Rating the Star Wars Movies

Posted: December 1, 2015 in Rankings

In light of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens release, I thought I’d post my opinions on the six movies that are already out.

I have a different perspective in that I’ve been a lifelong fan of the SWU, but that was primarily due to only the movies and the action figures. It’s only this recent run of watching the movies where my enjoyment was influenced by the books.

My goal was complete the 240+ Star Wars novels before SWTFA came out and I’ll fall short. I’m currently on my 163rd book, which is the seventh book of the X-Wing series. To come so close!

 

6. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

Rating: 3.0/10

Rating after reading the novels: 4.5/10

The weak sibling of the sextet, this one could have been so good, so easily. And that’s what’s frustrating. And after long and careful thought, I’m going against the grain here when I say that Jar Jar Binks can stay! Just lower his voice to something a lot more tolerable, cut the amount of lines he says in half, and reduce his screen time by about 20% and I honestly think we could put up with him. At the very least, that would be enough to ensure that he truly is a supporting character instead of the focal point (i.e. what everyone focuses on when discussing this movie).

Another fix I would make is also an easy one. Raise Anakin’s age by two years and bring in a different (better!) actor. I recently saw Jingle All the Way and I have to say – Jake Lloyd was a terrible child actor even in that movie. So how on earth did he land this key Star Wars role?

Regardless, the character needed to be 11 and not nine. It would make all the difference. Even as a prodigy and the strongest Force-user in history, Anakin didn’t have time to build both a podracer and a 3PO droid. He’s a slave. In three years of working slave hours, how much time would he have to build those things? And we’re taking the leap of faith that he, as a prodigy, had the know-how. But the time? But at age 11, I can buy it. And learn another language or two (he seemed to know both Dug and Toydarian). And the whole ‘accidental’ fly-a-ship and blow-the-base-up thing…

But most of all – “You’re too old”. Luke Skywalker was too old at 18 and in this movie they say that Anakin was too old at nine. A Jedi needs to be trained from age two until 13 and then they become an apprentice. But Luke was a Jedi after a few weeks. Anyway, without going too deeply into this, I just think the entire situation would be far more palatable if Anakin were 11 instead of nine.

Like I said – just a couple of simple fixes and this movie would be much better. One of the best battles out of the six movies was the Obi Wan/Qui Gon vs. Darth Maul fight. Qui Gon was also a great character. Darth Maul, too. Just a shame – so easy to fix. So obvious.

 

5. Star Wars II: The Clone Wars

Rating: 5.5/10

Rating after reading the novels: 7.0/10

I loved seeing all the Jedi in this movie, and in action. And who could ever forget the first on-screen Yoda battle? Awesome! I watched the prequels about 15 times before reading the books and watching them again. The books gave great background to the prequels, to the extent where I get the sense that the intention was to get more people to read the books or comics (or the Clone Wars TV series) as the movies were released. And because that didn’t happen, the prequels were crucified.

After reading about Anakin as Obi Wan’s apprentice, growing up and becoming friends (or enemies) with other apprentices. And getting to know some knew Jedi in the novels – it all contributed to making this movie better. Even Dexter Jettster, was a well-known character in the books by the time it got to this movie where he made an appearance.

None of us liked the acting here. Anakin was sulky whiner. But after reading the novels, it helped to tone down just how whiny he really was. It explained a lot. His slow boil to the dark side wasn’t told in two movies, but rather in 50 books. Big difference.

 

4. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

Rating: 7.5/10

Rating after reading the novels: 9.5/10

A very underrated movie and it’s unfairly lumped in with the other prequels as “trash”. Sorry, no. This movie was good and when you factor in the novels, the movie was downright awesome. Revenge of the Sith was actually the second book of a trilogy. And not the prequel trilogy either, but a different one. The movie starts out with Anakin and Obi Wan fighting in their ships in the skies before getting onto a starship and rescuing Palpatine. The first book of the trilogy explains how Palpatine was captured as well as the circumstances leading up to Anakin and Obi Wan getting to that point.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to read about Anakin and Obi Wan’s rise to becoming “Heros of the Galaxy”? Because they were. They were Holonet sensations. And wouldn’t it be nice to get some background on General Grievous? This is all in the books.

The end battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin was everything it was built up to be. Arguably the best fight scene in any of the Star Wars movies.

By the way, the third book of the trilogy describes Darth Vader getting used to his new body, and hunting down any stray Jedi…

 

3. Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi

Rating: 8.0/10

Rating after reading the novels: 9.5/10

Most fans look at this one as the weak sibling of the original trilogy. And yes, they’re probably right. But imagine seeing this in 1983 as a nine year old? To me, at the time, this was the best movie of the three. And I loved the Ewoks. I stuck to that opinion into my 20s – Return of the Jedi was the best. Before gradually realizing that I was enjoying the other two far more whenever I watched them. Far more.

The Ewoks taking on technology – in hindsight not a good idea. But at the time, as a kid, it was awesome.

 

2. Star Wars IV: A New Hope

Rating: 10.0/10

Rating after reading the novels: 10.0/10

Perfection.

And with lasting power. Still a great movie today. My four-year-old nephew was enthralled.

 

1. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back

Rating: 10.0/10

Rating after reading the novels: 10.0/10

This is pretty much world consensus. I have nothing to add here. I’ve seen the original trilogy over 100 times. I still get choked up a little at the “I love you”/”I know” scene, and chills at the “I am your father” scene.

Timeless

 

 

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