by Michael of ThinkingMichael.com
11. The Rise of Skywalker
This is not only the worst Star Wars, but there are reasons it is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen to Star Wars … while still being Star Wars. (After all, Disney could make Episode X just be a 2-hour showing of Teletubbies. That would be worse than Rise of Skywalker. So, that is what I mean by the worst Star Wars can get while still being Star Wars.)
Palpatine comes back because reasons. And he is defeated, again, because … Rey had two lightsabers, and Palps didn’t know how to stop firing lightning. Also, lightspeed is now teleportation (as shown from lightspeed skipping), Rey is omnipotent because of family genetics (that skipped a generation for some reason), Force healing is now a thing (which makes Anakin’s turn to the dark side completely pointless), the entire final battle is only victorious because ships don’t know how to fly up, Leia dies because she used the Force from another planet to pop in and say hi to her son, Snoke turned out to be a clone… I really could go on. This movie completely lacks logic all throughout, and worst of all, it takes multiple shits on George Lucas’ six episodes.
10. The Last Jedi
Pretty much all the problems with The Rise of Skywalker, except slightly more bearable. For example, using lightspeed as a weapon makes no sense in-universe, but it’s slightly more acceptable than lightspeed being literal teleportation, like we see in Rise of Skywalker. Nothing in this movie makes sense. Nothing even happens in this movie except that Snoke and Luke Skywalker die. The theme of ‘failure’ is shoved down our throats and not even presented in a meaningful way. Everything ‘subverts’ expectations even if costs all logic or even entertainment value. And also, it’s a comedy without a single funny moment.
This movie is what you get if you want to turn a Wookiepedia entry into a full-length movie. I don’t get the point of this movie at all. Han gets the same character arc that he got in A New Hope, except this takes place before A New Hope, so he had to learn how to put others first twice? That Darth Maul cameo is cringe. That badass villain revealed to be a frail young girl is the cringiest thing I’ve ever seen in a movie. Why would Chewie refrain from killing Han simply because Han can poorly speak Wookie? And I can’t put into words how stupid it is that there’s a giant squid monster living in space right next to a black hole, and then immediately proceeds to get killed by said black hole…
8. The Phantom Menace
The first Star Wars movie I ever saw in theaters. I have a nostalgic soft spot for this movie, but I cannot deny it’s pretty terrible. But at least with this movie, and all the rest on this list, we have reached “at least they tried” territory. Almost nothing in this movie makes any sense, it pandered far too much to children with characters like little Anakin and Jar Jar Binks, all the aliens are racist stereotypes, and honestly, the movie is just plain boring unless you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan already. I’m guessing the movie’s plot is Palpatine achieving power, but most of that happens off-screen, including his actual election. I’m still not even sure who the main character is supposed to be.
7. Attack of the Clones
I get a feeling this could have been the greatest Star Wars movie of all time. It has lots of action, it has a romance subplot, it has a unique villain, and it’s the only movie where we see Anakin as a full-fledged Jedi without him being evil yet*.
But all of these things fall flat on their face. The action is overblown, especially the conveyer belt scene and the chase through Coruscant, and when action is overblown, it becomes boring and desperate. The romance is beyond cringe, with Anakin’s love dialogue being embarrassingly awful, and also the fact that he never truly did anything to win Padme’s heart. In fact, his actions in this movie would make any woman with half a brain want to be as far away from him as possible. The unique villain is never fleshed out or explained. And while Anakin technically isn’t part of the dark side in this movie, he still commits genocide and goes on a psychopathic tirade.
So, Attack of the Clones will always be the Star Wars movie that could have been the greatest, but came nowhere close.
6. The Force Awakens
If you strip away all the ways this movie rips-off A New Hope, there wouldn’t be anything left. The only reason it’s better than Attack of the Clones is because it’s cheap copy of a great movie. When you examine this as it’s own movie, nothing makes sense, and it doesn’t even have a clear plot. (Like, somehow a plot about finding Luke Skywalker ends with a battle over a planet-destroyer…) Also, none of the characters are fleshed out. Finn is only a real character for literally one scene, before he’s just generic good guy after that.
5. Revenge of the Sith
We have now reached the “at least they tried” territory. The movie showing Anakin turning to dark side. This, like Attack of the Clones, could have been great were it not for the fact that half the movie is filler, and dull. Not to mention, Anakin’s fall to the dark side makes very little sense. I mean, first it’s about the Jedi being traitors, and then it’s about Padme dying. George Lucas’ grand mistake is trying to make Anakin’s fall being a trick, instead of him willingly embracing the dark side to achieve some sort of impossible goal. Before the prequels, we all thought Darth Vader chose the dark side intentionally, but this movie shows that he was just tricked, which cheapens the character.
Apart from these things, it’s pretty good. Have you noticed the trend by now that there are more bad Star Wars movies than good ones?
4. Rogue One
A bit of a choppy plot, and the characters are barely developed, but otherwise, Disney made a fairly solid film with excellent cinematography. It gets away with more than usual because it’s not meant to be anything profound, it’s only meant to be a war film. It would be pointless as it’s own movie, but this is how you do fan service correctly. It’s entirely meant to be a prequel to A New Hope, almost like it was meant to answer a simple question A New Hope never answered: How exactly did the Rebellion get the Death Star plans? I greatly would have preferred if the movie was low-scale from start to finish, and didn’t end with an epic battle… But I suppose it had to have a big battle at the end since A New Hope’s opening crawl said the plans were obtained during a battle.
3. Return of the Jedi
This movie introduced us to the Emperor. It also gave us Jabba the Hutt, Slave Leia, and best of all, the redemption of Darth Vader. The problems are few, but still stand out: Luke’s plan to free Han made no sense, making Leia the sister of Luke is literally un-believable, and worst of all, the Ewoks. Apart from those things, this movie is a solid conclusion to one of the greatest trilogies of all time.
2. A New Hope
The one that started it all. No plot issues, perfectly paced, wonderful characters that are still beloved 43 years later, and it gave us the most iconic villain in all of film history, Darth Vader. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect movie. For one, how could Han Solo have never even heard of the Jedi before when Obi-Wan says the Jedi were around for a thousand generations? That’s not an in-universe plot hole, that’s an in-movie plot hole. Another obvious problem is that Darth Vader was clearly never meant to be Luke’s father, and the story Obi-Wan told Luke was meant to be taken literally. It’s unfortunate that George Lucas didn’t believe there was going to be a sequel to this movie, because when you watch it, you can clearly tell this was always meant to be a standalone film. But I’m mostly nitpicking here. A New Hope is a great movie, not just a great Star Wars movie.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
The king of sequels-that-are-better-than-the-original (tied with The Dark Knight).
When you think about it, this movie is almost nothing but character development and doesn’t have a clear-cut plot. Normally, that would bother me, but the reason it works with Empire is because that’s all this sequel could be. The Death Star was blown up, and it’s not like they were going to magically upscale it from “plot about a planet-destroying weapon” to “plot about a GALAXY-destroying weapon.” That would have been absurd. No, the only direction a sequel to the original Star Wars could go is a story about the characters.
In The Empire Strikes Back, we see all our main characters at their lowest points. We see them beaten down, both physically and emotionally. But even that wouldn’t have been enough on its own. A sequel to the original Star Wars needed a reason for existing at all. And what better way to make a movie solely about the characters’ personal growth than to end the movie with the greatest plot twist of all time? We learn that Luke is not only the last living Jedi, but he is only alive in the first place because he is Darth Vader’s son! That’s also a wonderful way to end the middle chapter of this trilogy because learning this colossal truth ups the stakes while leaving the characters physically and emotionally crushed. Nobody would have given two shits if this movie was just about the Rebel Alliance gathering strength to fight the Empire in an epic showdown. No, we needed a reason to care about any of this in the first place, and The Empire Strikes Back couldn’t have done it better.
There are flaws with this movie, but they are too few and small to be worth mentioning. This movie gets better every time I see it, when usually any movie gets worse the more I see it. The writing is great, the effects are great (for 1980), the characters are great, the music is great as always, and it has the greatest plot twist in movie history.