The Star Wars franchise has captivated audiences for over four decades. With ten feature films, numerous TV shows, and an extensive universe of books and comics, there is no shortage of content to consume.
However, the question remains: which Star Wars movie is objectively the best? Here, we’ll take a closer look at each film and determine which one deserves the top spot.
A New Hope
Released in 1977, A New Hope was the first Star Wars film ever made. It introduced us to iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. The film’s groundbreaking special effects and epic storyline captured the hearts of audiences worldwide.
- Introduces us to beloved characters
- Revolutionary special effects
- Epic storyline
- The pacing can be slow at times
- The dialogue can be cheesy in some places
- Limited character development outside of the main trio
The Empire Strikes Back
Considered by many to be the best Star Wars film ever made, The Empire Strikes Back takes everything great about A New Hope and makes it even better. With stunning visuals, a darker tone, and a shocking plot twist that has become iconic in pop culture history, this film set the standard for all Star Wars movies that followed.
- The best character development in any Star Wars movie
- Incredible action sequences and special effects
- A darker tone that adds depth to the story
- Somewhat slow pacing in parts of the movie
- The romance between Han and Leia can feel forced at times
- The ending leaves many unresolved questions for the next film
Return of the Jedi
The third film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi brings us back to a more lighthearted tone after the darker Empire Strikes Back. With a thrilling final battle and resolution to the story’s central conflict, this movie provides a satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy.
- A thrilling final battle that showcases all of our favorite characters
- A satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy
- Some of Star Wars’ most iconic moments and quotes
- The Ewoks can be divisive among fans and feel like an unnecessary addition to the story
- The pacing can feel uneven at times, with some scenes feeling rushed while others drag on too long
- The Jabba’s Palace sequence can be uncomfortable to watch due to its portrayal of certain characters and species
The Phantom Menace
The first film in the prequel trilogy, The Phantom Menace takes us back in time to explore the origins of Darth Vader. While it introduces some interesting new characters and concepts into the Star Wars universe, it is often criticized for its poor pacing and overuse of CGI.
- Introduces us to new characters like Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul
- The podrace sequence is one of Star Wars’ most exciting action scenes ever filmed
- We get to see more of what life was like in the galaxy before the rise of the Empire
- Poor pacing that makes some scenes feel rushed while others drag on too long
- Overuse of CGI that hasn’t aged well over time
- Some characters, like Jar-Jar Binks, are widely disliked by fans
Attack of the Clones
The second film in the prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones explores the early days of the Clone Wars and sets up the events that would lead to Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side. While it has some exciting action scenes and beautiful visuals, it is often criticized for its clunky dialogue and wooden performances.
- The battle scenes are some of Star Wars’ most epic and thrilling
- We get to see more of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s character development as he investigates a conspiracy within the Republic
- The romance between Anakin and Padme is sweet and adds a new dimension to their characters
- The dialogue can be clunky and awkward at times, making certain scenes feel stilted or forced
- The pacing can feel uneven, with some scenes dragging on too long while others feel rushed or underdeveloped
- Anakin’s character development feels rushed and unearned, making his eventual turn to the dark side feel less impactful than it should be
Revenge of the Sith
The final film in the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith takes us deep into Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace as he becomes Darth Vader. With stunning visuals, intense action sequences, and heartbreaking character moments, this film is often cited as one of the best Star Wars movies ever made.
- An intense and emotional storyline that explores Anakin’s descent into darkness
- The best lightsaber battles in any Star Wars movie
- Some of the franchise’s most iconic moments and quotes
- The pacing can feel rushed at times, with some scenes feeling underdeveloped or glossed over
- Padme’s storyline feels underdeveloped and her character is given very little to do throughout the film
- The portrayal of certain characters and species can be uncomfortable to watch at times
The Force Awakens
The first film in the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens picks up thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi and introduces us to a new generation of heroes, villains, and allies. With stunning visuals, exciting action sequences, and a strong emotional core, this film set the stage for a new era of Star Wars storytelling.
- A fresh take on the Star Wars universe with new characters and concepts to explore
- A strong emotional core that makes us care about these new characters from the start
- An exciting storyline that sets up many mysteries to be explored in future films
- The plot can feel derivative of A New Hope at times, making it feel less original than it could have been
- Somewhat limited character development for some of the new characters introduced in this film
- The humor can feel forced or out of place at times, detracting from the overall tone of the story
The Last Jedi
The second film in the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi takes everything we thought we knew about Star Wars and turns it on its head. With bold storytelling choices, stunning visuals, and some of the franchise’s most emotional moments, this film is often cited as one of the best Star Wars movies ever made.
- A bold and daring storyline that challenges our expectations of what a Star Wars movie can be
- Some of the franchise’s most emotional and impactful moments
- The best character development in any Star Wars movie, with each character undergoing significant growth and change throughout the story
- The humor can feel out of place at times, detracting from the overall tone of the story
- The storyline can feel disjointed or confusing to some viewers, with certain plot threads feeling underdeveloped or unresolved by the end of the film
- Somewhat limited action sequences compared to other Star Wars movies
After careful consideration, it’s clear that The Empire Strikes Back is objectively the best Star Wars movie ever made. With incredible character development, stunning visuals and action sequences, and a darker tone that adds depth to the story, this film set the standard for all Star Wars movies that followed.
However, every film in this franchise has something unique and special to offer. Whether you prefer the classic hero’s journey of A New Hope or the daring storytelling choices of The Last Jedi, there’s no denying that Star Wars has something for everyone.