Chris Idiosyncratically Ranks the Star Wars Movies

Seeing the original Star Wars in theaters when I was a kid triggered a lifelong obsession with all things geek, so naturally I have some thoughts on which Star Wars movies are better than which. This is all highly personal and not intended to trigger anyone’s nerd rage – and as always, no gambling.

Star Wars

Not “A New Hope”, because when I saw it in the theater it was just “Star Wars”, dammit. For me the first will always be the best. Even now, after having seen it Rao knows how many times, watching it brings back everything I thought and felt that first time lo those many years ago. Yeah, nostalgia is a hell of a drug, but to me it also holds up extremely well, even with the original 1977 special effects.

Secret Worst: No, not Luke whining about power converters. I gotta go with Walrus Face’s hollow arm. Come on, George! Even little kids know arms have bones and stuff in them.

Secret Best: The first time the Millennium Falcon jumps to light speed and the entire starfield spins around. If you’ve never seen that on the big screen, you missed out.

Wait for it...

Rogue One

A beautifully self-contained story that manages to “feel” Star Wars more than the Lucas prequels or the new sequels to date – in spite of not shying away from some of the less heroic aspects of rebellion and war. Since it doesn’t feel the need to tie any of its main characters directly to any of the main characters from the original trilogy, there’s a freshness and originality that I find very exciting even upon repeat viewings.

Secret Worst: Sticks and kung fu knocking out stormtroopers. I know Return of the Jedi established that Ewoks could knock out stormtroopers with sticks and rocks, but this shit still pisses me off. Why even wear armor if it provides no defense against anything more serious than a paper cut?

Secret Best: That said, it was great to see Force spiritualists who weren’t saber-waving Jedi. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me!

The Empire Strikes Back

I’m not ashamed to admit that when I saw Empire as a kid I did not like it at first. This was the first movie I had ever seen where the heroes lost! The rebels got kicked off of Hoth, the Millennium Falcon keeps breaking down, Han gets tortured and frozen, and Darth Vader kicks Luke’s butt and then lies about being his father (I was convinced he had to be lying). Then my older sister recorded it off HBO for me and I watched it about a thousand times and came to appreciate and then love it. :-)

Secret Worst: When the announcement comes over the Hoth base intercom system that “The first transport is away”, and the rebel troops in the base give the least enthusiastic “hooray” of all time.


Secret Best: When the announcement comes over the Hoth base intercom system that “The first transport is away”, and the rebel troops in the base give the least enthusiastic “hooray” of all time. You can’t really blame these guys. They have to go out into the snow and get creamed by AT-ATs and snowtroopers just to slow the Empire down so everyone else who’s not actually fighting can get away. Who was on that first transport anyway? Probably HR.

Return of the Jedi

Too much burping, too much Ewoks, and Boba Fett gets taken out like a chump – I hear ya. Return of the Jedi has issues. But with plenty of Luke being a Jedi badass and redeeming Vader, plus another great space battle, Jedi wraps up the original trilogy in fine fashion. Plus that scene where Luke burns Vader’s body still gives me chills.

Secret Worst: The Rebel military promotion system. There are guys (and presumably gals and beings of other sexes) who have been fighting for the Alliance since before Yavin who aren’t generals, but Lando gets to waltz in and drop some bullshit story about a little maneuver at a battle no one’s ever heard of and bam he’s a general? I hope he at least got someone drunk on some Colt 45 while telling that story.

Secret Best: Not really a secret: Luke burning Vader’s body. Chills, man.

The Force Awakens

Highly entertaining and extremely well done, the only thing it’s really missing is Han, Luke, and Leia in action together again, which would have been nice to see. Oh well. When I first saw Force Awakens in the theater, I was mildly disappointed by the decision to parallel Star Wars so closely, but I think it’s a legit creative choice and I can accept it for what it is. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to rate movies based on how rewatchable they are, and this is an eminently rewatchable movie for me.

Secret Worst: You're going to go through the shield at light speed and then "pull up"? Wha...what??

Secret Best: Ninja stormtrooper holds his own against a light saber-wielding amateur. Still, best performance by a stormtrooper to date.

The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi is more along the lines of what I wanted from the sequels, but it has its own issues (as mentioned here). It’s possible that it may move up my rankings once I have the opportunity to watch it multiple times at homes, but I feel like that slow middle is going to keep it below Force Awakens for me.

Secret Worst: A confusing “galaxy’s best hacker/gambler” MacGuffin we never actually see?

Secret Best: Too early to tell – but lots of not-so-secret bests, like THAT THRONEROOM SCENE and Luke’s third act mojo.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

That’s right, punks! I’m going to go back on my rewatchability factor for a minute and admit that I have not seen this thing since it originally aired on TV in 1978, but I remember it as being awesome. Bear in mind that at the time we were all starved for additional Star Wars, the Marvel comics and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. It simply wasn’t enough! The Holiday Special has the actual actors and a cartoon with Boba Fett (being, I think, more badass than in any of the movies – I’m not sure, I don’t remember it particularly well at this point).

But so far, so good.

So lay off hating on the Holiday Special, ya jerks!

But mostly I’m including it in this list to demonstrate my complete contempt for what follows – the Lucas prequels.

Secret Worst: The whole thing.

Secret Best: The whole thing.

The Phantom Menace

I feel like I could turn this into a genuinely good Star Wars movie with some liberal editing and rewriting about 40 lines of dialogue. As it is, if you can ignore midichlorians, space taxes, and space politics, it’s not a terrible space fantasy movie. Certainly if the next two movies had been good, Phantom Menace would be viewed in a (slightly?) better light today.

Secret Worst: Qui-Gon Jin’s incomprehensible ethics system. Using the Force to cheat on a bet is A-OK, but using the Force to help rescue a people who have been occupied by evil robot forces isn’t? Why even have Jedi at that point.

Secret Best: Duel of the Fates. "Qui-Goooooon! And Obi-Waaaaaaaaan!"

The Other Two Lucas Prequels

Honestly, it doesn’t matter in what order you put these two festering balls of crap. These are two of the least Star Wars films imaginable, no matter how many lightsaber-waving Jedi Lucas crammed in there.

Secret Worst: Also not really a secret: Yoda fighting with a tiny lightsaber while hopping around like a little green cartoon chihuahua. What happened to the wise master of the Force who didn’t need a sword or muscles or all that warrior nonsense to be great?

Secret Best:

Chris Maka is a veteran video game and mobile app developer who also happens to be an illustrator himself (he has an online portfolio and additional artwork up on his DeviantArt page). He also tweets and instagrams occasionally. Chris started the Creative Encouragement Facebook group, dedicated to encouraging and motivating folks to not worry about how good they are and just have fun creating -- everyone is welcome, so please come join the fun! Chris is one of the Fifth World's founders and editors, and if you want to communicate at him directly, you can email him at

Chris Idiosyncratically Ranks the Star Wars Movies Chris Idiosyncratically Ranks the Star Wars Movies Reviewed by Chris Maka on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 Rating: 5
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