STAR WARS. All Live Action Movies, Ranked

We rank all the live action movies from Star Wars universe.

Lukasz Budnik

21 August 2023

Tomorrow marks the premiere of the Ahsoka series. On this occasion, we’re ranking all the previous movies from the Star Wars universe.

I’ve spent countless hours engaged with Star Wars in various forms. I first encountered Lucas’s world in my early childhood and ever since, I eagerly return to the distant galaxy to experience the joy of an exceptional adventure. Here’s my ranking of all live action movies from Star Wars. Do you agree with it? Let me know.

11. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (2019)

star wars rise of skywalker

Lacking creativity, lacking a sense of being the conclusion of the entire Saga. A lazy script, absurd screenplay solutions (the dagger!), cringe-worthy introduction of the Emperor’s return plotline. Entirely unsatisfying, a finale put together by the numbers that’s hard to consider as a part of Star Wars. A pity for the actors.

10. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

star wars attack of the clones

This installment of the saga is my second least favorite, mainly due to the excessive boredom and AWFUL dialogues in the incredibly weak romance subplot. When Anakin tells Padmé how he’s suffocating, trembling, and suffering, as a viewer, I feel suffocated, trembling, and suffering. It seems almost abstract to me that such a wooden romance was illustrated with a beautiful musical motif – it’s scary to think how poorly this aspect would have fared without John Williams. On the other hand, I enjoy the Obi-Wan subplot, carried by McGregor’s charisma, and still, I can’t think of Attack of the Clones entirely negatively.

9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

star wars last jedi

On one hand, I appreciate Rian Johnson’s courage, as he played with the audience’s expectations and heavily followed his vision. On the other hand, his vision doesn’t quite convince me. Of all the elements in The Last Jedi, Luke’s subplot – criticized by many – is the most interesting to me. There’s something fascinating about seeing such a transformed version of the iconic character, especially considering the different preconceptions we had. No, I don’t mind Luke milking the creature. Kylo Ren remains an interesting character, largely thanks to Adam Driver’s superb acting. However, I find the rest of the film tiresome, especially the Finn subplot – perhaps shortening the runtime a bit would have made it more enjoyable for me. The exceptional visual aspect is a positive.

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

I had no faith in this film (and certainly the massive production problems played a role), yet it turned out to be a nice adventure, which, after the disappointment of The Last Jedi, restored my affection for the series. Alden Ehrenreich proved to be an excellent casting choice – he managed to make me not think about Harrison Ford’s Solo during the screening, focusing solely on the new interpretation of the character. Donald Glover as Lando is also great, though it was clear from the start that it would be a bullseye. A pleasant entertainment.

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Perfect trailers made it hard to sit still while waiting for the seventh episode. After the cinema screening, I was very satisfied, letting myself be somewhat charmed by the return of the beloved series to the theaters. With time and upon rewatching, I’m not as enthusiastic anymore, although it’s difficult to deny The Force Awakens at least a few successful elements. Kylo Ren’s character is fantastic, the death scene of a certain character and the brilliant finale in the snow-covered forest are all visually stunning. However, I regret that Disney and Lucasfilm didn’t focus on what we ultimately only hear about, namely Luke training new Jedi.

6. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

star wars phantom menace

I can’t help but like this film – it stylistically resembles the original trilogy, features the great character Qui-Gon Jinn portrayed by charismatic Neeson, a very good antagonist in the form of Darth Maul, and splendid music. It disappoints in terms of the script, as Filip pointed out, but it effortlessly draws me into the presented world and is genuinely likable. The podrace on Tatooine and the final fight with Maul are among the best moments of the entire saga (for balance, nearly all the Jar Jar jokes are among the worst, well…).

5. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

star wars return of the jedi

Narratively, this is the weakest entry in the original trilogy (the first act on Tatooine essentially serves the purpose of bringing Han Solo back to the other characters – this could have been shown more concisely). However, it still provides plenty of enjoyment and emotion, primarily thanks to Luke and Darth Vader. The scenes in the Emperor’s throne room are incredibly atmospheric, and Vader’s internal conflict is resolved excellently. The scene where enraged Luke attacks his father, accompanied by Williams’s dramatic music, stands out as one of the best moments in the entire series! I adore the final scene, although I admit that it gained greater pomp only starting from the 1997 special edition.

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

rogue one star wars

My favorite Star Wars installment from Disney. I am full of admiration for Gareth Edwards because he managed, in just two hours, to make me like all the protagonists introduced in this film and to closely follow their fates. From a technical standpoint, Rogue One stands at the highest level and offers an intriguing, more grounded view of the presented world. The third act of the film is an emotional bomb, and the scenes with Vader – especially the last one, where I nearly stood up from my cinema seat to applaud – are a true masterpiece.

3. Star Wars (A New Hope) (1977)

star wars a new hope

I first encountered Star Wars when I was just a few years old, watching Lucas’s film on a VHS cassette. I’ve repeatedly enjoyed the adventures of Luke Skywalker. Even today, I delight in the masterfully constructed, straightforward (but not simplistic!) plot, magnificent characters, and incredible music. I imagine the immense impact this film had in the ’70s – even today, the prologue with the Imperial Destroyer appearing at the top of the screen still leaves me in awe. The third act maintains tension regardless of how many times we watch it. A splendid adventure!

2. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

star wars revenge of the sith

Definitely my favorite part of the prequel trilogy and one of the favorites in the entire saga. Emotion plays a significant role – this installment is probably the most emotionally charged in the series, with several scenes being true gems. After all these years, Anakin’s relatively abrupt transformation still bothers me (even if not very well built up in this and the previous films), and there are some weak dialogues – though they are far from the nightmare of Attack of the Clones. However, I find it hard not to appreciate Lucas’s efforts to build a bridge between the new and old trilogies. Revenge of the Sith is, in my opinion, John Williams’s true opus magnum concerning Star Wars soundtracks. It’s a compilation of almost all the important themes from the series, and it performs brilliantly both in the film and on the record.

1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

star wars empire strikes back

I believe this is the best installment of the entire series. It owes much of its excellence to the substantial screen time given to the character of Darth Vader, who is an ideal antagonist – terrifying, charismatic, and fascinating. The viewing experience flies by, and the dark atmosphere is not at all contrived. One can genuinely feel the threat faced by the main characters and the stakes of the battle. This extraordinary film is a remarkable achievement in cinema.

Łukasz Budnik

Lukasz Budnik

He loves both silent cinema and contemporary blockbusters based on comic books. He looks forward to watching movie with his growing son.

See other posts from this author >>>