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Ranking the 'Star Wars' films from worst to best

Posted December 19, 2016

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (Deseret Photo)

A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY — The Star Wars franchise has gone far beyond a series of movies or even a toy line — it’s become a cultural phenomenon that generations have fallen in love with. Just the mention of anything Star Wars gets fans across the globe excited, and with the release of the eighth Star Wars theatrical film on our doorstep, the excitement is at a fever pitch.

As I thought about this unprecedented series, I wanted to put together a ranking that would undoubtedly bring joy to some and nothing but anger to others. Yes, when you rank the films of a person’s favorite franchise you will force some to the Dark Side as they plan your demise.

So, with no regard for personal well-being or my reputation, here is my ranking of all Star Wars films released theatrically. That means the holiday special, the cartoon series and yes, even the two Ewok movies will not be on this list.

This is my ranking from worst to best— let the anger begin:

“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”

So picking between this and Episode I for worst in the franchise was tough. In the end, I picked “Star Wars: Episode II – The Clone Wars” for the following reason. We were dying to see a ne Star Wars flick so Episode I at least satiated our appetites for some reason, but with Episode II we’d already received something bad and were welcomed with more bad.

The film is more a political thriller than a Star Wars movie, but there is nothing thrilling about it. Also, the less said about the acting, the better at this point. And let’s also remember that this movie has the comically long scene of Anakin and Padme rolling around in a field together. Man, that was bad.

“Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”

Again, The Phantom Menace wasn’t great. In fact, it wasn’t really even good, but there are two things in particular that keep it from the bottom of the list. Those two things are the pod race, which while cheesy was still kind of fun, and the battle of the fates with Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul. I saw that movie in the theater multiple times, partially because I was lying to myself, but also just to see that fight scene. I actually fell asleep once and then woke up specifically for that.

Overall, this movie is not good and was a huge disappointment considering how long we waited for it.

“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith"

Walking into “Revenge of the Sith,” I don’t think any of us were expecting much. So, when we actually got some action sequences and sincere moments we were surprised. Don’t get me wrong, it still wasn’t good and we have this film to thank for the unfortunate “Nooooooo!!!!” from Darth Vader, butit’s still likely the best of the unfortunate prequels.

“Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi”

Let me say this right now, the jump from the prequels into the rest of the list is considerable. Some of you are probably losing your mind that I have “Return of the Jedi” just ahead of “Revenge of the Sith.” This was not a close race; this was more like watching a race between a healthy Usain Bolt running against a legless turtle. It wasn’t even close.

As a kid, “Return of the Jedi” was the best. The Ewoks were funny, the speeder bikes were amazing, and the final light saber battle was epic. Now that we’ve grown up, however, the story is mediocre, the whole tone is a little too happy and chipper, and the Ewoks are actually pretty obnoxious.

With all of that said, it’s still a fun movie to watch and a fitting wrapup to the original trilogy.

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”

After the prequels, it wasn’t going to take much for J.J. Abrams to make a superior Star Wars film. While “The Force Awakens” has some issues and is generally just Episode IV all over again, it was still a great time at the movies.

The film had expert pacing, fun battles and Han Solo back in the Millennium Falcon. Again, the movie was basically just a love letter to Episode IV and didn’t really manage to tread new ground, but that’s OK because it was a return to form and pumped blood back into Star Wars. Subsequent viewings of “The Force Awakens” aren’t as good as that first time, but it has still earned a place high on this list.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

I really don’t want to give anything away here, and for the full review check out Dave Clyde’s article, but suffice it to say that “Rogue One” earns a place high on this list.

With it’s original story, epic battle sequences and nostalgic feel, “Rogue One” is going to be considered one of the best Star Wars movies made since “The Empire Strikes Back.”

“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”

No one knew what to expect from “Star Wars” when the original film was released in 1977, but it blew audiences away and started an entire subculture that is still alive and well 40 years later.

“A New Hope” kicked off the entire saga and started a story that we couldn’t wait to get more of and never wanted to end. This is the film that introduced us to Han, Luke, Leia, Chewy and of course, Darth Vader. This film is so iconic, revolutionary, and well crafted that it will go down as one of the most influential and iconic movies of all time. With that said, however, it’s still not the best of the batch.

“Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”

While “A New Hope” started this whole crazy ride, it was “The Empire Strikes Back” that really made us realize that Star Wars is something special.

The film froze its most beloved character; it dismembered its hero, and created arguably the greatest movie twist of all time. Even without all of that, this film is expertly written, brilliantly paced and surprising at every turn. “The Empire Strikes Back” is more than just the best Star Wars film— it’s a fantastic film that is actually listed as the 10th greatest film ever made, according to IMdB.

“The Empire Strikes Back” is arguably a perfect sequel and still the best of the Star Wars universe.

What do you think about the ranking? Let us know in the comments which is your favorite Star Wars movie.

John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. John also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome and it just so happens that these are the three things he writes about.

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