web Star Wars 1280 720
web Star Wars 1280 720

The best and worst Star Wars movies

WHEN The Rise Of Skywalker finally lands in cinemas next week it will be the culmination of a 42-year-old story that began with the surprise success of Star Wars in 1977.

It began with creator George Lucas wanting to pay tribute to the sci-fi he'd loved as youth (he couldn't get the rights to Flash Gordon, so he decided to make his own space opera) and changed the face of cinema, spawning a multi-billion dollar empire of spin-offs, rip-offs and merchandise.

No one expected much from Star Wars before it was released. Lucas's well regarded director friends such as Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma thought it would be disaster.

So did Lucas - to the point that he took a holiday to Hawaii to avoid opening day.

Nine movies, a plethora of spin-offs later - and plenty more to come - and it's fair to say there have been some ups and downs along the way, as our brief history of Star Wars shows.

the best and worst of The Phantom Menace in one shot -— fans loved Anakin (right) in the pod race, but hated Jar Jar Binks (centre).
the best and worst of The Phantom Menace in one shot -— fans loved Anakin (right) in the pod race, but hated Jar Jar Binks (centre).

EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE [1999]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 56 per cent

Box office: $1.5 billion

The 40th highest grossing film ever, 18th highest when adjusted for inflation.

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: The Pod Race. Anakin Skywalker's introduction to the Star Wars universe as the only human with the reflexes fast enough to race through the canyons of Tattooine at high speeds thanks to his unknowing use of the Force. The spectacular sequence showed that director George Lucas was at the cutting edge of computer generated technology.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Jar Jar Binks. The floppy-eared, bumbling, computer-generated Gungan almost dealt the newly rebooted franchise a mortal blow before it even kicked off. Fans found his slapstick antics and patois irritating, some critics found him more than a little racist.

Yoda’s “blowfly’ lightsabre battle with Count Dooku was hands down the best part of Attack Of the Clones.
Yoda’s “blowfly’ lightsabre battle with Count Dooku was hands down the best part of Attack Of the Clones.

EPISODE TWO: ATTACK OF THE CLONES [2002]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 65 per cent

Box office: $949.8 million.

The 139th highest grossing film ever, 100th highest when adjusted for inflation.

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: Yoda v Count Dooku. Star Wars lore had always maintained that Yoda was a master with the lightsaber but until now audiences had only seen him as a gnarled backwards-talking gnome. All that changed when he opened up a can of whoop-ass on Christopher Lee's nefarious Sith Lord, Count Dooku, and became something that resembled a furious blowfly.

 

THE DARK SIDE: This speech from Anakin to his soon-to-be-wife Padme. "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." Harrison Ford once famously said to George Lucas: "George, you can type this s---, but you sure as hell can't say it." This is why.

The transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader was a genuinely great cinema moment. And then they ruined it seconds later.
The transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader was a genuinely great cinema moment. And then they ruined it seconds later.

EPISODE THREE: REVENGE OF THE SITH [2003]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 80 per cent

Box office: $1.24 billion.

The 76th highest grossing film ever, 100th highest when adjusted for inflation.

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: The Birth of Darth Vader. Horribly burned and minus a couple of legs after coming off second best in a lightsabre duel with Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker is rescued by Emperor Palpatine and turned into the half-man, half-machine who would go on to be voted the greatest movie villain of all time.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Nooooooo! Literally seconds after sending fans into paroxysms of delight with Darth Vader taking his first ragged breaths, Lucas nearly undoes all his good work as the newly created Dark Lord of the Sith shakes his fist at the sky howling in grief at the news of his departed wife. Really, George? Really?

Strong in the Force is he. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in A New Hope.
Strong in the Force is he. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in A New Hope.

EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE [1977]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 94 per cent

Box office: $1.13 million.

The 96th highest grossing movie ever, but the second highest adjusted for inflation.

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: "Use the Force, Luke." As our hero Luke Skywalker is closing in on the Death Star's one weak spot, Tie fighters on his tale, he hears the ghostly voice of his freshly slain mentor Obi-Wan telling him to put his targeting computer away and trust his instincts. Bombs away, bye-bye Death Star.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Han shot first. In the original 1977 release, it was pretty clear that Han Solo blasted away at the bounty hunter Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina to get out of a tight spot. In subsequent releases and remasters, much to the disgust of the purists, Lucas rewrote history to have Greedo shooting first and missing, so everyone's favourite Corellian smuggler didn't look quite so much like a cold-blooded killer.

“I am your father”: has there ever been a better reveal than Darth Vader’s at the end of Empire Strikes Back? That was rhetorical. There hasn’t.
“I am your father”: has there ever been a better reveal than Darth Vader’s at the end of Empire Strikes Back? That was rhetorical. There hasn’t.

EPISODE FIVE: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK [1982]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95 per cent.

Box office: $787.4 million.

The 181st highest grossing film ever, 13th highest when adjusted for inflation.

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: "No, I am your father." All but beaten in a lightsabre duel by the man he thought betrayed and murdered his father, Luke Skywalker is faced with the prospect of submitting to Darth Vader or falling to his likely death. Then in arguably cinema's greatest reveal, the Sith Lord schools his son with some home truths. Luke lets go rather than accept his words - and lives to fight another day.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Leia plants one on Luke. The love triangle between Luke, Leia and Han Solo hots up in the rebel base on Hoth. When the princess smooches the would-be Jedi, largely to make Han jealous, it seemed like advantage Luke. Until the next film when Luke and Leia are revealed to be twins, rendering the whole exchange a bit icky.

Yes they sold a million stuffed toys, but the Ewoks were pretty annoying. Still are.
Yes they sold a million stuffed toys, but the Ewoks were pretty annoying. Still are.

EPISODE SIX: RETURN OF THE JEDI [1983]

Rotten tomatoes rating: 79 per cent

Box office: $695.25 million.

The 230th highest grossing film ever, adjusted for inflation, 13th highest grossing film ever.

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: Vader comes good. Darth Vader is broken and defeated. When Luke refuses to join the Emperor he is tortured to the brink of death. Vader turns on his former master, hurling him to his doom, before removing his mask to gaze at his son with his own eyes.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Ewoks. Even more than 30 years on, the idea the furry creatures could overcome the Empire's crack troops seems more than a little far-fetched. Lucas has defended their inclusion by drawing parallels with the Vietcong who beat the better weapons of the US troops in the Vietnam War, but basically we're still talking about teddy bears with sticks.

Han Solo and Chewbacca return to the Millennium Falcom in The Force Awakens. How the nerds cried.
Han Solo and Chewbacca return to the Millennium Falcom in The Force Awakens. How the nerds cried.

EPISODE SEVEN: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93 per cent

Box office: $3.02 billion.

The fourth highest grossing movie ever, 11th highest adjusting for inflation

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: Getting the band back together. After being rumoured for so many years and with Harrison Ford and then Mark Hamill repeatedly declining to reprise their characters, it was no mean feat for producer Kathleen Kennedy and director JJ Abrams to get them back. Fans who grew up with the original trilogy breathed a sigh of relief (and may have shed a little tear) when Han Solo appeared back on the Millennium Falcon with the line "Chewie, we're home", even if they had to wait until the very last frames to catch a glimpse of a bearded Luke.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Déjà vu. In trying to rekindle the magic of the original Star Wars, Abrams might have gone a little bit overboard on the homages to the point where he was accused of basically remaking A New Hope. Startlingly similar story beats such as remote desert planets, a core trio, a masked villain, a cute droid with the secret plan and planet-sized weapon that had to be destroyed let many thinking they'd somehow seen this all before.

Mark Hamill wasn’t too pleased about burnout Luke in The Last Jedi — but he came around.
Mark Hamill wasn’t too pleased about burnout Luke in The Last Jedi — but he came around.

EPISODE EIGHT: THE LAST JEDI [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 91 per cent

Box office: $1.95 billion.

The 13th highest grossing movie ever, 44th highest adjusting for inflation

 

THE LIGHT SIDE: A new hope. After the overfamiliarity of The Force Awakens, new director Rian Johnson wasn't afraid to strike out into new territory - and some of the fans hated him for it. By giving Kylo Ren the line "Let the past die - kill it if you have to" he showed he was prepared to take some chances and move a 40-year-old story somewhere new. With Han killed off in The Force Awakens, Luke becoming one with the Force and vanishing and Carrie Fisher tragically dying before the movie was released, the focus could shift squarely to the new core trio of Rey, Finn and Poe. Also, Kylo Ren and Rey's lightsaber fight with Snoke's elite guards is arguable the best fight sequence in the entire franchise.

 

THE DARK SIDE: Grumpy Luke. Having waited for the entire running time of The Force Awakens to see Luke, many were less than impressed at seeing him presented as a Jedi hermit burnout, who lived alone on an island and drank green milk from an alien's nipples. Mark Hamill was one of them. He told the Herald Sun at that time: I said to Rian 'Jedis don't give up - that's one of the tenets'. I can see maybe going off into seclusion for a year or two - but 30 years? Come on'. Eventually he relented, reasoning that he couldn't just be a wise, benign Alec Guiness clone, but said he always had a better idea. "My son said 'Dad, there's a book where they clone an evil Luke from your severed hand' and I went 'oh my God, I want to do that!'. But when I pitched it they said 'the problem is, we can't do anything that has been done before'."

READ THE LAST JEDI REVIEW.

 

The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal, is the first of the Disney+ spin-off shows.
The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal, is the first of the Disney+ spin-off shows.

 

STAR WARS: THE STORIES TO COME

 

 

THE MANDALORIAN

The launch of the Disney+ streaming service has opened up the potential for a whole new range of Star Wars stories to be told. First X-wing off the flight deck is The Mandalorian, created by Iron Man director and long-time Star Wars tragic Jon Favreau. He's attracted a roster of hot directors including Taika Waititi and Bryce Dallas Howard to tell the story of Dyn Jarren (Pedro Pacal), a Boba Fett-alike bounty hunter from the lawless outer rim of the galaxy far, far, away. Also, Baby Yoda.

Ewan McGregor is slipping back into the Jedi robes to play Obi Wan Kenobi in a series for Disney+
Ewan McGregor is slipping back into the Jedi robes to play Obi Wan Kenobi in a series for Disney+

OBI-WAN KENOBI

Ewan McGregor was one of the few actors who made it through the prequel trilogy with his dignity (mostly) intact, and after year of rumours, speculation and outright lying he's about to put on the Obi-Wan Kenobi robes again in a Disney+ series. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed that scripts for the six-part series, which will be set eight years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, have been completed and filming will start next year.

Having met a sticky end in Rogue One, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, right) is getting a prequel series for Disney+
Having met a sticky end in Rogue One, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, right) is getting a prequel series for Disney+

CASSIAN ANDOR

So rich is the Star Wars universe - both in terms of content and cash - that we now have a spin-off of a spin-off. As played by Diego Luna, Rebel spy Cassian Andor was one of the main characters from the hit Star Wars 2016 prequel Rogue One. Given he met a heroic, fiery end during that film's finale, this will tell the story of some of his earlier, more successful missions. Alan Tudyk is also coming back as the plain-speaking droid K-2SO and it's expected to stream on Disney+ next year.

Divisive Last Jedi Rian Johnson, pictured here at the premiere of his new movie Knives Out, 'is getting his own Star Wars trilogy. Picture: Getty
Divisive Last Jedi Rian Johnson, pictured here at the premiere of his new movie Knives Out, 'is getting his own Star Wars trilogy. Picture: Getty

RIAN JOHNSON TRILOGY

Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have stepped away from the Star Wars trilogy they had planned to make but The Last Jedidirector Rian Johnson - currently earing plaudits for his crafty whodunit Knives Out - is forging ahead with his. Details are sketchy other than that it will be separate from the Skywalker saga which reaches its conclusion this month and will feature an all new cast.

 

READ MORE:

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SCAR-JO SAYS MOVIE FLOPS STILL STING DESPITE SUCCESS

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