracula. Secondly, he hunted Nazis in World War 2. Finally, he released a heavy metal album.

So when he took on the role of Count Dooku, he brought a certain class and gravitas that can’t be faked, with or without lights and industrial magic. Knowing that he, a fencing expert, put some of the finishing touches on the big fight with Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda at the end of the movie? Awesome.

The Worst Part

Hayden. Freaking. Christensen. Christensen was gifted the incredible role of a young Anakin Skywalker, and he absolutely ruined it… kinda. While Christensen was insufferably whiny and had absolutely no chemistry with Natalie Portman, he didn’t have a lot to work with. He had to force-push through a ton of dreadful dialogue about fixing things, flying, and yes… sand.

The “romance” between Christiansen and Portman’s Padme Amidala was god awful. We know it eventually led to the birth of Luke and Leia, but it almost wasn’t worth it to see these two “fall in love” with each other. The best parts of these movies weren’t worth watching this sham of a romance.

The Force Awakens

It might shock some to see Episode 7 this low on the list. It was a megahit, is objectively better than Clone Wars or Phantom Menace, and was a fun film. But that’s the biggest problem with the Force Awakens. It was just a fun film. Not only was it basically A New Hope, but it just didn’t feel like a Star Wars movie. It cashed in on nostalgia, and provided very little substance. That’s the subjective part of this list, and surely the part that will end up consuming the comment section like red matter. Oh calm down, it’s just a bit of fun.

The Best Part

The best thing about this movie is also the worst thing about it. It cashes in on nostalgia, and it cashes in hard. Watching this movie for the first time, it’s impossible not to tear up when the opening note plays, when they find the Millennium Falcon, when Han Solo and Chewbacca re-board said Falcon, etc, etc. Watching this movie, after a decade away from Star Wars, was magical.

The Worst Part

The worst part about this movie was that it was just a New Hope. It was a copy-paste ripoff of the original, without the charm. The dynamic between Finn and Po Dameron was fun, BB8 was adorable, and I might be the only person on Earth that doesn’t hate Kylo Ren. Watching it for the first time, it’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgia. But watching it again when you bring it home, it’s just not the same movie.

Revenge of the Sith

This was the movie that everyone wanted to see the moment the prequels were announced. Revenge of the Sith finally saw Anakin Skywalker transform into Darth Vader. This was easily the best prequel, giving each character a little development while finally kicking off the original series… or so we thought.

The Best Part

At the end of this movie, we finally get to see Anakin, now Darth Vader, fight Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s flashy, unnecessary, and so much fun. All of the flips and spins are a bit much, but it plays well into the fight. Ultimately, when Anakin’s arrogance gets the best of him, Obi-Wan dismembers Anakin, forcing him to become more machine-than-man forever.

The Worst Part

Everything about Padme and Anakin. It’s still terrible. It’s never not terrible. From their secret marriage to the baby to Padme literally dying of a broken heart at the end. It’s terrible, and thank the force for Luke and Leia or this terrible relationship would’ve been a complete waste.

Return of the Jedi

The “last” Star Wars movie is still pretty good, but compared to the number one movie on this list, it just couldn’t stack up. The journey back to Tatooine is fun, and it’s interesting to see Luke come to terms with who his father is. The third act is fantastic, but it’s still only the fourth best Star Wars movie.

The Best Part

At the end of the movie, Luke surrenders himself to the Empire, hoping that his father will return from the dark side, leaving Darth Vader behind and ending the Emperor forever. At first, Vader resists, and the two fight. After Vader realizes that Leia exists, Luke briefly embraces his hate, furiously attacking his father. After cutting Vader’s hand off, Luke sees how slippery the slope to the dark side is, and refuses to kill his father. As the Emperor attempts to electrocute Luke, Vader turns on his mentor, embracing the light and bringing balance to the force.

The Worst Part

This is another part where I scare the fans away. I absolutely hated the Ewoks. Not so much the beasts themselves, as they’re adorable, but their effectiveness in the movie. Stormtroopers are supposed to be these terrifying killer, but they’re crushed by teddy bears throwing rocks. Seriously, go watch the movie again. What’s the point of wearing armor if a teddy bear throwing rocks can kill you?

Rogue One

This is another one of those things that will absolutely infuriate some fans. Rogue One, the soulless cash-grab over Return of the Jedi? Outrage! Again, this is a subjective list, and the comment section is a wonderful place for you to express your feelings.

Rogue One stands alone as an objectively good movie. The characters, though original, are fleshed out and charming. Everyone from Jyn Erso to K-2SO is a lovable character that goes on an intense emotional journey with you. It’s a prequel that actually manages to make the original better. How often can you say that?

The Best Part

The last five minutes of this movie are absolutely sick. After all of the main characters die, sending the Death Star plans to the rebels, you find yourself wondering if this movie is going to send you home happy or not. It pans out to the rebels trying to escape with the plans, and it dawns on you. You remember how A New Hope starts.

As rebels desperately try to escape a ship the Empire is boarding, the lights go out. In the darkness, a single red blade illuminates, and you realize what’s about to happen. Over the next couple of minutes, Darth Vader eviscerates several rebels, and it’s nothing short of awesome. The last moments of the movie see a CGI Princess Leia getting the plans, announcing the Rebels finally have hope.

The Worst Part

The worst thing about Rogue One is that while it is a Star Wars movie, it doesn’t always feel like a Star Wars movie. The music is slightly different, and while Grand Moff Tarkin, Princess Leia, and even Lord Vader make appearances, it’s just not the same. Plenty of people disliked this movie because they believed it felt soulless, and it’s easy to see where they’re coming from.

A New Hope

A New Hope, known also plainly as “Star Wars” just barely misses the number one spot. Some will argue it should be lower, and some will argue that it should be number one. After all, it was the first (fourth?) Star Wars movie.

The Best Part

This is a bit lazy, but it’s Star Wars. It’s a space epic that completely changed the genre forever. Star Trek, Stargate, Starbucks, it doesn’t matter, everyone has been chasing Star Wars for 40 years. Darth Vader, R2D2, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and the cantina song from Mos Eisley that will be stuck in your head for the rest of your life. Don’t trust anyone that hasn’t seen Star Wars at least twice.

The Worst Part

The thing about a New Hope is that while it’s a fantastic sci-fi movie that changed Hollywood forever, it’s not exactly Citizen Kane. Mark Hamill isn’t Tom Hanks, and it’s super weird that there’s romantic tension between Luke and Leia, who as we all know now, are twins. We all know a New Hope is campy, but when you’re talking about one of the most famous movies of all time, you’re allowed to overlook a thing or two.

Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back is a brilliant movie because it does something truly special. It spits in the face of the notion that sequels are never as good as the original. Empire is not only easily the best Star Wars movie ever made, but one of the best movies period.

The Best Part

A single line, delivered calmly and coolly by James Earl Jones, echoing throughout the rest of cinematic history. An arm outstretched towards his son, clinging to an antennae, the greatest villain in the history of movies speaks those famous words.

“No, I am your father.”

Quoted, and hilariously enough, misquoted a billion times since the movie came out almost 40 years ago, Darth Vader revealing to Luke that they are father and son is one of the best movie moments, ever.

The Worst Part

Does there have to be a worst part? This movie is incredible! The battle on Hoth, the training with Yoda, the introduction of Boba Fett?! The worst thing about this movie is that the other movies aren’t as good. Is that a cop-out? Absolutely. Is that the answer I’m sticking with? Bet your galactic credits it is.

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