Laser-swords and Force-chokes! Star Wars is a cultural force that I’m sure you’ve heard of. The world-building of George Lucas inspired a whole expanded universe. I’m reading part of that now in a Star Wars Legends novel. It got me thinking, what’s my take on the main canon of the 9-movie saga?
This is my sort of for-the-record stance on the Star Wars saga. Many who loved the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, & VI) despise the prequels with a hatred matched only by the darkest Lords of the Sith. If you really want to know the power of the dark side of the Force, mention Jar Jar Binks. You will incur the wrath of many light sabers.
The final trilogy (Episodes VII, VIII & IX) by Disney seems to have everyone split down the middle. And you know such fence riding doesn’t work. The Force is not so ambiguous; it has two sides. Pick one, you must. Light or Dark? Good or Bad?
So whose side am I on, Vader’s, or Luke’s? Answer: Skywalker’s…
And what order should the 9 movies be watched? What about the expanded universe movies, Solo, Rogue One, The Clone Wars? (Sorry, Disney+, I have not subscribed to watch Mandalorian. Yet.) Plus, how do I rank all 9 from worst to best??
Before I answer, I admit I’m not too hard to please with sci-fi escapism. Especially when a light-saber is involved. And it’s purple. And it’s wielded by Samuel Jackson.
First, let’s look at the sequence. I say watch the movies in the order they were originally released, simple as that. There’s really no other way to see them if you want the true cultural experience of Star Wars. Not chronological, just logical. So that’s:
- IV, V, VI
- I, II, III
- VII, VIII, IX
These three episodes are modern classics now. Most people love The Empire Strikes Back most; it’s great! The, “No Luke, I am your Father” reveal may never be outdone. I love the inescapable constraint on Luke. Either the devil cannot be your dad, or your dad cannot be a devil. Luke chooses to believe the latter!
Swashbuckling, family drama, and sci-fi somehow mesh together in a believable and exciting manner. Sentient droids, Chewbacca, tractor beams, giant slug-like gangster, cute fuzzy Ewoks, moon-sized space station with epic explosion…what’s not to like?
There’s controversy about things like: Did Han Solo shoot first? Should later cuts have been made that added CGI? Personally, I don’t quibble over these. The overall stories and cinematic experience stand up despite a little tarnish. Life’s too short to die on a hill of fiction. Star Wars is entertainment, not religion.
I can see why the prequels are derided: bad acting, sappy love story, kid Anakin, CGI Yoda… While many would love to Force-choke Jar Jar Binks or torture him with finger-lightning, I don’t think he alone ruins the prequels. To think so gives Jar Jar too much credit (or blame, if you must). There’s enough good backstory, action, and lore in the first three episodes to outweigh the annoying antics of Mr. Binks. No need to dwell on the negative. Only a Sith would think so absolutely.
Overall, the formula of the first three episodes works. There’s good escalation of events and action scenes, especially light-saber action. Double-saber, curved-hilt saber, two sabers at once, four sabers at once, purple saber!
I appreciate how the prequels fill in the back-story about Skywalker, the little details of Palpatine’s rise to power, the fall of Anakin, the birth of Luke, the clones, etc. The immaculate conception of Anakin via midichlorians is very interesting. It makes the Force more concrete yet more mysterious at the same time.
The Disney owned conclusion to the Star Wars saga is a tough one. New, modern, great CGI and FX, good fresh acting, lovely performances by the original cast, intriguing story line. But contrast that with misdirection from the Director swap and somewhat convoluted story-telling.
The Force Awakens was a fantastic blend of nostalgia and potential. But The Last Jedi, while good, was simply too unorthodox. The tone was wrong, and the enigmatic Force balancing could have gone better. This gave The Rise of Skywalker shaky ground to stand on. It propped itself up well, but it could have also been better.
The resurrection of the Emperor is almost too big a stretch. Snoke was an unfortunate distraction. The First Order is wasted opportunity. Maz Kanata had more potential too.
The sacrilegious treatment of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi was too jarring. But then I embraced the challenge that the story is not about the Jedi, or even the Sith, it’s about the Force. The protagonist and antagonist is the Force itself that somehow finds completion in the convoluted Skywalker genealogy. Okay, fair enough.
Also, there had to be a way to work in a purple lightsaber. Missed opportunity.
Everyone gets hung up by some part of the Star Wars saga, myself included. But by and large it’s a great franchise of fiction for many fans. The lore of the Star Wars universe pulls me in. The characters are interesting, no matter how unbelievable. The sci-fi sets a standard.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe grabs much attention, but I’d rather see more of the Star Wars universe on the big screen.
I really like the movie, Solo. And Rogue One is excellent! More please. Seriously, I want a whole movie about Mace Windu with crazy amounts of purple light-saber action!
My ranking of the 9 episodes, worst to best:
This list is tough and will likely change as the movies age.
What do you think?