What’s Your Favorite Star Wars Film?
Whenever anyone asks me, “Hey, what is your favorite Star Wars movie?” I don’t answer. I’ll often say something really witty like, “That’s like asking which of my kids is my favorite?” But it is pretty much the truth. I imbibe a lot of Star Wars, but these days I’m more likely to be found listening to an audiobook, inhaling a comic book, re-watching Rebels, or streaming The Mandalorian.
There’s a lot of Star Wars out there, and the (mostly) cohesive canon makes it a joy to consume. That said, the internet is rife with rankings. And, while many are posted with an agenda, I really enjoyed Scott Mendelson’s list on Forbes.com. I’ve read him a long time, he says what he thinks because that’s his job. And he’s a helluva writer.
And, I happen to disagree with pretty much every number on his ranking (hey, I know which of my kids stinks at math and/or gym). But that’s exactly why I love this list.
Forbes’ Ranking of Star Wars Films
However, I am only going to give you guys three of Scott’s choices (and I am not going to tell you where The Rise of Skywalker lands). That way you’ll go read him. Make sure to let him know I sent you.
So here goes:
9.) Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Budget – $115 million
Domestic Box Office: $311 million
Worldwide Box Office: $649 million
George Lucas may have brushed off talk of Phantom Menace being a disappointment, but Episode Two is clearly a reaction. As such, we have arbitrary action sequences, Padme sounding, looking and dressing more conventionally attractive and a comparative lack of controversial supporting character Jar Jar Binks. The core romance between Anakin Skywalker and Senator Amidala makes sense (it’s two sheltered young adults trying to approximate courtship) but still comes off as awkward and unromantic. Obi-Wan’s film noir side-plot is hampered by a stiffness in the storytelling. Coming half-a-year after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring, Attack of the Clones lacks those films’ emotional oomph, but the final 40 minutes has a “get off my lawn” showmanship that redeems it as top-tier blockbuster spectacle.
7.) Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Budget: $115 million
Domestic Box Office: $474.5 million
Worldwide Box Office: $1.027 billion
Unquestionably successful both commercially (it was the second-biggest global grosser behind Titanic by the end of its initial theatrical run) and culturally (it introduced an entire generation to their own Star Wars story), this first Star Wars prequel feels the most like an old-school Star Wars movie. It’s shot on film, and it has leisurely pacing that feels at peace with a 1970’s flick. Its political squabbling (concerning a virtuous leader tarred by baseless accusations of scandal so that a diabolical party could take power) was frighteningly prescient. The climactic lightsaber battle still rocks. The dialogue is still relatively painless compared to Attack of the Clones. Jar Jar Binks mostly fades into the background after his first appearance. Viewed outside of its place in pop culture, it’s a three-star sci-fi fantasy adventure.
2.) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Budget: $25 million
Domestic Box Office: $290 million
Worldwide Box Office: $548 million
Irvin Kershner’s terrific Star Wars follow-up set the template for the blockbuster sequel, not just going darker and grittier but going smaller, more intimate and more character-driven while interrogating the pure morality and wish-fulfillment fantasy of its predecessor. Luke isn’t ready to be a Jedi yet, Han isn’t quite the hero he needs to be, and the destruction of the Death Star was but a minor inconvenience to the Empire. The film subversively puts its most significant action sequence right at the start, while climaxing with a scaled-down but character-driven action finale that features an iconic Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader lightsaber duel that would soar even without the franchise-defining plot twist. The movie is rich in atmosphere, grounded in mournful contemplation and reveling in balancing sci-fi spectacle with nuanced character drama.
So what do you think of the above? Did you read the full article? What did you think? What’s your ranking? Let us know in the comments.