11) Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones is a shrug of a movie, often mixing belaboured action sequences with awkward dialogue exchanges. It also marks George Lucas’ digital aesthetic at its least charming and wondrous.
10) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I’ve never been able to get on board with this fully. For being the first “experimental” Star Wars movie, it does rely heavily upon the saga films’ storytelling and cinematic tenants. The result is a film that feels like a virtual museum of nostalgia.
9) Solo: A Star Wars Story
Despite boasting some great world-building and Bradford Young’s exquisite cinematography, Solo is a low stakes affair. Its central problem comes from the main character feeling less interesting than the world he inhabits and the supporting players he interacts with.
8) Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
The Rise of Skywalker is a good Star Wars film. It throws a lot at the wall. Not all of it sticks. But it does understand what’s made the franchise indelible for 40+ years. Rey’s arc of control and internal strife is the film’s highlight
7) Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is an embarrassment of riches in terms of creatures, effects and imagination. And it mostly delivers in being a dramatic conclusion to the Original Trilogy.
6) Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Featuring distinctive new characters, great imagery and a rousing John Williams’ score: The Force Awakens is a persistently fun and fascinating mixtape of the Original Trilogy.
5) Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
To an entire generation, this film is a kidified and ruinous pariah. But to me, it’s Star Wars at its most innocent and optimistic, advocating the importance of symbiotic relationships to overcome the problems of the world. The impressive set pieces and creative world-building does not hurt either.
4) Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi is an assuredly bold and subversive film. It digs beneath the surface of the space fantasy franchise, finds its mythological heart and puts it on a monumentally striking canvas. It’s also a parable of failure that’s held a great deal of personal significance for me.
3) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
I always forget how great this film is. It’s impressive for sustaining a persistent level of tension with its characters constantly being in danger. Or having to face hard truths about themselves. The valuable gift it’s given this franchise is that the middle chapters can be introspective and personal.
2) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Despite having a few deficiencies, Revenge of the Sith is a tragic and poetic final bow from George Lucas. It’s the one Star Wars film that illustrates why the franchise could be considered glorified silent movies, with some stunning imagery, fueled by John Williams’ powerfully haunting score.
1) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
It’s so easy to overlook this film. But its roaring success is more than being the right picture at the right time. Its fusion of Saturday Matinee Serials, Spiritually and World Cinema makes it a winner. It’s also charming, funny, exciting and always a joy to watch.
Interesting order. I really do love seeing people share their rankings on Star Wars movies. As you’ve probably seen me say, I’m such a SW fan and I can’t help but see them all as one collective whole. That’s one reason I often disqualify them from my year-end Top 10s. I just love them all. Some more than others for sure, but I genuinely have enjoyed every single SW film.
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Thank you. While I see a lot of logic in your approach, I try and think of each Star Wars film as an individual chapter. So, it needs to assessed on its own terms etc.
Only The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have made my previous top tens. I flirted with The Last Jedi being on my top ten films of the decade list because of how much it personal meaning it held for me. But I thought of ten better films then it. The spin-offs have always had one fatal flaw that’s preventing them from being great or transcendent.
I do understand what you mean. I can find at least one moment or an idea that hooks me in each Star Wars film, even the ones that I’m not too enamoured with.
How have you found squaring The Mandalorian with the rest of the series?
Yep, that’s the way to approach them from a film criticism perspective. In that way my treatment of these movies is flawed. But I can’t help it. I have such a love for them and have since I was a young kid in the early 80s.
As for The Mandalorian, I’m loving it so far. Anxious to get off work so I can watch it with the family!
Don’t worry! I get where you’re coming from and would not call your treatment of them flawed.
I’ve given more time to think about The Rise of Skywalker, (i.e listening to the score on repeat, reflecting on aspects and writing tweets about it) then some of the films of my top ten of the year. But the film is not quite good enough to be on best-of list and I can separate my fandom from how I feel about it critically etc.
I’m glad you’re enjoying The Mandalorian. The UK doesn’t get until March 31st, but it’s been nice to be absorbed and not distracted by it, so I can truly say goodbye to the central overarching that one of my favourite movie series’ has spun. It’s honestly great to have a live-action Star Wars television show on the horizon.
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