We had some extra time here at The Crispy Noodle headquarters to calculate the data to establish this definitive ranking of the Star Wars movies. Do you agree with our final rankings?
How did we come up with this? Each movie was ranked equally through these three channels:
- Our Fans’ Rankings — We made a post on our social media channels for our Crispy Noodle fans to send us their lists of the Star Wars movies. We averaged all of these lists together to come up with this special Fan Ranking.
- The Crispy Noodle Ranking — This is the average of the Star Wars lists from Rich, Mike, and Mike’s Mom (who’s also a huge Star Wars fan).
- Tomatometer Critical Ranking — The average ranking of film critics’ reviews of every Star Wars movie.
With each one of these elements weighed equally, here are the final results:
It’s universal. Everyone loves The Empire Strikes Back, and with good reason. It’s the gold standard for movie sequels — Empire takes the elements of its predecessor and expands the Star Wars lore and its characters just right; it’s not overly conservative but not changing things up for the sake of change itself. The Empire Strikes Back is not just a catchy title, it’s the theme of this movie — the good guys aren’t always going to get away with the victory. For a science fiction movie, Empire Strikes Back feels real: Luke’s journey to discover who he actually is in this universe, a trusty ship that can’t get its captain out of danger, and a repressed romance blooming into something real (and a romance that actually works in Star Wars? Wow!). Recently, a viral movement was to name “5 Perfect Movies” in a social media post — as a result, The Empire Strikes Back started trending on its own, with people tweeting about how fantastic the movie is. It’s the perfect second act in a trilogy and deserves its rightful place at the top.
I found that quote funny, because that’s probably what 20th Century Fox thought. Remember, the original Star Wars movie was thought to be way too out there for general audiences and that it would end up being a big waste of money. Think about it: a bunch of broken robots, a tall guy in a hairy bigfoot costume, weird laser swords? That doesn’t sound like science fiction, right? Was this really going to work? Well, it emphatically did, as Star Wars, later renamed “A New Hope”, is the OG that kicks off the film franchise. The characters are what really sell this movie. George Lucas hits the big three perfectly: Luke is the young, bright-eyed optimist that gets thrust into the galactic big battle, Han is the perfect anti-hero foil to him, and Leia is the Princess that may need help, but she can hold her own ground. Everyone wanted to be one of these characters after seeing the film; so, it makes sense that its captivated audiences wanted to see it over and over again. In my opinion, this is the essence of The Star Wars. Need we say more?
So yes, I personally disagree with this ranking; The Force Awakens is not this high on my list. I take full ownership of trying to sink this entry on the list, yet it seems I have failed. However, I do see the appeal. The Force Awakens is the reboot that the Star Wars franchise needed for a new generation. In order to do so, it echoes (I would say directly goes to the Xerox machine and carbon copies, but whatever) elements from A New Hope, which first drew audiences into the Star Wars universe — a trio of well-liked characters; an evil force with an incredibly malicious weapon that needs to be stopped; and an introduction to this mystical presence called “The Force” that’s been lost in time. On the surface, it fulfills what most audiences want from a Star Wars movie. However, make no mistake, there are valid criticisms for this film — my “copy of a New Hope” gripe; Rey being a convenient proficient Force-user or even, dare you say, a “Mary Sue” character; no Luke in the film; etc. Do these flaws prevent it from being a great Star Wars movie? I would say yes, but it’s apparent that many feel it does not, so it lands at #3 on our definitive ranking.
I’m surprised at the amount of criticism I read for Return of the Jedi. I understand the Ewoks may get annoying, but is it really enough to sink this movie in the rankings? I think these detractors need to keep in mind that Return of the Jedi pulls off an incredible feat: concluding the Original Trilogy in a satisfying way. This final act features all the action elements you would want in a Star Wars movie (a lightsaber duel, a space battle, and a land assault); our heroes recovering from the devastation of Empire Strikes Back; and developing substantial character growth between Luke, Leia, and Darth Vader. “Another Death Star?” is also a common complaint, but I enjoyed how the Emperor used it as bait to trap the Rebel fleet, which sets up the tension in the space battle scene perfectly. If you’re going to let a few Ewoks bother your ranking of this movie, I think you’re selling this Star Wars movie way too short.
Damn, I love this movie. It’s easily, in my opinion, the best Disney-era Star Wars film made. Everyone loves to replay the brutal, no-mercy scene where Vader goes to work on Rebel soldiers in the glow of his red lightsaber in a dark hallway; while that is a badass scene, I would say there’s plenty more where that came from. Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso is the best re-incarnation of a Princess Leia role I’ve seen. You’re instantly rooting for Erso in her determination to spark a rebellion against the Empire. Of course, just like the top movie on the list, the best stories are tragedies and this movie does not have a typical Disney happily ever after ending. It pulls no punches, which earned the respect of the Star Wars fanbase. Rogue One is a brilliant bridge movie that connects the Prequel Trilogy with the Original Trilogy. With its interesting story that has enough connections to the previous Star Wars films and dire consequences for these characters trying to steal the Death Star plans, Rogue One actually makes you value the story of A New Hope even more. Rogue One should have been an actual Episode entry in the Star Wars saga. It’s that damn good.
And now we get to The Last Jedi, the infamous movie that split the Star Wars fanbase in two. Looking over all the responses we received, The Last Jedi was ranked wildly all over the place. Our fans, on average, seemed to knock it down while film critics seem to give it a higher ranking than deserved. As someone who didn’t find The Force Awakens that revolutionary, I saw The Last Jedi as a breath of fresh air to the Star Wars saga. True, there are significant mistakes in this film (the casino B-plot is a travesty), but I respect Rian Johnson for creating his own entry in the series and not copying Empire Strikes Back. Luke finally makes his comeback as an old man who becomes a cynic of the Jedi way after he failed Ben Solo’s training, which many fans thought was blasphemy. If you thought Luke in The Last Jedi would still be the wide-eyed optimist from A New Hope, I’d say you’re being pretty naive. The scenes that really leave an impression on me are the back-and-forth Force-Skype sessions between Rey and Kylo Ren. Each one is trying to convince the other to their beliefs while secretly doubting if their masters are lying to them as well. There are many layers to The Last Jedi (some work fantastically and some fail tremendously) and it requires a thorough examination of the film to appreciate, which I believe is why many Star Wars fans saw it as a convoluted mess. I would disagree with this notion. I’ll defend this ranking of The Last Jedi on our list and encourage you to re-watch it.
This may be my strongest disagreement with the rankings so I’m going to say it right here — I believe Revenge of the Sith is the best non-original-trilogy Star Wars movie. This movie shocked many people at how dark a Star Wars movie can be; and with good reason, since this is the birth of Darth Vader and the Evil Empire. It had to be visceral (need we mention the thought of Anakin and the younglings?) and the bad guys needed to win this one outright. This was the prequel movie we were waiting for — Hayden Christensen is finally allowed off Lucas’ “even-keeled” leash and go full evil to become Vader, we see Palpatine turn from Chancellor to Emperor, and we have the epic confrontation between Obi-Wan versus Anakin. Plus, this movie has one of the best original scores I’ve heard in a movie, “Battle of the Heroes,” mixed with the one of the best lightsaber duels ever in the franchise. There are some sloppy moments that Lucas could have done better (hey by the way, don’t forget to wipe C-3PO’s mind before the Original Trilogy is supposed to start!) but overall, I still get chills rewatching this movie. I’m quite disappointed in these results for Revenge of the Sith. I believe this movie is amazing, and deserves to be higher on the list.
For all the talk of Lucas being sloppy, I found the latest entry in the Star Wars saga to be the sloppiest of all. It’s a shame too; after The Last Jedi, I thought Disney could have really went in a unique direction with the franchise. Instead, JJ Abrams and Disney stuff a whole bunch of fan service into a two and a half hour movie, desperately trying to soothe those that cried foul after The Last Jedi. The first half of this movie features MacGuffin (weird dagger thing that kinda looks like a broken Throne Room) after MacGuffin (odd Sith Wayfinder that could be used in your next board game night) which many film critics found to be extremely juvenile and ridiculous. Also, I have to mention this bit that made me laugh aloud in the theater, the simplistic “…Somehow, Palpatine returned!” line to explain who the villain is — Really? We’re just going to sweep that leap of logic under the rug? JJ couldn’t have provided a better explanation for how Palpatine is back? You know how I know this is a bad movie? I’ve now realized I’ve only seen this movie twice, then I saw a headline saying Rise of Skywalker was coming to Disney+ soon and I noticed my initial reaction was I just shrugged at the news. Not the right note you want to end the sequel trilogy with. But some members of the Star Wars community were pleased with the fan service, so it doesn’t fall all the way to the bottom of our rankings.
I think this quote sums up the Solo experience — this movie was notoriously plagued with rewrites, reshoots, and delays. So when Solo finally hit theaters, I think every Star Wars fan was expecting the worst. Instead they got an average-quality movie; which probably won over some Star Wars fans. On the surface, it has an interesting space heist plot and some references to the Empire and other characters from the Star Wars saga. Plus, Donald Glover’s take on a young Lando Calrissian was actually pretty cool. So there are some elements that fans enjoyed enough to raise its ranking. But in our opinion here at The Crispy Noodle we unanimously disagreed with that sentiment — With there being no way to write in The Force, it feels more like a generic sci-fi movie than an actual Star Wars entry. While the actors and crew did the best they could with this spin-off film full of troubles, Solo still ultimately falls flat and lands near the bottom of our ranking.
I was surprised to see this movie rank last among our fans, with one entry noting that this movie was “Attack of the F**king Dumbass Clones.” Well, this is another ranking I disagree with, so allow me to be the “Devil’s Advocate” (or I guess the “Sith’s Counsel” if we’re using Star Wars terms?) for you. Look, we all know Hayden Christensen’s acting in this movie is terrible and George Lucas can’t write romance dialogue to save his life. But do me a favor the next time you happen to rewatch this movie and put all of those criticisms aside. What do you get? It’s actually a decent movie. This is the first Star Wars movie to have a “Whodunit?” film-noir-ish mystery element as Obi-Wan investigates why Jango Fett wants to kill Padme (the space chase scene with the seismic charges is awesome) and the origins of the Clone Army. Mace Windu and Yoda realize that the Jedi isn’t invincible, which subtly provides the groundwork for their fall in Revenge of the Sith. Oh, and lest we forget, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku is old-school menacing and teaches Anakin his first lesson about sword-fighting from a Sith Lord — go for the limbs. Everyone can recite how bad Anakin’s “Sand” speech is, but if you look deeper past the memes, I think you’d be surprised at some of the better points of this movie the next time you give it a fair rewatch.
It’s universal — This movie blows. The Phantom Menace was consistently ranked last or near the bottom of the list on every single submitted ranking we received. Let’s not kid ourselves — the first two-thirds of this movie is genuinely annoying: an argument about taxes, the weird Trade Federation aliens, Jar-Jar Binks, the Gungans, Anakin as a whiny little kid, Watto acting way too much like a anti-Semitic stereotype, too much podracing, and the whole “Padme’ is actually the Queen” nonsense… it’s enough to give you a headache remembering this movie. At least the last-third of this movie gives you something noteworthy — Darth Maul with a DOUBLE bladed lightsaber against two Jedi Knights with the debut of the cool “Duel of the Fates” score we now hear in our minds whenever we play with our lightsabers. If nothing else, well, at least we had that cool fight scene… or Red Letter Media’s hilariously scathing review of The Phantom Menace. If you remember how disappointingly bad Episode I was, it’s worth your time to watch all 70-minutes of their merciless review of the film.
We hope you enjoyed these rankings. On this day, May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars day, we encourage you to watch a Star Wars movie and relive this epic space opera. From all of us here at The Crispy Noodle we say: May The Force Be With You!
Click below to listen to Rich and Mike react to the rankings on a previous episode from The Crispy Noodle Podcast: