What is the worst Star Wars movie? Everyone seems to have a different answer. Outside of the first two movies, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, it seems like every film in the Skywalker Saga has its detractors. What once was a franchise that brought fans together is now one of the most divisive active series in film. A case could be made for any one of the Skywalker films to be the worst, even if those cases are tenuous at best.
Some might be surprised to find that there are redeeming qualities in each movie (even the prequels), but there is also plenty to criticize. Vote for the worst film in the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Leia Organa, Rey, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Finn, Poe, and the rest.
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
The Case For It: The Last Jedi takes all the complaints of sameness that hit The Force Awakens and learns from it. It's an audacious film that comments not only on itself, but also on Star Wars as a whole. It's easily the most self-reflexive, post-modern Star Wars of them all. Mark Hamill gives his best performance as Luke Skywalker, portraying Luke as a wounded, disillusioned hero nearing the end of his life and seeing nothing but failure until he learns of an even newer hope named Rey. The cinematography by director of photography Steve Yedlin is gorgeous and some of the best in the franchise's history. Also, everyone loves Porgs.
The Case Against It: Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) sacrifices herself, but because she was just introduced in this film, we hardly know her. The "heroes chased by the bad guys while the young Jedi apprentice trains for a big fight" story is lifted directly from Empire. The Canto Bight subplot is a weird digression that addresses themes of social inequality and the perils of war profiteering, which are never addressed again. Some of the comedy falls flat.
Most Head-Scratching Part: Why didn't Holdo just tell Poe her plan? There was really no point in keeping it a secret, since he complained and started a mutiny anyway, which you'd have to assume she anticipated, considering she knew he was a stubborn loose cannon.711525Is this the worst?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
The Case For It: Attack of the Clones corrects the problem of Anakin Skywalker being too young to affect the story in any way by making him an angsty teen. Hayden Christensen takes over as the future Darth Vader, giving the narrative a clear protagonist to follow. Attack of the Clones also gives a larger part to Ewan MacGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi. MacGregor's wry, sarcastic, world-weary Kenobi might be the best overall performance in the entire prequel trilogy. Once again, the action scenes are shot with vigor and attention to detail.
The Case Against It: The plot of Attack of the Clones - what little of it there is - rests on the dubious love story between Anakin Skywalker and Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman). Nevermind that Amidala met Anakin when he was only 9. What's worse is that the actors have absolutely no chemistry together.
The dialogue is some of the least natural-sounding in a series known for its mouthfuls of awkward conversation. Nothing really happens until the final 30 minutes of the movie, which features the first battle of the Clone Wars. For a movie about a galactic conflict, the fall of democracy, and the rise of a brutal space-dictatorship, there's not much to really care about. It all feels like low-stakes wheel-spinning to prepare the audience for the more consequential, climactic Episode III. You could probably skip this movie and still understand everything that happens in Revenge of the Sith.
Most Head-Scratching Part: Four words: "I don't like sand."
561470Is this the worst?
- Released: 2002
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
The Case For It: This is not going to be easy, but hear us out. The Phantom Menace is a visual treat that advanced the technological progress of cinema more than just about any film of its era - other than The Matrix. From the creation of motion-capture creatures like Jar Jar Binks to the jaw-dropping podrace sequence, The Phantom Menace is a remarkable fantasy spectacle. It also has the most memorable lightsaber confrontation in the entire series, the scene immortalized as the "Duel of the Fates."
George Lucas, making his return to the director's chair for the first time since 1977, lost none of his ability to stage a magnificent action scene. The Phantom Menace is also the only prequel film to feature extensive use of physical sets, puppetry, and other practical effects. By Attack of the Clones, most of the locations and creatures were rendered with green screens and computers, giving them an artificial quality that has not aged well. Visually, Phantom Menace might be the Star Wars prequel that looks the least dated to modern eyes.
The Case Against It: Where, oh where, to begin? Criticism of The Phantom Menace is now something of an internet cliche, but for good reason. No Star Wars film can ever top Episode I for pre-release hype or post-release disappointment. As the first Star Wars film in over a decade, The Phantom Menace had most of the world frothing in anticipation. In 1999, Star Wars content was far rarer than it is today, when we're blessed with a regular diet of films, animated series, and live-action streaming shows, in addition to the books, comics, and video games that have always made up the extended Star Wars universe. All that enthusiasm was tested when Episode I disappointed so many long-time fans with shallow characters, a plodding story, clunky dialogue, and the aforementioned Jar Jar Binks. The disappointment and frustration around this movie are deep and profound. Star Wars fandom would never be the same again.
Most Head-Scratching Part: There are so many choices, but one choice stands out from the others. Young Anakin Skywalker (played by Jake Lloyd, who was only 10 when the film was released) destroys the droid control ship by accident. In contrast to the cathartic, emotional moment when Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star in A New Hope, Anakin just kind of... lucks into stopping the Trade Federation invasion of Naboo. It could be argued that Anakin was being influenced by the mysterious powers of the Force (and the *sigh* midichlorians in his blood or whatever), but that's never made explicit in any way. This all might not have been an issue if Lucas hadn't decided to make Anakin a passive 9-year-old boy with no agency of his own. At times, The Phantom Menace seems to be about everyone and no one at once. Also, midichlorians. What the heck, George?
482435Is this the worst?
- Released: 1999
The Case For It: The Rise of Skywalker has some really cool visuals. Ian McDiarmid returns in full force as Emperor Palpatine (or his clone or whatever). Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver remain compelling leads. Driver's scene with Harrison Ford is a legit tearjerker moment.
The Case Against It: The movie flies through every scene without giving viewers time to process the plot. There's pretty much nothing for Poe and Finn to do, yet the script adds even more characters (Jannah? General Pryde? Zorii Bliss?) that come and go without incident. The Rise of Skywalker also retroactively makes the entire trilogy about Palpatine and disregards the themes of the previous two movies. The final space battle is almost impossible to follow.
Most Head-Scratching Part: Emperor Palpatine oversaw the creation of a massive fleet of Star Destroyers in complete secrecy and was able to staff all of these ships within one of the most inhospitable areas of space in the Star Wars universe. He also had a daughter.
431458Is this the worst?
- Released: 2019