Happy May The 4TH! It’s that time of the year again, where the entire galaxy comes together to celebrate their favorite space opera from a galaxy far far away! And your buddies at Reel Anarchy are no exception. In celebration for this momentous occasion, the staff at Reel Anarchy have all come together to bring to you the definitive top 10 list of the BEST Star Wars films to date!
For a peak behind the curtain, we went by a point system. Each member of Reel Anarchy submitted a list of their top Star Wars films and the film that they ranked #1 was worth 10 points and the film that they ranked #10 was worth 1 point. As you may very well know, there are currently 11 Star Wars films to date, so one film didn’t make the cut. And for simplicities sake, we did not include any of the TV shows, both live action or animated, and we did not include the Clone Wars movie. So without further ado, lets proceed with our list!
HONORABLE MENTION: THE PHANTOM MENACE
Written and directed by George Lucas, The Phantom Menace marks Lucas’ return to the galaxy far far away, with the film releasing in 1999. While the film carried the same swashbuckling adventure feel as the trilogy that proceeded it and broke boundaries with film technology such as VFX and computer graphics- with Jar Jar Binks being one of the first fully CGI animated characters in film history. The films focus on political undertones and the over reliance on kid-centric comedy made the film tonally different than what fans knew before. And while the film has many merits such as a great score by legend John Williams, and one of the best lightsaber battles in all of Star Wars, it just wasn’t the film fans were expecting(midichlorians?) after returning to the Star Wars galaxy after nearly two decades.
10. ATTACK OF THE CLONES (16 points)
Widely regarded as the worst film in the franchise, Attack of the Clones put the prequels in a tough spot to climb out of. Luckily Revenge of the Sith did that, and that’s in part thanks to what Attack of the Clones set up. While the film largely consists of subpar acting and terrible romance, the film carries the usual unalienable merits of most Star Wars films, such as a great score by John Williams and some amazing action sequences. The final lightsaber duel, while shot in the least appealing way with immense close ups, consists of one of the greatest moments in all of Star Wars. Which is Yoda finally wielding a lightsaber. And honestly, that is worth the price of admission.
9. SOLO (23 points)
A film originally constructed by seasoned comedy directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the production encountered many issues, leaving Ron Howard (longtime friend of George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy) to finish the job. The result was a film the was largely forgettable. Not great, not terrible, but ultimately unnecessary. With Alden Ehrenreich filling the boots of the iconic role made famous by Harrison Ford in Han Solo, the film had an uphill journey to climb. And while it coasts on its good chemistry with a brewing relationship between Han and Chewy, the film never reaches that moment of Star Wars greatness that we’ve all come to expect. And a Darth Maul cameo, while surprising, wasn’t enough to get fans excited for a continuation.
8. THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (32 points)
JJ Abrams returns to the Star Wars franchise after the divisive Last Jedi, and attempts to course correct it, bringing it to a crash landing. And while the film is seemingly just as divisive as the one preceding it, it didn’t make nearly the amount of outlandish decisions as the Last Jedi, making the film easier to swallow. Much like Force Awakens, Abrams brought back what we know and love, but with a twist. The return of Emperor Palpatine. This was divisive a decision, but one that made for at least a very intriguing film, just for the sake of how they were gonna explain it. The film contains many highlights, including the chemistry of the main cast and the redemption of Ben Solo. But the film also falters on many points, with the pacing being off and the lack of reasonable exposition for the decision being made. *que Dominic Monaghan* Overall the film ends on a happy celebration that gives off the warm and fuzzy feelings of Return of the Jedi, but when the credits role, you’re left wondering with what could’ve been…
7. THE LAST JEDI (45 points)
The most divisive film in the entire franchise that split the entire Star Wars fandom into two. After the extremely successful crowd pleaser of the Force Awakens, Disney brought on Rian Johnson to shake up the franchise in the same vein as Empire Strikes Back did back in it’s day. This shake up as you might know was not met with the greatest response, with many proclaiming it butchered fan favorite character Luke Skywalker, and others proclaiming it to be one of the deeper and more earnest Star Wars films. Whatever side you fall on, it’s apparent that Rian Johnson put his heart and soul into this film. It is truly one of the most beautifully shot Star Wars films and you can tell that Rian tried to make something cool and different. But when you’re dealing with iconic characters that fans have idolized for years, playing in a sandbox called Star Wars is the equivalent to playing with fire. Someone’s bound to get burned…
6. THE FORCE AWAKENS (47 points)
Our first return to the galaxy far far away since the sale to the multimedia conglomerate, Disney, and it didn’t disappoint. With the reigns of the franchise being handed over to JJ Abrams, the film had to pick up the pieces from a somewhat lackluster critical response to the prequels that came before it. And JJ’s solution was to harken back to what we all know and love about Star Wars. The swashbuckling adventure between a group of friends. And while people remain somewhat mixed about how much it harkens back to the original films, JJ managed to create a group of characters that are just as lovable as the originals. Casting Daisy Ridley as the lead and John Boyega and Oscar Issac as the co-stars, he brought back that Star Wars feel that we haven’t felt in a long long time. But with the films that followed, it’s hard not to feel that there were a few missed opportunities…
5. REVENGE OF THE SITH (47 points)
Regarded as the best film of the prequels, George Lucas took what was a rocky start for his second trilogy in the Star Wars franchise and redeemed it all in one fell swoop. Arguably the darkest film in the franchise, earning a PG-13 rating, Revenge of the Sith tells the story we were all waiting for since the beginning of the prequels and the beginning of Star Wars for that matter. Depicting the fall of Anakin Skywalker and his decent into becoming the biggest evil of the galaxy, Darth Vader, was everything we hoped it would be. It was tragic, sad, and extremely emotional. You truly feel the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, and also Anakins relationship with Padme. In the wake of Anakin and Padme about to start a family, there’s a bitter feeling you get as you watch the movie unfold, knowing that our heroes wont get the ending they desire. And all this is wrapped up in that epic Star Wars fashion that we’ve all grown accustom to. With a bombastic opening space battle being introduced to us by the banging drums of John Williams score, and the operatic final duel between best friends taking place in literal hell on the lava planet of Mustafar, the film was everything it promised, and has become a fan favorite in many circles across the Star Wars fandom.
4. ROGUE ONE (49 points)
When Disney bought Star Wars in 2012, they promised that not only would they continue the Star Wars “saga” starting off with Episode 7, but they would also start producing spin offs. And there may have been no better place to start than with this one. Rogue One was directed by Gareth Edwards and tells the story of how the Rebellion got the plans to the Deathstar. It’s a simple idea, but one that made for a surprisingly great movie. With a completely new cast in Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, Rogue One promised to be disconnected from the main saga’s storyline, while also producing a story that was imperative to what we already knew. The film incorporated a side of Star Wars that we haven’t seen in the films as much. It showed the grey area that goes into fighting these galactic wars with the rebel alliance having to commit shady acts that in turn get them accused of being terrorist’s. Which is very inline what how Lucas viewed the Empire and the Rebel Alliance when he crafted Star Wars. Rogue One also made the crazy decision to kill off every main character, which was a risky decision, but one that paid off with the film being isolated and contained, with no burden of a continuation. And while the film went through heavy reshoots with director Tony Gilroy, the final product landed well with audiences with the grandiose space battle being the highlight for many, rivaling the one in Return of the Jedi. And the film also included a cameo of Darth Vader and Princess Leia just for good measure, connecting it to the films we all know and love.
3. RETURN OF THE JEDI (61 points)
The conclusion of the iconic trilogy created by George Lucas, this installment was directed by Richard Marquand. And while there are rumors that Lucas practically ghost directed this film, it doesn’t really make a difference either way because the film turned out great! With the only real complaints being the inclusion of small fury creatures called Ewoks. And much like how A New Hope is praised for starting a franchise, and Empire Strikes Back is praised for continuing it, Return of the Jedi is praised for bringing it home. With a even bigger final battle than the first film, Return of the Jedi is everything fans have been waiting for in 1983. Call backs to the films prior, with our heroes returning to Lukes home planet, a grander scale with a huge final battle taking place at two places at once- both in space and on the forest moon of Endor, and an emotionally satisfying ending with heroes triumphing over evil once and for all (ish). The film ended on a great lightsaber battle, our main villain redeeming himself, and the biggest dance celebration in the history of the galaxy. Whether you prefer the original song of “Yub Nub” or the special edition John William score “Victory Celebration”, one things certain, our heroes have never looked better. And if it wasn’t for such a good conclusion, the Star Wars trilogy wouldn’t be as well regarded as it is.
2. STAR WARS (76 points)
Coming off the heels of THX-1138 and American Graffiti, Lucas has been brewing up an amazing and crazy story that was heavily inspired by his personal loves, such as war films, westerns, samurai films, specifically ones made by Akira Korusawa (The Hidden Fortress), and even Flash Gordon serials. And what he came up with was Star Wars! A space opera about unlikely heroes fighting an Empire with nothing on their side but their togetherness and a mythical entity called the force guiding their paths each and every step of the way. The film exploded on the scene and opened the doors wide open to what filmmaking can accomplish. Introducing the most iconic trio ever put to screen in Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill, Han Solo played by Harrison Ford, and Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher. Star Wars had it all, and to this day remains the bar to how to begin a successful franchise that is loved by everyone.
1. EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (88 points)
The sequel to the original Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back improves upon it in virtually every way. Being directed by Irvin Kershner (George Lucas’ USC film school teacher years prior), he brought a much darker take to the Star Wars franchise. This was the film our heroes were truly tested, following the model that heavily inspired George Lucas for the creation of Star Wars, Joseph Cambell’s Heroes Journey, also known as the “Monomyth”. Empire Strikes Back opens up with an iconic battle scene taking place on the planet Hoth that was brought to life by groundbreaking animatronic technology, and the film ends on one of the best choregraphed saber fights in Star Wars history concluding in the biggest twists in cinema history. The film also further develops our main heroes such as Han and Leia, igniting one of the best romances ever seen in an adventure film. And on top of that the film introduces a fan favorite character in Yoda, expanding the entire idea of what the force is. (and it also has my favorite scene in all of Star Wars; refer to picture above) Empire Strikes Back truly is the full package and what many consider to be the best film of all time.
There it is, that our list. Making this list was a lot of fun. Especially seeing how different we all ranked ours. While all of us here at Reel Anarchy may disagree with each other, we all came together for something greater. To bring you guys the definitive Star Wars ranking. Do you agree? Let us know! And please be civil. In the immortal words of C3PO, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot…”
Enjoy this video from our very own John Garza: May the 4th Be With You!
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