Whenever you rank the Star Wars films, there is going to be some serious debate. One challenge with ranking these films is that they have been viewed by separate generations that have entirely different viewpoints and expectations when it comes to film. I saw the original Star Wars in the theater, which means that I have a different perspective than the youngster who sees these films in (gasp) chronological order. With that in mind, here are the six Star Wars films, ranked from best to worst.
#1 – The Empire Strikes Back (V)
This film has the best story, most compelling intrigue and deepest drama. It is not the beginning, nor is it the end. However, it has all the elements of the story, and it is a film that truly creates a sense of anticipation. Sometimes the best film is the cinematic production that leaves the audience wanting more.
#2 – Star Wars: A New Hope (IV)
When Star Wars came out, it was a phenomenon because it changed the way that people imagined movies could be made. In retrospect, the acting is not terribly good and some of the effects and choreography are a bit lacking. However, I have a sentimental attachment to this film because it was the one that started it all.
#3 – Return of the Jedi (VI)
The sixth film in the series brings everything to a close, and while there is general happiness at the end, it also makes the film a little less enjoyable because everyone knows that there will be no more. ROTJ had one of the best spaces battles of the series, but I could have done with a little less Ewoks.
#4 – Revenge of the Sith (III)
Of the six movies, this is the darkest. If I were a bit younger, I might put it into the top three due to the interesting philosophical themes and the way the movie shows the interaction between good and evil. This film has the drama of ESB, but it also leaves the audience with a general sense of sadness.
#5 – The Phantom Menace (I)
I would characterize this film as good at the very beginning and great at the end. In between it is fairly slow and filled with way too much Jar-Jar Binks. The battle with Darth Maul at the end is pretty epic, but the anticipation may have made it impossible for this film to satisfy an audience with high expectations.
#6 – Attack of the Clones (II)
Bad dialogue, worse acting and a generally disappointing script made this arguably the worst of the six films. The massive battle with a mini-army of Jedi towards the end of the film was pretty cool, but the rest of the film was really not that good. We probably could have skipped from Episode I to Episode III without needing to make this stop.