“May The 4th Be With You.” ever since those words were uttered in 1979 it was bound to the Star Wars franchise till the end of time. What I love about that pun is that it wasn’t created by the fans. It happened when Margaret Thatcher became the prime minister of the UK. Not only did that term became a dedicated phrase to Star Wars fans around the world, but it also shows how much weight the original phrase “May The Force Be With You.” has on Star Wars zealots.
As every year passes, fans of this franchise rewatch their favorite Star Wars movies as if it’s some type of tradition. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds us fanatics together. This franchise means the world to so many people and has helped others get through difficult times in their lives (As some films do), and I believe that to be the power of the force working its magic in the best way it knows how. As I mentioned before, rewatching Star Wars films every year is a tradition for most people, and I plan to carry the torch as it is my duty as a fan. Here is my definitive ranking of every Star Wars movie.
- Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)
I want to start by saying that I had a lot of fun with this film, but this finale that supposedly concludes a nine-film franchise has to be the worst out of the entire Skywalker saga. Much like The Last Jedi, this film provided us with some of the best visual effects and cinematography I have ever seen from any Star Wars movie or series. There are countless screenshots that I have used as my computer wallpaper, they are truly something to behold. Unfortunately, the story feels more like a collage of multiple threads that were never mentioned in the previous installments. This is especially true with Finn’s (John Boyega) story arc. Many important lines of dialogue feel like they appeared out of thin air. Finn is screaming Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) name and attempting to tell her that he is force-sensitive,. but his story thread never goes anywhere. It feels as if this should have been addressed in The Force Awakens to set up different events moving forward. Not only does this film feel rushed but the third act is extremely similar to Disney’s other box office success Avengers: Endgame.
- Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones (2002)
“I hate sand. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere”, this is one of the most quotable lines to any Star Wars fan. It almost sums up your feelings for the film in the bluntest way possible. This entry was filled with so much potential, but with a run time of 2 hours and 22 minutes, it feels as though you’re waiting for the hourglass to run out. Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones is supposed to be the story of how Anakin (Hayden Christiansen) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) fell in love and launched us into the events of the Star Wars: Clone Wars series. Those are the two saving graces of this film and we finally get to see Yoda (Frank Oz) face off against Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). I cannot express how terrible and dragged out the pacing of this entry was. It is the weakest episode of the prequel trilogy.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
This film is criminally underrated. I don’t think people give it enough credit as it is the feature-length film that launched the success of the tv series of the same name. Is the plot silly? Yes. Saving Jabba The Hutt’s son from imprisonment is very outlandish and hilarious. But the way it is woven into the story makes it work. This film is director Dave Filoni’s passion project. He is one of the few directors out there who truly understands Star Wars and never disappoints and he introduces my 2nd favorite character in the history of the franchise, Ahsoka Tano. As she becomes Anakin Skywalker’s padawan they must both learn how to trust each other in dire situations and build a mutual bond of trust, patience, and faith in one another. This is a film I always find myself going back to due to its comedic moments and amazing action scenes.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Out of any Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the most unnecessary of them all. Now don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun going on a new adventure with young Han Solo played by Alden Ehrenreich. However, this story doesn’t add any necessary facts that I needed to know about the character. I don’t need to know how Han Solo and Chewbacca met, how Han got his name, or how a spry Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) met the franchise’s most famous smuggler. I wish this film would have focused on the random adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca instead of trying to give us a backstory to give more depth to his character. Han Solo’s first love interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) was the saving grace of the film. The cast is great, there’s no doubt about it. But there’s a reason why Disney stepped away from creating so many standalone Star Wars films, and I think this film was a contributing factor.
- Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi (1983)
This is perhaps the goofiest entry in the original trilogy which is something I adore, mainly thanks to the Ewoks. There is nothing more lovable than a geared-up teddy bear that’s ready to kick some empire booty. It’s never clear how much time has passed between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi but this being the final installment of a trilogy isn’t the worst but it’s not the greatest either. For some reason, I’ve always felt like there was an element missing from the story. Perhaps there are too many moving parts or not enough. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it but the scenes between Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) and Luke (Mark Hamill) are some of the best scripts that the franchise has to offer. As this is the final chapter of a trilogy it never feels like we got a proper goodbye ending to these characters we love so dear.
- Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
I will always acknowledge the importance and impact this film had on countless fans worldwide. It is the foundation of the franchise we all love so dearly and presented the start of the hero’s journey engagingly, which made it a lighting in-the-bottle experience. Nonetheless, I have always had more issues with this movie over other entries in this franchise. A New Hope is a well-made film full of outstanding performances and practical effects, but the pacing of this story is, unfortunately, its greatest downfall. I have watched this movie countless times and the beginning of Luke’s journey has always felt like the story is dragging its feet until the 2nd act when the story finally starts to give us insight into a larger galaxy. With that being said, this film shines with its expedition outside of the sands of Tatooine.
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
“Now this is pod-racing!” I’ll admit it. I am a big fan of the prequel trilogy. I grew up with them and have always had a soft spot for this film. This is the start of Anakin’s journey as he is thrown into a life larger than himself. Much like Star Wars: A New Hope, a good chunk of the film takes place on Tatooine and suffers a few of the same pacing issues with moving the story along. The main difference is that The Phantom Menace focuses more on the political state of the galaxy and it isn’t as action heavy. The visual effects are outdated but, for a film made in 1999, they were pretty impressive for its time. It always seems as if this film gets an unfair hake. We were introduced to Darth Maul and the double-sided lightsaber, the best pod-racing scene in the history of the franchise, and the Duel Of Fates score composed and conducted by John Williams. What’s not to love?
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Director Gareth Edwards has created one of the best modern Star Wars films in recent years, and even though it fits into the events of the mainline movies, it tells a bleak tale of sacrifice, freedom, and hope. From early drafts of the script to unused footage, this film pulls multiple inspirations from A New Hope as this story serves as more of a prologue to the events of that film. Micheal Giacchino’s score for Rogue One is mostly original with a dash of John Williams’ work blended in. The theme of this story is about characters such as Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) shifting from incarceration to developing their own free will. Not only is this one of my favorite films in the series, but It also gives the most jaw-dropping Darth Vader scene in the franchise.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It’s the only way to become who you were meant to be.” No one hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans. This film will stand the test of time as the most divisive story in the franchise and I will defend it until the end of time. The Last Jedi is the most ambitious Star Wars movie to ever grace theaters and our television screens. Director Rian Johnson had a vision for this franchise moving forward and the only way to escape the Jedi and Sith struggle was to let the past die. The Last Jedi is a perfect sequel to The Force Awakens, they blend so well together especially dealing with the ancestry of Rey (Daisy Ridley), giving Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) the perfect send-off, and finally giving Disney the opening to move forward with how we view the Jedi and Sith. It is by no means a perfect movie but it still works. It encompasses the ideology of what the force is and much like Rey’s origin leaves more questions than answers.
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Movies in which the protagonists fail to save the day will always be my bread and butter. It shows that even the greatest heroes we admire have flaws. It makes the heroes of the story relatable and shows us a different side of the characters when things do hit a rough patch. The Empire Strikes Back proves that a sequel can improve and outperform its predecessor. From the get-go, this film goes full steam from start to finish. It is the most well-paced out of the original trilogy and it feels like the characters are constantly on the run without changing locations before they have a moment to breathe. Every time I watch this film, time seems to fly by with no effort. This is one of the best climaxes that movies can offer and receives all of the respect it deserves.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
I saw this film three times in theaters, and to this day, it is easily one of my favorites of the mainline stories. Disney proved that they were able to handle ushering in a new wave of fans into this franchise. I’m aware of the naysayers when it comes to the sequel trilogy. People say this story echoes A New Hope and in some ways it does. However, I believe this to be a refined and improved film over A New Hope. The pacing is incredible and the movie flies by without any fatigue. The Force Awakens has so much to offer. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a phenomenal character. I have always adored her determination, resourcefulness, and empathy toward others. This was Daisy’s first big role in her career and she is now one of the many faces for new Star Wars fans. Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) are strong additions, along with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) becoming one of the most complex Star Wars villains in the franchise. Finn and Rey click instantly in the scenes they share. It makes me wish that their relationship would have evolved into something more intimate.
- Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
“The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” This might come as a shock to most fans out there, but this is my favorite Star Wars story of all time. There is a chain of themes that snowball into one another. Fear leads to the anger of things you cannot control. Which launches you into hating the very thing you can’t contain, and ends in suffering. If there was one word to describe this tale of a fallen hero, it’s melancholy. This is not a happy story, this is the climax of Anakin’s passage to the dark side. His mind has been twisted and warped and as he slowly transforms into the greatest villain in movie history he never stops seeing himself as the hero of his narrative. Anakin/Darth Vader has always been a layered character, and that’s what makes his transformation so interesting. His suffering and hatred stem from multiple sources. The death of his mother, the distrust in the Jedi, the fear of Padme dying in childbirth, and countless other reasons. It is always fascinating to see a character go through a powerful transformation, whether it be for better or for worse.