Ranking All 9 Star Wars Episodes | Column from the Critic

Whether you loved it or hated it, “The Rise of Skywalker” might be impactful as “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Phantom Menace,” or even the original “Star Wars.” One story, stretching nine movies and five decades, has come to an end. And with that, I decided to look back at how I rank the Skywalker Saga.

Now for this list, I’m only going to be looking at the three main trilogies: none of the spin-off movies or the series will be discussed here. If I ever get to cover them, I’ll make sure to cover them on their own merits.

9. Attack of the Clones

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Growing up with the prequels, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. That being said, “Attack of the Clones” is the weakest of the franchise. The acting is off, the story is stale, and the compelling moments are few and far between. On a more positive note, it’s definitely a fun movie to watch if you want to make fun of a bad movie.

8. The Phantom Menace

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While “The Phantom Menace” has a lot of the same story and casting decisions that “Attack of the Clones” had, there seems to be more fun in this one. Liam Neeson gives a solid performance and the lightsaber choreography was spectacular at the time, and still hold up today. And like the last entry, it still has that “so bad, it’s good” feeling.

7. The Rise of Skywalker

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Having recently seen this one, I have so many thoughts about it. A lot of the action scenes were visually appealing and the choreography for the lightsaber fights were spectacular. But it all fell short with Palpatine playing such a pivotal role in the movie and a lot of decisions that just felt like the entirety of “The Last Jedi” haters personified to retcon all the interesting ideas Rian Johnson had in that film. A cautionary about how geek culture’s fixation on lore can ruin what should be a pinnacle installment.

 6. Return of the Jedi

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Growing up, I was in love with this movie. Scenes like the Sarlacc Pit and the Battle of Endor are compelling, and the characters have been given great moments to shine. But looking back, the first third of the movie can be a drag and doesn’t have the same pizzazz that the previous two installments of the original trilogy had. But on its own merit, “Return of the Jedi” is definitely a better conclusion than “The Rise of Skywalker” was.

5. The Force Awakens

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Fans were hyped about the return of Star Wars and I was among them. While it hits the same beats that “A New Hope,” there’s still enough changes that make the movie feel fresh. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver do an amazing job as the characters who take the torch from the old guard. Some of the callbacks are a better homage than whatever the Rise of Skywalker tried to do.

4. A New Hope

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The movie that started it all and is nothing short of iconic. Its legacy has transcended generations and reflected the influence campy film serials and Kurosawa had on the movie that invented the modern blockbuster.

3. The Empire Strikes Back

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This was a tough one of where to put this; ahead or behind “Return of the Jedi.” But then, I was reminded of the wise words of Kevin Smith. While it has the same ideas of rebellion and the mysticism of the Force, each of the storylines definitely feel more like an epic rather than the homage to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s Journey.

2. The Last Jedi

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When I was leaving the movie theater after seeing this one, I was ready to call it the best in the series. Rian Johnson does for the Sequel Trilogy what Irvin Kershner did with “Empire Strikes Back.” The subversions made to fan expectations were more than refreshing and the portrayal of Luke was a solid evolution of his character from hopeful hero to burned-out hippie. And while it’s still a polarizing film, the ideas presented in that movie are nothing short of interesting.

1. Revenge of the Sith

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I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched this growing up. And when I re-watched it as an adult, I was able to truly appreciate the ideas it, along with the prequel trilogy, had. Scenes like Order 66, the duel on Mustafar, and many others are just breathtaking. And the latter half makes Anakin’s turn to the dark side a real gut punch for a ten-year-old kid and a modern tragedy for the twenty-year-old.

And with that, I am prepared to bid adieu to this storyline of the franchise. Wherever it may go, I hope the Force will be strong going forward.

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