Ranking all ‘Star Wars’ films

How does The Last Jedi compare?

“The Last Jedi.” Image copyright Jonathan Olley / Lucasfilm Ltd. / Walt Disney Company

Exclusive to MeierMovies.com, January 3, 2018

Now that the dust has settled from the blockbuster release of The Last Jedi and hardcore Star Wars fans have had the chance to see it (and see it again), the time seems right to contemplate its place in the canon.

First, yes, it’s better than The Force Awakens, though not by much. Except for the abysmal Laura Dern (who is a casting disaster), the mediocre Carrie Fisher (apologies for the disrespect, as she will be sorely missed) and the embarrassingly hammy (on purpose?) Domhnall Gleeson, the acting is better than in the last film. Though this new film sorely misses Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley is excellent and the rest of the cast, including Mark Hamill, pull their weight. Adam Driver is better than in the last outing, perhaps because his character is given more development and inner conflict. And Oscar Isaac gets some nice screen time.

As always (well, except for The Phantom Menace), this new Star Wars never fails to entertain. It’s pure Cecil B. DeMille, with CGI (offset by some traditional effects). Perhaps the harshest thing that can be said about it is it simply tries to pack too much in and throw too much at the screen, and, by doing so, can’t achieve the balance and emotional impact of the original trilogy. In some ways, director Rian Johnson’s film lacks discipline and pacing, and starts weakly. But, hey, it’s better to start weak and end strong than to do the opposite, as The Force Awakens did. (The twist ending involving Luke is superb.)

It’s also worth noting – SPOILER ALERT – that the film’s sensibility seems different, sometimes as if it’s spoofing itself, with a heavy dose of snark. For hardcore Star Wars fans, that can be either refreshing or off-putting, or sometimes both. The film’s reinterpretation of the Force is also odd, as it suggests that discipline, training and even lineage matter little. Indeed, seemingly the only reason for the ghost of Yoda to appear is to destroy the sacred texts of the Jedi. If he had explained that the Force flows in and around us and not just in books, that might have been acceptable. But for him to joke that the books weren‘t much of a read – well, that’s just disrespectful and sophomoric. In this new Star Wars world, it seems anyone can stumble into the Force regardless of knowledge or bloodline. How democratic.

With that mini-review out of the way, please indulge my countdown of the best Star Wars films. Though Rogue One is admittedly not part of the canon, I include it here because of its positive reception by both critics and audiences. It feels like it belongs in the Lucas universe. For the monetary list, I rank films based on inflation-adjusted gross, and I use domestic figures only, not worldwide, which is a better way to compare the success of films from different eras. (My source is BoxOfficeMojo.com.)

 

Quality

  1. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 5 stars
  2. Star Wars, a.k.a. Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977) – 5 stars
  3. Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) – 5 stars
  4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) – 4 ¼ stars
  5. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – 4 stars
  6. Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) – 3 ¾ stars
  7. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015) – 3 ½ stars
  8. Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – 2 ¾ stars
  9. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (2000) – 1 ½ stars

 

Inflation-Adjusted Domestic Gross

  1. Star Wars, a.k.a. Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977) – $1,590,608,000 (#2 all time behind Gone with the Wind)
  2. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015) – $965,467,800 (#11 all time)
  3. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – $876,753,100 (#13 all time)
  4. Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) – $839,950,500 (#16 all time)
  5. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (2000) – $806,486,800 (#18 all time)
  6. Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) – $614,352,000 (#44 all time as of February 3, 2018)
  7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) – $539,743,700 (#58 all time)
  8. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – $529,768,500 (#65 all time)
  9. Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – $477,473,400 (#95 all time)