WARNING! PERSONAL OPINIONS AHEAD! THIS STAR WARS RANKED LIST WILL NOT BE THE SAME AS YOUR STAR WARS RANKED LIST! DO NOT TWEET OR SEND IN HATE MAIL JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T AGREE! AUTHOR DOES NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK IS BETTER AS THIS IS A PERSONAL RANKED LIST!
Star Wars, it’s a long time love of mine and millions of other people all over the world. During that time there have been 9 movies, 1 holiday special, 2 more animated features; and more TV series, audio books, actual books, comics and other media that have been produced to build a huge and exciting long term universe that spanned a few generations past the original story of a young farm boy setting off on an adventure to rescue a space Princess from a guy in a heavy gimp suit with a breathing issue… At least till the mouse bought up the franchise in 2012… Then everything from the expanded universe got the good old J. Michael Straczynski & Joe Quesada treatment (Meaning they removed years of established canon to make things “simpler” for no reason) and now we are down to just the 8 feature films and the Star Wars: Rebels TV series.
So while I am waiting with baited breath for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to begin showing in theaters this holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to sit down and think about the past films and maybe put them in some sort of order in which I enjoyed the films and how I think they should be seen by the general public. Just note that in order to fill out this list into something more along the lines of a Top 10, I have cheated and included one non-canon special and one semi-canon (though not confirmed to no longer be canon) animated film.
10. Star Wars Holiday Special
This is the obligatory mention of one of the worst things to be made in the whole Star Wars franchise: The Star Wars Holiday Special. First airing in 1978 and then being sent into the biggest and blackest black hole in the universe, forever being relegated to rumor and fan speculation till the age of the internet and people converting terrible VHS copies into digital format to send out into the world wide web to the horror of all to experience.
In the storyline that ties the special together, Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s home world, to celebrate Life Day. They are pursued by agents of the Galactic Empire, who are searching for members of the Rebel Alliance on the planet. The special introduces three members of Chewbacca’s family: his father Itchy, his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy, though these names were later explained to have been nicknames, their full names being Attichitcuk, Mallatobuck, and Lumpawarrump, respectively.
The program also features many other Star Wars characters, including Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader and Princess Leia (who sings the film’s “theme song”, set to the music of John Williams’ Star Wars theme, near the end), all of them portrayed by the original actors. The program includes stock footage from Star Wars, and also features a cartoon produced by Toronto-based Nelvana that officially introduces the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Scenes also take place in outer space and in spacecraft including the Millennium Falcon and an Imperial Star Destroyer. The variety-show segments and cartoon also take place in a few other locales, such as a Mos Eisley cantina on the desert planet of Tatooine and a newly introduced red ocean planet known as Panna.
In the end, the Star Wars Holiday Special is so insanely bad that it has never been rebroadcast, released on home media and even has Star Wars creator and former owner George Lucas has stated that “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it”. Yes, it’s that bad. Don’t believe me, then feel free to jump onto YouTube and watch the whole thing for yourself… Just say you haven’t been warned.
9. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Ten years after the ‘Phantom Menace’ threatened the planet Naboo, Padmé Amidala is now a Senator representing her homeworld. A faction of political separatists, led by Count Dooku, attempts to assassinate her. There are not enough Jedi to defend the Republic against the threat, so Chancellor Palpatine enlists the aid of Jango Fett, who promises that his army of clones will handle the situation. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi continues to train the young Jedi Anakin Skywalker, who fears that the Jedi code will forbid his growing romance with Amidala.
So here we have the first official canon entry into the list and it’s pretty far down. You could say that this is officially the worst Star Wars film on the list by default. But what makes it so bad that it lands this spot? Well let’s start with the story itself. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is meant to be the events leading up to one of the most important and wanted parts of the whole Star Wars universe: The Clone War. This would be the war in which The Empire begins to take over known space and drive the universe into darkness for ages, but what we got instead was a fucking love story! Yeah, we get to spend most of this movie watching Padmé and Anakin make goo-goo eyes at each other and discuss how their lives and positions in the world are keeping them apart while they run away together right at the moment when shit begins for the Dark Side.
People walked into Star Wars: Attack of the Clones thinking that this was going to be the big war moment of the franchise, only to find out later that the reason behind this film being nothing like what they expected is because Lucasfilm sold the rights to the actual Clone Wars to Warner Bros studios to make an animated film called Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which was extended out to be a 5 season TV series that got so far out of the core premise that it had a whole season based around the return of Darth Maul…
8. Star Wars: Clone Wars
As the Clone Wars sweep through the galaxy, the heroic Jedi Knights struggle to maintain order and restore peace. More and more systems are falling prey to the forces of the dark side as the Galactic Republic slips further and further under the sway of the Separatists and their never-ending droid army. Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano find themselves on a mission with far-reaching consequences, one that brings them face-to-face with crime lord Jabba the Hutt. But Count Dooku and his sinister agents, including the nefarious Asajj Ventress, will stop at nothing to ensure that Anakin and Ahsoka fail at their quest. Meanwhile, on the front lines of the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda lead the massive clone army in a valiant effort to resist the forces of the dark side.
So this is what happens when you outsource one of the biggest moments in Star Wars history to a studio that is just as greedy as the one that would eventually buy out Lucasfilm only 6 years later. Warner Bros Animation entered into a contact that allowed them to have creative freedom over all events that happen during the Clone Wars themselves. So what we got was a out of place Anakin suddenly being given an apprentice of his own without being given the rank of Master. Why? Because merchandise! So this is why you have A LOT of new characters suddenly thrown into the battles and pushed into the spotlight over the main characters of the movies. The other part of the contract was that the Clone Wars movie was the beginning of a Clone Wars TV series, which ended up ignoring this movie and restarted things anyway!
If anything, this movie version is worth a watch only one if you want SOMETHING that features the actual Clone Wars themselves in action, even if it is in some crappy 90s era CGI abomination.
7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.
One of the more recent films to be brought out and I can already hear the reactions now: “Oh Karl, you are stupid, Rogue One was a great masterpiece! It has a female protagonist, which makes it instantly awesome and if you don’t like this film then you’re sexist, etc”. Well it’s got nothing to do with the protagonist, but the plot itself. Rogue One isn’t exactly interesting or needed for the overall plot of the franchise at all. Hell, it even makes sure that you can never see most of these characters again by blowing them up! If you’re going out of your way to kill off characters in the one film that you using to expand the mythos of Star Wars in general, then you know you’ve fucked up. Set just before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, even ending with one of the most badass scenes of Darth Vader ever, Rogue One tends to under deliver on a story that should have been a given.
6. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
As imminent conflict brews between the powerful Trade Federation and the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi travel to Naboo to warn the Queen of the galactic fallout which is to follow. Eventually, Naboo is invaded forcing the Jedi to evacuate the planet with the Queen and her court. They travel to the desert planet of Tatooine where they meet a slave boy named Anakin Skywalker who is evidently one with the Force. They enlist his help in fighting the war, while the Jedi confront one of the Dark Jedi behind the invasion, Darth Maul, while his master Darth Sidious continues to lead the invasion behind the scenes.
Jar Jar Binks aside, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is not that bad of a film. It sets up the Jedi as peacekeepers of the universe, the worlds of the time are technologically advanced and look great to be in. You get moments that are needed for the future of the series; such as the introduction of Anakin Skywalker, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Obi Wan. Sure it adds in a huge plot hole with Padmé already being in her early 20s when Anakin is 8 years old, making the future relationship so creepy it should be illegal. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is still pretty cool as it introduces the concept of the Sith returning from the shadows with one of the most badass Sith in the series: Darth Maul and his double-edged Lightsaber. At the end of the day, you can actually watch this film and see it for what it really is, a beginning to the whole story, maybe more of a Prologue of sorts… Just make sure to fast forward the Jar Jar scenes.
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
30 years after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire, Rey, a scavenger from the planet Jakku, finds a BB-8 droid that knows the whereabouts of the long lost Luke Skywalker. Rey, as well as a rogue stormtrooper and two smugglers, are thrown into the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order.
Alright, put down the pitch forks and fire folks. I know everyone LOVED Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the force of a billion suns and it’s the new top pick of many other Top movie lists, but at the end of the day this movie has one major flaw: It’s A New Hope all over again. I’m not even going to touch how Rey is one of the biggest and most obvious Mary Sue characters to ever be placed into the series, but my god it drove me nuts. Ok, ok.. Writing aside, I just don’t think that The Force Awakens isn’t all that great at all. It does nothing original in terms of character creation or plot. Too much CGI used with some characters and scenes it just made me sick. When I walked away from this movie I couldn’t remember any of the characters or their motivations outside of “girl who does everything”, “guy who cracked the shits with a lightsaber”, and “that other guy who is useless”. Even adding in some classic characters to pass the torch didn’t help this film create any moment of interest in my mind. Worth a watch once before Star Wars: The Last Jedi just to remind yourself of the new plotline.
4. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Nearly three years have passed since the beginning of the Clone Wars. The Republic, with the help of the Jedi, take on Count Dooku and the Separatists. With a new threat rising, the Jedi Council sends Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to aid the captured Chancellor. Anakin feels he is ready to be promoted to Jedi Master. Obi-Wan is hunting down the Separatist General, Grievous. When Anakin has future visions of pain and suffering coming Padmé’s way, he sees Master Yoda for counsel. When Darth Sidious executes Order 66, it destroys most of all the Jedi have built. Experience the birth of Darth Vader. Feel the betrayal that leads to hatred between two brothers. And witness the power of hope.
The most enjoyable of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is a lot cooler than the memes make it out to be. We get the aftermath of The Clone Wars (Or at least some of the TV series and movie) leading to one of the moments that we as Star Wars fans were waiting for: Order 66. A classic moment in the timeline, Order 66 is when The Empire was revealed and began the takeover that we get to see in the original trilogy. Along with that we get to see Chancellor Palpatine become The Emperor, and of course, we get to see Anakin Skywalker not only turn to the dark side of the force and kill a bunch of children, but we also find out how and why he is in the suit that makes him Darth Vader. If you really want to cut the crap of the prequel trilogy and only get what you need out of it, then I recommend skipping The Phantom Menace & Attack of the Clones then begin with this one… Or at least the last 45 minutes.
3. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Luke Skywalker battles horrible Jabba the Hut and cruel Darth Vader to save his comrades in the Rebel Alliance and triumph over the Galactic Empire. Han Solo and Princess Leia reaffirm their love and team with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, the Ewoks and the androids C-3PO and R2-D2 to aid in the disruption of the Dark Side and the defeat of the evil emperor.
A lot of people will swear up and down that Return of the Jedi is THE BEST STAR WARS FILM EVER! To me though, it’s alright. As an ending to the Star Wars saga it worked very well. You take the ending of Empire Strikes Back and follow it up straight away to make sure that Han Solo is not left out of the plot for too long, you get Luke becoming about as adept as his Father as a Jedi since Yoda dies, you get a weird revelation about the Skywalker family which makes thing creepy, and you get the final battle with the Empire themselves and the redemption of Darth Vader. It’s the classic feel good ending that you expect to see out of movies these days. However there is nothing shocking in Return of the Jedi which makes it compare to Empire Strikes Back or A New Hope; it’s just a good ending and nothing more.
2. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
After receiving a vision from Obi-Wan Kenobi and fleeing the ice world of Hoth with his friends after an Imperial attack, Luke Skywalker travels to the marsh planet of Dagobah, where he is instructed in the ways of the Force by the legendary Jedi Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Princess Leia make their way to planet Bespin, where they are greeted by Han’s old friend, a shifty gambler named Lando Calrissian. Ambushed by the Empire shortly after their arrival, Han and his friends are imprisoned by Darth Vader. Luke leaves Dagobah to rescue his friends, and is met by Vader and a startling revelation.
If people don’t have Return of the Jedi at the top of their lists, then they will have Empire Strikes Back instead. The reasoning for this is that Empire Strikes Back has some of the best moments in Star Wars history. The introduction of Yoda back into the story, Han being betrayed by his old friend, and of course the whole Darth Vader being Luke’s father thing too. There are so many great moments in Empire Strikes Back that it indeed should have the top spot on every single list ever made. Yet to me, I still take time to watch Empire Strikes Back and outside of the one revelation that makes the movie I just find it to be a bit too much all at once. Jumping around from location to location and story to story really takes me out of the movie. However I can see why this tops other lists and agree with it.
1. Star Wars: A New Hope
The Imperial Forces, under orders from cruel Darth Vader, hold Princess Leia hostage in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.
You’ve got to give it up to the OG man. Star Wars: A New Hope is the movie that started it all and no matter how many times they re-release it or update it, the movie will hold up till the end of time. I have so many memories tied into this film it is insane. From watching it for the first time on TV, to borrowing the VHS from the local video store, to seeing the first Special Edition remaster in the theater (Leading me to be able to say I have seen each of the mainline movies in theaters), to owning it on VHS and later DVD than even later on Bluray (Second highest film copies I own. Transformers: The Movie tops it at 4 copies owned). I even took my little brother to see it in the theater because our mother said many times that you need to see it in the theater as there is no experience like it.
Outside of the memories, Star Wars: A New Hope is a classic “save the princess” tale and it works well. Some of the most iconic characters in Sci-Fi and movie history were born in this film and it’ll forever be the one movie that everyone knows from beginning to end, even if they hate it, they still know it.
So there you go, all the Star Wars films that are still considered in some small part canon ranked in a personal enjoyable order. Yeah I know it was a cop out that the original trilogy got the top 3 spots on the list, but they are the reason that this franchise is as legendary as it is. Without those three films then we wouldn’t have seen any of the other 6 films. But to make up for it, here’s the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi so you can get hype for that movie.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the 8th installment in the numbered line of Star Wars films is due in cinemas December 15, 2017 in theaters everywhere worldwide. Keep you eyes locked to The Outerhaven as we bring you more Star Wars: The Last Jedi coverage leading up to a review not long after opening day, including special product reviews and more.