Recently, I rewatched the prequel Star War movies and the Rouge One movie. A rule I set was that the movies had to stand on their own merits—other cannon materials do not count. When judging the movies, look at the movies. The final two were the hardest. While four and three were clear cut, the top two were not. Also, I will also be looking only at the live action films, so I will not include the Clone Wars animated movie.
4. Attack of the Clones
My theory of the prequel movies is this, they all share the same weaknesses, but some just are hampered by them far more than the others. All three prequels have terrible CGI, but AOTC consistently is terrible at it unlike any of the others. Scene after scene was reliant on CGI and often it was terrible. If you are going to use that much it actually has to be good. We all know how bad the dialogue is, we have all heard about sand. Do not even get me started on the plot holes or absolute lack of logic needed to propel the plot. I know I have to suspend realism, but I like my characters to not be retarded.
When it comes to upside, this movie only has a few things going for it. An amazing score, but every Star Wars movie has that—god bless John Williams. Sadly, it lacked much more. The clones were amazing to see, but we barely saw them, even less in battle. Unlike the first and last prequel movie, AOTC ending lightsaber battle was a letdown. Obi-Wan and Anakin got put down like punks, and the quality battle between Yoda and Count Dooku was far too short.
The movie also had several critical flaws. Take the relationship between Padme and Anakin. Last we saw it; it resembled far more of a maternal relationship. For the majority of the movie, it is close a stalker relationship. They randomly have them start kissing and while we know they are supposed to fall for each other, they never show it. The only scene in the whole movie where we see an organic relationship between the two is in the arena and when Anakin asks about negotiations. I actually felt chemistry there—I blame Lucas for being a terrible director.
3. Phantom Menace
First off, Maul is a criminally underused villain. This by itself is a mark against the prequels. It is also a mark against Lucas as a director and storyteller. Why have a different villain for each new movie? Contrast that thinking with the original trilogy, one villain throughout. The new trilogy appears to follow the same formula; the lack of villain consistency cuts away at the idea of a single story.
PM, like all prequel movies, shares a common set of fatal sins. Bad CGI, terrible dialogue, and a poorly told story. Revenge Of The Sith does the best job at getting past these problems, while AOTC embraces them. PM takes a middle approach. There is some dialogue which is cringy, but nothing so cringy that we still remember it. The CGI is bad, but acceptable for the time. Like AOTC, PM requires us to think the bad guys are dumb. That does not make for a good villain.
Like AOTC, PM lacks an interesting opening. The closest we get to an exciting opening is Jedi target practice against practice B1 battle droids. Unlike AOTC, and like ROTS, PM has an exciting ending. The only problem I had here was that it went too long. The celebration was unnecessary, and ending on Palpatine would have made it far more dramatic.
2. Revenge of the Sith
Like I said in my explanation for AOTC, all the prequels share common flaws, and ROTS does share many of those, but unlike the other two, it does make gains in other areas. ROTS has some truly terrible dialogue (case in point, the exchange over why Padme looks beautiful) but it also has amazing dialogue. Few exchanges are more engrained in our culture than the exchange between Obi-wan and Darth Vader after Obi-Wan wins. The same can be said with the CGI. The best example is the chancellor’s office. It looks downright fake, but they also show the ability to use CGI in a beautiful manner in the opening space battle.
Yes, ROTS has the same systemic problems in the other two prequels do, but there is so much more upside to this movie. The opening space battle gives up something we had never seen before, a full-fledged space battle in Star Wars and it does it beautifully. The movie also provided an exciting opening that the first two films lacked. And the ending, my god, I cannot say how much I enjoyed the Battle of Mustafar and the Battle between Yoda and Sidious. Those were two of the most exciting battles in the whole movie franchises history. Only the ending battle for PM holds a candle to these two lightsaber duels. It was so good I am almost willing to overlook Yoda retreating for no reason or any other of the plot problems.
1. Rogue One
Immediately after watching Rogue One and ROTS, I was going to put ROTS first; but after thinking about it, I decided not to. I realized R1 has many of the same positives as ROTS but it lacks almost all the downsides. The CGI was consistent and beautiful. The dialogue was believable and I do not think I ever cringed. The plot did not require a stupid villain—it just required a scientist having to do military stuff.
It also had so much good. Let us just focus on the ending. We got a massive Star Wars battle on a scale and in an in-depth perspective like we never had before. It was amazing. And what can I say about the ending scene? We finally got to see on the big screen why Lord Vader is so feared. He is a machine of pure power, pure terror, and a complete lack of mercy.
The biggest problem I had with this film was the love arc. The relationship between Cassian and Jen was forced and that should not be a surprise. It was added in reshoots. They basically did the movie, then redid a whole new third act, and that is where the relationship was. The movie was not meant to have it.
Lastly, let me give kudos to Lucasfilm and everyone who worked on this movie. Thank you for having it in you to kill off the main characters. I know that is hard to do, but it made the ending so much better.
I am watching the original trilogy and The Force Awakens and will post a ranking of them, and then a total ranking which will include the complete franchise when I finish.
Also, can I say, ROTS and R1 had the best fan service ending them.