/Film Ranks the ‘Star Wars’ Saga

ranking star wars

2. Star Wars

Score: 34

The one that started it all still holds up for the most part after all these years. It’s not flawless and it feels a little too hokey at times thanks to some hammy performances, but it’s revolutionary and exciting and is pure adventure. Cinema had never seen a movie like this, and plenty of movies tried to replicate it for a reason after it blew audiences away in 1977. -Ethan Anderton

The opening shot still transports me to this universe as swiftly as it did when I first watched A New Hope. From frame one, George Lucas makes you suspend disbelief and invest in Luke’s journey. When Luke is staring out at the beautiful binary sunset as John Williams’ score soars, it’s not only a great piece of visual storytelling showing you the hero’s yearning, but it makes you excited to see what else is out there with him.  -Jack Giroux

This is the Star Wars saga at its purest. A fairy tale adventure. A moral fable. A fantasy quest through a galaxy whose dilapidated, authoritarian nature suggests the America George Lucas was reacting to when he created his “escapist” world. The beauty of Star Wars is that it’s a simple story about a complex universe, told with gumption and care and humor. It certainly helps that the great Alec Guinness anchors the film with his mere presence and that Mark Hamill isn’t afraid to play Luke as a whiny little shit, making his transformation into a Jedi and hero all the more powerful. -Jacob Hall

I love this one. Even many years and many more Star Wars movies later, this one makes me so excited to embark on an incredible new adventure. Also, I kind of love how janky everything looks. Later films would have much bigger budgets and therefore much better production/costume design, but the scrappiness is really endearing here and suits the series’ rebellious spirit. -Angie Han

The original, but not the best. There is so much to love about this movie, but I have come to love the follow-ups even more. My head wants to rank this film higher but my heart just loves some of the other films more. -Peter Sciretta

ranking star wars

1. The Empire Strikes Back

Score: 39

Not just the best Star Wars movie, but one of the best sequels of all time. I love the way it throws us somewhere completely unknown right from the start with no real indication as to how much time has passed. The action in this movie is vastly superior to A New Hope, as is the acting and humor. This is the movie that made Darth Vader such an iconic villain, and it’s the movie that gave all sequels that followed something to strive for. -Ethan Anderton

George Lucas and the late Irvin Kershner go to some bleak and miserable territory with this sequel. Nothing is easy in this movie. The Empire Strikes Back challenges its characters, and it doesn’t care to provide the audience with some big emotional catharsis at the end of it all. It’s a pure, masterfully orchestrated piece of spectacle willing to show its heroes at their most defeated. Also, Yoda’s introduction? “Luke, I am your father”? Han Solo getting frozen in carbonite? The list of iconic scenes just goes on and on. -Jack Giroux

This is where everyone involved in the Star Wars series made their most important decision – they proved they were unafraid to rough up the good guys. The Empire Strikes Back should feel like an endurance test: Luke continuously fails the wise Yoda; Han and Leia continuously escape one crisis to fall into another; friends betray friends; some good guys make bad decisions while others get frozen in carbonite and shipped off to criminal space slugs; our hero learns the horrible truth about his parentage. And yet, all of this darkness, all of these dark events that punish everyone to their core, serve to break these wonderful characters down so they can be built up even stronger. How do you stand back up when you’ve truly reached rock bottom and see no escape? The Empire Strikes Back is the rare blockbuster masterpiece to explore that question, fueling that darkness with wit and scope and a sense of pure adventure. -Jacob Hall

Holy crap, that lightsaber duel takes my breath away. And Lando! I will never get over his sweet space capes. And Han’s sacrifice! That kiss! Hoth! Ultimately I prefer the feisty spirit of A New Hope, but Empire is a very close second. I think it’s got the most depth and is the best showcase for our wonderfully complicated heroes. -Angie Han

The darkest and most dramatic Star Wars film to date. Between Darth Vader’s big reveal to Luke, Lando’s introduction, the AT-AT battle on Hoth, and Han being encased in carbonite, what is there to not love about this film? Also, this movie does the cliffhanger right. -Peter Sciretta


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