Happy 40th ‘Star Wars’ — Let’s Rank The Films!
Next Friday, I’ll be leaving my home of 12 years. When I moved here in July 2005, the first films I watched on the TV set that remains in the corner were — for the first time — the original Star Wars trilogy, followed swiftly by the fresher prequels (Revenge of the Sith had only recently been released). Today is a significant one for several reasons — it’s the fifth anniversary of my site BuzzHub and the day I’m putting it to rest; the tenth anniversary of Pirates: At World’s End (one of the first blockbusters I ever got really hyped for) — but, for more people, today is special for one reason: May 25, 1977 saw the release of Star Wars, written and directed by George Lucas, one of the most influential films — for better or worse — in cinema history.
I adore Star Wars ’77 (also known as A New Hope); it has a ramshackle charm and sense of, yes, Hope that never fails to hit my nostalgia spots. But it is really the best? Let’s rank ‘em!
1. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Pros: Slightly better directed, performed and scored than the original. Luke has stronger chemistry with Yoda than he did with Alec Guinness. Han and Leia are a flirtatious duo to die for.
Cons: Perhaps a little too dark in parts.
2. STAR WARS
Pros: A fantasy western fairytale, Lucas’ original film is a retro delight that — in Han Solo, Leia, C-3PO — gave us some of cinema’s most beloved characters.
Cons: The last act is quite tedious, and much of Lucas’ directing lacks invention.
3. ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Pros: An expanded perspective on the geography of the Star Wars universe. Ewan McGregor really shines as Obi-Wan is given his own mini-adventure. John Williams’ score is phenomenal.
Cons: Exceptionally bad acting from Hayden Christensen, and some of the worst dialogue ever put to film.
4. THE FORCE AWAKENS
Pros: Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are terrific discoveries, Oscar Isaac as charming a rogue as you’ll find. J.J. Abrams mixes old and new elements perfectly to create a heartfelt tribute to the Star Wars brand.
Cons: The structure is unoriginal, the climax predictable, and killing Han IS NOT OKAY.
5. REVENGE OF THE SITH
Pros: A real sense of scale, and Christensen’s acting is significantly improved from Clones.
Cons: Again, the dialogue. “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil” etc. Also the transition wipes/establishing shots are insufferable, and some of the battle scenes look like a cheap video game.
6. ROGUE ONE
Pros: Gareth Edwards’ film is a satisfying companion piece to the 1977 film, with some stunning fan-service moments (the Vader corridor scene, the return of Young Leia). Ben Mendelsohn is a terrifically despicable antagonist.
Cons: Michael Giacchino’s score is good, but he ain’t John Williams. The inevitability of the outcome remove the potential for high stakes.
7. RETURN OF THE JEDI
Pros: Yoda and Vader’s death scenes are heartbreaking, and the Emperor gets some great material.
Cons: Jedi is a bit boring in my opinion. The Ewoks are profoundly irritating, and the will-they-won’t-they between Luke and Leia is creepy as hell.
8. THE PHANTOM MENACE
Pros: By no means do I hate The Phantom Menace, but it’s the textbook definition of A Rubbish Film. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor try their best, and Darth Maul is an enigmatic figure who facilitates the series’ best lightsaber battle.
Cons: Jar Jar Binks. Young Anakin. The Pod Race. Everything else we haven’t mentioned.
So that’s my ranking of the Star Wars films so far. Where will The Last Jedi enter on the list come December?
Happy 40th, Star Wars! May the force be with you, always.