Here is my updated ranking list after seeing The Rise of Skywalker this week, as a result of this film, my rankings have changed ever so slightly, switching two films around. If you’ve already read my review, you probably know where this is going…
11. Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
A rushed mess from start to finish, hindered by an awful script that makes little to no sense, it relies on Macguffins and convenience after convenience to get by, sometimes even directly contradicting canon that Disney established to get there. It severely lacks any imagination and is nothing more than bad (really, really bad) fan-fiction. The Rise of Skywalker is an abomination and it’s a shame that the Skywalker saga had to end on such a downer. You can read my full review of the film here. 4/10.
10. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002)
The only film in this list that I never have any desire to watch and the only Star Wars film that I genuinely dislike… Well, that’s what I said before I saw the film above. Attack of the Clones is a complete mess, it’s aged horribly and there’s very little in this film for me that stands out, apart from John William’s excellent score. Sadly, that’s not enough to save this train wreck. But, it’s still better than The Rise of Skywalker, because it at least has some semblance of a story. 4/10.
9. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Revenge of the Sith has some incredible moments, granted. But it doesn’t do enough to get above 9th on my list. Mainly, because it is a very cluttered CGI-fest that again, has aged horribly. The performances are suspect, but then again I think even the greatest actors would struggle with some George Lucas dialogue. It is probably the best of the prequels overall, but personally, I would rather watch the next film more if I was given the choice… 6/10.
8. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999)
My favourite prequel. Why? Probably biased nostalgia, to be honest. The Phantom Menace was my first proper introduction to the Star Wars universe and the first film I remember. I can look past the terrible nonsensical plot on every viewing because it elicits happy childhood memories when I wasn’t too bothered about all the flaws the film had, I was just in awe at was I watching! I fully acknowledge it’s not a great film, but I still love it and I always will. Also, with the power of hindsight, I think that this film has aged the best and the fact that it utilises practical sets and doesn’t have anywhere near as much CGI as it’s two successors means that I feel that this one connects the most to the Original Trilogy from a visual standpoint. Plus, Duel of the Fates, come on, one of the best film tracks in history. 6/10.
7. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
The most recent Star Wars film outing. Solo is incredibly great fun, Alden Ehrenreich does a fantastic job playing Han Solo, a task that should have been impossible, and it’s a blast from start to finish. However, it is also extremely simple and it lacks substance. It’s quite throwaway in terms of the Star Wars universe. So, for that reason, despite how much I enjoyed it, it can’t go any higher than 7th on my list. 7/10.
6. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens (2015)
The first film of the Disney Star Wars era comes in at 6th position. I still remember seeing it on opening night in December 2015, I was so excited and at the time I was blown away by what I was watching, I was so happy to see the franchise I love return to the big screen, it was without a doubt one of the best cinematic experiences of my life. However, hindsight is a beautiful thing, and although I still adore this film, I can’t deny that it suffers from a painful lack of originality and it is in places far too similar to Episode 4. JJ Abrams did a great job in bringing Star Wars back to audiences and he did the right thing by playing it safe, but it means that I don’t look back on it with as much fondness as I did before. 7.5/10.
5. Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977)
I feel terrible for having the first film so low on my list, if this was a “best film” ranking it would undoubtedly be higher. I still enjoy watching A New Hope but for whatever reason I don’t find myself going back to it that often, I’m not quite sure why either, because it’s great. We sometimes forget that when this film was made, it wasn’t connected to those huge universe we know now and without it, we wouldn’t have what we have today. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for A New Hope. I just don’t find myself drawn to it as much as I do some of the other films in the franchise. 8/10.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
We’re getting into what I consider “elite” territory now. Rogue One was the first Disney spin-off film and I came out of the cinema completely confident in the fact that these sort of films were justified. Despite all the production issues, the final product of Rogue One is a hugely entertaining piece, it’s one the most visually stunning films in the franchise, it’s incredibly entertaining, and that Darth Vader scene alone means it walks straight into my Top 4. I think Rogue One is very underrated and perhaps doesn’t receive the love it deserves. 8/10.
3. Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi (1983)
There is something about Return of the Jedi that I just adore, yet I can never quite put my finger on what it is, the whole thing is just immense fun. This film never fails to fill me with joy, the opening sequence on Tatooine is one of my favourite pieces in the Star Wars saga and the final confrontation between Darth Vader and Luke is one of the most powerful pieces of cinema I’ve seen. It’s a shame George Lucas had to add that stupid “No…” to one of the best scenes in the film, which has in my eyes completely ruined it, but thankfully I still have the old DVDs so I don’t have to witness that atrocity. Still, it doesn’t stop me from loving Return of the Jedi and I think it more than deserves second place in these rankings. I’m knocking it down to 3rd now, on the basis that The Rise of Skywalker has now damaged this film in my eyes, so I’m now not going to watch it with the same admiration as I did before, which is a massive shame. 8.5/10.
3. Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi (2017)
The controversial one, I imagine a lot of people would put this at the bottom of their list (fools) but I absolutely adore it. I will admit straight away, it’s not perfect, it has it’s flaws. But, I love what Rian Johnson did with this film and I admire him for being bold, brave and taking the franchise in a new and interesting direction. I often see criticism for the handling of Luke Skywalker’s character, which I will never understand and will gladly debate with anyone, because I think it worked brilliantly and as a result, we saw Mark Hammill’s best-ever on-screen performance. Other criticisms go towards the fact that the film “subverted expectations” but that’s one of the things I love about this film, it genuinely surprised me. It’s brilliantly acted, it’s beautifully shot, looks gorgeous, and has some of my favourite moments in the entire Star Wars saga. I don’t care what anyone says, The Last Jedi is great.
It’s now up to 2nd because after watching how JJ ended the sequel trilogy, I’ve got an even deeper appreciation of what Rian did, I really feel sorry for him because JJ effectively gives him the middle finger throughout his abomination of a film. But I’ll always have The Last Jedi and nothing can take that way from me now, for that I’ll always be grateful. 8.5/10.
1. Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
I’m pretty sure this will be at the top of most ranking lists, I’m not going to be breaking the mould either. The Empire Strikes Back is not only the quintessential film in the franchise, it’s one of the best sequels of all time, and I genuinely don’t think any Star Wars film is going to top it. It’s a testament to this film that it seems to be the benchmark for all sequels to be compared to, yet I can’t think of any film that has ever seemed to surpass it. Empire is a masterclass in filmmaking and storytelling that comes around once in a generation, it’s not only my favourite Star Wars films, it’s one of my favourite films ever. 9.5/10.
So there are my rankings. What are your rankings? I would love to know!