IN LEIA WE TRUST: Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
BY JON SOLOMON JEDI CORRESPONDENT Always in motion is the future. So too, to a lesser extent, are my rankings of the Star Wars films. They seemingly fluctuate slightly based on mood, time elapsed since last viewing or what my daughter wants to watch when home sick from school. As of press time, having yet to see the soon-to-be-released Solo: A Star Wars Story (SEE ABOVE), I’d go with the following, adding two caveats: There is a steep, precarious drop in quality between the bottom three films and the top six films. The middle trio of movies are constantly trading places in my mind, rankings-wise.
The Phantom Menace (1999)
The one we all tried to convince ourselves we liked, even after the air was sucked out of the theater a few minutes in. Horribly miscast and featuring some impossibly bad, thoroughly perplexing vocal / accent choices. My most all-time-enjoyable viewing of TPM was via a battered DVD borrowed from our public library that the audio channel did not work on. Even then it wasn’t very good.
Attack of the Clones (2002)
A series of video game cut scenes edited around an attempted love story. Like the other two prequels, it would probably have made a more forgiving animated film than a live action one. While it is easy to imagine George Lucas surrounded by yes-men, convinced every decision he was making was the right one, AOTC is also a thin-skinned response to the criticisms (rightfully) filed against the movie that preceded it.
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
A step forward, but one that actually has not aged particularly well. Attempts to fill in a lot of information from one’s childhood that probably played out better in each of our respective minds. To hear my over-analysis of 60 seconds from Revenge of the Sith, please enjoy my guest appearance on the Star Wars Minute podcast from earlier this year.
Rogue One (2016)
After the first three films on my list, an infinitely better example of how to shoehorn in events from before the original trilogy while still keeping stakes and excitement levels high. Probably the best final act since Return of the Jedi, yet I don’t find myself wanting to revisit this movie as frequently as the other two Disney-era films. That said, writing this blurb does make me want to fire up Netflix. Which I did after typing this whole piece out. Man, those last 55 minutes are indeed totally crackerjack.
The Last Jedi (2017)
The highest highs of the three most recent Star Wars movies (Ahch-To! Snoke’s chamber! The Holdo Maneuver! The final reel!), but also the lowest lows (oh, casino planet). It averages out to a thoughtful, profound movie that makes me excited to see what Rian Johnson will do with this world in the future. Laughed more out loud for the right reasons during this one than during any other Star Wars film.
The Force Awakens (2015)
Comfort food. A well-cast perfect re-telling of the original Star Wars’ beats to get the franchise back on the rails for a new generation. I spent the two years that followed talking about these new characters and debating where the story was headed with my family. Immediately after the TFA ended I posted the following on Twitter: “I’m so happy there’s a fourth Star Wars movie.”
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Better than it is often given credit for, and wraps up the original trilogy in a satisfying fashion. The editing between the final battle on Endor, the attack on the Death Star and the showdown between Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and The Emperor is especially ace. May we be so fortunate that Episode IX comes as close to sticking the landing.
Star Wars (1977)
A supremely weird film in many ways – what other movie waits 20+ minutes to introduce its protagonist? – but something that very much changed my life. Not sure what else needs to be said about Star Wars via a list on the Internet at this point.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Builds off the first Star Wars with new worlds, new characters and new discoveries yet leaves you desperate for more in a fashion that’s hard to explain to those who didn’t have to wait three years to find out what transpired. You kids and your Infinity Wars have it so easy!