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Prepping For ‘Rogue One?’ All Seven “Star Wars movies ranked!

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In May of 1977, the world was introduced to what can arguably be regarded as one of the most important films ever made, “Star Wars” and a phenomenon was born. For decades,  the “Star Wars” franchise has slipped into just about every crack and crevice of our pop culture, from the franchise’s own films, television shows, books and spinoffs, to the countless fan films, parodies, ripoffs, and homages. Even if you don’t consider yourself a true Star Wars fan, it’s near to impossible to admit that you don’t have any knowledge of its massive influence in our world today.

With the franchise’s newest film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” out this month, it is time yet again to gear up for another light speed dive into the franchise and the films that have made it what it is today with all seven major Star Wars films ranked from worst to first!

  1. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002)339217

It was honestly a tough choice deciding if this should be below “Episode 1” or not because while “Attack of the Clones” certainly improves upon some issues, there are still a trainload of problems facing this movie. Taking place ten years after the events of “Phantom Menace,” we see Anakin as a teenager now and being taught by Obi-Wan in the ways of the force. Soon, Anakin is tasked with looking out for the Senator Padmé Amidala (played by Natalie Portman) on a remote planet where the two begin a romance. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is trying to discover just what is threatening Padmé, eventually leading to the discovery of the upcoming clone wars that lie ahead.

Easily the least rewatchable of the franchise, “Attack of the Clones” is a ridiculously boring experience. The 142 minute film contains many of the same insufferable problems as its predecessor, including the confusing plot, the overuse of cartoony looking CGI, and some terrible acting. But where “Episode 1” has at least a few redeemable elements, the same can not be said for this movie. Hayden Christensen’s cringe-worthy acting, coupled with some even more cringe-worthy dialogue are what really stand out. Add in one of the worst romances ever developed in film history and some bland action, and this quickly becomes one of the most generic sci-fi action movies ever, which should not be said about a Star Wars film.

  1. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999)phantom-menace-rewatch-120715

Widely regarded as the most despised prequel of all time, “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” left overhyped audiences in 1999 confused, only to later recollect and realize the terrible movie they have just witnessed. The film acts as the beginning of the infamous prequel trilogy, going into the origins of the main antagonist of the franchise, Darth Vader and his turn to the dark side. In this installment, we meet Anakin Skywalker (who would eventually become Vader) as a child (played by Jake Lloyd) where he meets Qui-Gon Jinn and a younger Obi Wan Kenobi who take the boy to try teaching him the ways of the Jedi, as it is foretold that Anakin is a chosen one destined to bring balance to the force.

While not a terrible idea in concept, the execution of this story is far from perfect. From boring subplots concerning taxation trade federations to horrendous and overused CGI to even more horrendous acting from Jake Lloyd to over explaining the way the force works to Jar Jar Binks (aka the death of comedy), this is a 133-minute trainwreck from beginning to end. While the film does have some perks such as the badass sith lord Darth Maul, the creative worlds, John Williams’ beautiful score, an overall fast pace, and some action scenes, it’s not enough to save this film from feeling like one huge lightsaber jab in the face.

  1. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005)star-wars-episode-3

While still divisive amongst some fans, most agree that “Revenge of the Sith” is easily the best of the prequel trilogy. The film focuses on a young adult Anakin, who is concerned for a now pregnant Padmé due to visions he has of her dying shortly after giving birth. In order to try saving her, Anakin begins to follow the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who turns out to be the sinister sith lord known as the Emperor by the end, and slowly starts to turn to the dark side. What follows is one of the most epic battles between good and evil as Obi Wan must now do battle with Anakin in order to try bringing balance to the force.

While this film is certainly full of flaws, including Hayden Christensen’s often awkward delivery, some rushed plot points, and some obvious green screen effects, the overall film delivers some of the best moments of the entire Star Wars saga. The film is full of exhilarating scenes such as the opening battle, the Order 66 sequence, Yoda’s battle with the Emperor, and, of course, Obi Wan’s climatic battle with Anakin at the end. The film also knows how to pace itself with some surprisingly quiet moments, most notably a rather intriguing sequence of Palpatine telling Anakin the legend of Darth Plagueis the wise. Out of all the prequels, this is the only one that feels truly necessary and by the end, you can safely say that you feel like you watched a Star Wars movie.

  1. Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi (1983)star-wars-episode-vi-return-of-the-jedi-main-review

The epic conclusion to the legendary original trilogy, “Return of the Jedi” successfully acts as a satisfying end and a mind-blowing experience on it’s own. After rescuing Han Solo from the grasps of the ruthless gangster Jabba the Hut, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 make their way to the planet of Endor where they must destroy the shield generator for a new and more powerful Death Star being created by the Empire. Meanwhile, Luke must face down his father, Darth Vader, as the Emperor tries tempting him toward the dark side, in one of the most emotionally-packed conclusions ever put on the screen.

While “Jedi” is not perfect, lacking the snappier pace of its predecessors, this is far from being anything like the prequels. What really sets this film apart is its true emotional punch. The sequences between Darth Vader and Luke here are possibly the best of the entire saga, as we dive deeper into their relationship and see the turmoil going through each of their minds. Their final battle is heart-wrenching, but the conclusion leaves you beyond satisfied. While some have complained about the Ewoks’ involvement in the film, feeling that it makes it more child friendly (which it ultimately does), one can also see their role as more of an intriguing commentary on nature versus machine and anyone can agree that they are much better than Jar Jar. Overall, this film leaves you with a happy feeling inside and wraps up the saga in a nice bow…or so we thought…

  1. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens (2015)star-wars-force-awakens-new-10-1200x902

The beginning of a new sequel trilogy, “Force Awakens” has already proven itself as a cinematic powerhouse and a good sign for things to come within the franchise. Focusing on a young woman named Rey and a former stormtrooper named Finn, the film follows our characters as they must team up with Han Solo to try finding Luke Skywalker in order to get his help to stop a new threat in the form of the First Order led by villainous Kylo Ren.

While heavily borrowing plot points from the “A New Hope,” “Force Awakens” still contains enough new to keep it both fresh and very interesting. This mostly comes from the characters and the way the film explores them. From the mysterious backstory of Rey to the sympathetic Finn to the sadisticly savage Kylo Ren to a more wise Han Solo, the story knows how to give its characters a lot more weight. Overall, this is a welcome edition to the franchise and sure to go down as a modern day classic.

  1. Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977)gallery-starwars-5-gallery-image

The film that changed films forever, director George Lucas surprised the world with his cinematic magnum opus, “Star Wars.” The classic story follows a farm boy named Luke who, after hearing a message from the Princess Leia asking for help, must find the Jedi master Obi Wan Kenobi in order to rescue the princess from the grasps of the Empire led by the sinister Darth Vader. The two, along with their droids C-3PO and R2-D2, a cocky ship pilot named Han Solo, and his wookie co-pilot Chewbacca, must then make their way to the Empire to save Leia and destroy their planet-destroying weapon, the Death Star.

A cinematic classic if ever there was one, “A New Hope” not only acts as one of the most important films ever made, but still stands its own close to 40 years later as a bonafide joyride from beginning to end. With its stellar cast, outstanding practical effects, beautiful score, brisk pace, and collection of exciting sequences while also exploring the unique world of Star Wars in some very creative ways, this may not be the most emotional of the Star Wars saga, but it is most definitely the most fun and continues to entrance audiences young and old to this day.

  1. Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)esb1

Was this really any surprise? To both fans and critics alike, “The Empire Strikes Back” is, without a doubt, the strongest and most emotional the saga has ever gotten. Set three years after the events of “A New Hope,” we follow our heroes after a crushing defeat against the Empire on their base on the ice planet Hoth, where Luke must travel to Dagobah system in order to continue his Jedi training from Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Leia, Han, C-3PO, and Chewbacca are betrayed by Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian and captured by the Empire. Luke, realizing his friends are in danger, must now cut his training short in order to save them. From here, he faces Vader for the first time in one of the darkest and most jaw-dropping of plot twists ever.

What is there to say about this pretty much flawless piece of A+ cinema? This is the sequel that every sequel since has tried to be, but none have come close. The hauntingly dark story contrasts so much from the previous film, turning out some incredibly emotional moments as well as some powerful character development. From Luke’s struggle to become a Jedi to Han and Leia’s tender romance to Darth Vader’s epic reveal, all of our old characters are seen through new eyes and are fascinatingly treated. The new characters, particularly Lando and especially Yoda, are also full of charm and charisma and bring a new sense of life to the already eccentric cast. Top it off with some brilliantly paced direction, strong writing, great set pieces and effects, and a beautiful John Williams score, and it is no wonder that “The Empire Strikes Back” has arguably remained as both the greatest sequel and greatest Star Wars film ever made.

Mikael, 18, is a freshman at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta where he plans to major in animation. Mikael has made a host of stop-motion and claymation short films, including his award-winning short film “The Tree That Refused To Fall,” which can all be found on his YouTube channel, Cyclops Studios.

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