Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is available for home release on Monday. In just a couple of days, we will be able to call ourselves the owners of the Skywalker Saga, a story that we have been enjoying since 1977.
With there now being a gap between the movies that have been released and any future movies, I felt that this was the perfect time to have a look at my ranking of the movies in honour of this release.
Now, ranking movies is very difficult, as I find that it constantly changes, with a film often rising a spot or 2 if I have just watched it to remind me just how good it is (though there are certainly Star Wars films I like a lot less, I would not say that there are any I hate). As a result, you will see my rankings split into sections, denoting the movies that have the potential to swap spots with each other. It’s also worth stating that I am currently basing my ranking for The Rise of Skywalker off of just 2 viewings at the cinema, so its position may change with more viewings.
Be warned, there will be some spoilers for some of the movies as we go through
12: The Clone Wars
There is no Star Wars movie that I hate, but if there was one, it would be The Clone Wars. The animation wasn’t great and the story was questionable – it basically felt like a couple of episodes glued together to form a semi-cohesive story (which as I understand it is basically what happened). Ahsoka just got on my nerves for most of the movie. Had it stayed as just a movie, I would probably have ignored it and tried to forget it existed, but luckily the series that followed became something I fell in love with and Ahsoka became one of my favourite characters in the entirety of Star Wars, so I now view this as just an extended episode near the start of the series.
I consider this as part of The Clone Wars series rather than a movie in it’s own right… I think that says enough about how far it is from the other movies!
11: Attack of the Clones
There is good stuff in this movie, largely centered around Obi-Wan’s work to find Padmé’s attempted assassin, however it is not enough to overcome the questionable chemistry and awful writing of Anakin and Padmé’s growing love, the terrible puns from Threepio and an over-reliance on CGI that makes what could have been amazing start to the Clone Wars feel a little flat. “Across the Stars” is one of the most beautiful themes in the entire saga, though. Amazingly, as a young kid, this was my favourite movie in the Saga – how things change!
10: The Phantom Menace
This really isn’t a bad movie on the whole, but it really suffers from Jar Jar Binks being over the top, a number of alien portrayals that feel awkwardly racist and a plot that focuses a little too heavy on politics (not in a good way). Liam Neeson was great, though, and there were some fantastic sequences like the podrace. If for nothing else, The Phantom Menace jumps ahead of Attack of the Clones thanks to the duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul and the “Duel of the Fates” theme.
9: The Rise of Skywalker
This film was a massive disappointment to me, but I do understand why others would enjoy it. As with all the Disney-era movies, it looked absolutely incredible and the acting was fantastic, especially from Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver. Unfortunately, while there were some moments I absolutely loved, it felt like so much was crammed into the movie that important details were left out, while I also felt that a lot of the decisions made by JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio didn’t gel with the rest of the canon. If I’m being brutally honest, it has soured the entire trilogy for me a little bit.
Like I said, none of these films are ones that I hate, but there is more negative than positive. Right now, the acting and visuals count in favour of Episode IX, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it drops lower if the story continues to be a big issue for me watching at home.
8: Return of the Jedi
When I was a kid, this was my favourite of the Original Trilogy, but I found that it didn’t age as well as its predecessors. It’s hard to believe the Ewoks are a legitimate threat for some of the Empire’s best stormtroopers, while the rescue of Han drags on a little too long for me and uses too much puppetry and CGI that doesn’t quite work for me. The Third act is fantastic though and the duel between Luke and Vader (with John Williams’ amazing score) is brilliant. Also the victory celebration feels like a much better ending for the saga than we got in Episode IX.
7: Revenge of the Sith
Like Attack of the Clones, there is an overuse of CGI which hurts this, while the need to bring the Prequel Trilogy in line with the Original Trilogy leads to some amazing plot conveniences. It does however have what I would consider the best score of the saga and the darker tone really helps push this above the rest of the Prequel Trilogy, as it allows some of the best sequences like Order 66 and Obi-Wan’s confrontation with Anakin to really hit the mark.
These 2 movies have swapped places plenty of times over the last few years, often with the latest viewing of one of these pushing it above the other. Return of the Jedi may have the higher highs, but I find Revenge of the Sith to be at a more constant level – keeping a very fine balance between the two.
6: The Force Awakens
When this movie first released, I thought that it had the potential to become my favourite. The visuals are stunning and I love the new characters and the returning heroes. Rey pulling the lightsaber out of the snow remains one of my favourite moments in the saga. Unfortunately, where this movie loses ground is how closely it resembles A New Hope, had it been more original I think it would have benefited its ranking.
5: The Last Jedi
A movie of high highs and low lows. I love almost everything related to the Rey/Luke/Kylo/Snoke storyline, but though I understand the moral behind Canto Bight, that does fall a little flat for me, as does the character of Rose. The Holdo Manouevre is one of the most stunning moments in the saga, but sadly the porgs were horribly overused and Leia using the Force to pull herself back into the Raddus just didn’t quite come across as well as what it was intending to show.
4: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Coming much higher on my list than I think it will most people’s. This was a fun Star Wars adventure and while it did feel like there were a few too many nods to the fans (Kessel Run, meeting Chewie, winning the Falcon, getting his DL-44 blaster) it was not enough to throw me out of the movie. I loved the western vibes and the Maul reveal was also an amazing moment of connectivity. What I think this comes down to is whether you buy Alden Ehrenreich as a younger Han Solo… and I was fully on board!
With all 3 of these movies being so recent, they have all been limited in how much time I’ve spent with the stories and characters, while the scores are still at an early stage of growing on me. I don’t know if any of these can break into the top 3, but they certainly have the chance to move around within this section.
3: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This movie put the war in Star Wars and I loved it! It was great seeing a darker, grittier side of the Rebellion and a fight where the heroes were just ordinary people working together to do what is right. The CGI on Leia and Tarkin can feel a little off at times and there are maybe a couple of moments of fan service that are too overt, but they are balanced out by the incredible sequence of Darth Vader in the Profundity‘s hallway.
2: A New Hope
The original. Without this, we would never have got the amazing franchise that has taken over so much of my life, and that has to count for something. Not only that, but I think that the film still hold up really well over 40 years on. We’re given such great characters and stories that we are able to immediately get on board and want more. Also, this first movie introduces so many of the themes that have gone on to become iconic to us.
1: The Empire Strikes Back
It’s widely regarded as the best movie in the saga and I can’t disagree. The movie has aged so well, it’s hard to believe that it’s celebrating its 40ᵗʰ anniversary this year. The action is fantastic, the story builds so well with all of our main characters, leading to the incredible moments of Han being frozen in carbonite and Luke finding out the truth about his father – still one of the best reveals of all time! If the Yoda puppet had not been believable this movie could have been awful, but Frank Oz and Mark Hamill did such a great job, you can completely buy into the character.
Rogue One is by far my favourite of the Disney-era movies and I genuinely think it has the chance to rise higher on this list, but the Original Trilogy currently benefits from how I have grown up with them being a big part of my life for 20+ years now. There may be the odd moments when I’ve just watched Rogue One and A New Hope and in that moment rank them #1, but if I look in the long-term I think it will be very difficult for any movie to knock The Empire Strikes Back off the top spot.
So that’s my order, how would you order the movies?
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…