The Skywalker Rise is behind us, the Skywalker saga is done, the Clone Wars animated series is over, we’re between the Mandalorian seasons, and Taika Waititi just signed on to direct the next main theatre iteration of the franchise. That’s to say, there’s never been a better time to get back to all the Star Wars content, and Disney Plus has almost every movie and shows that’s canon right now (you’ll have to jump to Netflix to stream Solo before it comes to Disney Channel in a couple of months), which should make things simpler.
So how do I look at it? Following the release of George Lucas’s trilogy prequel, Stars Wars fans explored how to trick the series. Today, the “right” way to watch the Star Wars series is made more confused by animation and live-action spinoffs. With all this in mind, you will find some different screening orders, whether you are a long-time enthusiast to re-visit the movies and shows or a beginner needing a crash course at Star Wars.
1. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is pretty like Yoda’s “fear leads to rage, rage leads to hatred, hatred leads to pain” wrote a major adage. It’s been 20 years, and it’s only now that Star Wars are emerging from that darkness (and even harrowing tales of toxic fallout are emerging). At the end of the day, though, it’s all right: episode I’m not perfect, it has major challenges, but it’s pretty bold, and the prequel trilogy was almost instantly labeled as something new. Lucas had always intended to make Episode I rooted in political intrigue, with Palpatine controlling the Senate as one of the first components of origin in his universe, which he noted. In the execution, it’s all a bit muddled, with complicated and somewhat illogical rules bent without the audience’s understanding. The lack of attention to what drives the story runs through Naboo’s royalty, Qui-Gon’s involvement in Anakin, and Jedi’s dichotomy; so much of what The Phantom Menace needs to do is hidden by nature, but that makes it so dry
2. Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Although Lucas had plotted out the prequel trilogy from the outset, he found himself grappling with the screenplay of Attack of the Clones, considering the harsh reaction of The Phantom Menace. As a result, the sequel focuses more heavily on set-pieces and lightsaber wars, which at least offer some dynamism to the otherwise slow middle chapter, which introduces us to Emo Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan’s side tale about the clones is at least slightly convincing, and what makes Attack of the Clones a better movie than The Phantom Menace isn’t more set; it’s serving up a storyline that doesn’t lead the viewer to tears. Visually, the film is also a step up from Phantom Menace, even though Lucas’ camera stays cold and remote, which, with its already stilted and dry dialog, does not support its actors. And the least he said about the tale of Boba Fett’s origin, the better the nonsense.
3. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The Star Wars prequel (mostly) sticks to the landing. Star Wars Episode III: Vengeance of the Sith also poses many of the creative problems that have marred the previous films-even Ewan McGregor isn’t without any wooden execution, even as it brings it together, there’s extreme ease of plot-but in drawing Anakin’s collapse and the rise of the Kingdom, the film delivers on its promise in an emotive manner. Made as the last Star Wars movie, Vengeance of the Sith is going out. The opening is a serialized play, taking up an unseen adventure with bravado, then spinning into seduction and disaster. The middle act is a lot of walking and chatting as Anakin runs between the Jedi Temple and the Senate, but that’s offset by another Obi-Wan detective mission against General Grievous, a villain who is mostly struck by how brief his position is. Once Anakin turned around (and we’re over the uncomfortable Windu vs. Palpatine battle and the strange electricity.
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
There is a case to be made that Solo’s greater inconsistency: the Star Wars Film, which offers the origin story of Harrison Ford’s lovable outlaw pilot, is part of his plucky charm. Isn’t that going to sound like a scrappy, self-contained Western heist genre exercise? Well, yes, it’s meant to! But the script written by Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan also focuses on describing mythology, such as where Han, played here by Alden Ehrenreich, has his last name; why Chewie is named Chewie; or what the heck the Kessel Run is. (Moreover, there’s a cameo from an old friend.) Solo’s paradox is that it’s hyper-connected to history and completely undeterred. There’s fun in the margins: the train sequence is spectacular; Phoebe Waller-Bridge ‘s defiant robot, L3-37, is really funny; Donald Glover’s Lando brings fun wrinkles to a charming character; Bradford Young’s shadow-filled cinematography gives the adventure a different look.
5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ( 2016)
Rogue One: The Star Wars Story is basically the ethos of the Star Wars Expanding Universe that has been translated to a script. It explores the main tale only next to the movies (in fact, the theft of Death Star’s plans has been told several times in Legends), packed with a number of familiar faces (some apt, some obtuse) and imagines great fictional battles that exploit the concepts set out in the core movies. Yet, unlike a very big part of the EU, it is absolutely fantastic. Gareth Edwards plays on a scale close to that of Godzilla, taking the used-future aesthetics of A New Hope, but delivering it in a manner that seems more imposing and authoritarian. The characters get knocks, but each one has a role to play as the plot zips from world to world and an arc that brings unexpected weight to their deaths. The final act is an all-out Star Wars invasion that best even the most fanciful “first win” fans might imagine, has the guts to follow through with the suicide mission.
6. Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Almost all the components of the Star Wars series that we enjoy and now take for granted — the pleasing exhibition of the yellow title crawl, the diabolically hummable music of John Williams, the abstract mysticism of the Force, and the World War II-inspired laser dogfighting — come here completely developed. Dreamed up by a 33-year-old California film buff fresh from the popularity of his nostalgic come-of-age American Graffiti comedy ensemble, Star Wars didn’t hop out of a cultural dark hole when it arrived in theatres. The Big Bang is now happening. The lore, set out in the regal timbre of Alec Guinness, was influenced and influenced by the mainstream entertainment of the 20th century. What Lucas did was express it in concise, strong images: Luke looking at the two moons on Tatooine, Princess Leia drawing back her hood as she slipped away from the Imperial forces, and Darth Vader stalking down the corridor. Immediately, the semiotic puzzle is clicking together.
7. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
If there were more movies like The Empire Strikes Back. Too many new sequels claim to be the “Empire Strikes Back of the series,” but this typically amounts to an uptick in brooding and a willingness to set up a third entry. Although Episode V is definitely darker and finishes with a cliffhanger down-note, those things are not necessarily what makes Irvin Kershner’s-Luke ‘s teacher-a great film. It’s a galactic disaster, but it’s also a film jolt: vast worlds – snow, space, and clouds – juxtaposed with cramped settings – the Echo Center, the Millennium Falcon, the darkening bowels of Cloud City, Dagobah (which really was Mark Hamill alone), levity and romance unexpectedly descend into horror and heartbreak. Such things are much less well-trodden; the insinuation that the Jedi is incorrect has been hammered home in the prequel, and the origins are here. Empire basically follows the central ideals of Star Wars — Rebel vs. Empire, every hero, magical force, and a knight who wields it.
8. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
The kids who gobble up this movie like candy are on something. While the fluffy Ewoks may grate on audiences looking for a double-dose of Empire-like gloom, and the Lando-assisted second Death Star run sounds like a retread, there is a huge amount of joy to be found in the Return of the Jedi. It’s one of the most re-watchable Star Wars series, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon or a sick day at home from school, and that’s because there’s no risk of leaning toward happier endings. Don’t let the hatred run into you, man. Often it’s healthier to jam the “Yub Nub” song over a pit while a group of dead warriors gazes at it. Ewoks know best about it. The Jabba sequence is a fitting opener that delivers what you want-Luke and Leia rescue Han-and sideswipes-the previously unknown Jabba is a slug, Boba Fett dies-and acts as a nice character setter before the Empire plot kicks in gear. And what’s the final. Anything on the hand of the Emperor is perfect.
9. Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
There was a disruption in the Force when George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for more than $4 billion in 2012, essentially ending the original Star Wars storyline and creating a new age. Subsequent filtering by J.J. Abrams, best known as the co-creator of popular TV shows like Lost and the re-launcher of the Star Trek movie franchise, has confirmed Disney’s unsurprising intentions: they’ve been in this for a long time. Rather than anything, The Force Awakens is a funny, whip-smart act of cinematic collage, free from the original trilogy in the same manner that Lucas borrowed from his own samurai and western classics. The appearance of Daisy Ridley’s Rey, a lone scavenger obviously modeled after Luke Skywalker, is elegantly self-referential and innovative throughout the series. You are instantly engaged because Rey’s perilous and boring life feels visceral, alive, and fresh. Abrams is adding humanity back to the series.
10. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
The Last Jedi may be one of the most controversial Star Wars series, but only for good reasons. When The Force Awakens remixed a much-loved formula, Rian Johnson’s movie shot it all out of the window. Rey’s parents are nobodies at all. Luke is a miserable old man who has a strange sense of humor. Snoke is not so much of an import. This may seem strange decisions compared to what has happened before, but they are exhilarating revelations. And while The Rise of Skywalker did a little to erase any of this, there’s no questioning The Last Jedi stands as his own, wonderful installation in the Skywalker saga. Space Wars: The Last Jedi arrives from the unexpected — Snoke’s death and Luke’s sadness in particular — all of this is at the behest of the main trend, taking Star Wars back to what it was while pushing it further irrevocably. That proved to be divisive-maybe because of the execution, maybe because of the ideas-but that’s a real shame because it distracts us from how amazing The Last Jedi is.
11. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Filled with object-seeking missions and scientific excitement, Skywalker’s Rise is the busiest Star Wars movie ever made. Rey, Finn, Poe, and the tortured bad boy Kylo Ren return to the grand finale of the Disney-era, along with some still welcome familiar faces from the original trilogy, but a grim shadow of anxious corporate fear and a pungent smell of oily brand management hangs over every light-saber crackle and a repeated quip. (Thankfully, the droids are still funny.) The urge to dutifully portray the existing canon, litigating bloodlines and paternal ancestry, becomes a responsibility as the film grinds toward its foregone conclusion. Mirror cracks. While the frantic storyline plays like a task-obsessed video game outline or a series of Wookiepedia entries pasted together, the main concern is that the thematic charm of the series feels removed, as an X-wing gutted for bits. Oh, J.J. Abrams, coming back to the chair of the director after Rian Johnson.