/Film Ranks the ‘Star Wars’ Saga

rogue one: a star wars story international trailer 2

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Score: 21

Admittedly, I had some trouble figuring out whether this deserved to be placed above The Force Awakens. But I was more enamored with The Force Awakens when I left the theater and I think it stands stronger as a whole film. But Rogue One does some things much better than Force Awakens, like putting us back in the lived-in sci-fi universe with an aesthetic that’s much closer to the original trilogy than the more vibrant, polished Force Awakens. It also has some of the best action the franchise has ever seen, with a third act that gave me goosebumps. -Ethan Anderton

Gareth Edwards’ film presents parts of this galaxy previously unexplored. The Godzilla director – and screenwriters Tony Gilroy and Chris Weitz – show us characters who previously lurked in the shadows, raise new questions about the Rebel Alliance, and tell a story that’s not entirely black-and-white. Its glaring problems – strangely thin villains, an unconvincing arc or two, and a distracting CG character –  are sometimes frustrating. Rogue One doesn’t reach its full potential, but when it does, it’s exciting and thrilling to watch some characters bring different perspectives to this universe. -Jack Giroux

Rogue One is the work of people who have been thinking about, and dreaming about, Star Wars for their entire lives. It’s interested in the tiny details, in repairing the little fractures, in answering small questions that have been demanding a response for decades. It wants to turn the cameras away from the Skywalker tribe and ask what real people are doing just off-frame, to explore ordinary heroism and sacrifice amongst men and women who don’t have ghosts to guide them or super-powers to employ. And it wants to do it while being the biggest, hardest-hitting, most jaw-droppingly cinematic science fiction action movie in recent memory. When Rogue One is a take-no-prisoners war movie, it is a true accomplishment. When it is relying on superb actors to force us to care about thinly written characters, it stumbles. -Jacob Hall

Huge in scope, gorgeous to look at, a genuinely thrilling and different direction for the Star Wars franchise…but it falters where the best Star Wars movies soar: serving up great characters. Good enough to make me frustrated it’s not great. -Angie Han

A kick-ass war movie that makes A New Hope a better movie. This has some of the best action scenes in any of the Star Wars movies and probably the most badass Darth Vader scene of the series. But as much as I like the ragtag group of rebels, they are thinly written, requiring the actors to do the heavy lifting. -Peter Sciretta

ranking star wars

4. Return of the Jedi

Score: 27

Despite some missteps with the Ewoks, the recycling of the Death Star (it wouldn’t be the last time) and the poorly handled reveal of “another Skywalker,” this sequel still has plenty of excitement and a hell of an ending between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader to make up for those shortcomings. -Ethan Anderton

The first hour of episode six is often excellent. Between Luke Skywalker’s introduction, Jabba’s seedy palace, and the Sarlaac sequence, things get off to a fine start. But the second act is where Return of the Jedi begins to lose its entertainment value, though director Richard Marquand gains some of it back with an emotional and satisfying climax. The Ewoks are what they are, but not even they can detract from Luke and his father’s final moments together. -Jack Giroux

Return of the Jedi features one of the great sequences in all of Star Wars: Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader in a duel for each other’s soul, in the throne room of the closest thing this series has to the devil himself. It’s powerful and moving and, most importantly, tough. It’s hard to watch Luke face his own father. It’s hard to accept the redemption of a monster. It’s remarkable filmmaking. But it’s also remarkable filmmaking surrounded by teddy bear guerrillas (not nearly as cool as it sounds), a completely wasted Han Solo, a defanged Lando Calrissian, and that interminable first act at Jabba’s palace that feels like a waste of time. There are great scenes here, magnificent moments, but it doesn’t hang together or conclude in a truly satisfying way. It’s pretty much okay, which isn’t what you want to say about the sequel to The Empire Strikes Back -Jacob Hall

It’s entertaining, and I don’t dislike the Ewoks as much as some people seem to. But it’s a bit of a letdown after the rich darkness of The Empire Strikes Back. The reveal that Leia is Luke’s sister is handled so clumsily as to be totally pointless, Luke totally lets Obi-Wan off the hook for lying to him about his father, Boba Fett gets killed off in service of a burp joke, and I’m still not sure I buy Darth Vader’s redemption. -Angie Han

This was my favorite Star Wars movie as a child. I know most fans love to hate on this film, but I just love it so much, from the opening at Jabba’s palace to the Speeder bike chase to the climactic battle. And fuck it, I’ll say it: I love the Ewoks. -Peter Sciretta

ranking star wars

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Score: 29

While the sequel that arrived 32 years after Return of the Jedi has been chastised for being a rehash of A New Hope, the magic I felt in theaters, which still lingers in repeat viewings, made me feel like the kid who fell in love with Star Wars. The combination of nostalgia (which was overwhelming and misplaced at times) with some spectacularly crafted new characters to carry the torch make this a promising new beginning for the latest era of Star Wars-Ethan Anderton

With The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams reminds audiences of the awe and wonder this series is capable of achieving. Unlike the prequels, the characters are just as exciting as the world itself. Rey, Finn, Han, Chewie, and most of the ensemble are characters you genuinely want to see on an adventure. Not only because they’re immensely charming, but to see where their arcs go and, completely in the vein of Star Wars, how they’ll stick together through the worst of times. What issues the movie has are often covered up by Abrams’  great eye for pacing.  -Jack Giroux

There is magic in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There is magic in Rey and Finn and Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron, characters who arrive so fully formed and are played to such charismatic perfection that it’s impossible to not love them. There is a darker magic in seeing the return of Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker, and learning that the celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi wasn’t a victory, but a brief pitstop on the road to more tragedy. The Force Awakens may walk a too-familiar path and hit too many familiar beats, but that may be appropriate for a movie about legacies and the cyclical nature of history. There is a sadness here – the glories of our past will always be out of reach. But there is also hope – someone else can come along to pick up our legacy and run with it. Hey, do you think they’re talking about Star Wars itself? -Jacob Hall

Yes, it’s basically a New Hope rehash. But as a way to resurrect a beloved franchise for the next generation, it really can’t be beat. It’s everything we love about Star Wars, made new and fresh again. Plus, BB-8 is THE CUTEST character ever in the history of cinema and Finn is one of my all-time favorite Star Wars characters. -Angie Han

Maybe the most emotional of all the Star Wars films – I cried two and a half times while watching Force Awakens. Yes, it emulates A New Hope, but it serves its purpose well. The new characters the film introduces are compelling and exciting. -Peter Sciretta

Continue Reading Star Wars Movies Ranked >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: