Lords and ladies rejoice! May the 4th spells the arrival of one of nerd culture’s holiest and, undoubtedly, most anticipated of holidays: Star Wars Day a.k.a. “May the fourth be with you.” And if you’re a self-respecting fan like us, it goes without saying you’ll be huddled around the warm glow of your television with kith and kin, watching all six Star Wars films back-to-back until our butts have officially fused to the couch cushions. As fun as this planned marathon may be, you have to remember that not all of these movies are created equal as some are definitely better than others. Because we simply couldn’t wait for Saturday, we had The MindHut’s in-house council of Star Wars experts rank each episode of the epic saga from best to worst.
1) Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The be all and end all of Star Wars films, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is an exemplar of what an entry in this saga, let alone sequels in general, should be (take detailed notes, J.J. Abrams!). Granted, George Lucas didn’t have the amount of creative control he would’ve liked—a reason why he holds TESB in nearly the same esteem as The Star Wars Holiday Special—but he should be proud that it’s hailed as such a masterpiece, riding the success of A New Hope whilst introducing new worlds, characters, and a shattering revelation that brought it home.
2) Episode IV: A New Hope
The beautiful thing about Episode IV: A New Hope is that, aside from being unencumbered by years of additional, complex canon, the film can be approached on it own merits. You don’t need to watch the prequels or sequels as ANH is self-contained with a clear beginning, middle, and an end. And for the devout Star Wars fan, there’s an indescribable charm seeing the derivative influences from sci-fi franchises like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, all of them having an impact on a young George Lucas.
3) Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Whether or not Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is worthy of holding a lightsaber to the previous installments is a moot point—some folks simply don’t care for Ewok antics or the Tatooine Muppet Show that was Jabba’s Palace—but you’d be in error to say that it’s a cinematic disaster. From the epic battle above the forest moon of Endor to the emotional final clash between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, there’s plenty to take one’s mind off the tribal teddy bears that make us grumble under our breath like a crazy homeless guy. And were it not for RotJ, there would d be no Admiral Ackbar.
4) Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Here’s when things get shaky where the overall quality of Star Wars films is concerned. To its credit, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith made attempts to make up for past mistakes, yet it still came up short with slight implausibility. Such as Senator Palpatine’s ascendancy to emperor. Another issue fans took with RotS was Obi-Wan Kenobi's letting Anakin Skywalker burn to a crisp on Mustafar. It was callous, though it can be perceived as a man of peace pushed to his absolute limits, allowing rage to cloud his convictions—the very same reason behind his chastising Anakin in the first place.
5) Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Episode II: Attack of the Clones avoided some of the pitfalls that made Episode I: The Phantom Menace a source of ridicule from Star Wars fans, yet falling headfirst into others. The battle between the Jedi and the Separatist droid army in the Geonosis arena was a highlight; same can be said for the Clone Troopers’ triumphant entrance. The issue here is the fact that the movie plodded along, absorbed in superfluous, ho-hum side stories that detracted from the main one at hand. Maybe we’re just nitpicking at this point, but AotC introduced some new characters that weren’t exactly memorable. Has anybody ever said how much they liked Zam Wesell?
6) Episode I: The Phantom Menace
What’s wrong with Episode I: The Phantom Menace? Only everything! The film was every bit as emotionally stirring as a real senatorial debate, with fans and critics alike panning the emphasis on intergalactic politics and skimping on the action. And lest we forget Jar Jar Binks, the obnoxious token alien that everybody knows was made solely to center an aggressive marketing campaign around? Throw this movie to the rancor!
Were we fair or harsh in our judgment? Sound off in the comments!