Now that much-anticipated The Force Awakens has finally been released, the time has come for fans everywhere to re-evaluate their lists of favourite Star Wars movies. The buzz around the film’s release had many worried. Where would The Force Awakens fall? Would it be a classic like the original trilogy, or a letdown like so many of the prequels had been? From worst to best, here is a reordered list of all the Star Wars films – The Force Awakens included.
7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace The Phantom Menace may have fallen victim to its own hype. The convoluted plot and Jar Jar Binks didn’t help. Between the letdown of baby Darth Vader and the interminable talk of politics, The Phantom Menace left many fans bewildered. Though we did get Darth Maul out of it – only to have him sliced in half at the end of the film.
6. Episode II: Attack of the Clones With the second of the prequels, fans were treated to mopey teenage Anakin Skywalker and a love story that seemed written by robots. While Christopher Lee put in a commanding performance as Count Dooku, he fails to make an appearance until the film’s third act. Attack of the Clones does showcase several interesting action pieces, including a divisive Yoda fight.
5. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Ewoks were the original Jar Jar Binks. Before the prequels, fans were furious that the Imperials were defeated by teddy bears who lived in the woods. Return of the Jedi still has a strong emotional arc with the throne room scene between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine acting as a satisfying climax to Luke’s heroic journey.
4. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith The strongest of the prequel films, Revenge of the Sith brings fans what they’d been waiting for: the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the birth of Darth Vader. While there are still plots that feel like they go nowhere and lines that fall flat, the movie is peppered with dramatic irony and tragedy, and still ends with the promise of hope.
3. Episode VII: The Force Awakens With its reliance on practical effects and interesting characters old and new, TFA has been breaking records and taking the public by storm. The film is far from perfect – it has been accused of sticking a little too close to the plot of A New Hope – but it is still a pleasure to watch and a promising start for the new era of Star Wars films.
2. Episode IV: A New Hope The first of the Star Wars films is still a classic. A self-contained adventure story, A New Hope is the equivalent of comfort food on a cold day. While not the showiest of any of the films, it remains the heart of them all, the introduction to a galaxy far, far away.
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back With Han and Leia’s romance, Han being frozen in carbonite, and the revelation that Vader used to be Anakin Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back is the most emotionally fraught of the films. The introduction of characters like Yoda and Lando Calrissian, as well as the first appearance of the Imperial March, make The Empire Strikes Back worth loving.
With plans for a new Star Wars film every year for at least the next six years, fans can expect to reorder their lists again soon. Between now and the release of Rogue One in December of 2016, fans can watch the Star Wars films and spin-offs on cable TV (more details here and here) and debate the finer points of the series. Whichever ends up being your favorite, it may soon be replaced as our lists change with every new film from now on.