Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, a man called George Lucas came up with an idea. He thought of a universe, where interplanetary beings could interact with each other. He envisioned a dystopian world, where an evil galactic empire was fought by a small group of stubborn rebels. He talked about a future, where the whole idea of Good or for that matter Evil was only known as ‘The Force’. Innumerable cults of fans, countless detractors, life-altering philosophies and still capable of eliciting heated arguments among cine-goers, forty-three years after it was released, ‘Star Wars’ changed everything about film making. It only wasn’t the screenplay or the special effects or the unbelievable world beyond worlds that alone made this possible. Whatever it was, making movies was never going to be the same. In the last forty-three years, there have been eleven films, including two original standalone stories and many more on the animated forefront and original programs, the most recent TV series being ‘The Mandalorian’.
We, at The Cinemawala, ranked all Star Wars film from the best to the worst of them all. Please note that this excludes the animated series and other live-action programs of the shared universe. Enjoy the article and hey, a mild spoiler alert, in case you haven’t watched all of them!
May the force be with you.
1. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Starting from where ‘A New Hope’ ended, it continues the story of the war between the Rebels and the evil Galactic Empire, led by the ultimate villain of all-time – Darth Vader. The movie gives a deep insight into the relationship between Vader and Luke. While they fought for each of their sides, there was more to their relationship than met the eye. Darker and sophisticated storytelling, compared to its predecessor and a cliffhanger climax ensured that the viewers had to wait for the epic climax. The mature handling of the conflict between the central characters in this film is perceived as one of the best moments in cinematic history. Darth Vader went on to become one of the most enigmatic antagonists of all time. And who can forget that iconic choke? For the moviegoers, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ did something unheard of – It let the bad guys win. Among all episodes of Star Wars, this remains as the best one to have ever appeared.
2. Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
The one which started the madness, the hype and the never-ending fandom till eternities to come. Originally released as ‘Star Wars’, later it was renamed as ‘Episode IV – A New Hope’, in line with the episodes coming after it. It told the story of an ongoing war between the Rebels and the evil Galactic Empire. By all means, it was a superior film, be it technical or screenplay. The special effects, with respect to the kind produced at that time of movie-making, put people in awe as they witnessed a war amidst the stars. In a way, it paved the path for the next generation to create cinematic wonders out of VFX, producing a Lord Of The Rings or a Harry Potter. Receiving ten nominations at the Academy Awards, it went on to win six out of them and made George Lucas a legend.
3. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
After the shocking end of the events of ‘The Force Awakens’, Episode VIII was awaited by all and sundry. The premise was red hot – The quest to find Luke Skywalker. After killing his father Han Solo (Spoiler Alert!), Ben aka Kylo Ren is looking for his uncle Luke. And on the other hand, the mysterious Rey, who has no recollection of her past, gets drawn towards the force as well as Kylo Ren. Fantastic cinematography, a brilliant twist at the end, sets up the film for a riveting climax. It was a pity that after a stupendous film like this, the reigns of the director was changed to JJ Abrams from the able hands of Rian Johnson for the finale. The result is out there for everyone to see.
4. Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi (1983)
After the events of the ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ which pushed them, to the brink of nowhere, the rebels gear up for one final battle with the evil Galactic Empire led by Emperor Palpatine. The movie explores the relationship dynamics between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker and hits the right note, as the movie inches towards the epic climax between Vader, Luke and emperor Palpatine. Starring Harrison Ford as Hans Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, ‘Return Of The Jedi’ is a great finish to an epic trilogy. One of the many things that the movie became famous for, was princess Leia’s metallic bikini which she wore under the enslavement of Jabba The Hut.
5. Rogue One – A Star Wars Story (2016)
As part of the expanded world of Star Wars anthology, ‘Rogue One’ talks about one of the events that occur between ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ and ‘New Hope’. At a time, when the Galactic Empire is gearing up for the ultimate war weapon, a group of unlikely heroes pull the ultimate heist – to steal the blueprints of the Death Star. Spectacular battle sequences and the concept of ordinary people doing extraordinary things made the movie immensely watchable. The climax is of epic proportions and stands out among others. With the customary appearances of Darth Vader and other crowd favourite characters, ‘Rogue One’ is one of the better ‘StarWars’ film. Starring Felicity Jones, ‘Rogue One’ brought back fans to home and warmed them enough for the next set of the trilogy.
6. Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018)
Now when are you planning to create an origin story for one of the beloved members of the original resistance, you better be prepared! As the name suggests, ‘Solo – A Star Wars Story’ was the origin story of Han Solo. The original character was played by the legendary Harrison Ford. Alden Ehrenreich was cast to play the young Solo, with Donald Grover playing the younger version of Lando Calrissian. Well, the film was fun and it was great to see the chemistry between Solo and Chewbacca. A mysterious character Qi’ra, played by Emilia Clarke was introduced and it was great to see her carve a new path for her, instead of being the token girlfriend. And boy-o-boy, that fight on the top of the moving train was fantastic! Irrespective of all favourable reviews, ‘Solo’ became the lowest-grossing Star Wars film. But who cares? Enjoy the flick!
7. Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
It was the beginning of a new trilogy. After the events of the ‘Return Of The Jedi’, it talks of the power struggle between First Order, an organisation that shares its ideologies with that of the Galactic Empire and the resistance, led by the rebels. The story begins with a missing Luke Skywalker and his whereabouts being sought by both the rebels and the First Order. The movie introduces a new antagonist in the lines of Darth Vader, known as Kylo Ren and a mysterious protagonist Rey with a sketchy background. Bringing back ’Star Wars’ to the new generation is no mean feat and taking up the helms from George Lucas, director J J Abrams does a great job with ‘The Force Awakens’.
8. Episode IX – Rise Of The Skywalker (2019)
The finale to the third trilogy, ‘The Rise Of The Skywalker’ was at the best, a mere call back to the past films. Using an old trope of the previous ‘StarWars’ films, the directors established the lineage of the mysterious Rey. As expected, Kylo Ren left the dark side of the force to again become Ben Solo. And again there was a Death Star (Yawn!). But something in the film was missing. The writing seemed forced and the creators looked like out of ideas. It almost felt like they were eager to end the trilogy, so they went back to the drawing board, looking for inspirations from the previous movies. The end product was a ho-hum script!
9. Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
Concluding the prequel trilogy, ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ connects the dots to the events of ‘Episode-IV: New Hope’ and thus brings the circumstances to the forefront under which Anakin Skywalker is forced to turn to the dark side by becoming Darth Vader. The story moves forward from the events of ‘Attack Of The Clones’ as the evil emperor Palpatine continues to lure Anakin to the dark side of the Force, in the midst of his personal crisis. Anakin, in order to save his dying wife Padme, falls prey to Palpatine’s evil persuasions. After the spectacular debacle of the earlier two films, ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ somewhat redeemed George Lucas, ending up on a small high.
10. Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002)
Continuing the saga, 10 years after the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’, it takes the viewers through the journey of Anakin Skywalker, on his path to becoming the sinister Vader. Mentored by his master, Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin sets on the path to becoming the great Jedi he was always destined to be but his impatience and arrogance become the hurdle of his road. As the Galactic Republic is threatened by a rebellion, it comes down to Obi-Wan and Anakin to fight them off. Unperturbed by the backlash to the previous film, the makers went ahead with the hackneyed script of the ‘Attack Of The Clones’. The result? The same. Starring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, Natalie Portman as princess Padme Amidala and Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, ‘Attack Of The Clones’ is one of the worst Star Wars films.
11. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
After the original trilogy was over, fans kept pestering George Lucas for more. Every fan out there was curious to know about the origin story of Vader. Owing to the fans, George developed a prequel story 22 years after the original trilogy, which talked about the origin story of Anakin Skywalker. When released, this film saw an unprecedented number of fans thronging the cinemas. It had everything including the story and a much better VFX compared to the original trilogy. However, the screenplay and the overwhelming drama were heavily criticised. Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman in the leading roles, the movie couldn’t live up to the hype of the earlier films and thus, is considered as one of the worst Star Wars movies ever made.
Which’s your favourite Star Wars film? Please share in the comments section.