So this is an update that I’ve needed to do for a little while now actually, I somehow manage to forget Rogue One existed and subsequently didn’t rank it but with both that and The Last Jedi out, it’s high time for an overall update to my previous list (from May 2016 mind you). Anyway here goes.
Star Wars: A New Hope – 10/10
A timeless classic and the film started it all, A New Hope is just about as close you can really get to a perfect sci-fi film and a perfect film in my opinion, from the fantastic, iconic and meaningful visuals and use of aesthetics in scenes to tell rather than show the audience, great pacing and a brilliant mix of humour, drama and emotion, we go on a great adventure with Luke and see him grow and develop as our hero and it’s wonderful to watch. And with some great, classic villains and a set of vibrant and fun main characters, it’s a fun ride that you don’t really want to get off of, setting up the universe that we all know and mostly love.
Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back – 9/10
Probably one of if not the best sequels of all time, The Empire Strikes Back really resonates with a lot of Star Wars fans and understandably so, being the more darker, grittier follow up and bringing that emotional punch with the Vader – Luke twist, as well as some awesome set pieces and scenes including the Vader – Luke duel on Bespin, Landos betrayal and the battle of Hoth. Empire Strikes Back manages to keep things thoroughly exciting, never dragging for a minute as it goes from strength to strength, pitting Vader in more of a focal point as the moral opposite to Luke, a fascinating dichotomy between the father and son which epitomised the themes of good vs evil.An excellent outing in the Star Wars universe that expanded on the ideas of A New Hope and brought some darker, heavy elements to the plate.
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi – 9/10
Return, I feel, strangely gets a bit of a bad wrap despite it not being anywhere near bad, a lot of people seem to view it as the weakest prequel maybe due to the Ewoks (though that’s not enough of a reason for the film to be bad imo), make no mistake the film is great with having a lot to fulfill and live up to in concluding the original trilogy. The stakes are high as ever as there’s a new Death Star and Vader, Palpatine and the Empire have to be confronted for a last time. The humour and great action from the previous two OT films returns along with some well done emotional moments – Luke and Vader in the Death Star with Palpatine is a fantastic sequence and the set pieces are also great with a familiar feeling but satisfying conclusion (another Death Star!) that wraps things up nicely.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 8/10
Thought provoking, controversial, intriguing, The Last Jedi is a number of things but dull it is not, it’s a play on expectations and a thoroughly rigid, gritty look at this was in the Stars that we’ve been watching for decades, a deconstruction of Luke, the force and of the way we expect things to go in a Star Wars film, it’s something that the franchise has needed for years in my view. With great performances to boot, genuine surprises and some of the best shot scenes in the entire series, some of the set pieces are also just fantastic, Star Wars is never something you should over-theorise and read into because at the end of the day it’s a space fantasy with telekinesis and blowing up planets with giant laser beams so I feel you need to just try and enjoy it, don’t go in expecting everything to go the way you want it to and go with the flow.
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens – 8/10
It’s only the highest grossing Star Wars film of all time and one of the highest grossing films of all time. The Force Awakens is a massive box office and critical hit and deservedly so, having to live up to quite frankly, ridiculous amounts of hype, it sort of did and while it does narratively borrow from A New Hope, it’s still very well structured, entertaining and it does a great job of blending the old and the new, not getting bogged down in the 30 year gap between the film and the end of the original trilogy. And a lot of why the films works is down to the films fantastic visuals, great characterization with nuanced, complex villains and heroes that straddle the lines between light and the dark, not all stormtroopers are evil, huh fancy that. And that great cast, newbies John Boyega and Daisy Ridley have great chemistry and flourish in their roles, as does Oscar Isaac, bringing an equally energetic and memorable performance, the new kids on the block meshing and flowing well with old favourites Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. TFA brings new ideas and makes for some interesting additions to the Star Wars lore and it left a lot of room for fans to speculate, theorise and bring renewed interest to the franchise.
Rogue One: A story Wars Story – 7.5/10
Thought provoking, dark and lived in, Rogue One has a very modern war feel to it and out of any of the films in the series so far, feels the most like a boots on the ground war film, removed from Jedi and Sith (though Vader has his cameo), we follow human soldiers who set out on an impossible mission and their near hopeless plight against the odds, which makes things all the more thrilling. I love that the films plot just feels so tight as well, with great pacing and barely any wasted scenes, everything contributes to the overall story that pulls no punches, from the drama to the action, with brilliant writing as well and nicely placed comedic beats. We also get an interesting look at the rebellion and the notion of its imperfection, they are fighting an ‘evil’ empire but there are flawed humans on both sides, something not really touched on in any of the major films until Rogue One.
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of The Sith – 7/10
Easily the best prequel, Revenge of The Sith brings on a decidedly darker tone to the prequels as we follow Anakins’ tragic and inevitable march to the dark side and his famous ‘evil’ alter ego, though he’s been getting there over the course of 3 films, his change in the film could be said to be a bit sudden.That aside, the visuals are great as are the action scenes on the whole, coupled with a few pretty great set pieces and as far as the prequels go, the acting is a fair bit better than in Episodes I and II.
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace – 7/10
Contrary to many Star Wars fans, I really don’t think The Phantom Menace is anywhere near that bad even with Jar Jar, it has its lows of course but it’s probably the prequel I enjoy watching the most, Darth Maul was a great villain, although underused and some of the action sequences were well done, the acting was noticeably wooden in parts of course and the Gungans brought a distinctly childish tone to proceedings but it had its enjoyable moments as a whole. It is shy of being a great film due to some clear racial stereotypes for characters, trade negotiations and very flat acting but a terrible film it is not.
Star Wars: Episode II Attack of The Clones – 6/10
Easily the worst prequel, Attack of The Clones did have some fun fight scenes to be fair but it was just a bit too much style over substance and with some terrible lines of dialogue and even worse delivery, parts of the film have become a bit of a punchline to underline how bad the prequels got. Yes this was a misstep but how cool are the clones….right? Ah who am I kidding, it’s a bad film but that being said, I do love seeing the Jedi at the height of their powers doing their thing and making terrible military decisions.