By Abb Jones
The Reelness

Now that we’ve seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the finale to the 42 year Star Wars saga, we thought it would be fun to rank all of the Star Wars films (the nine Skywalker saga films, plus the two anthology films – Rogue One and Solo) from first to worst.  So fanboys and fangirls, take a look and let us have YOUR thoughts in the comments section below!

1. Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)

This is THE mother of all movie sequels. In an era when most sequels land in a galaxy far, far away from their predecessors, this one has it all, as creator George Lucas took an unexpected darker turn after the gleeful ending of the original Star Wars, dismembering Luke and imprisoning (and torturing!) Han Solo.  AND we get a thrilling cliffhanger! It is an unforgettable, flawless cinematic experience – Star Wars at its best.

2. Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope  (1977)

The iconic, original Star Wars was a game changer in the science fiction genre, with George Lucas taking a mythical story of a young farmboy growing up on a desert outpost to go on to join the rebellion, rescue a princess and battle evil Darth Vader – injecting a crisp, straightforward story with fascinating, imaginative characters and an amazing array of eye-popping special effects that, surprisingly, STILL hold up 42 years later. A classic.

3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  (2016)

This first “anthology” film in the Star Wars series easily could have been a franchise buster, but instead, we witnessed expert direction from Gareth Edwards; an ORIGINAL, compelling, darker, and much more adult story about how the Death Star came to be (and how the rebels laid the groundwork for its eventual demise); and an outstanding ensemble cast of new characters led by Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, the fiercely independent rebel leader (and ironically, daughter of the Death Star architect).

4. Star Wars: Episode VI: The Force Awakens  (2015)

Picking up from George Lucas’s very successful original trilogy was no easy task, but director JJ Abrams delivered a critically and financially successful blockbuster, introducing a female hero (Daisy Ridley as Rey, our desert orphan) in a story strikingly similar in plot and look to the original Star Wars, mixing the original characters with new ones with all the scenery and visual effects of the original trilogy. It was a wonderful homage to the first Star Wars film while opening the franchise to a new legion of fans.

5. Star Wars: Episode VII: The Last Jedi  (2017)

Taking the reigns from JJ Abrams, writer/director Rian Johnson up-ended the franchise with a flurry of unexpected twists and turns, moving the story forward in exciting new directions and with loads of humor and heart.

6. Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker (2019)

Yes, while an emotionally appealing crowd pleaser, director JJ Abrams’ franchise finale was somewhat of a letdown, only in that it offers nothing new in the way of creative story telling. It’s a pretty standard, paint by the numbers film, but it gets the job done, giving fans a joyous, epic ending to the Skywalker saga.

7. Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi  (1983)

After making us wait THREE WHOLE YEARS to learn the fate of Han Solo in the cliffhanger from The Empire Strikes Back, we get rewarded… with Ewoks?!? Despite the blatant cutesy merchandising grab, George Lucas still delivered loads of action, a fun story (Jabba the Hutt! Leia in a bikini!) and a rousing Empire-destroying finale to the original trilogy. And those Ewoks.

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

After the darker, more serious themes of Rogue One and The Last Jedi, director Ron Howard gave us a sillier, more lighthearted backstory of mercenary turned hero Han Solo, harkening back to the style of George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy.  And while this second anthology film has all the dazzling visual effects we’ve come to expect over the years, unfortunately it is bogged down by a tediously long, mind-numbingly predictable story, one-dimensional characters, and in relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, a lead actor and story that falls far short of Harrison Ford’s iconic portrait of Han Solo. At least we get to see how Han met Chewbacca…

9. Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith  (2005)

The third installment of the prequel features young Anakin’s long-awaited turn to the dark side as he embraces his destiny as Darth Vader. And while it has the same lackluster performances and weak visual effects as the prior two films, at least the pacing had a sense of urgency lacking in the prior outings.

10. Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones  (2002)

The second chapter of the Star Wars franchise does little more than move the story along, featuring a lackluster romance between Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), questionable CGI and loads of action as the Republic unravels amidst a weak, meandering story and uninteresting characters.

11. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace  (1999)

Jar Jar Binks. Need we say more? The best thing we can say about the Star Wars origin story is that fortunately it was the fourth film produced and not the first, otherwise this box office bomb would have served as the Death Star for the entire Star Wars franchise. So yeah, there’s that.

What is YOUR ranking of the Star Wars films? Add your comments below!

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