As I write this article, I do so while re-watching Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. As you will soon read, this is far from my favorite film in the Skywalker anthology. However, it’s a prime example of why I CHOOSE to appreciate the “Anakin Saga” as much as I do, and each Star Wars story for its story rather than it’s EXECUTION. Personally, when it comes to Star Wars, I am able to disregard silly, or poorly acted moments and sequences to appreciate the overall grander story at large.
*For instance, and this is a Hot Take… The Anakin Skywalker story arc, not to be confused with the Darth Vader Arc is the most compelling story in Star Wars… *
Even with this rich, prebuilt Galaxy [far, far away], George Lucas ostensibly dropped the ball when delivering this prequel trilogy. Clearly losing focus due to success, time or perhaps monumental pressure, Lucas seemed to forget that facing a litany of production issues and on-location challenges, Star Wars (A New Hope) became a beacon to filmmakers of every level showing no obstacle is too tall. The prequels had every advantage that a film maker could want or need; however, an unholy marriage to poor acting and the overuse of primitive CGI set the franchise back a decade.
Having just experienced Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, I see that this [FINAL] Trilogy is just as polarizing as it’s CGI laden predecessor. Star Wars fans are a particular kind of hard to please. We are perfectionists, and observant to the point of OCD. But, most importantly, we are loyal. We will complain about every problem we find, but in the end, we appreciate everything that George Lucas has ever created [cough, cough Willow]. So without further ado, I present my countdown of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Skywalker Anthology. Nine films, nine ranked spots. Here we go!
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
*To me this is THE MOST POLARIZING STAR WARS FILM.*
A certain faction of fans would crush me for not having a film from the prequel trilogy in this slot, and another faction would celebrate me for having this film where it stands…. Truth be told this movie could easily be number 4 on this countdown. The Last Jedi is the most misunderstood and misrepresented film in the Star Wars anthology. With three simple changes, I think all fans would change their opinion of this film drastically. What changes? Lose the Mary Poppins bit. Allow Luke to be present at his own death, and swap Rose and Poe’s character arcs. The Poe/Finn Bromance is everything. While I’m at it…JJ Abrams’s direction wouldn’t hurt either…just saying.
*This movie HAD the potential to be beloved…*
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The weight of the world sat on this film, and SADLY George Lucas dropped the ball. As previously stated, I genuinely enjoy the overall story of Star Wars, and will ignore many acting or dialogue flaws. With that said, I love the plan [minus the tax embargo] of The Phantom Menace. If you add Darth Maul and the introduction of young Darth Vader, you would think we have lightning in a bottle once again…WRONG. This movie showed us that George Lucas clearly is better at world-building than finessed story-telling.
*Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd ruined this film.*
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
For me, this was the most important film in the Star Wars anthology. Not for the story, not for characters, not for any reason other than I was 19-years-old when it was released. While I was lucky enough to experience the original trilogy special edition in theaters as a youth, seeing Attack of the Clones at 19, along with the angsty nature of a young Anakin Skywalker, stood heavily in my life. Jake Lloyd ruined The Phantom Menace, and TBH Hayden Christensen ruined both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
*Slapping a Yoda lightsaber fight to the end couldn’t save this mess.*
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
*The CONTENT was there, BUT POORLY EXECUTED! #GameofThrones*
Due to the catastrophe that was The Phantom Menace and the lukewarm reception of Attack of the Clones, George Lucas’ Revenge of the Sith was snake bitten from start. This film is far and away from the best of its [respective] trilogy showcasing major universe expansion that would be used as late as Episode IX. Featuring many incredible battles, this film was a bit too much for us all to digest after the ipecac induced daze that was both Phantom and Attack…
*HOLY SHIT the Light Saber fights in this were NEXT LEVEL!*
Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Showcasing style and taking us on a breakneck-paced Thanksgiving day feast of content, while simultaneously bookending the prior two trilogies, I loved what JJ Abrams was able to salvage from the Last Jedi with The Rise of Skywalker. It may be a Rey and Kylo centric story, but Oscar Issac (Poe) manages to steal the show! This movie is highly polarizing, and extremely metaphysical with the revelation of the Sith world Exegol. The Rise of Skywalker really explores the depth of Rey and the force as a narrative concept for the greater good.
*THE LAST JEDI RUINED A TRILOGY!*
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
As a child, this was my favorite of the original trilogy. Jim Henson’s presence in Jabba’s palace was everywhere. Add in love for The Ewok Adventure (google it it’s wild), Bobba Fett, heavy use of a lightsaber and voila…you have a perfect movie for an 8-year-old in the ’80s! #starwarskid #slaveleia
*Climate change CAUSED BY the destruction of the 2nd Death Star KILLED the Ewoks!!!*
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
And then it happened…. a final trilogy, and hopefully THE final trilogy in the Skywalker and “original” Star Wars anthology. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE FORCE AWAKENS! I was completely blown away ALL FOUR TIMES that I saw this movie in theaters! The awakening of Rey, the introduction of Kylo Ren, the arrival of Finn & Poe…not to mention BB-8! This film had it all! Equipped with a fresh new story, nostalgia and the aforementioned freshmen cast, The Force Awakens brought us back to our favorite galaxy and introduced a whole new generation to our favorite uncle and his best friend Chewy. I’m still heartbroken, but mother fucker, was that a powerful scene. Well played, JJ. Way to ruin my Christmas 2015, and MOST IMPORTANTLY goodbye old friend!
*IF ONLY JJ DIRECTED ALL 3!*
Episode IV: A New Hope
The originator. The cold opener. The OG. Francis Ford Coppola once said this movie would never succeed. George Lucas often thought [on set] that they would never complete this film, and despite every environmental, technological and incidental obstacle, Star Wars Episode IV was produced. We as a society are better for it. Thank you Mr. Lucas. You have shown us what it is to dream beyond our means. You have taught us the way of the Jedi, and that tyranny will not and cannot rule forever because HOPE is infectious!
*No Dream is to BIG, no story is UNTELLABLE.*
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Standing as my favorite film of the ’80s, Empire is the ultimate bridge in a trilogy. Sitting in the company of films like [Francis Ford Coppola’s] The Godfather 2 and [James Cameron’s] Aliens, The Empire Strikes Back is a sequel worthy of the title MASTERPIECE. Showing us that tough love builds true love and that not all epic stories have a happy ending, Empire is one of the all-time great films in history. Scratching away the Sci-Fi, sequel, and classic movie labels, this movie is the crown jewel in a timeless cinematic anthology.
*THIS. MOVIE. IS. EVERYTHING.*
All in all…we definitely have had some bad films in this nine film epic, but the positive very much outweigh the negative making Star Wars one of the most influential and profitable film franchises of all time (selling to Disney for roughly 4 billion dollars in 2012 was clearly only the beginning). Since this sale, Star Wars has seen exponential growth, and Star Wars mania is at an all time high. With series’ like The Mandalorian and [hopefully] Obi Wan will take us far into the future fleshing out an already rich universe. Here’s to our next Hope, and always remember.