Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Star Wars Film Rankings: Part Two

Last week, we started our look back at the films in the Star Wars universe as ranked by scores on Rotten Tomatoes. We looked at the four highest ranking films. So this week we’ll take a look at the four lowest ranking.

Star Wars Film Rankings
Rotten Tomatoes Score
Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
A New Hope (Episode 4)
Force Awakens (Episode 7)
Rogue One
Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)
Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
Attack of the Clones (Episode 2)
Phantom Menace

Return of the Jedi: When we get down to the bottom is where I really start disagreeing with these Rotten Tomatoes scores. Jedi loses some points, in my mind, for the middle portion of the movie, which is slowly paced and spends way too much time on the Ewoks. The opening and closing acts (freeing Han from Jabba’s palace and the Battle of Endor), however, are quintessential Star Wars. At the beginning, we see Luke putting his Jedi skills into action. (The film also suffers from sexually objectifying Carrie Fisher in her slave outfit.) The end effectively balances the space battle above Endor, the fighting on the surface, and Luke’s confrontation with Vader and the emperor. It is a fitting emotional end to Luke’s journey and his father’s redemption. While it may not be perfect, it’s still belongs ahead of either Force Awakens or Rogue One.

Revenge of the Sith: Revenge of the Sith may be the best of the prequels, but that’s like saying Sbarro is the best airport pizza option. In the end, it still sucks. The film’s opening space battle is enjoyable enough, but it still suffers from plodding dialogue and incredibly poor pacing. The sequel trilogy reduced Natalie Portman’s Padme from gun wielding intergalactic badass to weeping pregnant woman in three short movies. Her delivery of the line, “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart” is painful to listen to—even today. The film’s emotion comes solely from Ewan McGregor’s ability to convey betrayal. There’s no way this movie comes anywhere near Jedi.

Attack of the Clones: I’d personally rank Clones below Phantom Menace. Clones drags on interminably (sensing a theme? George Lucas has pacing problems in his movies). The middle sections where Padme and Anakin escape back to her home planet are some of the worst written romance sequences ever put to film. Throw in a murderous side trip to Anakin’s home planet where he rescues his mom and murders an entire village of sand-people and you’ve got a disaster on your hands. Then there’s the inclusion of Jango Fett—because Boba Fett, the galaxy’s lamest bounty hunter, needed a tragic backstory?—who promptly gets his ass handed to him by a bunch of Jedi. The film’s battle scenes are simply a collection of CGI mumbo-jumbo as one giant CGI army fights another one.

Phantom Menace: This isn’t an argument that Phantom Menace is a good movie, just that it’s better than Attack of the Clones.  Phantom Menace has a fun podracing scene—ripped off from Ben-Hur, but still fun. There’s also Liam Neeson doing his best with some truly clunky George Lucas dialogue (also another Lucas weakness). Yes, Jar-Jar Binks is terrible and a racist stereotype (one of several in the film). And if you watch the film in the Machete Order (4, 5, 2, 3, 6) you can skip Phantom Menace entirely and not miss a beat. But I’d still put the film’s climatic duel with Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul up above anything in Attack of the Clones.  

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