Happy Star Wars Day! Ranking the Star Wars (live-action) films

happy star wars day

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! Now, to preface this post, I should say that I’m not exactly a SW super fan, despite having grown up in the 80s with two older brothers who loves the franchise. They were only seven years old when the first film was released in 1977, but I remember they watched the VHS tapes repeatedly years later. So I was familiar with the franchise early on, but I actually didn’t watch the entire original trilogy until my college years. I have since watched ALL of the live-action feature films to date.

Now, I’m excluding the animated feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) as I have not seen that one, so we’ve got eleven live-action films total including the spin-offs. Of course with ANY list, it’s all subjective so the ranking is really in order of our FAVORITES ūüėČ

‚Äď As to be expected with a list like this, there’ll be spoilers galore ‚Äst

I’m inviting my friend + loyal FC contributor Ted Saydalavong to join the fun as well, so let’s start with his ranking.

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TED’s Ranking

Ted’s ranking is based on re-watchability, creative storytelling and most importantly, entertainment value. So here it is from BEST to WORST.

  1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    Yes, this film tends to be on top of many Star Wars fans and I think it’s still the best in the series. Great storytelling with a dark and twist ending.
  2. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
    The original film still entertains by today’s blockbuster standards. Sure some of the effects and dialogs are a bit cheesy but it’s still an entertaining film.
  3. Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
    I still would like to see the original and darker cut of this film but I think it’s the best one in the newer Star Wars films.
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
    It’s basically a remake of the original Star Wars film but it’s very entertaining. The film has lots of weaknesses but as a fan, I can overlook those flaws.
  5. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (2019)
    Same can be said of this last film of the so-called Skywalker saga, it has tons of flaws but I was entertained.
  6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
    Hate to keep repeating myself but this one also has tons of flaws and to me, it’s the least entertaining of the new trilogy.
  7. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
    The weakest of the original trilogy but it’s still very entertaining and the speeder chase is one of the best action sequences in the franchise.
  8. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
    A show off of what CGI can do in films and Lucas had a lot of fun with this prequel. Now if only he never included Jar Jar Binks and wrote a better script for the actors, this one could be higher on my list. Still this one might have the best action sequences in the entire series. The Pod race and Duel of Fate are two of the best action scenes in the series.
  9. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    Lucas tried to create an emotional send off for the final film of the prequel but sadly he didn’t know or care to write or direct dramatic sequences. The movie has great special effects for its time but the acting was atrocious and I cringe every time the words were spoken by the actors.
  10. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
    Again, here Lucas tried to create some dramatic and romance for this film but the writing and acting were atrocious. The only things I liked from the film were the action scenes. I love the climactic battle near the end of this film. I think Lucas only wanted to show off the special effects and cool action scenes for the prequel. He should have hired additional writers to fix his scripts for these prequels. Also, this one was shot in the early form of digital filmmaking and it has that flat and dull look that you see in early days of films shot with digital cameras.
  11. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
    This is on the bottom of my list because it’s the most boring and unimaginative of all the films in the series. I actually fell asleep halfway through the film when I saw it in the theater. Gave it another try when it came out on disc and I wish I hadn’t done that, I was not entertained at all.

RUTH’s Ranking

Same with Ted’s criteria for ranking, I too feel that re-watchability + creative storytelling (instead of just plain fan-service) are key, and obviously they’d have to be fun to watch. Anyway, here’s my ranking:

  1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    I actually go back and forth between this one and the first one, aka A New Hope (now I feel like George Lucas should just leave the original title Star Wars). In the end, this one wins as it’s got the most iconic, emotional moments (the ultimate hero/villain, father/son duel) that is so indelible even people who don’t watch the films know the ‘I Am Your Father’ reference.
  2. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
    I remember really enjoying this one and was in awe of how George Lucas launched such a behemoth franchise that span five decades and beyond with this first film. It’s the first time I heard that amazingly iconic theme song by John Williams and being transported into a galaxy far, far away. After re-watching this a few more times, I was still invested in the journey Luke, Leia, Han and the whole space opera gang.
  3. Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
    I love this one the most out of the spin-offs. I like Gareth Edwards’ direction and Felicity Jones as the lead. It’s got plenty of fun and humorous moments (esp. Donnie Yen’s scenes!) as well as emotional resonance I’m looking for. I wish Edwards had stayed on to direct some of the Skywalker saga movies.
  4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
    I have to say I’m just not fond of Jabba the Hut at all, I tend to fast forward his scenes a lot whenever I re-watch this one. The whole sequence with the Ewoks aren’t my faves either, though I enjoy the Leia + Han romance and the adventure with Lando Calrissian, etc. So overall still a great end to the first trilogy that leaves so much room to expand the story.
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
    I’m baffled by all the hate towards this one. I guess haters are gonna hate, which is a prime example of toxic fandom. I personally enjoyed Rian Johnson’s take on this franchise, adding some surprising twists whilst still staying true to George Lucas’ legacy. I know many fans hated the direction of Luke in this film but I appreciate the deconstruction of such a titular character of why he’s a legend, who gets to have the Force, etc.
  6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
    Unlike Ted, I don’t find this boring at all and I like the fact that it’s a space heist flick. I actually like Alden Ehrenreich as Han and enjoyed all the bits between him and Donald Glover’s flamboyant Lando. I’ve rewatched it on Blu-ray since seeing it in the theater the first time and still enjoyed it a great deal.
  7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
    This movie reminds me a lot of Superman Returns where Bryan Singer just paid homage to Richard Donner’s Superman. JJ Abrams did the same thing with this one, as Ted said above, It‚Äôs basically a remake of the original Star Wars movie. There’s a sheer lack of suspense and even the death scene involving a beloved character didn’t give me the emotional resonant I expected. I do love the introduction of Kylo Ren who provides some of the unexpected hilarious moments of rage, ahah. I also love Rey when she was just a petulant, defiant desert dweller, that is until Abrams abominably ruins her character in Rise of Skywalker!
  8. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
    I guess I can’t blame George Lucas in wanting to give us the backstory of his space opera, esp. his most famous character that is Darth Vader. If only he’d hire a good writer or collaborate with one to execute his vision. I mean, there is no excuse for such an irritating character like Jar Jar Binks! I do like Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor as the two powerful Jedis and I think their casting save the film for me. Like Ted, I also enjoy the action scenes of the Pod race and Duel of Fate. I actually love the music of Duel of the Fate scene so much that I used that particular score for a re-cut of Face/Off I did in a video editing class!
  9. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    I actually just rewatched the last battle scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin and it’s so heartbreaking! I remember tearing up during the last moments, esp. when Obi-Wan screamed ‘You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!’ Ewan McGregor is so good as Obi-Wan, I’m glad he gets to reprise it soon 16 years later! Overall though, Anakin’s journey to the dark side under the wing of Emperor Palpatine could’ve been more compelling. I think what makes the last scene of Anakin becoming Darth Vader so poignant because we know just how evil this lost kid could become.¬†
  10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
    As I mentioned, I hated the fact that Abrams practically ruined Rey’s character by making her the grand-daughter of Palpatine, ugh! Plus the entire movie consists of SO much nostalgia. Now, while I enjoy seeing beloved actors from the franchise, seeing them distracts me from the actual story. Fan-service rarely make for good movies and that is the case here. I also think Abrams gave the talented Adam Driver such a disservice by making his character into nothing more than a conflicted man-child. As funny as emo Kylo Ren is, in the end he isn’t really a compelling character.
  11. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
    I honestly can’t remember much about this movie other than the cheesy dialog between the two lovebirds Anakin and Padme. I totally agree with Ted that Lucas should have hired good writers to fix his scripts for the prequels.
may the force be with you

Well, what do you think of our rankings? How would YOU rank the eleven STAR WARS movies?

FlixChatter Review ‚Äď ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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I don’t¬†call myself a Star Wars groupie and honestly I was rather lukewarm¬†about The Force Awakens. At the same time I didn’t hate the prequels trilogy (episode 1-3) though I have to admit there were tons of problems. But the more I hear about Rogue One and that amazing international cast, the more I look forward to it. Well, if only all prequels were as good as this one.

The story¬†is set before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) which as you might recall opens with Princess Leia aboard her starship with the stolen plans to restore freedom to the galaxy, as she’s being pursued by the evil Empire. The fact that George Lucas never explained just how Leia got those stolen plans lends itself to a great spinoff/prequel and in many ways it’s as intriguing a story as the origin of Darth Vader. At the center of the Rebel Alliance is a young woman named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), shown as a little girl sent to flee by her scientist father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) as he’s about to be captured by the Empire and finish the work he’s started, that is creating the Death Star.

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The rest of the film is quite action-packed, as Jyn tries to break free from the rebels in a rescue mission. I love the first introduction of her with K-2SO (voiced by the brilliant¬†Alan Tudyk), the droid is definitely a lively¬†character and he’s even more memorable than BB8 with his dry wit. The rest of the¬†rebel group is made up of an awesomely-diverse international cast: Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Riz Ahmed as¬†Bodhi Rook,¬†Donnie Yen as blind warrior Chirrut Imwe and Wen Jiang as Imwe’s¬†loyal friend¬†Baze Malbus. I don’t even mind there’s no Jedi in this movie. I gotta say Donnie Yen is my fave of the bunch, he’s got the most memorable intro with his martial arts skills, but he’s also got some funny one liners! Who knew he’d be the comic relief of the movie along with Tudyk’s K-2SO.

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Because the plot revolves around a single crucial mission to retrieve the Death Star plans, the story is pretty easy to follow. All the action punctuates the story but never overwhelms it.¬†It’s definitely¬†more of a gritty war action film¬†that offers plenty of dynamic battle sequences, both on air and on the ground. There’s less philosophical dialog nor extensive¬†dramatic scenes, but that doesn’t mean the film lacks substance. At the core of the struggle is always Jyn trying to fulfills her father’s mission‚Ķ¬†“Save the Rebellion and Save the Dream.” And what a struggle it was. The third act centers on¬†the Rogue One team infiltrating¬†Empires headquarters in Scarif,¬†and it’s a real team effort in order to get Jyn to steal the plans. As if that wasn’t tough enough, retrieving the plans is half the battle, there’s the virtually impossible task of actually transporting the¬†data to the Rebel Alliance!


Director Gareth Edwards¬†did a pretty good job directing this (much better than his last blockbuster effort Godzilla in 2014) and he stages the action pieces nicely. The scene inside the control room where the plans are kept are stunningly-shot. It was certainly a well-staged scene that¬†gives me quite an adrenaline rush, whilst K2SO provides the hilarious bits whilst fighting off the stormtroopers. I never felt dizzy or bored watching the battle sequences and there are plenty of suspense throughout. The script by¬†Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy has a good mix of action, drama and humor, with some emotional moments that never resort to melodrama. I really think the movie benefits from a strong ensemble cast with a capable female lead at the center. I’ve been a fan of Felicity Jones in her dramatic performances (Like Crazy, Breathe In,¬†The Theory of Everything), but it’s nice to see her kick some butt here whilst always keeping her character grounded. She never became some action heroine or anything, which would’ve been silly.

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As for the supporting cast, every member of the Rogue One team is solid. They¬†fight valiantly and the theme of sacrifice and hope¬†give the story¬†emotional gravitas. I feel a bit underwhelmed by¬†Ben Mendelsohn as a high ranking Imperial senator though he looks sinister enough in his caped uniform. But his meeting with the big boss is definitely a memorable scene. Star Wars fans might’ve exploded in geekgasm the moment Vader showed up‚Ķ then THAT voice came out of him, whoa! Who could top James Earl Jones‘ voice‚Ķ it was glorious! There’s also memorable Vader scene wielding his lightsaber that made even me want to get up and cheer. Yes we’re not supposed to root for the bad guy, but man!!!

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[Spoiler alert ‚Äď highlight to read] My biggest beef is the final scene with horrible CGI-ed face of Princess Leia! It’s so distracting and kind of lessens the impact of that powerful scene. Heh, the X-Men films have done a good job making Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen look half their age, so you’d think with a $200mil budget they could afford to do a better job. They could even opt for doing just a silhouette of her whilst she said the line, that’d surely make it more memorable¬†than showing a bad CGI. Peter Cushing is also back as a CGI character as¬†Grand Moff Tarkin,¬†

Despite my quibbles, it’s still a pretty darn good movie. The cinematography by Greig Fraser is quite beautiful (he’s also the DP for the gorgeous film LION), complemented by the rousing score by¬†Michael Giacchino. I love that every time Vader showed up the iconic John Williams’ theme song came on!¬†I really enjoyed this one and would definitely watch this again on IMAX. I might even follow up with episode 4, 5 and 6 now that the story suddenly feels fresh again.

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So, what do you think of ROGUE ONE? Let’s hear it!

Five for the Fifth: FEBRUARY 2015 Edition

FiveForFifth2015

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary¬†blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

I don’t know if any of you noticed, but I missed posting Five for the Fifth last month due to all the holiday and year-end recap craziness :\ But now it’s baaack!

1.¬†First off, I want to highlight one of my favorite character actors who’s as constantly¬†prolific as he is proficient: Tom Wilkinson.¬†The English-born actor turns 67 today.

TomWilkinson

He¬†appeared in three films that end up in my top 10 of the year: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Belle¬†and Selma.¬†I honestly don’t know when I first spotted Mr. Wilkinson, it might’ve been his brief appearance as Mr. Dashwood in¬†Sense and Sensibility¬†(1995) but he’s been churning out excellent performances since, always impressive even in the smallest roles. It’s interesting that he’s played a lot of prominent American historical characters, i.e.¬†Benjamin Franklin in John Adams, Joe Kennedy Sr in The Kennedys‚ÄĒ¬†both are TV miniseries ‚ÄĒ as well as¬†¬†Lyndon Johnson in Selma. If I had to pick three of my favorite Tom Wilkinson’s performances, I’d say it’s¬†Michael Clayton, The Patriot¬†and Belle.

So¬†what’s your favorite Tom Wilkinson’s role?

….

2. I just saw this on Twitter Tuesday night as I was working on this post and I had no idea there’s even a Star Wars¬†Spin-off in the works! Well, per THR, this year’s Oscar-nominated actress¬†Felicity Jones¬†is reportedly up for the lead role.

FelicityJonesStarWarsSpinOff

Apparently some actresses were reading/testing for the role last week in LA, including Orphan¬†Black‘s¬†Tatiana Maslany¬†and Rooney Mara.¬†This is a highly secretive project obviously, as nobody even knows what the heck the plot is about or which character the film will focus on. The only known info so far is Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) will be directing & Chris Weitz (About A Boy) penning the script.

Well I’m glad that the main protagonist is a woman and Jones is a solid actress. I saw her for the first time in Like Crazy¬†back at TCFF 2011 when director¬†Drake Doremus talked about her sending a tape for the audition. She was excellent in it as well as in Breathe-In, so I’m¬†sure she deserved her nomination in The Theory of Everything. Those are all dramatic parts so it’s cool that her major big break in mainstream cinema will be a sci-fi¬†movie.

What do you think about this casting news?

3.¬†I think most of you already know how I feel about Ryan Gosling, but I’m always curious whenever actors try their hands at directing. A year ago I posted about Chris Evans’ directorial aspiration but I’m still awaiting its trailer to drop. Well, just this week Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River, which was apparently booed at Cannes last May, just released a trailer and poster:

LostRiverPoster

The critics weren’t exactly kind on this film, you can read some of the reviews here.¬†Variety’s Justin Chang actually summed up my initial thought of the trailer “Had Terrence Malick and David Lynch somehow conceived an artistic love-child together, only to see it get kidnapped, strangled and repeatedly kicked in the face by Nicolas Winding Refn…”¬†Oy!

I kind of think the trailer is bizarre and cryptic, the first thing that came to my mind is it’s a tad pretentious in its artsy ambition. A good story doesn’t need overly-stylized visuals¬†to get across, and no amount of style can camouflage a weak story.¬†I’m quite¬†intrigued by the cast though, esp.¬†Saoirse Ronan and Matt Smith here, with¬†Christina Hendricks in the lead and Gosling’s own girlfriend Eva Mendes in a supporting role.

What do you think of the ‘Lost River’ Trailer? Are you¬†gonna see this one?

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4. Ok now I just came across this photo this morning and I had just to include it here. Have you heard about this comedy called Elvis & Nixon? Well, it stars Michael Shannon as the King of Rock ‘n Roll and Kevin Spacey back in the oval office again as Richard Nixon. Check out the first look here courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter:

ElvisNixonMoviePer THR, the film is currently shooting in New Orleans and recreates the infamous, intimate Dec. 21, 1970 meeting between Nixon and Presley where Presley asked to be named a special FBI operative. It’s directed by Liza Johnson (Hateship/Loveship) and the supporting cast includes Colin Hanks, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, and Tracy Letts.

I definitely want to see this just for Shannon & Spacey! It’s not lost on me that they both have played Superman villains (as Zod and Lex Luthor respectively). Shannon looks unrecognizable as Elvis though Spacey pretty much looks like his Frank Underwood persona in House of Cards. The fact that it’s billed as comedy intrigues me even more, the last movie I saw that has Nixon in it was the hilarious Dick w/ Michelle Williams & Kirsten Dunst, and with Knoxville in the cast, we can expect something a bit off the wall here.

What are your thoughts on this project?

5.¬†The first 2015 Five for the Fifth’s guest is Irene from Mysterious Bibliophile blog!

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Recently, I’ve been blogging about movies adapted from novels and short stories. I mentioned the movie Ordinary People, which I related to as a teen. “Something about the movie and book spoke to me … That’s one of the things I love most about literature and film. That quiet but powerful voice that says ‘You are not alone.’ “

So, what movie characters do you identify with or have you identified with during crucial periods in your life?


Well, that‚Äôs it for the February 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‚Äėem all! ūüėÄ