Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past couple of months, you will have noticed that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be arriving in UK cinemas imminently! Marking the first time the Star Wars movies have broken away from the episodic storyline, Rogue One will be unlike anything seen in this universe!
What better time than any to have a look at the previous seven Star Wars movies and rank them from worst to best, once and for all*!
*Well, it is subject to change, and of course this is all opinion!
7. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
The prequels are an undeniably patchy affair, and picking the film to take the coveted bottom spot is like choosing whether you’d prefer to be slapped or punched in the face; both would hurt, but maybe one might hurt slightly less. Anyway, Attack of the Clones easily takes the bottom spot in this list, mainly because the “love montages” between Anakin and Padme are absolutely excruciating, the storyline is boring, it actually adds very little to the overall story, and the acting (mainly from Hayden Christensen) is atrocious.
What it does have going for it however is one of the most beautiful pieces of music from the entire series in “Across the Stars”, and the amazing “DIE JEDI DOGS” quote from C-3PO in the characteristically over-the-top CGI battle sequence that impaired the prequels so frequently.
6. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This could very easily be at the bottom of the list, but it has one massive saving grace; Darth Maul. This character is not just one of the best things about this film, but one of the best things about the entire series, and it is absolutely criminal that he was killed off at the end of Episode I, when he could’ve played a really important part in the series going forward.
There are some good elements to this film; the podrace, whilst incredibly overlong, is pretty spectacular, and the performances from Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are good considering what they have to work with. However, it does also have arguably the biggest abomination of the prequel trilogy in the form of Jar Jar Binks, whose ridiculous voice and penchant for fart jokes is the biggest of black marks against the prequels. Mercifully he featured less as the films went on, but his existence at all, is still unforgivable.
5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
A lot of people are far too forgiving of this film; it might be the best out of the prequels, but that isn’t difficult for starters, and also it still doesn’t make it a great film. General Grievous is a terrible character who tries to distract audiences away from his terribleness by fighting with four lightsabers – breaking news, he’s still terrible! Hayden Christensen continues to be a rubbish actor, and despite supposedly growing older, he actually starts acting like even more of a petulant child than previously, which is really grating at this point.
There is some redemption however, and when things veer drastically into darkness in the final act, it does start to improve in quality. The lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin might be once again plagued with over-the-top CGI, but it is undeniably spectacular, and the shot of Vader’s first breath is glorious. Shame it took this long for the prequels to get going really!
4. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Now in the territory of ‘none of these films are bad at all, but they need to be put in some kind of order’, we come to Return of the Jedi! It is not uncommon for this to actually sit pretty near the top on a lot of people’s rankings, but there’s no denying it doesn’t quite match the same quality of the previous instalments in the original trilogy. More than any of the others, it sometimes relies a little too much on being funny, and it is also the one which suffers the most from the meddling of George Lucas in the special editions. That dance scene at Jabba’s anyone? Atrocious!
That being said, it does have the delights of Carrie Fisher in a bikini, the rancor scene, more adorable ewoks than you could shake a stick at, and the incredible showdown between Luke and Darth Vader. Their lightsaber battle, as the emotional and dramatic climax of the series, is pretty hard to beat, and it has the most fitting of endings to this chapter of the story. Now just try to forget the fact they put Hayden Christensen’s stupid face into the scene at the end, and everything will be ok!
3. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
After the undeniably disappointing prequels, many probably thought that a new Star Wars movie could never live up to the original trilogy. In the very capable hands of Disney and JJ Abrams, the world was proved wrong, and The Force Awakens proved to be a classic worthy of the Star Wars name. Sure, it takes a lot of it’s visual cues from A New Hope, but that’s not exactly a bad blueprint to follow, and the addition of great new characters such as Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and of course BB-8, make it one of the best films in the Star Wars series so far. With just the right balance of computer generated and practical effects, Abrams creates a film which feels quintessentially like Star Wars, yet still fresh and new for a modern audience.
With familiar returning faces in the form of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, a highly emotive death (you know the one), amazing battle scenes, the right balance of humour and drama, The Force Awakens has everything that a Star Wars movie needs, and puts everyone at ease about the future of the series. Now how long is it until Episode VIII again?!
2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Back where it all began, it’s impossible not to feel excited when watching this film, and imagining what it must’ve been like for audiences seeing this for the first time back in 1977. As an introduction to the series, story, and characters, few films could match the greatness of A New Hope. Full of iconic scenes such as the first introduction to Vader, the cantina, the trash compactor, and the thrilling attack on the Death Star, A New Hope is a perfect Star Wars film and one which could very easily sit atop this list! John Williams’ score is perhaps at its most iconic in this film as well; just try not to get chills when Luke looks across Tatooine at the binary sunset.
It is easy to forget as well that this film delivers one of the most shocking moments with the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by the inimitable Alec Guinness. Leaving Luke inexperienced in The Force and with much to learn was an unexpected and pivotal moment both for the characters and for us as the audience, and it left us hungry for the next instalment…
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This brings us rather conveniently onto the film at the top of this prestigious list, not just the greatest Star Wars film, but one of the greatest films ever made. From the ice planet of Hoth, via the beautiful Bespin Cloud City, and all the way to the iconic showdown between Luke and Vader, Empire Strikes Back is a perfect film. With the story taking a key turning point at the end of A New Hope, the road was clear for a much darker film, and boy does this film have some dark moments! Of course there is the plot twist to end all other plot twists with the reveal that Vader is Luke’s father, but it does also leave us with the cliffhanger of everyone’s favourite scoundrel, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite.
Everything about this film is iconic; from the quotes, to the visuals, to the musical score, and even those completely unfamiliar with the Star Wars universe could probably drop a quote from this on cue, which is testament to just how impactful it was and still is. Empire Strikes Back is the jewel in the Star Wars crown, and it would take something truly miraculous for it to ever be beaten!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 15th December.