The time is finally here for Episode VIII of Star Wars, and as everyone ponders on Rey’s path and Luke’s role in the movie, I took time to reflect on the past seven episodes of the series and how I rate them.
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Episode IV: A New Hope
The first three episodes on this list are often interchangeable depending on the time in which I’m rating them. I recently finished watching “A New Hope” and found that it ignites a sense of nostalgia in me — even though it hasn’t been long since the last time I watched it. Meeting each of the characters for the first time over and over again never gets old. The characters are all crafted uniquely and, though their relationships haven’t quite developed, the viewer is easily engaged in the story through the myriad of paths that could potentially be taken. This film was a humorous and excellently executed.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
I absolutely loved this episode, though, when I watch it, I don’t feel the same sense of nostalgia and happiness I feel from episode IV. I think the only reason this one lags behind the other is due to the first-impression charm “A New Hope” possesses. I will always hold this one in a high place because of the heart-wrenching scenes within it — they strike a chord in any Star Wars fan. Han and Leia, the death of Darth Vader and the force ghosts appearing to Luke at the end of the movie all move me every time I watch it.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This one deserves its constant praise simply due to the surprising plot twist within the film. That single line is a defining feature of the Star Wars universe — and almost anyone can tell you what the line is simply by context. Aside from that, I find that this episode was crafted beautifully to present the main conflict in the original trilogy. Where episode IV was the exposition and episode VI was the resolution, episode V contains much of the conflict and makes for a dramatic and compelling storyline.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
A lot of people are surprised to hear that I hold this episode consistently at number four. First, I find it to be the most entertaining and least-cringey prequel. I enjoyed watching Anakin develop and eventually fall into the Dark Side — and I did like that romance had the chance to play a bigger role in the plot. Obi-Wan has always been one of my favorite Star Wars characters due to his father-figure appearance. I also found Anakin to be a far more compelling and complex character than a lot of others in the films. Padmé, on the otherhand, didn’t interest me. I will say, as it has been said many times before, the dialogue in the prequels was not necessarily as iconic as the first three.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
So, why is this one behind a prequel? While episode VII is better off in terms of graphics and effects, I feel it lacks the magic and familiarity the others posses. I think part of what makes people believe this episode is one of the greatest is due to the timing — we had waited years for something like this to come on along. And, including characters from the original trilogy helped attract older fans who might not have been so sure on a Disney Star Wars. Overall, I felt the plot was rather stereotypical of a Star Wars film and I wasn’t really compelled to the characters.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This one, due to its poor dialogue and rather boring, political storyline, takes its place at number 6. I will say I still hold this episode close to myheart because of Qui-Gon Jinn’s presence and wisdom throughout the film. I also enjoyed watching a young Obi-Wan adapt to the jedi world. Overall, I am glad this was not the first Star Wars movie I watched, because I don’t know that I would have made it through.
Episode II: The Clone Wars
Alas, I put this at the end because I rarely remember much from this film other than the classic “I hate sand”line from angsty Ani. I think among the people I speak to about Star Wars, this episode is almost universally disliked. It’s not that the film is inherently bad, but the dialogue and awkward acting seems out of place for an iconic franchise and doesn’t add much to the story of Star Wars. It did come in handy for memes, though.