It is time to celebrate May 4, also known as “Star Wars” Day because it sounds like the iconic line, “May the force be with you.” In honor of this year’s “Star Wars” Day, here is a ranking of all 12 feature-length “Star Wars” films that have been released as of 2023.
12. “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)
The most recent “Star Wars” film also happens to be the weakest in the franchise, providing an unsatisfying end to the Skywalker Saga. The film immediately handicaps itself at its start by declaring that, miraculously, Emperor Palpatine has returned, which felt like a ham-fisted and unearned attempt of the filmmakers to provide a worthy villain for the conclusion to the series. Beyond that, the film is just bland and unmemorable, lacking the iconic moments that even the lower-tier “Star Wars” films manage to have.
11. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008)
There is an argument to be made that this is the worst “Star Wars” film, from its abysmal animation to its underwhelming story and annoying characters, particularly Ahsoka Tano. There are few redeeming qualities of this film, but at least it is not as bad as “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.” The highlight of the film is James Arnold Taylor’s voice acting as Obi-Wan Kenobi and the shenanigans Kenobi gets into with his negotiations.
10. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018)
Few things in “Star Wars” have been more controversial than the lead-up to “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The casting of Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo was met with backlash, but he really isn’t the main issue with the movie. The bigger problem is the forgettable plot and antagonists which you will be guaranteed to forget about days after seeing it. The film looks pretty but lacks soul, grit and charm which is what makes Han Solo great.
9. “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002)
The second film in the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy is one of the most hit-or-miss films in the franchise. It has some of the best “Star Wars” content and some of the worst, creating a muddled mess of a film that is frustratingly boring at points. The film bottoms out with laborious and cringe romance scenes, but the film has an exciting climax where the clone army is introduced and Jedi Master Yoda has a fun, if unrealistically agile, lightsaber duel with the Sith Lord, Count Dooku.
8. “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” (2017)
“Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” is the moment “Star Wars” became even more divisive than it was before. People either loved or hated this film, but at the end of the day it is more of a mixed bag. Rian Johnson’s directing gave the movie too many subversions of plot that it hurts the narrative flow. Certain characters like John Boyega’s Finn get a redundant character arc on a side plot that no one cares about. Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is awesome, however, and the visuals are some of the best in all of “Star Wars.”
7. “Star Wars: Episode I – Phantom Menace” (1999)
The prequels started with “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” a weirdly constructed film with poor writing and dated special effects. After over 20 years though, the movie has become more beloved and for good reason. The acting is really fun, especially Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson. The world George Lucas introduced in this film is amazing as well. The iconic scenes are great too such as the pod race and the Darth Maul fight.
6. “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” (2015)
On paper, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” should be a top three “Star Wars” film. It has great characters, a fun story and out-of-this-world visuals. However, the film is essentially a remake of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” with incredibly similar story beats and characters, such as the objective of the film being to destroy a spherical space station that has the ability to destroy planets and the older mentor character dying on said space station.
5. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016)
While “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has thin characters and a lack of an emotional punch, these problems are offset by awesome “Star Wars” content that feels like a treat for fans. The villains provide the perfect camp for “Star Wars” with Orson Krennic, an overambitious imperial director in charge of the Death Star. Also featured is the most iconic villain of all time Darth Vader in his prime.
4. “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” (1983)
The conclusion of the original trilogy is a fitting end to the story setup. Leia and Han Solo solidify their romance, Luke Skywalker redeems his father, the Emperor shows the full scope of his sith powers and the rebels finally win the day. Seeing the rebels fighting for freedom and the final victory is thrilling to watch. The space battles are amazing too, with effects that are not as dated as they should be. George Lucas just had to stick the landing, and he did with a resounding thud.
3. “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
The third and final film in the prequel trilogy is a jolt of pure emotion and excitement from start to finish. “Revenge of the Sith” may not have the best plot or the most interesting characters, but it does have the perfect combination of epic space battles, scintillating lightsaber duels and heartbreaking betrayals. This film easily has the most action and lightsaber duels of any “Star Wars” film as there is never a dull moment in its nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
2. “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1978)
The one that started it all is also one of the best. George Lucas knew that the best way to introduce audiences into this beautiful, imaginative world, is to make it about the characters. Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia are brilliant. They make immediate impressions and craft such wonderful chemistry with each other. John Williams’ score is nothing like anything that has come before it with its sweeping and epic themes. “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” is an endlessly rewatchable classic that will always hold a special place in the hearts of “Star Wars” fans.
1. “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
Although “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” was criticized upon its release, it has since found its place at the top of the pantheon of great “Star Wars” films. The second-ever “Star Wars” film puts everything together with vibrant planets, fun characters and perhaps the greatest twist in the history of cinema. From Solo telling Princess Leia “I know” to Darth Vader declaring, “No, I am your father,” this film is the best in the franchise.