All 10 'Star Wars' Movies Ranked Worst to Best

4:24 PM 5/26/2018

by John DeFore

THR film critic John DeFore looks at the live-action wide releases from 'A New Hope' to 'Solo.'

'Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope' (1977)
'Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope' (1977)
Photofest

With every return to a galaxy far, far away comes the urge to compare the latest Lucasfilm offering to its predecessors. To that end, we offer the only scorecard that matters: every Star Wars movie ranked, from worst to first.

  1. 10
    10

    The Phantom Menace

    1999

    Everett Collection

    Phantom Menace is an undeniably lousy movie — bizarrely stilted, draggy and occasionally offensive — before we even start considering its moments of cluelessness about the mythology that made the series iconic. (Midi-chlorians?!) For once, the cash-grabby tactics of Lucasfilm's parent company Disney would be artistically justified: Reboot this trilogy altogether, declaring the originals non-canon (to use the religious language favored by Force-worshipping fanboys) and letting new filmmakers imagine them from scratch.

    Read THR's film review here.

  2. 9
    10

    Attack of the Clones

    2002

    Courtesy of Photofest

    I've seen this film at least three times and can't remember a thing about it. Except that it managed to make Boba Fett less cool, and that a CGI cartoon of Yoda flipped through the air a lot while fighting Saruman. Its most damning sin was that it took a love story destined to have galaxy-changing consequences (spawning both a leader for the Rebellion and a new hope for the Jedi) and failed to make it feel epic.

    Read THR's film review here.

  3. 8
    10

    Revenge of the Sith

    2005

    Courtesy of Everett Collection

    George Lucas' notorious prequels got better as they went, if not by a whole lot. Here, he offered a credible version of Anakin Skywalker's surrender to the Dark Side — albeit one that ends in a truly risible "Nooooo!" of grief and rage. Elsewhere, the few castmembers left standing with their dignity (hats off to our once and hopefully future Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor) managed, in the closing scenes, to conjure the air of defeat and gloom that would plague the galaxy until baby Luke grew up and met two trouble-making droids.

    Read THR's review here.

  4. 7
    10

    Return of the Jedi

    1983

    Lucasfilm/Photofest

    Okay, obviously: Ewoks. Every viewer older than 6 or 7 could've used less of those waddling teddy bears. But also, this was only the series' third outing and already it was cribbing desperately from itself: This episode's exotic puppet-rock combo was a goofy shadow of the Cantina band. Introducing another Death Star was an act of laziness not surpassed in Skywalkerworld until J.J. Abrams did essentially the same thing 32 years later. Haters may forget some great stuff here — like that flying-motorcycle chase through the dense forest of Endor. Still, even the film's high point — the Tatooine rescue of Han Solo, which managed the impressive feat of turning Luke Skywalker into a badass — is marred by the sex-slave objectification of Princess Leia.

    Read THR's film review here.

  5. 6
    10

    The Last Jedi

    2017

    Lucasfilm/Photofest

    Rian Johnson's often-brilliant debut as a Star Wars director offered a bold take on an aged and embittered Luke Skywalker, some transfixing action scenes and a throughline involving Rey and Kylo Ren even more powerful than Darth Vader's temptation of Luke in Empire. But the subplot in which Finn and new buddy Rose have to go to another planet in search of some master codebreaker is dicey from the start and culminates in a chase/animal-rescue scene that briefly derails the movie and feels very un-Star Warsy.

    Read THR's film review here.

  6. 5
    10

    Solo: A Star Wars Story

    2018

    Courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

    A rollicking adventure that hit the right notes, while doing lots of what is often called "fan service," the origin film suggests the evolution of a scrappy orphan into A New Hope's cynical rogue might well take several movies and be worth the ride.

    Read THR's film review here.

  7. 4
    10

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    2016

    Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest
    Casual fans who are made skittish by the "let's start another series" vibe of Solo should find it easier to appreciate Rogue One, an excellent model for the stand-alone Star Wars stories. A "guys on a mission" war film that was true to that genre but strongly tied to the history and tropes of the core series, it's an exciting tale of sacrifice, marred only by the digital resurrection of Peter Cushing (immoral, even if his heirs approved) and the de-aging of Carrie Fisher (icky-looking and the scene would have worked just as well without showing her face).
     
    Read THR's film review here.
  8. 3
    10

    The Force Awakens

    2015

    Courtesy of Lucasfilms 2015/Walt Disney Studios

    The most impressive thing this make-or-break series revival did was to imagine four new human characters (and one irresistably spunky droid) who truly deserved to inherit it. And to let the actors who played them actually, you know, act. Thrilling, funny and tragic, it was just what we needed.

    Read THR's film review here.

  9. 2
    10

    The Empire Strikes Back

    1980

    Courtesy of Everett Collection

    Star Wars grew up in this sequel, which introduced screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to the team and birthed the "make things dark in the second chapter" paradigm that would influence blockbuster trilogies to come. We saw how many different kinds of worlds could fit coherently in this imagined galaxy, and how much its characters could be changed by their journeys. And Frank Oz made Yoda the standard that all future alien critters would try (and almost always fail) to meet.

    Read THR's film review here.

  10. 1
    10

    A New Hope

    1977

    20th Century Fox/Photofest
    On any other kind of list, the film once known only as Star Wars would rank below many superior works of cinema. This isn't a list of the best movies, though, but of the best Star Wars movies, and the standards are different. George Lucas' 1977 bubblegum space opera has its faults, but it was a work of alchemy rarely seen in pop culture, creating a real need in its audience to see more. Its magic survived the prequels and will endure even if Disney/Lucasfilm eventually pumps out so much product that only the original fanboys remain interested enough to buy tickets.
     
    Read THR's film review here.
     
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