Undoubtedly the most iconic film series of all time, Star Wars has made a colossal impact not only on entertainment but on the world. With a universe packed with lore, action and amazing characters, the series managed to become a sci-fi epic of massive proportions that is still yet to be beaten in terms of how iconic it is and how successful it has been, only rivalled by the likes of Harry Potter.
I’ve grew up with the series so I’ve got a strong attachment to George Lucas’ masterpiece, meaning that I’m one of the many who booked tickets to see The Force Awakens this week. In celebration of this, I’ve decided to spend the week building up to it, covering a wide range of topics as well as a review of Episode VII this Friday. To get things started though, it’s time to separate the Jedi from the Sith and find out which entry comes out top.
Here’s the Star Wars saga ranked.
6. Attack of The Clones (2002)
Looking back at the trailer of Attack Of The Clones, it’s not surprising that many got excited to see the film regardless of how abhorrent the previous entry to the series was (don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon enough).
Just look at it. The battles, the sense that Anakin was going to go through this thing that George Lucas was oblivious to called “character development” as well as a collection of other entertaining scenes like we had witnessed from previous Star Wars film. Also JANGO FUCKING FETT.
“There’s no way it could possible be worse than the previous entry” was the mentality that dominated fan’s minds yet what we got was something so jarring that I’ve tried my best to forget about it.
Instead what we got was a plot dominated by a non nonsensical romance by the awfully acted Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman while the only vaguely interesting storyline regarding Palpetine was underutilised and forgotten like…well the Star Wars prequels. The romance itself totally ruins the film because we’re given no reason to care about a little whiny emo and a woman with the personality of a plank of wood.
I’m not saying that romance shouldn’t be allowed in the Star Wars universe. Just look at Han and Leia, a chemistry that didn’t ever feel like it was unnatural or going too fast. It felt like a genuine connection and you couldn’t deny that whereas with Anakin and Padame, it just feels like a plot device to simply explain how Luke came about and nothing else.
And the dialogue. Oh god the dialogue.
“I hate sand. It’s rough and it’s irritating and it gets everywhere.”
“I wish that I could just wish away my feelings, but I can’t.”
“I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me.”
The tagline for this movie read “A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love.” In this case, a Jedi shall only know how to tarnish the reputation of an entire series.
5. The Phantom Menace (1999)
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this infamous film?
I could tell you that it was the worst mistake Lucas could have ever made to not only start filming The Phantom Menace after ONE DRAFT. I could tell you that there was no heart put in the film, instead primarily about the money (Lucas himself only ever worried about not grossing more than Titanic). I could tell you that the characters in this film, especially Liam Neeson who signed up without even reading the script, are all unbelievably stupid and/or dumb. It was a mass amalgamation of terrible decisions and stupid ideas that ultimately made this film so terrible, forever existing as a “fuck you” to fans who waited years for this.
And then there’s him. I don’t want to talk about him. It just makes me feel physical-
OH GOD, NO, FUCK, NO, I’M GONNA FUCKING PUK-
Let’s not dwell too much on Jar Jar though (another post for another day). In fact there are some *shock* good things about this movie like the pod racing which was the best thing about this film back when I was younger though that doesn’t make these films any better since I also thought sticking Lego up my nose was a good idea back then. Then there’s Darth Maul who to this day I think is an amazing villain who was so under utilised that it’s a sin.
At the end of the day, Phantom Menace’s sins far outweigh any minuscule positives it may have. Avoid it like the plague.
4. Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
When your film is described as the best of the bunch, you’d consider it an achievement, something to be truly proud of. The thing with Revenge Of The Sith is that it was taking part in a prequel derby where the two other horses had no jockey and a brain cell between them.
Now to call the Revenge Of The Sith bad would be harsh but it’s certainly not good. Not only does it nearly ruin Yoda’s entire character but Anakin is yet again treated awfully, especially in the final 10 minutes where he goes from a sulky, angst ridden man to a child killing monster like from 0-100. Real quick.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have any positives. Palpetine in my opinion was the only character treated appropriately and whilst I wasn’t surprised at all that he turned out to be evil, it felt like a natural development. The man who started off with a taste of power in The Phantom Menace manipulated others to get what he wanted, treating others like pawns which really shows that he is the most evil character in the series. Darth Vader is just another notch on the dark side’s bedpost which makes the originals somehow better with this knowledge.
Everyone seems to defend this film for being the best of the prequels when actuality, it is just as bad as the others. The saving grace of the film isn’t the final duel, which has nearly zero significance seeing as we care very little about both characters, but the transformation of Palpetine into one of the most diabolic enemies in cinematic history.
Watch with caution.
3. Return Of The Jedi (1983)
Concluding the Star Wars trilogy was never going to be easy. Following the critical success of the previous films, everyone was well aware that Lucas and co. could screw this up. The threequel is undoubtedly the most difficult movie to pull off yet somehow ROTJ was an amazing way to say goodbye to the series at the time.
First things first, let’s get the gripes out of the way with. Yes, the ewoks are annoying as shit and were Lucas’ first step into appealing far too much to kids with the introduction of bland characters that would ultimately lead to you-know-who. Also, a death-star? Again?
There’s some jaw dropping amazing action set pieces, especially the Sarlacc battle sequence that still stands out as one of my all time favourites where Luke shows how much he has progressed as not only a jedi but as a person, no longer showing any glimpses of the shy, naive boy from Episode IV. Then there’s the speed bike chase on Endor as well as the final battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker which I cannot put into words. The moment where Luke snaps and just goes crazy with his lightsaber is both cool yet frightening, very subtle symbolism.
At the end of it all, we get a ending that is a stark contrast to what we got in previous entries but one that is still enjoyable, if still a bit sad due to the fates of certain characters. All in all, a more than satisfying end to one of the greatest trilogies of all time.
2. A New Hope (1977)
I’ll try my best to not ramble on about this film too much. After all, it’s my first Star Wars film I watched and one of the first I can remember ever watching on VHS. Countless times I’d rewind the tape with a pencil so I could re-watch it all because both at a young age and even now, I’m yet to experience a film that’s drawn me in so well.
Just that opening scene of Darth Vader storming a rebel ship gives me chills with that iconic James Earl Jones voice that manages to convey the evil behind the mask so well. Not to mention how taken aback I was to see the space ships that even more than 20 years after they were made still amazed little four year old me.
Not only do we get an excellent villain, we get introduced to a great pack of heroes to root on. We have a clear protagonist in Luke Skywalker, a naive and inexperienced boy who has no idea what’s in store for him. Then there’s Obi Wan, a legend who after the events of the prequels we assume just went into hiding (though there is cannon lore that explains what happened) and informs Luke of his abilities. Finally there’s the greatest character in the series Han Solo and his trusty, furry buddy Chewbacca who are the bad assess of the film, undeniably slick and make the film what it is essentially: a tale about redemption.
Choosing A New Hope in certain places stands up with the rest on a visual and storytelling level especially when you consider the absolute shambles that was the development, it’s a surprise that this film from little known Lucas would become arguably the most important movie of all time.
It was a film full of action, emotion and most importantly, heart. Unsurprisingly, this is the best starting point for any new fan.
1. Empire Strikes Back.
This is it. The movie every sequel aspires to be. A film so iconic that many other sequels that take note of the grand improvement of this follow up to A New Hope are often called the Empire Strikes Back of their respective series.
Empire Strikes Back is the absolute pinnacle of the series without a shadow of a doubt, a movie that actually makes you feel the despair and hopelessness of the rebel alliance as they try and do their best to defend themselves from the imperial forces. While A New Hope was a film, unsurprisingly, full of optimism while hinting of the danger of Vader and his force, Empire Strikes Back is the full realisation of this, being significantly more bleak than any other Star Wars film.
This new feeling of helplessness never lets up, from having to cut open a dead tauntaun to survive to the betrayal of Han Solo by Lando to Luke still failing to defeat Vader after excruciating training from Yoda. As a kid, it was unusual and rare to see a film have such a depressing ending and because the idea of a sequel was foreign to me at the time, I was under the impression that it was all done. That moment of realisation will always stick with me as one of the most important times of my life regarding film.
There’s nothing I can say about Empire Strikes Back other than the fact that it’s one of the best films in cinematic history. When all is said and done, this entry is what made the series the absolute marvel that it is and explains why we all eagerly anticipate The Force Awakens. We want another film that has us on the edge of our seats. We want another film that has us invested in the story and characters. We want another Empire Strikes Back.
Will we get it? Who knows.
Big love, Liam x