As anticipation builds for The Last Jedi to hit theaters this December, let’s take a look back and rank every live-action Star Wars film to be released so far. Warning: there is a SPOILER ALERT in effect. So, if you haven’t seen all the Star Wars movies, tread lightly (but let’s be honest, you should have seen these movies by now). Without further ado, here’s the list:
#8: Episode II-Attack of the Clones (2002)
Although Phantom Menace gets a lot of consideration for being the worst Star Wars movie, Attack of the Clones is pretty terrible in its own right. George Lucas heard the complaints that the Phantom Menace was too boring or lacked enough action, so he added incomprehensible action with disposable droids, giving us zero emotional impact at the climax of the film. Attack of the Clones is also responsible for giving us one of the most forced romances in movies in Anakin and Padme. The movie also has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes user score of any Star Wars movies at 57%. There’s also a certain line about sand that haunts Star Wars fans to this day.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 65%
Metacritic Score: 54
MovieBabble Grade: D
#7: Episode I-The Phantom Menace (1999)
This was a shaky start to the prequel trilogy. Phantom Menace gets bogged down in continuous senate meetings and trade talk that by the time the action starts, many viewers were already annoyed by the movie. Also, Jar Jar Binks is still considered one of the worst parts of the Star Wars saga as a whole, bringing completely lowbrow humor that just makes anyone above the age of six angry. However, there are some moments to hold on to in this movie. The final lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul with the famed “Duel of the Fates” music playing is pretty riveting stuff.
This point is obviously pretty popular for defenders of this movie, but The Phatom Menace also does a really solid job of world building and expanding upon the scope of the original trilogy. However, it does ruin other Star Wars lore by adding the much maligned midiclorians angle to identifying a Jedi.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 55%
Metacritic Score: 51
MovieBabble Score: D+
#6: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Revenge of the Sith is undoubtedly hampered by its two predecessors, but it is definitely an improvement over the other two prequels. The final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar is incredibly well done and very emotional, highlighting Ewan McGregor who was the saving grace of all the prequel movies. The movie also takes a noticeably darker tone than the other two prequels, which is much appreciated considered the catering that was done to a younger audience in the first two films. Also, Jar Jar does not speak in the third movie, which might be the best endorsement you can give the Revenge of the Sith. However, the film does leave a bad taste in your mouth with Vader’s yell at the end.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 79%
Metacritic Score: 68
MovieBabble Score: B-
#5: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One may be the most breathtaking Star Wars film to look at as it spans many new planets and locations. While the film leaves something to be desired with the character development of our leads, the film contains one of the best third acts in recent memory. Rogue One could have easily been a throw away movie since many fans could guess the ending of the film before it ever hit the big screen, but it is done in such a way that it creates a fully enjoyable experience. The film also quite possibly gives us the best Darth Vader moment of any of the Star Wars films, which is as haunting as it is awesome.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score: 85%
Metacritic Score: 65
MovieBabble Score: A-
*To read my full review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, please click here.
#4: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi (1983)
Although it doesn’t reach the heights of A New Hope and Empire due to issues such as Ewoks and multiple climaxes, Return of the Jedi is a great movie on its own right that deepens the Star Wars lore while also giving us a satisfying ending to the original trilogy. We finally see Luke mature to his full potential after years of watching him grow in the force. We also get one of the biggest redemptions in movie history in Darth Vader. Jedi brings a smile to your face and, until 2015, was a fantastic ending to Star Wars saga.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 80%
MovieBabble Score: A-
#3: Episode VII-The Force Awakens (2015)
Arguably the movie with the most pressure to succeed in the history of cinema, The Force Awakens provided audiences with an emotionally satisfying entry into Star Wars canon. The highest grossing movie of all time in the domestic box office, Episode VII gives us some great new characters to fall in love with for the new Disney Star Wars trilogy such as Rey and Finn while perfectly melding in the old cast to the new movies.
The Force Awakens also gives an interesting, complex villain in Kylo Ren that has already done the unforgivable in killing Han (tears). The most beautiful of the Star Wars films has some jaw-dropping action, including the chase between the main characters and Captain Phasma. One of the few criticisms is the movies’ obvious parallels to A New Hope. However, The Force Awakens has enough new material to stand up on its own merits.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 92%
Metacritic Score: 81
MovieBabble Score: A
#2: Episode IV-A New Hope (1977)
George Lucas’ baby redefined the blockbuster upon its release in 1977. The movie changed the movie landscape by injecting a new voice into the sci-fi genre. A New Hope is still super watchable and fun to this day and invites into a whole new world where practically anything is possible. The film obviously has the super famous moment of the X-wings flying through the Death Star trench and saving the day, but the film has so many other great scenes from massively scoped moments such as Alderaan’s destruction and to tiny moments like banter between our super likable leads. Every swashbuckling scoundrel in cinema has been some way molded after Han Solo. A New Hope is one of the most iconic movies ever.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 93%
Metacritic Score: 92
MovieBabble Score: A+
#1: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Empire deepened all the emotional moments of A New Hope while setting the industry standard for what a sequel should accomplish. It easily has one of the best reveals of all time in cinema and all the emotion of Han being frozen in carbonite still resonates today. We also get some great training sequences from Luke and Yoda on Dagobah. You begin to understand the deeper meaning of the force and watch as our hero grows. There are so many lines from this movie other than “I am your father” that people continue to quote tirelessly.
Empire is not only one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, but also one of the best movies in general, as it currently ranks as the 12th best movie of all time according to the IMDb Top 250 list.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Metacritic Score: 80
MovieBabble Score: A+
That’s the list! What are your thoughts? Are there any movies that you thought should have been higher or lower on the list? Comment at the bottom of the page with your thoughts.
What should I review next? Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you! Thanks for reading!