Since 1977, the Star Wars franchise has taken both the film industry and world by storm, becoming the biggest film franchise of all time. Since the latest instalment to the franchise; Solo: A Star Wars Story is now out at the cinema, it seems like a good time to rank all ten films from the Star Wars franchise. So, without further ado, here is my ranking of all ten films.
10. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
The worst of the Star Wars films. I liked it when I was young, but watching now, I want to take a moment and apologise to my parents for making them take me to see this film. It is just straight up awful. While The Phantom Menace does have its moments, this film has nothing memorable about it. This is a two hour snore fest with coma inducing dialogue (need I mention the sand scene), and even worse performances. Hayden Christensen’s acting hasn’t progressed since he was in that episode of Goosebumps in 1998. And the poorly aged CGI scenes are boring and bring absolutely nothing to the film. I was brain storming with my brother for things I could write about this film, and the most telling aspect of the conversation was that we got bored talking about it. So that should tell you all you need to know about this film. The one thing that this film has going for it is the lack of Jar-Jar, but that isn’t saying much.
9. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This film was the birth of a whole new era for Star Wars films for a new generation of Star Wars fans. While bad, this film does have SOME stand out moments that I do enjoy. I won’t bore you with the details of the obvious one which is the final battle between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon vs Darth Maul to John Williams’ fantastic score; Duel of the Fates. Another scene which stands out amongst a swamp of wasted opportunities is of course; the pod racing scene, which is a well filmed and exciting moment of the film. However, there are more bad moments than good in this film. Throughout the film there is an incredibly boring story arc regarding trade negotiations which are clearly written by someone with a childlike understanding of politics, what child wants to watch a Star Wars film that such themes? And of course the elephant in the room; Jar-Jar Binks. The film is also full of awful racial stereotypes depicting the likes of Jamaicans and Jewish people which just leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
8. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This is where the prequels start to improve and was also the episode that all fans were anticipating as we would finally see Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader come full circle. While the film does have a fairly poor first half, there are actually quite a few enjoyable moments in the film. The opening battle sequence is a spectacular way to begin the film but it trails off after that and the awful dialogue from the previous two comes back in full force (pun intended). The line “How did this happen? We’re smarter than this!” has always made me die a little inside every time I watch the film, and that line alone gives this film its rightful position on this list as it sums up perfectly just how awful the performances were in these films. This is highlighted by the fact that Hayden Christensen’s best acting comes from the scenes where he isn’t given anything to say, and starts to actually feel like Darth Vader, which probably says more about George Lucas’ script writing ability than the capabilities of the actors.
However those issues aside, once the film gets up to the “Order 66” sequence, it vastly improves as the tone of the film takes a huge turn and the film quickly becomes very dark as we see all the Jedi being executed. It packs a punch, especially with John Williams score adding extra gravitas. The movie’s final fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar and Sidious and Yoda on Coruscant serves as a thrilling final battle to close out the prequel trilogy, despite being choreographed to almost dance-like perfection.
The film ends on a suitably sombre note, with Anakin’s complete transformation into Darth Vader and the two Skywalker children being sent to their respective families on Tatooine and Alderaan, while the remnants of the Jedi Council disappear into exile. If only the rest of the film could have carried this tone, it would have been higher on the list.
7. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
An original trilogy film? At number 7? Controversial? Maybe. Do I care? Eh.
The final instalment in the original trilogy is a fine film but feels stretched for what it is. The first act of the film is generally quite strong but suffers the same fate as Revenge of the Sith where the middle act of the film lets it down to an extent. The film carries itself better than ROTS but it threatens to lose you a bit when they force the Ewoks into the narrative to save money on not having them be Wookies (which was the original plan) and to make money selling toys. Unlike ROTS the film has many more redeeming qualities about it. For example the battle on Jabba’s yacht is fun and heist like and the chase scene on the Forest Moon of Endor is entertaining and fast paced.
However, the stand out scenes for me are at the climax of the film with the final showdown between Luke and Darth Vader in the Emperor’s throne room, an emotional scene in which Luke harnesses the power of the dark side to gain the edge over Vader and defeat him, before pulling himself back without allowing the dark side to swallow him whole. This is also done at the same time as two battles, one in space and one on the moon, with the former being the more exhilarating of the two.
In contrast with the tone of the prequel trilogies tone, the film ends on a bittersweet high note where the rebels are victorious over the empire but a redeemed Anakin Skywalker perishes after sacrificing himself to save his children. A suitable way to round out the original trilogy, and leaving a thirty two year wait for a direct sequel.
6. Solo: A Star Wars Story
The latest instalment to the Star Wars franchise focuses on everyones favourite scruffy looking nerf herder; Han Solo. Now a lot of fans have questioned whether or not this film was actually needed, it probably isn’t but the film itself is a lot of fun. While the story may not be perfect, it deviates from the saga stories of being all out science fiction by taking the guise of an old Western mixed with elements of a heist film and I like the fact that the spin off films seem to be embracing different genres. After enduring a torrid production which saw original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller ousted and replaced with Ron Howard due to creative differences with Disney/Lucas Film, the whole film was almost entirely reshot, causing many fans to doubt whether or not the final product would be any good.
Its an entertaining fast film that doesn’t dwell too much on the dialogue between characters, instead of getting the characters from point A to point B. The cast in this film are excellent, while the script isn’t much they still do their all to make it a believable story. Woody Harrelson is great, as per and Emilia Clarke is a great femme fatale. But the stand outs for me in this film are Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian who is just as excellent as you’d expect him to be as he brings right amount of panache and arrogance to do the role justice. Now, Alden Ehrenreich had the monumental task of taking over the role from Harrison Ford, which is no easy fete but he does it with ease as he perfects the cockiness of the character and is able to imitate Ford’s mannerisms excellently, it was nice to see him prove a lot of people wrong as he brought a fresh but familiar feel to the role.
The action is exemplary and is the cinematography is gorgeous, whilst also boasting some of the best CGI I have ever seen in a film, given the fact that the most recent Star Wars films have had a tendency to include scenes with some fairly bad CGI (Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens and Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One spring to mind), this was a welcome change of pace. While not the most perfect Star Wars film its a nice little popcorn flick with a surprising amount of heart to tide us over until Episode 9, due out next December.
To be continued…