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Every Star Wars movie, ranked from worst to best

From the original to "Rise of Skywalker," we've ranked all of the theatrically released live action "Star Wars" movies

star wars darth vader death star
Star Wars/Facebook

Few franchises have a firmer hold on the popular imagination than Star Wars. In spite of that enormous success, though, we’ve actually gotten relatively few Star Wars movies since the original film was released. Some of those movies have been almost total failures, while others are remembered as some of the best movies ever made. The best entries prove that the Star Wars film series is worthy of its spot as one of the pinnacles of Hollywood franchise entertainment. The worst make us wonder what exactly a midichlorian is. On top of all that, this franchise has also inspired some legendary gear.

Now, we’re taking a look at the movies that spawned everything else, and ranking them from worst to best.

11. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)

11. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
142m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman
Directed by
George Lucas
Watch on Disney+
There are things in the prequels worth defending, but Attack of the Clones is the hardest of the trilogy to love. The movie spends most of its time unraveling the mystery around the clone army. While the idea of turning Star Wars into something of a noir mystery might seem intriguing, the stilted dialogue and convoluted plotting are a poor match for this kind of story. The less said about the CGI here, the better. Ultimately, the most mystifying thing about Attack of the Clones is why George Lucas chose to emphasize this part of the story at all.
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
142m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley
Directed by
J.J. Abrams
Watch on Disney+
After the controversy that surrounded The Last Jedi, J.J. Abrams returned to conclude the sequel trilogy with a movie that was designed to please everyone. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. The baffling return of Palpatine, as well as a bunch of unnecessary deep dives into lore, ultimately turned The Rise of Skywalker into a disappointing conclusion to what had been a rather promising trilogy. The effects work here is good, but basically, nothing else about the movie works the way it probably should.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Teaser Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Trailers

9. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

9. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
136m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman
Directed by
George Lucas
Watch on Disney+
The Phantom Menace gets a lot of grief, but the movie probably works better than you remember. That’s thanks in part to its central performances from Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, and in part thanks to John Williams’ score. The final duel with Darth Maul is one for the history books, even if the actual logistics of the fight don’t make a whole lot of sense. The pod racing sequence is visceral and great too. Of course, the movie also has plenty of gungans, so it’s hard to put it much above the nine spot.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Read more: The best movies on Disney+

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
135m
Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Action
Stars
Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson
Directed by
Ron Howard
Watch on Disney+
Recasting Han Solo was always going to be treacherous, and the troubled production of Solo suggests that the idea was foolhardy from the jump. Still, there are things in Solo worth recommending, including a characteristically delightful performance from Woody Harrelson and some genuinely thrilling set pieces. Solo is just a bit messy, but its distinctive style and tone allow it to rise above the very worst movies on this list so that it sits a little bit closer to the middle of the pack.
Solo: A Star Wars Story Trailer #1 | Movieclips Trailers

7. Return of the Jedi (1983)

7. Return of the Jedi
135m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Directed by
Richard Marquand
Watch on Disney+
The original trilogy has plenty of merits, but Return of the Jedi is undoubtedly the weakest entry in the trilogy, partly because it seems to pivot hard into kids’ movie territory. The Ewoks are cute and all, but they’re also the first indication that George Lucas may not take all of this as seriously as his many fans do. There are moments of genuine brilliance in Return of the Jedi, though, including the entire throne room confrontation between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. Star Wars has always mixed the silly with the profound, but Return of the Jedi gets the balance slightly wrong.
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Trailers

6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
133m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars
Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk
Directed by
Gareth Edwards
Watch on Disney+
Rogue One has an incredible ceiling, but the movie’s plotting is remarkably inconsistent. Telling the story of the crew who stole the plans for the first Death Star is a genius idea, but there’s a lot of random planet-hopping in the movie’s first two acts that gets in the way of solid character development. The third act is genuinely stunning, though, and it features the kind of glorious deaths that we rarely get inside the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, the coda, in which we see a de-aged Carrie Fisher, is close to unforgivable. On the whole, Rogue One is a pretty mixed bag.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Official Trailer #1 (2016) - Felicity Jones Movie HD

5. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

5. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
140m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman
Directed by
George Lucas
Watch on Disney+
The first two prequels are far too focused on all the wrong things, and while Revenge of the Sith isn’t perfect, it gets across the grandeur of Anakin’s descent into darkness. The effects work is better here, and Revenge of the Sith feels like a genuine politic polemic about all the freedoms we’re willing to sacrifice when we’re scared. The rise of the Empire is genuinely chilling, as is Anakin’s fall into darkness almost against his own will. It’s a grand, Shakespearean epic, and while it doesn’t always pull off everything it’s trying to do, Revenge of the Sith deserves major points for its sweeping ambitions.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Read more: The best action movies on Netflix

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
136m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Stars
Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Directed by
J.J. Abrams
Watch on Disney+
After the prequels, it felt like Star Wars might be cursed forever. Attempting to revive it certainly seemed like a risky endeavor, but The Force Awakens mostly works! Is it a retread of the original film? Sure, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch all on its own. Seeing the original cast return to these parts decades later is a joy all its own, and the young cast proves to be more than equal to the task of carrying the heavy lifting here. Harrison Ford may hate Han Solo, but few actors are better onscreen, and it’s Ford who emerges as the MVP here.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser Trailer #1 (2015) - J.J. Abrams Movie HD

3. Star Wars (1977)

3. Star Wars
121m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Directed by
George Lucas
Watch on Disney+
The movie that started it all, Star Wars rules. Every detail of this film would eventually spawn some piece of extended canon or lore, and that’s because everything about this world feels immediately distinct. From the remarkably funny script to the outstanding score, Star Wars was a phenomenon for a reason. Even today, almost 50 years after its original release, this first movie is still more thrilling than many of the films that would eventually follow it.
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
152m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver
Directed by
Rian Johnson
Watch on Disney+
Look, a lot of people hate this movie, and it’s not worth it to go to war with them. The Last Jedi lands so high on this list because it is both a great Star Wars movie and a great movie about what it means that Star Wars still exists decades after the first movie hit theaters. It also doesn’t hurt that The Last Jedi is genuinely stunning and features some of the best set pieces in the entire series. Mostly, though, The Last Jedi is a movie about why it’s so important to believe in the legends of the past, even as we strive toward a future that’s even better.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer (Official)

1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

1. The Empire Strikes Back
124m
Genre
Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Directed by
Irvin Kershner
Watch on Disney+
The apotheosis of what this universe is capable of, The Empire Strikes Back is one of the greatest sequels ever made. The dark middle chapter of the original trilogy, Empire is unafraid of ending on a note of total uncertainty after an unqualified loss. What comes before that loss, though, is some of the best production design and character introductions we’ve gotten in this entire universe. Empire introduces Lando, Yoda, and Boba Fett, and it also gave us many of the lines we most closely associate with Star Wars. 
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - Trailer

Looking for more great sci-fi movies to stream? We also have lists of the best sci-fi movies to watch on Netflix and Hulu.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Contributor
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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