Ranking the ‘Star Wars’ films in The Skywalker Saga

The informal fan-made holiday, “Star Wars Day” is celebrated annually on May 4. The date centers around a pun on the commonly used phrase in the franchise, “May the force be with you.” The wide fictional universe created by George Lucas has become one of the highest-grossing franchises with a dedicated fan base. “Star Wars” has expanded to various branches through multiple films, TV series, novels, video games and so on. At the forefront of the franchise is The Skywalker Saga — here is a ranking of the nine films.

9. “Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)
In the conclusion to the sequel trilogy, the final film was highly anticipated. The two preceding films set questions that fans were dying to have answered such as who Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) parents were and what Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) fate was going to be. However, fans walked out of the theater disappointed. While the questions were answered, they messily unraveled the lore that had been carefully woven throughout the original and prequel trilogies. The last film was terribly written and played out as nostalgia bait, leaving a bad taste in “Star Wars” fans’ mouths.

8. “Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” (2017)
Close to last place, “The Last Jedi” is disliked by many “Star Wars” fans for good reason. Despite being a major film in the Skywalker Saga, nothing moves forward. The movie felt stagnant and like a waste of time; no moments were worth positively noting. On the other hand, the film is majorly disappointing in how it deconstructs the beloved character, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). His character from the sequel trilogy is now a pessimistic, old man, far from the character developed from the original trilogy. Additionally, many plot holes were created, leading audiences to scratch their heads.

7. “Episode VII – The Force Awakens” (2015)
The sequel’s first film in the trilogy, “The Force Awakens” had a lot of potential as it would be distributed under the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Ten years after the release of the prequel trilogy, many fans were looking forward to the franchise’s return. The trilogy started on a high, with a plotline and questions that fans were eager to see unfold and answered in the movies to come. However, these would later become plot holes or lose their potential from bad writing. Although loved characters such as Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) came back in the sequel, fans were unfortunately never able to see them all have a moment together.

6. “Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999)
While not everyone likes the prequel trilogy, its films stand above the sequel trilogy. The prequel succeeds in its goal to expand on the story before the original trilogy. As a result, audiences learn more about Jedis and how the galactic universe works. The world-building makes much of the film, which can come across as boring for audiences compared to other “Star Wars” films. However, it does introduce a new world that is full of excitement and brings the creative imagination of George Lucas to the screen. “The Phantom Menace” does not have much going for the film except for the epic battle at the end of the film between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) against Darth Maul (Ray Park).

5. “Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002)
Most of the prequel’s lackluster qualities lie in its bad computer-generated imagery (CGI) and often awkward dialogue. This is especially true for “Attack of the Clones.” The CGI is so blatantly obvious that it’s hard to appreciate the film by itself. Additionally, the dialogue, especially between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), feels cringeworthy as the two’s romance starts to blossom. However, the film does have a more concise plot that bridges between “The Phantom Menace” and leads into the “Star Wars” series, “The Clone Wars.” The biggest highlight was Obi-Wan Kenobi and McGregor’s acting and character delivery. The background given also feeds into “Star Wars” fans’ hunger for lore and backstory.

4. “Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)
“A New Hope” started the entire “Star Wars” franchise and was an instant success among audiences back then and even today. While audiences watching today will see that the cinematography is not exactly the best, however, for the film to come out in the 70s shows how ahead of its time “Star Wars” was. The film introduces the various characters that have since become iconic and does so in a way that gathers all of the audience’s attention. Additionally, with its soundtrack that has also become emblematic, there are many pop culture references to arise from not only “A New Hope,” but also the entire original trilogy.

3. “Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
Loved by many, “The Empire Strikes Back” was a wide cultural phenomenon with abundant highlights throughout the film. It had beautiful cinematography that was once again way ahead of its time. “Episode V” was very character-heavy, developing them in a way that has the audiences fall in love with them and their growth. This became especially true with Luke Skywalker, as audiences can see him in a way that amps up the anticipation for the final film and makes it even more satisfying. There were also plenty of iconic moments such as the scene when Leia Organa professes her love to Han Solo before he is frozen in carbonite and when Darth Vader’s made the shocking revelation to Luke that he is his father.

2. “Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” (1983)
Concluding the original trilogy is “Return of the Jedi.” From start to finish, the film is extremely well done, tying up the story seamlessly. After the past two films, the set-up for “Return of the Jedi” is high, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats and eager to see how the story unfolds. The characters on their own and when paired all together are unmatched as the actors’ performances and chemistry with each other is a major highlight of the film. The film is a redemption arc for the Skywalker family that satisfies all fans.

1. “Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
A major favorite among fans, the last film in the prequel trilogy garnered major success for its plot, cinematography and performances from the actors. Although a lot of the prequel trilogy has been known to have bad CGI, “Episode III” improved beyond the first two films. The history and lore are shown dramatically in a way that has audiences’ eyes glued to the screen. The execution of the film as audiences were anticipating the downfall of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader was a compelling sight and the performance of all actors uplifts the film and makes it an intense watch. Additionally, the amount of memes and quotable moments born from this film alone is endless, solidifying it as an iconic movie to this day.

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