Ranking The STAR WARS Movies: Seven To Four (The Good) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Ranking The STAR WARS Movies: Seven To Four (The Good)

The ability to rank Star Wars movies does not make you intelligent.

This is the third of four articles ranking the eleven Star Wars cinematic offerings to date. I split the articles into four because, for me, there are four types of Star Wars films; the great (I'll go out of my way to watch again and again gleefully), the good (I'll happily watch and enjoy if on or, of course, part of a Star Wars marathon), the pointless (because they just are pointless), and the bad (I'd really rather not waste my time on these ever again).

So far, in our rankings we have...
11. The Clone Wars
10. The Last Jedi
9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
8. Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

Today we reach a pivotal moment in the countdown as things take a turn for the better. It's the biggest category in this ranking, featuring four Star Wars films, and it's all good from here on out. Well, mainly good that is...

7. Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
Many corners of the interweb will place this film last in any ranking of live action Star Wars movies. It's certainly not the best Star Wars film, not even the best of the Prequels. There are aspects of the film I could do without, the whole dreadfully scripted love story for one, and I'm not the biggest fan of the bouncing Yoda scene, but all round its assets outweigh its weaknesses.

From the dizzying chase through Coruscant on floating cars, to maneuvering through a dangerous asteroid field near a planet, to the battle royale style scene on Geonosis, there are some great action sequences. And although there are critics of the very-CGI'ness of every single backdrop, I think the designs are fantastic. Every location in the movie, from the metropolis skyscrapers of Coruscant to the water planet of Kamino where prototypes of Stormtroopers are being constructed literally burst with imagination and eye candy.

I also particularly love Ewan McGregor's performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi. In Episode I he was a mere padawan, pretty much sidelined by Liam Neeson's Qui-Gon Jinn, until that explosive final fight at least, but setting the first two Prequel films a decade apart allowed him to naturally mature the character and appear incredibly worldly wise. It does seem that even those who don't like this film agree that he comes out of it very well.

Yes, it was plagued with shooting problems, scripts not being ready and the cast never really knowing what was going on. Yes, it was largely put together in post-production, but it's a lot of fun and, for me at least, flies past. Flawless or not, it's a good Star Wars movie and deserves it's place in this category.

I'm going to throw a little curve-ball into the rankings now as I struggle to pick one over the other two from the next three Star Wars films. The position could vary from day to day, dependent on which one I've most recently watched and enjoyed. So I'm placing them all in joint fourth position, because I can do that, and I'm starting with a film that really deserved a much bigger audience...

=4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Like all four films in this 'good' category, there are certainly elements of Solo I could've done without but, my god, what a pleasant, fun surprise it turned out to be.

Like many, my initial reaction to the announcement of this was incredibly negative. Not least because it felt sacrilegious to have anyone else play Han Solo who was not Harrison Ford, and if someone really did have to play the part Alden Ehrenreich didn't look to be the right choice. Also, surely it'll be pointless? We have a Han Solo origin film, it's called Star Wars (or A New Hope, if you'd rather). I'd never wondered what the character had done prior or how he'd hooked up with Chewie.

There were so many reported problems during production. Directors fired. Ron Howard now re-shooting pretty much the entire film. Then The Last Jedi was released and really put a dampener on the whole Star Wars momentum train which had been a full steam since Disney acquired LucasFilm. We were all burnt out and suffering from Star Wars apathy.

So, Solo was released and it was the first time in my adult life that I did not bother to go see a Star Wars film on opening day. I'd done that for every live action feature since The Phantom Menace but not only did I not see this on opening day but I didn't even pre-book tickets for opening weekend. I tend to avoid any spoiler review until I've seen a film but the lackluster comments around the web about Solo just left me assuming that I'd give this one a pass and wait for it on DVD.

Then, four weeks after release, on the very last day it would be playing at my local Vue cinema (yes, it only lasted four weeks on release) a friend of mine who worked there offered me a ticket as they were letting staff (and a guest) in for free as no-one was watching it. Well, it's free so why not. And he gets free popcorn, so there's always that to enjoy.

There I am, in the smallest screen of the cinema, slightly larger than an average lounge, with about a dozen other people, none of whom had actually paid to see it. Not holding out that much hope but munching on free popcorn anway.

Ohmygod It was so much fun. Within minutes I had forgotten this was not Harrison Ford, not because of the likeness (there really isn't one) or the swagger (which isn't as prominent) but because it just didn't matter. Solo is a fun ride and evoked the feelings I associate with, and always had when watching a Star Wars film, the feelings that were first there from when I was 7, seeing A New Hope for the first time, feelings that just weren't there during The Last Jedi.

Although there a huge Prequel connections, for me Solo evokes Classic Star Wars far more than Rogue One ever did. It's a solid adventure movie, along the lines of an intergalactic Indiana Jones film. It's fun (there's that adjective again, and I'll use it once more), with intense action, witty dialogues, great humor and decent acting.

I really do feel bad for everyone involved that it has such a bad rep. I honestly think the majority of the negativity surrounding Solo is because a lot of people felt abused by the continuous stream of movies from their beloved franchise. It seems ironic, I know, but having nothing for so long and suddenly four films in three years, two within six months was just overkill. Coupled with the horrible, sour taste The Last Jedi left in many's mouths, Solo didn't get the crack of the whip it deserved. I'll big it up now to everyone I know, so if you're in the "haven't watched" category, please do so.

It's fun!

=4. Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
Here you go, the first of the Original Trilogy to feature on the countdown and a film which, although I enjoy immensely, is let down by one or two aspects.

One - the Ewoks! I can not give a more astute reasoning behind my dislike of the Ewoks than the one presented by Barney Stinson (as played by Neil Patrick Harris) in the U.S. sitcom How I Met Your Mother. In an episode entitled Field Trip, he gave a PowerPoint presentation which included The Ewok Line...

The Ewok Line correlates the birth year of a person and the subsequent appreciation of Ewoks. Those born on or before May 25, 1973 have a low appreciation of the film's creatures, while those born after this date have an affinity for them. This is because those who saw the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, which was released theatrically on May 25, 1983, who were 10 or under still loved their teddy bears, giving them an increased appreciation for the Ewoks. It's quite genius really. I was 12, going on 13, so naturally "Boo, Ewoks!" for me.

Two - It becomes a re-hash of A New Hope very quickly. Now, this sorta worked for The Force Awakens but Return of the Jedi was just too soon. Another Death Star? Really? Because that worked out so well for you last time, right?

Anyway, minor grips aside, and they are minor, Return of the Jedi has my favourite opening sequence in any of the Star Wars films. Han's rescue from Jabba's palace is just downright brilliant. The speeder chase through the woods blew my mind upon first viewing, and still brings a massive smile to my face now (dodgy CGI or not), and then there's the whole throne room scene and final lightsaber battle which is just epic.

It's impossible to be a fan of Star Wars and not think Return of the Jedi is a good film. Even with those dreadful Ewoks.

=4. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am not, never have been and never will be a Prequel hater.

These articles were never meant as reviews, after all, who needs another Star Wars film review? More so they were meant to justify my personal positioning of the movie placings. So with that in mind let's go back to Spring 1999.

The Phantom Menace, the first new Star Wars film since 1983 is due, and I could not be more excited. The trailer, oh the trailer, the magnificent glorious trailer which took about an hour to download in Quicktime format but was so very worth it as for the last six months I had been able to dissect every single frame in the comfort of my own home. Had there ever been a film I had looked forward to more? I really don't think there had been. But, and it's a big BUT, I really would have to wait as although the film was due out in America on May 19th, we in the U.K. had to wait until July 15th to see it. TWO WHOLE MONTHS! WTF???

Now here's the thing. The rise in DVD and digital video was revolutionising the pirate film business. No more bulky VHS tapes that only worked in certain territories and on certain types of televisions, oh no, now you could digitally burn a film to a disc. For cheaps! So, towards the end of May 1999 my best friend of the time came back from his oversees holiday with a two disc video CD version of The Phantom Menace for me. FOR ME!

But, and it's an even bigger BUT, I really didn't want it. Sure, the initial temptation was almost overwhelming but he'd seen it already and although I swore him to secrecy he did tell me that it was clearly recorded on a camera in a cinema so the quality wasn't the best. I just couldn't bring myself to spoil this brand new, shiny Star Wars film for some cheap thrills ahead of time.

So I waited. I even gave the video disc to another friend who thought I was insane waiting. Best. Film. Ever. He said. But still I waited. And on July 15th 1999 I went along with my opening day tickets to the first showing. As that fanfare played I got shudders, then the overture began and I sat there agasp for two wonderful hours and sixteen magnificent minutes. It was new Star Wars. A day I never thought I'd see. But the day came and I was so glad I waited.

The thing about The Phantom Menace is all of the negativity surrounding it doesn't matter to me one iota. Every single time I watch it I'm transported back to that Odeon cinema and the feelings come rushing back. Yes Jar Jar can be a little annoying (not as much as people make out though, he doesn't really bother me on the whole). Yes Jake "are you an angel?" Lloyd is as wooden as tree. Yes the pod racing scene, although spectacular, does drag on a bit too long, but just like Attack of the Clones, its assets outweigh its weaknesses, and of all the Prequel films it's the one that evokes the best feelings for me, so it has to be in the strongest position of the three.

Next time, it's the great Star Wars films.

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