/Film Ranks the ‘Star Wars’ Saga

ranking star wars

Hey…did you know that a new Star Wars movie came out a few days ago?

If the box office numbers are any indication, everyone reading this sentence found some time to check out Rogue One: A Star Wars Story over the weekend, which means that everyone reading this sentence probably has a Very Serious Opinion about the first standalone film in the sprawling universe George Lucas built nearly 40 years ago. And since this is the internet, there is only one thing to do now: rank all eight movies.

To ensure the validity and accuracy of this list, each member of the /Film team contributed their own personal ranking of all eight movies in the saga. The combined results are the most scientifically sound and tasteful Star Wars you are reading at this very moment. You. Are. Welcome.

If you read our top 15 movies of 2015 group list, you’re already familiar with the system we’re using here. Each writer ranked the eight Star Wars movies from least favorite to favorite, with their number one film receiving eight points, their second favorite receiving seven points, and so on. That means the highest possible score an individual film on this list could receive was 40 points while the lowest possible score was 5 points. We like this system because it allows for interesting swings if a writer feels passionate about a film that others aren’t don’t necessarily love.

With that bookkeeping out of the way, let’s get on with the main event.

ranking star wars

8. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Score: 8

If there’s one thing George Lucas figured out with the second installment of the prequel trilogy, it’s finding the right tone of humor from the original trilogy. Unfortunately, it’s still held back by some of the worst performances that Academy Award-worthy actors like Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman have ever given. It’s not their fault, as they’re clearly trying to fit in with the style George Lucas wanted, but it certainly doesn’t help much. Count Dooku and the speeder chase through Coruscant are bright spots, at least. -Ethan Anderton

A romance that doesn’t hold a candle to what Han and Leia have in the original trilogy. Even when you take Anakin and Padmé’s love story on its own terms, it lacks passion. There’s just nothing there, nothing to make you actually care and provide a sense of foreboding and sadness for what’s to come. This prequel has some fine set pieces, but it’s terribly cold and distant in a way the original trilogy is not. -Jack Giroux

If we exclude The Star Wars Holiday Special (and you should always exclude The Star Wars Holiday Special), Attack of the Clones is the nadir of the Star Wars saga. It’s not clear which relationship is more grating and poorly defined: the friendship between Anakin and Obi-Wan or the romantic partnering of Anakin and Padmé. However, the failure of both is a crushing blow to characters – we are never given an opportunity to fall in love with these mannequins. And unlike The Phantom Menace, which still utilized its fair share of practical effects, this shakily acted nonsense takes place in an almost purely digital world…and the years have been unkind. Few things get my eye twitching quite like watching Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu command a squad of CGI Clone Troopers.  -Jacob Hall

I like the idea of this one so much more than I like the execution. Still, it looks nice, and Yoda gets his nice little action moment, so… sure? Credit where it’s due: that sand line is jaw-droppingly terrible, but so memorable I still quote it all the time. -Angie Han

A laughable love story with too much galactic politics. -Peter Sciretta

ranking star wars

7. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Score: 10

Some fans have backtracked on their hate for this movie somewhat in recent years (at least some that I’ve talked to), but it’s almost impossible for me to overlook not only the abomination that is Jar Jar Binks but also the awful child acting that comes from Jake Lloyd. There is no way this kid can become Darth Vader and this movie is just so bogged down with the Trade Federation and planetary politics and zzZZzzzZZzz. The podrace is a fun sequence, albeit a truly pointless one, but the best thing about this movie is the all-too-short duel between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. -Ethan Anderton

What’s most disappointing about The Phantom Menace is that every once in a while it gets your hopes up, with the podracing sequence or whenever Darth Maul (a truly killer design) appears. Those hopes are often dashed by serious instances of miscasting, Jar-Jar Binks, the Trade Federation, and plenty of other issues.  -Jack Giroux

Oh, boy. The most maligned of the prequels (making it one of the most maligned movies of all time) is actually the best of this particular trilogy. It’s incomprehensible and wooden and best watched between closed fingers, but there are little moments of joy to be had here. Darth Maul does look cool. The podracing scene does work if you watch it on mute. Liam Neeson does bring a sense of genuine wisdom to a character who doesn’t make much sense at all. But in the end, it’s sloppily constructed and too silly for its own good, putting far too much faith in the abominable Jar Jar Binks being the next great Star Wars sidekick. -Jacob Hall

I hated this one less than other people did at the time because, fun fact, this was the first Star Wars movie I ever saw (unless you count Spaceballs). I wasn’t so much disappointed as I was kind of perplexed — like, really? THIS is the film series everyone is so obsessed with? It’s kind of boring and kind of racist and the less said about it the better. -Angie Han

I love the podracing sequence, Darth Maul, and that final lightsaber duel is one of the best in Star Wars history, especially since it’s combined with one of John Williams’ best compositions from this franchise (which is really saying something). -Peter Sciretta

ranking star wars

6. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Score: 12

It’s a shame it took until the third prequel for George Lucas to figure out how to make Star Wars movies right again. But at the same time, the movie is still held back by Lucas seemingly misunderstanding what makes Star Wars great. For a man who has said Star Wars isn’t just about spaceships and lightsaber battles, he certainly had no problem adding more and more of them as the prequels went on when fans would have preferred an origin story worthy of one of the most iconic villains of all time. We come close with Revenge of the Sith, but it’s hard to love a movie where Anakin Skywalker says, “Love can’t save you, Padmé. Only my new powers can do that.” Ugh. -Ethan Anderton

Ewan McGregor ultimately overcomes some clunky dialogue and delivers the prequels’ standout performance in Revenge of the Sith. The pain Obi-Wan experiences watching Anakin transform into a monster is the most believable emotion in these films. Revenge of the Sith finishes strong, thanks to McGregor and the final lightsaber battle, but the rest of the movie, for the most part, isn’t as captivating as his performance.  -Jack Giroux

Revenge of the Sith could have been pretty good if its dramatic payoffs were the culmination of anything we actually cared about. It’s all Big Loud Noises in service of people we don’t especially like in a trilogy that has offered us little to love. Even the impressive staged set pieces don’t quite work: Obi-Wan and Anakin’s big battle becomes a Looney Tunes segment; Yoda squaring off against Palpatine is the physical brawl no one asked for in the meeting of two characters defined by their intellects. This movie will always be interesting because it really does go there with its dark choices and because George Lucas gets back to wearing his politics as a badge of honor, but it will never be good. -Jacob Hall

I honestly don’t know if Episode III is better than Episode II, because I haven’t seen them all the way through in a long time. I just know I was burnt out on the series by this point and ready for it to be over. If the Anakin/Padmé romance was clumsy and unconvincing in Episode II, it definitely only gets dumber here. The climactic battle against Obi-Wan should’ve been a big emotional moment but just reads as silly. -Angie Han

A strong dark ending for the Star Wars prequels, but ultimately the bad outshines the good. –Peter Sciretta

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