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Star Wars is impossible to escape. Even the most casual film fans have an opinion on what entries in the series stand out among the best. So, with that in mind, we've decided to rank the current 9 releases including a speculative look at the upcoming Solo.

10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
I in no way think this is a bad film, but it is the least vital in the series. It tells the backstory of how the rebels got the plans that would eventually lead to the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars. It suffers from the same problem that all prequels have, inevitability, we have a good idea of exactly where this film is headed from the first frame. But the bigger problem here is with the characters. Unfortunately, the most dynamic and engaging personality in Rogue One is an android voiced (brilliantly) by Alan Tudyk.

9. Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)
I have a soft spot for this mess of a film. It's overly bloated and Jar Jar doesn't help move things along, but it does have a few moments that stand out as some of the finest in Star Wars history. Arguably, the Duel of the Fates the best lightsaber battle in any of the films and Liam Neeson's turn as Qui-Gon is by far that strongest performance of any Jedi master to date.

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
A young Han Solo movie is a bad idea. I would have put this at a speculative #10 but the strong early buzz had me land this at a cautiously optimistic #8. The one consistent thing I hear about this one is that its fun. I'm all for a bit of fun in the Star Wars universe, fingers crossed it's better than I think it will be.

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rey (Daisy Ridley)  Finn (John Boyega) Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are the best characters to be introduced into the Star Wars films since the original trilogy. In fact, while the nostalgia porn aspects of the film are fun the first time around when I've revisited the movie I just want to move on from the old characters and get to the new.

6. Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002)
The second best lightsaber battle in the series is between Yoda and Count Doku and is the sole reason I ranked this one as high as it is. The love story between young Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) that acts as the emotional anchor never quite connects and is fairly distracting but doesn't pull the film completely off the tracks. With that being said the Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) subplot marks one of the first times Star Wars plays with film noir and while it might not be perfect, its a breath of fresh air in the somewhat stale (up to that point) prequels.

5. Return of the Jedi (1983)
I loved the Ewoks when I was a kid. The Ewoks were designed for me and for the millions of other children that thought Wicket (Warwick Davis) was about the coolest thing they'd ever seen. I was seven, my love for Boba Fett came much later.  The film itself puts a nice button on the original trilogy and was unfairly maligned for years by many fans, it was seen as the bastard child of the Star Wars franchise, an unforgivable mess, until the prequels.

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
The Star Wars films have been playing out like a spiral drawn by a child. The films circle back over the same territory time and time again while slowly inching out into unexplored areas. This process is frustrating for those that want to see something new and devastating for those who simply want the films to continually repeat the same themes and narrative structures. I happen to be one of those filmgoers who want to see Star Wars expand and try new things. I personally love what Johnson did with Luke (Mark Hamill). He allowed for the character to grow and gave a compelling reason for the audience to pick up with his story. Where The Force Awakens feels cynical in its use of original trilogy characters, The Last Jedi is innovative.

3. Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005)
If this were the first film in the cycle of prequels, I think they would be remembered with far more reverence than they are now. Lucas chose to explore bigger ideas and themes with these films and while some of those ideas might feel shoehorned, I can honestly say they don't play with the slightest bit of cynicism. The one advantage all the prequels have over any of the current slate of Star Wars films, sincerity. Most of the new films feel like directors exploring their love of a pre-existing product, instead of explorations of original ideas with existing characters. Perhaps, Lucas is one of the only creators disconnected enough from the source material to do something interesting and new with it.

2. Star Wars (1977)
One of the strangest and most glaring things about revisiting the original trilogy is the pacing. The original Star Wars is unquestionably of its time. A big-budget sci-fi epic made by a USC grad with art-house sensibility. What is there to say about this film that hasn't been said a million times? This is one of the first films I remember seeing in a theatre and is without question etched into my DNA.

1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
This is the most obvious ranking and with good reason. It took everything we loved about the first film and opened it up. The action, the humor, the character work, every aspect of the original film was improved upon. I have yet to grow tired of this near perfect film almost 40 years later.


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