What I Think of the New Star Wars!

I'm going to share with you my thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker.  But first, let me tell you where I come from as a Star Wars fan.

I love a good story.  That's why I love Star Wars.  Its not that Lucas in these movies wrote intelligent plots and clever dialogue.  He created a history, a lineage and family tree, and a world.  This is what I love about the story of Star Wars. 

As a self-proclaimed film buff and dabbler of movie-making, I understand the art of good film-making.  I can appreciate use of colors, sound, lighting, depth, character development, and plot.  I also understand the concept of imagination and story.  If I'm being honest, most of the time I just want to be entertained.

I share all of that to say its hard for me to take film critics seriously.  I think we all look for unique things in movies and stories that we connect with, things that propel us to another place.  I don't view movies through the same lens as most critics.  I try not to be pretentious or cater my tastes to only a select form of film.  

Also as a huge Star Wars fan that grew up watching the originals, I don't box myself into a formula.  I know the movies aren't perfect, but I can honestly say that I have enjoyed most everything Star Wars related that's been released.  I went with my kids to see Episode IX last night, and by seeing the looks on their faces, I was reminded of why I enjoy this franchise so much.  It takes you somewhere special!  Rotten Tomatoes scores aside, I honestly think haters of these films truly don't get it.  I hesitate saying it, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  However, if you go back to 1977 and understand contextually what Star Wars was and did for the movie industry, you have to hold an appreciation and understanding of why the franchise (even today) still chooses to do certain things in this fictional universe.  

In honor of this, I've decided to release my own ranking and scoring of the Star Wars live action movies.  Rotten Tomatoes hasn't been kind to Episode IX thus far.  As you'll see, I feel otherwise.  I think for myself. (sorry, had to say it)

I gave each movie a score of 1-100.  I used categories like story/plot, acting, dialogue, special effects, score, cinematography, action sequences, intangibles, direction, and rewatchability to score the films.  Below are my thoughts if you'd like to see, with a very brief summary of my thoughts toward each movie.  Let the fun and debate begin!

1. Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back  (Score 98)

Empire has always been my favorite since childhood.  I know many others feel the same way, but it captures the heart of what makes this franchise a great story and world.  The special effects for its time were outstanding!  Even though it can't compare visually to films of today, it is still a captivating re-watch for me.

2. Episode VI, The Return of the Jedi (Score 90)

This film was and is still polarizing for many Star Wars fans.  Sound familiar to some of today's films?  The cast is just too good, and it has the intangible of sentimentality for me.  As a kid, these were my heroes!  I had an Ewok village set!  It also wraps up the first trilogy very nicely with a heartwarming father/son moment for Vader and Luke.  

3. Episode VII, The Force Awakens (Score 89)

Yep, I like this movie a lot! I know, I know that everyone thinks it's a rehash of A New Hope. I strongly disagree. Does it utilize a bulk of the "Star Wars formula"? Sure. It was made almost 40 years after the original to help usher a whole new generation into Star Wars lore. It would be idiotic for it not to borrow strengths from the original franchise. I think Abrams take on Star Wars was fresh and fun. 

4 (TIE).  Rogue One & Solo (Score 83)

These two movies were a tie for me.  While I liked the cast and story of Rogue One, I have found it hard to rewatch.  I honestly think it gets a little too vaulted as a top-tier Star Wars flick because of the Vader scene at the end.  Don't get me wrong!  That scene is epic.  It is the main reason I would sit and watch Rogue One again.  Vader is my favorite character of the whole franchise.  

Solo, on the other hand, gets better every time I watch it.  With a nearly impossible task of being Harrison Ford, Alden Ehrenreich holds his own.  The story is one of the more clever of the Star Wars films and Ron Howard is incredible in the director's chair.  Plus, you gotta love Woody Harrelson playing the exact same character he plays in every movie.

5 (TIE).  Episode IV, A New Hope & Episode VIII, The Last Jedi (Score 80)

I'm sure I'll offend some people with this ranking.  To tell you the truth, after watching Episode IX, I have a feeling my rating of VIII will only increase now.  A New Hope is what got this all started.  I get that!  It's a classic.  I love the characters, but it is limited because of when it was made.  I cannot rewatch IV without cringing at points.  However, I can appreciate what it set up and how it adds to the overall lore and history of the Star Wars universe.  The Last Jedi was simply different for the sake of being different.  In a culture where being counter to popular opinion and obscure to the "man" (i.e. Disney) is what many choose to be pioneers of new trend, this doesn't bode well with many Star Wars universe fanboys.  It only helps with critics.  Thus, this is why VIII is so polarizing and divisive.  IX makes a near 180 with this approach.  Thus, this is why it will also be polarizing.  Can't we just all agree that all these movies are entertaining?

6.  Episode III, Revenge of the Sith (Score 74)

I really wanted to like this one more.  Ewan McGregor is a great Obi-wan.  It was awesome to see Anakin become Vader.  However, it felt too rushed.  Also, the mix of some bad acting and dreadful dialogue ruined a few portions of the movie for me.  With that said, I am always a sucker for watching this one again.  Hearing Vader breathe through the mask for the first time is chilling!

7. Episode I, The Phantom Menace (Score 73)

I went and saw this movie on opening day.  The anticipation was enormous!  It had been nearly two decades since a new Star Wars movie hit the big screen.  With all the advances in special effects and CGI, one could only imagine what Lucas would cook up.  I remember feeling a little guilty that I did not get as excited as the other movie goers.  People were clapping and giving it a standing ovation at the conclusion.  I was still dumbfounded by Jar Jar Binks and the overkill CGI.  This did not look like Star Wars to me!  Now, the Darth Maul fight scene, awesome score, and insight into young Anakin's story still made this entertaining.  However, it started the prequels off on a foot that has never stepped close to the quality and production of all the other Star Wars movies.

  8. Episode II, Attack of the Clones (Score 66)

This is my lowest rated Star Wars movie.  However, it is still Star Wars!  I can watch and get excited about all the Jedis coming to rescue Anakin, Padame, and Obi-wan.  I can appreciate the history behind the Clone Army and the set-up for generations to come.  But, it does fall flat in many places.  I think the turn of Anakin should have been stronger in this movie, spanning more between II & III.  A little more development would have gone a long way.


Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker (Score 95)

That's right.  As of today, I am ranking it second, behind Empire of course.  The movie isn't perfect.  J.J. Abrams is definitely hyper and the movie shows.  However, I like that about Abrams' work.  I think the quick pacing works! Again, Star Wars is not meant to have extremely logical and sophisticated plot.  It is not meant to be an artsy social commentary.  Its a fictional universe, and IX has everything we love about this universe and more.  I'm sure the rating will go down a bit after the newness wears off.  I predict it will still be in my top 4.  The lightsaber fights and space battles are epic.  The worlds are incredible!  The twists aren't overly shocking, but they are satisfying if you don't go into it with specific demands or expectations.  I respect the choices and I am glad we got a lot of answers.  There are still questions, but I'm sure we'll figure them out.  It's no different than when the original trilogy left us with questions.  Take IX for what it is.  Appreciate how Abrams tied all the movies together without retconning the divisive Episode VIII.  This one is fun!  It does have a load of fan service, but as my kids smiled from ear to ear, it reminded me of why I loved the magic of Star Wars as a young child watching Return of the Jedi in the theaters.


The Mandalorian??

(Score 84)

I don't know if I can rank this series the same as the films.  However, it is mighty good!  It is limited by budget compared to the newer films, and that will show from time to time with the CGI, make-up, and effects.  But, it does feel like old school Star Wars.  It is a space-western at its finest.  And Baby Yoda is absolutely squeezable.  Can't wait to see more episodes!!!