The Star Wars franchise has captivated audiences for over four decades and spawned a variety of films of different qualities and ranging stories. To honor the legacy of the movies, here is a list ranking the best Star Wars films.
Star Wars is one of the most beloved and watched film series of all time. Written and created by George Lucas, it began with the 1977 film, ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’, and has since grown to become one of the most commercially successful franchises ever. It has spawned eight feature films, four spin-off films and multiple animated series. The saga has become a household name and is known and loved by people across the globe. It has set precedents for multiple genres and stories, with its intergalactic war stories and moralistic dilemmas.
The Franchise’s Overall Timeline
The first episode of Star Wars was released in 1977 and was the only movie George Lucas was involved in producing while still alive. After the original story ended in 1983, Lucasfilm went on a hiatus, but Star Wars was bought by Disney and they released the sequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005. Disney then produced an anthology series of films beginning with The Force Awakens in 2015 and newest installment in the series, The Rise of Skywalker, in 2019.
Ranking the Star Wars Movies from Worst to Best
Having said that, one may wonder which movies would make this list. Here is a ranking of all the Star Wars movies from worst to best.
The Phantom Menace (1999)
The first film in the prequel trilogy, The Phantom Menace, is often considered to be the worst Star Wars movie. This film is chock-full of cheesy, awkward lines, and the dialogue was often criticized for being too casual. Moreover, its narrative is quite scattered with too much being crammed in and its reliance on CGI special effect was over the top. The Phantom Menace just doesn’t have the same charm and nostalgia of the original trilogy and is the most forgettable entry to the series.
Attack of the Clones (2002)
The second film in the prequel trilogy was certainly an improvement on The Phantom Menace, but still falls short of the original trilogy. It takes a while to reach its momentum and some of the dialogue still left much to be desired. Also, its overwhelming reliance on CGI couldn’t make up for its thin storyline, or the fact that there are too many characters to build any meaningful relationships. Attack of the Clones was still a step up from The Phantom Menace and has its moments, but it’s not to the same quality as the original trilogy.
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Revenge of the Sith was the most well-received of the prequel trilogy, with many fans and critics saying it was the best of the three. It has a great sense of sheer scale and grandeur, with story-telling that is full of nuance, making it a standout entry. Sure, it still has some awkward dialogue and a few cheesy moments, but it also has some truly suspenseful and exhilarating sequences as well. It was a big step in the right direction compared to the first two prequel films, and will be remembered fondly by most longtime fans.
The Last Jedi (2017)
The Last Jedi is a divisive installment of the saga, perplexing some fans while delighting others. The Last Jedi has a bold and unique story, unlike anything that has been told in these films before. It has some truly phenomenal cinematographic moments, some emotional moments and lots of action and excitement. There are a few points where some of the scenes feel like they drag, and some of its plot points also feel oddly unresolved, making it suffer in the opinion of some viewers.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Solo: A Star Wars Story was the fourth anthology film in the saga and the first with a main focus on the young Han Solo. The movie follows the expected Han Solo origin story, with some great minutia and details along the way. It’s also arguably the most visually stunning installment we’ve seen, with detailed worlds and lush environments for us to soak in. To top it all off, Alden Ehrenreich absolutely nails the iconic character of Han Solo, bringing the charm and humor of Harrison Ford to the big screen.
Rogue One (2016)
The first anthology movie in the Star Wars franchise is arguably the best of the bunch so far. With its release soon after the fanbase had become reinvigorated, Rogue One successfully maintained the saga’s momentum. The characters, performances and story sizzle with poignancy and passion, and are fully encapsulated in a sci-fi universe overflowing with imaginative sights and sounds. From the lush rainforests of Yavin IV to the densely populated cities and planet-destroying superweapons, no stone was left unturned in delivering a fully immersive experience.
The Force Awakens (2015)
The Force Awakens, the seventh movie from the franchise, was one of the most highly anticipated films of all time and it delivered. J.J. Abrams does a great job of balancing fan-service and reinvention, introducing us to a few new beloved characters. We also get our fair share of the old cast and classic moments, giving us the best of both worlds. It’s one of those movies that can bring out the inner-child in all of us, resurrecting the love we had for the franchise all those years ago, while adding new and exciting elements to the mix.
A New Hope (1977)
The beginning of the saga and the one that started it all is A New Hope. While its technical aspects aren’t as good as the later films, its timeless classic storyline and characters is what keeps fans coming back for more. Its adventure-filled story, with its political and moral debates, is far more engaging than its sequels and prequels, and it contains the most captivating scenes in the entire saga. A New Hope left an indelible mark on its viewers and is still remembered fondly by generations.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
The final installment in the original trilogy is considered by many to be the best film in the entire Star Wars saga. It has a faster pace than the previous films and avoids some of the unnecessary subplots, streamlining the story and delivering a more compelling tale. The final battle on Endor and the classic lightsaber duel that follows it is an action tour de force, and will make your heart race with anticipation. Return of the Jedi finally gives us the resolution that we have been craving since the beginning of A New Hope, and it does it in a satisfying and fitting way.
The Star Wars films have become a cultural phenomenon, with films that have pushed the boundaries of storytelling. From its humble beginnings of A New Hope, to its sweeping conclusion in Return of the Jedi, to the modern trilogy, Star Wars has changed the game for films in terms of both story and visuals. This list of the films from worst to best should help fanatics order the films in terms of quality watch in order to get the most enjoyment from their experience. May the force be with you.