Ranking the Star Wars Films, from best to worst:
1) Empire Strikes Back
No surprise here. This is still the top SW film, by far. Best acted, best written, best twist, and the best battle scene, even if the AT-ATs remain the biggest waste of military funds in galactic history.
2) A New Hope
Episode IV increases its value with the release of every new SW title. It sets up Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi beautifully. And the briefly mentioned lines of exposition in the first SW flick became “A-ha” moments with the release of Episodes I, II, III and now, Rogue One. For example, Tarkin’s announcement that the Emperor has dissolved the Senate has a more significant impact having seen its corruption and incompetence. After Rogue One, we know why the Death Star has a fuse. A New Hope is the well-constructed bridge that keeps everything together, which hopefully The Force Awakens will be for future episodes. Like the Battle of Yavin, it is the center of the Star Wars universe.
3) The Phantom Menace
Yes, we have Jar-Jar and midichlorians and some bad acting and writing, but Episode I is a good movie. Like A New Hope, it has to be re-watched after having watched the other Episodes. We see how Palpatine uses everyone, even the Jedi, in subtle ways. It’s brilliant. And the movie establishes the emotional bond between Anakin and his mother, and his days as a slave, which resonates when we see Vader in Episodes IV-VI. The Phantom Menace also has the greatest lightsaber battle, something I’m appreciating more after watching Vader mow down hapless Rebel shipmates in Rogue One.
4) Return of the Jedi
Jabba, Sarlacc, Rancor, et al, are all good fun, but what’s the purpose of the first half of Episode VI? It feels more like a stand-alone than an Episode. And does the chosen one, Darth Vader (w/ Luke’s help), really bring balance to the galaxy by destroying the Sith? I mean, when Lando blows up the Death Star, wouldn’t Palpatine blow up with it? Overall, though, it’s a satisfying finale to the original trilogy.
5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Entertaining action flick with fan-service galore. No opening crawl, but they didn’t forget, “I have a bad feeling about this”. What’s not to like? Well, a few things I’ve listed here.
6) The Force Awakens
Good to see Han, Leia and Luke, and Rey is an intriguing character, but come on, the Starkiller base? Just a bigger Death Star, of which we’ve seen two blow up previously. Now we have #3, and it’s the same dance: disable shields, hit it with everything you got. And a poor kid on a desert planet who turns out to be force sensitive. Sound familiar? Episode VII might move up the list depending on Episodes VIII and IX.
7) Revenge of the Sith
When Anakin kills Dooku at the beginning of the film, that should’ve been it. End of movie, Anakin has turned to the Dark Side. But we have 2 more hours until Vader screams, “No!”
8) Attack of the Clones
Obi-Wan is a warrior, diplomat and a detective. Who knew? This Mystery Sci-Fi takes us everywhere from a noir-Coruscant to a very wet Kamino to a very dusty Geonosis. What haven’t we seen? Yoda is awesome, though.