Worst to Best week concludes today with my favorite…Star Wars!  Perhaps my favorite franchise of all time.  Of course I’m sure there are many other geeks who feel the same exact way.

Star Wars is a beloved franchise but every film in this saga is not equal.  There are good films and there are bad films – but as it is Star Wars I pretty much love them all.  Pretty much.  So which is the worst?  The best?  Let’s find out…

#9 – Attack of the Clones

By far the worst of the worst when it comes to Star Wars films, Attack of the Clones is an overly-CGI mess with one of the most forced “love” stories in cinema history.  There are those who attack Hayden Christensen here and call him an awful actor but that simply isn’t the case.  Why?  Because if you watch Hayden in films like Life is a House or Shattered Glass you will see him capable of amazing performances.

So what happened here?  Really?

George Lucas simply didn’t write a good story.  The script was written by Lucas and Jonathan Hales but I can’t imagine it was an easy task for Hales trying to go along with this nonsense.  The script is almost funny.  When Queen Amidala’s ship is attacked she decides to hide by going back to her home planet of Naboo, protected by Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker.  There the two walk around in public, looking longingly out to sea, and playfully run around fields together.  SOMEONE IS OUT TO KILL YOU.  So let’s hide on the planet YOU ARE FROM and go RUN AROUND A FIELD!??!?!?

This awful love story is intermixed with a story about Obi Wan Kenobi trying to find out who a mystery bounty hunter is.  Most of his parts in the film are excellent and, as he did with all three films, Ewan McGregor brings his all while talking to pretend monsters against a green screen.  If this film was just Obi Wan it would have been a much better film.

When Obi Wan is captured, Anakin and Amidala go to rescue him.  The rest of the film turns into a video game with a factory scene that is just ludicrous as the two try to not get killed and then made worse when they go to fight CGI monsters in an arena.  Luckily a ton of Jedi show up and we get to see the Jedi at their best….deflecting 63,000 laser blasts shot by boring CGI robots.

Then CGI troops show up to battle the CGI robots.

This is the one where Yoda finally fights someone and the fight is funny, yet decent.  After the awful battle you witness it finally adds something interesting to the third act.

Lucas borrows many visual cues from The Empire Strikes Back here – a film Lucas did not write nor direct.  There’s many of them.  I’m sure someone can make a drinking game out of spotting them.

I love Star Wars films and love watching them.  I’ve seen this movie many times – but this is certainly the one I love the least.

#8 – The Clone Wars

This is not about the Clone Wars TV show.  This list does not include that show, the Rebels show, Droids show, Ewoks show, or the Ewok movies.  Certainly not the Holiday Special.  This list includes theatrical releases and The Clone Wars TV show actually launched with this Clone Wars film in theaters.

This film was a massive box office failure for the franchise.  It earned 35 million in the U.S. and 33 million internationally.  Now as the production budget on this was quite low (it is just a few of the television shows weaved together to make a film) you can consider it a hit.  But when you are talking a part of the Star Wars franchise it was a bomb.

The story itself is pretty lousy but does introduce some great characters.  Anakin is assigned his own Padawan learner (the amazing Ahsoka Tano) and the two are dispatched to find Jabba the Hutt’s kidnapped son.  Not a joke.  This is the mission two Jedi were dispatched on.  They run into a bunch of problems which includes fighting Count Dooku’s kickass apprentice Ventress.  Boring things happen.  No one cares.  The kid gets rescued.  The Jedi certainly “save the day.”

At first glance the animation just looked really weird.  It took some time while watching the Clone Wars TV series for me to get used to it.  But watching it for the first time during this film really put me off.

Again it isn’t ALL bad.  It did introduce Ahsoka and Ventress.  They both proved to be valuable characters to this amazing franchise.

All in all just a bad film.  I’m sure if you are doing a Star Wars marathon you will leave this one out.  BUT still better than Attack of the Clones.

#7 – The Phantom Menace

I think most Star Wars fans would place this at the bottom of their list, claiming it to be the worst of the worst.  I actually find many parts of this film enjoyable.  Again the plot is pure garbage and literally makes zero sense – but you are supposed to just turn off your brain and enjoy it, I guess.

That’s hard to do when you introduce a character like Jar Jar Binks.  He is the most reviled character in Star Wars history and I can agree with that assessment.  Lucas created the character strictly for the kids and most of what Jar Jar does can be very lowest common denominator.  It is what it is.  The character is annoying.

Senator Palpatine basically is trying to take over Naboo using the Trade Federation so a vote of no confidence can be called in the Senate thus allowing him to try and become Supreme Chancellor.  The Trade Federation invades the planet then tries to have Queen Amidala sign a treaty to make the invasion legal.  It’s mind numbing to say the least.

I don’t want to say that Jake Lloyd was miscast in this.  His performance isn’t great but, again, I don’t think it is his fault.  I think in the prequel trilogy Lucas had a severe inability to bring quality performances from his actors.  Ewan sure tried his hardest but in this one he is mostly sidelined as Qui Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) does his duty as the elder Jedi Master.

The podrace was excellent.  It was made even better in later editions when they extended it out.

Anakin building C-3P0 to help his mother is stupid.

Everything about Darth Maul is fantastic from his voice to his movements to his look to his double-bladed lightsaber.  Ray Park was excellent.  Their biggest mistake was killing him off and not having him back for the sequels.

I like that you finally get to see things in this movie.  Most people will bitch about The Senate stuff but it is cool to see how all these planets and their officials come together.  It was great seeing Coruscant, the Jedi Temple, and the Jedi council.

People crap on the prequels all day.  They find them to be bad films.  I’ll admit that Phantom Menace isn’t a great film but I still find some enjoyment out of it.  Even when Jar Jar steps in poop.

#6 – The Force Awakens

I walked out of The Force Awakens the first time seeing it pretty puzzled.  I remember my wife looking at me and saying, “What?  You didn’t like it?”  The funny thing was this was the movie I had long waited for.  The SEQUEL to Return of the Jedi.  And I honestly wasn’t impressed by it.

At first it got better with multiple viewings.  I saw it two more times in theaters and thought it a bit better.  I pre-ordered the film and waited for it to arrive.  Then things really started bothering me.

There is much talk about Rey being a Mary Sue.  May come to her defense and say, “Well she’s that good with the force!” or “We don’t know what kind of training she had as a kid!” or whatever.  The fact of the matter is she took to the force way quickly.  In the end, when she defeats Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel, that takes more than just the force.  That takes talent.  Kylo Ren killed multiple Jedi and is defeated by someone who picked up a lightsaber for the first time.  It doesn’t take much to learn how to use the Force.  Look at Luke in Empire Strikes Back – at best he only had a couple weeks with Yoda to train before leaving to rescue his friends.  He picked it up pretty quick.  But (A) he was training with a JEDI MASTER and (B ) he still got his ass kicked.  In the end?  Basically Luke commits suicide over joining his father.  He had no idea he would live when he jumped.  He jumped and really was ready to end it all.

Beyond being able to do anything Rey is okay.  Poe is a cool pilot.  Finn was my favorite.  Kylo Ren is a decent villain.  He’s conflicted.  He’s young.  And he’s a badass.  Some thought him too emo for his own good but I dug the performance.

This film is a remake of the first film.  It is.  It bothers me more and more each time that I watch it.  I’m not quite sure why they took that approach to a film but it just bothered me that it hit many of the same beats from the original film over and over and over again.

STILL it was cool seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca back together again.  BB-8 was phenom – I love that little robot.

I guess it was sort of cool that everything wasn’t sunshine and rainbows for the characters after the last film.  That was an interesting plot turn.

I really liked that there were actual sets this time around and not just more green screen.  Thank you for that J.J. Abrams.

The problem for me is Star Trek.  Yes – Star Trek.  When Abrams rebooted Star Trek in 2009 I just fell in love with that movie.  It felt fresh, new, and exciting.  Sure he botched the sequel…but when he got attached to Star Wars I was hopeful that I would walk out as happy as I did back in 2009.  I did not.

I guess I am happy that, for the most part, I enjoy the new characters.  I just hope Rian Johnson hits it out of the park with these character in Episode VIII.

#5 – Revenge of the Sith

Most prequel haters may be surprised that I would put a prequel above Force Awakens.  Sith definitely has its problems but I really find some powerful stuff in here, particularly the end of the 2nd act and the entire 3rd act.

The film made Natalie Portman’s Amidala this very weak character who basically stands around barefoot and pregnant.  It was weird for the character.  Hayden’s acting improved a slight bit over Attack of the Clones.  Ewan?  Ewan’s having a ball as Obi Wan and it shows.  Even if he is on an imaginary lizard chasing a robotcyborgthing on a unicycle he’s having a good time.

The best parts of the trilogy really comes down to Ian McDiarmid.  He’s great at the Sith Lord who cons his way to become the universe’s most powerful person and taking out all of the Jedi.  He has such a great time in the role and in Sith McDiarmid really has his time to shine.  His lightsaber scenes are awful – they really should have gotten a better swordsman double.  Beyond that – fun.

The CGI robot General Grevious wasn’t great.  I did like how he was used in Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars cartoon much better.  He wasn’t a great antagonist.

Anakin’s turn to the dark side was a bit unrealistic.

But I love the betrayal of the Jedi.  I love Anakin once he turns.  I love how Obi Wan and Yoda risk it all to make it back to the Jedi Temple and then basically go on missions that can end their lives.  Most likely this is the last time they ever got to see each other alive.

Some thought Anakin and Obi Wan’s fight was overdone and way too long.  I didn’t care at all.  These were brothers turned enemies – two powerful fighters.  I liked that they duked it out.  Obi Wan’s mistake?  Should have finished the job.

#4 – Return of the Jedi

First off when I was a kid I remember sitting in theaters and hearing some of R2-D2’s bloop-bleeps and thinking…they changed some of them.  Still bothers me to this day.

Overall Jedi is a good film.  Once again the rescue plan in the beginning doesn’t make much sense at all (if Leia freed Han and got away, how were they then going to get Chewbacca and the droids out?).  Jabba the Hutt?  Come on – talk about a great ugly puppet.  He was VILE.  That is what is great about practical effects.  Dude looked real….real ugly.

Leia in the bikini?  Yeah…classic.

At the end of Revenge of the Sith we see that the Death Star was starting to be built.  In Rogue One we know that it is being worked on and leads right up to Star Wars.  I can accept all that – that they built this monstrosity over a number of years.

But a new Death Star being built that quick?  I just don’t buy it.  And using another Death Star?  Could they not come up with something better?

When I was a kid I loved the Ewok booby traps.  I hate them now.  Again – more appealing as a kid.

I love Luke in this.  He’s finally not a whiny kid.  He’s a Jedi and he acts like it.  He may have some dark side in him too (he be choking peeps!) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fight scene between Vader and Luke at the end.  There is just so much emotion to it and it is my second favorite duel out of all the movies.  In the end though, if you really think about it, it is just a kid beating up his dad…who is really old.

I really like the third act and how they broke it up: ships fighting in space, Han and crew fighting on Endor to get the shield down, and Luke facing Vader and the Emperor on the Death Star.  It worked well for this film.  They tried to replicate this formula for The Phantom Menace with much less success.

#3 – Rogue One

When a defector comes forward about a massive weapon the Empire is building a search starts for Jyn Erso.  Erso can lead to Saw Gerrera who can possibly lead to Jyn’s father – who is helping to build the Death Star.  But is he really evil?  Or was he helping the Rebellion all along?

I love how this movie connects the new movies to the old movies.  Jimmy Smits back as Bail Organa.  Grand Moff Tarkin’s return (thanks CGI!).  The horrors of the Empire.  And showing that Rebellion isn’t always sunshine and rainbows either – people will kill for this revolution.

This was the Star Wars movie I wanted when Force Awakens came out.  I’m glad I finally got it.  There are lots of fans out there who disliked this film immensely.  Personally I don’t get it.  While the first act is a tad slow it kicks into high gear when Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen are introduced into the film.  They are great – casting Donnie was pure genius.

I love this is a multiracial cast.  Basically an English girl with a Mexican and two Chinese guys (along with a droid) off to save the galaxy.

The third act on this one is brilliant.  And I really loved how they used lots of different ideas from early books like kyber crystals and Darth Vader living on a lava planet.

I can’t wait to see this film again.

#2 – Star Wars

George Lucas may have lost his touch by the time he made Phantom Menace in 1999 but what he and his team did with Star Wars in the seventies was extraordinary.  It is just a magical film.  From sound to special effects to the costumes and sets….everything is just phenomenal.  And they did not have a big budget on this film.

You care about the characters.  One by one you are introduced to Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo and you are drawn to them.  You care about them.  Against these incredible odds against some evil villains you hope, cheer, and pray that they succeed with their mission.

What else can be said about this film that hasn’t already been said?

Well – I’ll add in that there is a sequence in the beginning that was cut out  It was with Luke out with his friends and he talks to Biggs – who leaves to join the Rebellion.  I really wish they put that back in for the Special Edition.

Beyond that – Darth Vader instantly became one of the best bad guys of all time.  It instantly spawned 100 of copycat movies (and also led to a Star Trek resurrection).  It made huge movie stars out of a bunch of unknowns.  By the end of the summer of 1977 everyone knew that the force was with them.

#1 – The Empire Strikes Back

The perfect sci-fi film.  The perfect sequel.  One of my top 5 films of all time.  Empire jumps in and doesn’t explain shit to you.  If you haven’t seen the first film they don’t care.  No time to rehash.  They need to press on.

The Rebels ‘won’ at the end of the first movie but in this film the Empire really does strike back.  The Rebels are constantly backpedaling as the Empire shows their might.  Nothing goes right for the characters.

They introduce a damn puppet as a Jedi master and ….he looks amazing.

John Williams did well with the score in the first film but I truly believe that Empire Strikes Back is his crowning achievement – not just for the Star Wars franchise but everything he has ever done.

It’s funny to think that while George Lucas produced and wrote the story – he didn’t write the screenplay nor direct.  His hands were in the pool but it was Irvin Kershner who brought this dark tale to life.

I love it because it is funny.   Heartfelt.  Dark.  Bleak.

I love it because the bad guys win.

I love that Lando is introduced.  An old friend.  Who sells you out.  Who then tries to rescue you.  A redemption with so much on the line.

Vader and Luke’s lightsaber battle.  This is Vader’s game and Luke is no match for him.  None at all.  All the training that Yoda had done and it is still no match for the badassery of Darth Vader.

The Millennium Falcon – the most famous starship in history (yes even over the Enterprise I say) – being a piece of junk failing at every turn.

Han trying to romance a princess.  Her pulling away.

Bounty hunters.  Bossk.  IG-88.  BOBA FETT.

It’s a perfect film.  I’m sure they can make a thousand more of these films and nothing will ever come close to the brilliance of this film.

That’s it for this franchise!  Back next week with all new news, reviews, and more!!!

Anything else you’d like to see?  Agree?  Disagree?  Let us know!