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An updated ranking of the films in the “Star Wars” Franchise

HOLLYWOOD HEROES™: Today is a big day for Star Wars fans. Not only did we get news yesterday that a Boba Fett movie is in the works, Solo: a Star Wars Story is also in theaters. So, what better time is there to go back and re-rank the films in the Star Wars universe? None, frankly, so that’s just what I’ll be doing right now. This isn’t just slotting in Solo: A Star Wars Story either. I reconsidered the list fully. So, even if there’s only minimal changes this time around, the potential was definitely there. Take a look and be sure to check out the latest Star Wars offering this weekend…

Here now is how I would rank all ten Star Wars films so far:

10. Attack of the Clones (Episode II) – This is the only installment so far that I think can be safely dismissed out of hand, this is a very mediocre action flick that fills in backstory we didn’t need. The prequels all did that, but this one just seems the most empty and useless. None of the characters introduced do much, the romance between Anakin and Padme is laughable, and George Lucas almost seems disinterested. That’s the part that rubs you the wrong way too, as this is his vision. Not a full on bad movie, but the one that you can skip and not lose anything from doing so.

9. The Phantom Menace (Episode I) – For my money, what saves this one from being in the basement is the admittedly very cool pod racing sequence, along with Darth Maul. It’s the most overt installment aimed at younger kids, though the droning on about trade routes and such is a bore no matter who you are. This is a very flawed flick, but it’s not a complete waste of time, so that’s a plus.

8. Revenge of the Sith (Episode III) – Here’s the first change in this update. As I’ve mentioned, this prequel, which is the best of that bunch, is basically tied with Episode VI, Rogue One, and Solo, essentially, so consider this 6A, 6B, and 6C, if you will. I do really like getting to see the birth of Darth Vader, even if his first words do leave a lot to be desired. Seeing how we got to the original trilogy has a lot of charm though, even if filling in blanks is a Star Wars weakness, so I remain at least a little bit under its spell.

7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – This film, and the next one, as just stated, are basically tied for me, in that they’re a definite step down from the apex of the franchise, but still really solid and a ton better than what a lot of the competition puts up. This is what I said a few years ago: In contrast to the prequels, this flick is managing to fill in the blanks and answer questions about the original trilogy without feeling superfluous. One big reason seems to be the tone. While this feels like Star Wars, it also puts the emphasis truly on war for the first time. Not just space battles either, but true land warfare, guerrilla style. There’s certainly fan service, including the appearance of Darth Vader, and it’s mainly made for fans of the franchise, but it’s deigned to be a gritty war film at the same time. For the first time, it’s a movie in the franchise that stands out from the pack.

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story – The latest outing, here is what I wrote earlier in the week about the film: it represents the highs and lows of the series. The movie is at its best when we’re just on adventures throughout the galaxy. In some cases, had these just been completely original characters, that would have made it even more fun. Ehrenreich takes some getting used to as Han, but he wins you over before long. Glover is terrific as Lando and probably deserved more screen time. The moments of humor work, and it’s often thrilling. On the other hand, if the prequels taught us anything, it’s that this franchise doesn’t need to answer questions. The fill in the blank moments for this character’s backstory are the weakest parts of the film. More with the world, less with the history of these icons would have made this good movie into a great one.

5. Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) – Once again, we have more or less a tie going on here, as we get to the real good stuff. There’s iconic things here, including Jabba the Hut and the Ewoks. It might not be perfect, but it wraps up wonderfully, bringing the story of Luke and (as we know now) Anakin Skywalker to at least a momentary conclusion. It drops us off where The Force Awakens will soon pick us up. Everything to follow is a cut above though, that much is clear.

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) – A definite chunk of what makes this film so successful is the nostalgia factor at play. From my take at the time of release: It captures everything that I loved about the original three installments, bringing me right back to my childhood. With ease, it’s way better than the prequels, and if it’s certainly not an instant classic like A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, it’s more or less already on the level of Return of the Jedi, which is no small achievement (and above it, as you can see here). Seeing old heroes is wonderful, for sure, but the big success here is we’re already in love with our new heroes, setting the stage for some wonderful new adventures to come.

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII) – I wrote about this newest installment when it hit last year, so it’s all still fresh in my mind. Subsequent viewings may very well move this one up a notch or two. To reiterate: In some ways, this is the best Star Wars has to offer. Johnson crafts something different, full of surprises, yet also chock full of homages. Nearly a half dozen moments at the press screening I attended last night resulted in cheers and/or standing ovations. That’s rare too, in case you were wondering. Without spoiling anything, this is also the best turn for Hamill as Luke Skywalker to date. One other thing I will mention is that the movie is dedicated to Fisher, and how they phrase that over the end credits will put a lump in your throat. The less said about what happens, the better, but just know that it’s great.

2. The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) – Folks, is this technically the best film of the bunch? Yes. So why isn’t it in the top spot? I’ll explain more below, but this is another tie, so it’s more 1B than 2. It’s nearly as iconic as Episode IV, especially with the introduction of Yoda and the big reveal during the climax. It’s an absolute classic, for sure, something that will undoubtedly stand the test of time. If you asked me again next week, who knows, I might swap these two around, but for now…this is where I put Episode VI.

1. Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) – Here we are. The one that started it all gets the top spot in a tight race, just due to how much of an impact it had on me as a young boy. The first time you see Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and company on their adventure, it changes you. It’s hard to explain, really, but this is a special film. We all have our thoughts on whether A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back is superior, and while the latter is probably the better movie, the former is the more important and more special one…

Be sure to check out Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters everywhere now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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