A ranking of the Star Wars theatrical releases so far, in order of my personal preference.
  1. The Empire Strikes Back
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    This gets pretty damn close to being as perfect a movie as Star Wars can give. Not only do the characters grow, they're given depth. Not only does the plot intrigue us, it takes us by surprise. Not only do we get to see more of this universe and the power of the Force, but we explore them to their fullest. This is Star Wars at the top of its game in all departments, and it has yet to be topped.
  2. Revenge of the Sith
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    I'll admit it...I'm a prequel defender (perhaps I'll make another list on why I am in the future), and while my perception of their flaws has changed as I've grown older, this one in particular still keeps me engaged. Yes, some of the same problems are there, but what sets Sith apart is its story. The downfall of the Jedi and Anakin's fall from grace (Hayden Christensen aside) are shown in all their tragic glory; the darkest I've ever seen Star Wars get.
  3. Return of the Jedi
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    For it to be the finale of the original trilogy, Jedi seems to lack the dramatic weight of its predecessor. It's hard to pinpoint why; while the rescue from Jabba's palace is fun, maybe it's too much of a deviation from the main plot. While the practical creature effects are cool, maybe there's too much of a Jim Henson vibe. Nevertheless, Jedi DOES deliver on giving us a satisfying conclusion, especially in Luke's final confrontation with Vader. Not to mention the thrilling action sequences.
  4. A New Hope (aka Star Wars)
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    The prequels catch a lot of flack for bad writing and acting, but...has anyone listened to this dialogue lately? Does anyone remember that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher weren't that good at first (due to bad direction)? Lucas directed this one, too...so what makes it better? The story is great. The ideas were fresh. His direction was more focused. This was our introduction to this amazing universe, and it still draws you in to this day. It's still just as fun as the first time you watched it
  5. The Phantom Menace
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    I won't deny that this movie deserves a lot of its critiques. The plot is a mess, and the characters are one-dimensional. The actors are at the mercy of bad writing and direction. But I argue that there are still things to enjoy about this movie. Liam Neeson and Ewan MacGregor stand out, and some of the new worlds have a certain beauty to them. And of course, I'm still a sucker for the lightsaber fight. I'm not here to convert, but I do think it deserves a look through a less cynical eye.
  6. Attack of the Clones
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    This is by far the most deserving of prequel-bashing. Sure, Obi-Wan's B-plot is interesting, and the action in the climax has some excitement to it. But it's all tarnished by the terrible love story at the center of it all. I still can't blame Hayden Christensen's performance on direction and writing alone. What's worse, though, is all of the obvious blue screen sets in the entire movie, none of which feel real. Yes, these would carry into Sith, but Clones had far less to make up for it.
  7. The Clone Wars movie
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    This DID receive a theatrical release, so it counts. Everything about what went wrong with this can be summed up in one sentence: It's the first three episodes of the TV show that Lucas had spliced together. So of course the plot's a mess. Of course the animation isn't higher quality. Of course there are one-note characters and ideas. That's all fine for TV, but makes a pretty miserable moviegoing experience. Luckily, the rest of the show was much better, but this was not its best foot forward.