Just got back from seeing Rogue One and have determined this to be the logical order of Star Wars films ranked by quality from worst to best…
8. The Phantom Menace
7. Attack of the Clones
6. Revenge of the Sith
5. Return of the Jedi
4. The Force Awakens
3. A New Hope
2. The Empire Strikes Back
1. Rogue One
Yeah, I know. But lets back up.
The Phantom Menace is barely watchable. Pod races, that kid who plays young Anakin, midichlorians, racist stereotypes. Fucking Jar Jar. The whole lot. Terrible. Attack of the Clones is much better, but really, that’s not saying much. Revenge of the Sith borders on actually good. In fact, I think it’s nearly better than Retrun of the Jedi due to one word: Ewoks. I hate them. So. Much. Horrible costumes, lame idea. A planet of wookiees would have been far superior (but less merchandisable).
Then you have The Force Awakens. Good movie all around plus Han’s denouement (spoilers). Problem is, it’s another damned movie about another damned planet-destroying thing they need to blow up. But I quite liked it.
I struggled with putting A New Hope next. It wins the third spot because it was such an incredible achievement in 1977. I’m not sure it’s a better movie than The Force Awakens, but it carries a massive nostalgia load from ten-year-old me’s jaw hanging open as Darth Vader’s star destroyer took over the whole movie screen in the first scene.
The Empire Strikes Back is so close to being number one on my list. It’s such a good movie. Maybe one of the best ever. Probably, in the fullness of time, I’ll come to my senses and put it back on top.
But Rogue One. That’s a damned movie. A war movie. A spy movie. An action movie. A movie with real emotional impact throughout. Tense and taut, even though it’s a prequel and prequels are always horrible (especially in the Star Wars universe). There were some plot points that were as obvious as a wookiee at a tea party and the end is probably inevitable, but it didn’t matter to me. I just loved the hell out of it, from start to finish. I loved seeing the Star Wars universe as alive and breathing in a way really only A New Hope has ever pulled off for me. It felt more Star Wars than any of the prequels, by a mile. Some of the visuals were staggeringly beautiful. Not just the effects (though they were quite good, too), but literally the things being shown on screen: The Death Star seen from the planet below, its carnage in action, a Star Destroyer hanging motionless in the atmosphere above a city, the Caribbean-like setting of a massive, shard-like Imperial installation.
Plus, that scene. The one above said tropical shard thing towards the end. It’s the single coolest thing I’ve seen in any Star Wars movie, period. One of the coolest things I’ve seen in any movie.
I could talk about Vader. I could talk about Tarkin (both good and bad). I could talk about the other cameos (including the one that shocked and surprisingly moved me). But I really don’t want to spoil it more than I have.
Rogue One is the best all-around movie in the Star Wars canon. I loved it.