‘Star Wars’ Movies Ranked Worst to Best

Star Wars might have had a greater influence on cinema than any other franchise. While some of the Star Wars films have been ranked among the best movies ever made, others are less acclaimed. Here are the theatrically-released, live action Star Wars films ranked from worst to best.

Harrison Ford as Hans Solo | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

 ‘Attack of the Clones’

After The Phantom Menace was poorly received by fans, George Lucas was sensitive to the criticism the film received and made sure he didn’t make the same mistakes with Attack of the Clones. Because the juvenile aspects of The Phantom Menace were widely derided, they have no presence in this film. The result is rather dull.

‘The Phantom Menace’

A Darth Maul mask | Hitoshi Yamada/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film to get a less-than-stellar reception. Its plot is overly complicated, the characters are thin, and the comedy is sillier than a 1960s sitcom. At the very least, the film does have some well-made action sequences.

‘The Last Jedi’

The Last Jedi is the most divisive film in the Star Wars canon; some hate it for transforming Luke Skywalker from a noble Jedi Knight into a bitter failure; others love it for the same reason. The film’s decision to subvert many of the artistic decisions made by The Force Awakens also garnered a mix of scorn and praise. At the very least, it’s a film made with an original artistic vision. 

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

Darth Vader at Rogue One‘s premiere | Rick Kern/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Rogue One is a strange cross-pollination between the Star Wars franchise and Oliver Stone’s war movies. It’s much grittier than any other Star Wars movie. Rogue One works on paper, but the film doesn’t create interesting characters to bring its concept to life. The film’s major saving grace is a visually stunning finale. 

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

The film reveals the backstory of one of the most beloved Star Wars characters: Han Solo. Lo and behold, it tells us absolutely nothing we need to know. Solo: A Star Wars Story lacks the gravitas of most Star Wars movies, instead feeling more like a standard adventure film. Alden Ehrenreich makes a decent substitute for Harrison Ford, but it’s unlikely that he’ll ever get to reprise the role of Han Solo given the film’s dismal box office performance.

‘The Force Awakens’

Kylo Ren | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The Force Awakens is the cinematic equivalent of a decent cover song. It’s fine enough, but it will never be as good as the original. The film follows the basic story beats of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Aside from the newly-introduced villain Kylo Ren, The Force Awakens doesn’t create anything new that’s worthwhile, but as a competent remake of one of Hollywood’s definitive blockbusters, it retains some of the magic of the original. 

‘Revenge of the Sith’

Now on to the good stuff. Revenge of the Sith suffers from some of the clumsy staging and dialogue of the earlier prequels, but the stakes are higher, the visuals are more striking, and Ian McDiarmid gets more screen time as Palpatine than ever before. This all adds up to a compelling, if deeply flawed, movie. 

‘A New Hope’

A poster for A New Hope | LMPC via Getty Images

The film that started it all still holds up after four decades and legions of imitators. Combining spirituality, science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and the war film, George Lucas made the rare movie which just about anyone can enjoy. Few films have created an alternate world as expansive and fascinating as the Star Wars galaxy. 

‘Return of the Jedi’

What was once intended to be the final Star Wars film has an appropriately elegiac quality, as Return of the Jedi feels older and wiser than A New Hope. The film also introduces a cavalcade of new and interesting side characters, with McDiarmid crafting one of the most fascinating villains in Hollywood history. Jedi also gives us plenty of time with one of the franchise’s best side characters, Jabba the Hutt.

‘The Empire Strikes Back’

Yoda | Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

The Empire Strikes Back might not be the most spectacular film in the franchise, but it’s the most emotional. The film boasts more character development and internal complexity than any other Star Wars film and just about any other Hollywood blockbuster. The Empire Strikes Back also has one of the most unforgettable finales in all of cinema, one that has ingrained itself into popular culture to the point where most people know the twist of the movie without even having seen it.