Jay C. Brandriet  12/14/17

Like many of you, Star Wars had its hooks in me from an early age. With the release of “The Last Jedi”, the passion and the banter have been reignited. Here is my order of Star Wars movies ranked worst to first:


#8 “ATTACK OF THE CLONES” (2002)– The over emphasis on technology left this picture looking cartoon like. This became Star Wars on steroids. The theatre erupted as Yoda engaged in a lightsaber duel. Obi-Wan fighting Bobba Fett’s dad sounds like a good idea on paper. I could not take either of the scenes seriously. Padme’ is beautiful with galactic brains and skills. Her love building moments with Anakin were drawn out and boring.


#7- “THE PHANTOM MENACE” (1999)“Roger Roger”.  Really? I liked Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn. His chemistry with Obi-Wan and the young Anakin Skywalker was solid. One of the more redeeming qualities about The Phantom Menace was from a role player. Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker (Anakin’s mother) gave a genuine performance. The lightsaber battles became quicker and more intense. Darth Maul and his double-bladed weapon had a cool factor. Jar Jar Binks has become the face of the flawed prequels.


#6- “REVENGE OF THE SITH” (2005)Darth Vader has as much presence as any villain in motion picture history. Anakin makes the transition to the Dark Lord late in the film. To see Vader exuding regret over what he had done to Padme’ was fascinating to watch. Ian McDiarmid put on an acting clinic as Emperor Palpatine.


#5- “ROGUE ONE” (2016)- I liked it! It was grey and grimy. At the same time, it was full of color and subtle celebration of Star Wars history. There were gems everywhere. The cohesion between the new heroes was smooth. The blind, martial arts character added a cool twist to the force. Letting Darth Vader loose with aggression was a great idea. Avoiding the original theme music to open the movie, was a slight let down.


"The Force Awakens" was so good, it made me realize I resent the prequels.
“The Force Awakens” was so good, it made me realize I resent the prequels.


#4- “THE FORCE AWAKENS” (2015)Spoiler alert: This is a real Star Wars movie! The fans were looking for something that felt like home and Episode 7 nailed it. The Force Awakens seemed to be built around the fundamentals of the very first “Star Wars”. Worthy of a little criticism sure, but It was smart enough to pay homage to its 1977 roots.  It was the result of great care and respect for what has come before, while still building forward. The beauty was being given so many old school characters and emotions, while my interest gravitated towards the new ones. I want to know who Rey is. I want to know more about Finn and hear more of his jokes. I can’t wait to see Kylo Ren become more cozy with evil. I was invested in these new characters minutes after meeting them on the screen. All of these years later, we may have seen Chewbacca at his finest. This flick has a ton of personality. It will welcome in a new generation of fans the right way.


Bells and whistles aside, these movies are about relationships.


#3- “RETURN OF THE JEDI” (1983)After having dozens of conversations with Star Wars junkies the past two month’s I made a key discovery. Return of the Jedi is underrated! While much of the crowd pegged it “the clear worst movie of the trilogy”, I struggled mightily to separate it from my second place finisher. Critics point out the Ewoks as the main weakness of Episode six. While they may have pushed the cute in our face a bit, the Ewoks were a smart, resourceful part of the movie. They also found a way to give C-3PO the ironic duty of being a God. Of the original films, Jedi was the most visually pleasing. Jabba’s palace was an extraordinary place to visit. The space fighting moments at the end were clean and a handful of new ships were introduced. Darth Vader’s mask coming off was the payoff we were all waiting for.


#2- “STAR WARS” (A New Hope, 1977)Nothing captures the classic vibe of this tale like the first moment we see Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness). A hooded Kenobi looks over the unconscious Luke Skywalker. R2-D2 makes his presence known and Obi-Wan reveals his face to the droid. With John Williams music humming in the back ground Ben says, “Hello there. Come here my little friend, don’t be afraid”. The storytelling had basic roots with powerful results. R2-D2 and C-3PO provided us the perfect tour guide to this galaxy. We related to Luke as he dreamed into the setting suns. We feared the idea that this deep breathing, sinister figure could choke a man from across the room. The cocky smuggler and the bossy Princess added perfectly to the group. This show was about mystical ideas, camaraderie, and an adventure that would change the movie game forever.


“The Empire Strikes Back” creators feared this puppet could make or break the film. It’s fair to say things worked out.



#1- “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” (1980)– If Star Wars was the set up and Jedi was the closer, Empire was the bridge. This movie had the most meat on the bone. It was the most productive film for the majority of the original characters (including newcomers Yoda and Lando Calrissian). It was about our hero’s lives in crisis. They were in pain rather than having a glamorous victory. Episode five was a space opera. It was full of content, romance, and witty banter in close quarters. We get to see the Millennium Falcon on full display. We go deep in the mind of the Jedi Master. Han Solo ends up frozen and Luke loses a hand. Darth Vader rocks us with “I am your father”.  If the original trilogy was one long movie, The Empire Strikes Back would be its most vital part.


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