Star Wars movies ranked worst to best based on Rotten Tomatoes scores

Star Wars movies
Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back and Rey and Finn in Force Awakens, Star Wars movies. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Star Wars movies are polarizing, even to the best of fans. There are differing views on what makes a good Star Wars movie, whether it is always moving forward or just continuing to relive the past in new films.

This was obvious in the ’90s when George Lucas created his prequels, which many long-time fans hated, and it was more obvious with the sequel trilogy, which split fans down the middle.

No matter which side of the fence a fan sits, there are good and bad things in all the movies, but at the end of the day, this franchise has never failed to offer up awe-inspiring stories of a land far, far away.

The original Star Wars movie trilogy saw the rise of Luke Skywalker and the heroic feats of his close friends Han Solo and Princess Leia.

The prequel Star Wars movie trilogy saw the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the Jedi Order and the rise of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The sequel Star Wars movie trilogy showed the rise of new era heroes in Rey, Finn, and Poe, and their struggles to live up to the heroes who came before them.

Here is a look at all the Star Wars movies, ranked by critics scores from Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – 51%

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker
Rey vs. Kylo Ren in Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

It seemed hard to believe that any new Star Wars movie would rank lower than the prequels, but that is what happened with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The final movie in the sequel trilogy tried to cater to two different audience expectations and ended up failing both of them.

Many vocal fans hated The Last Jedi due to the way it altered some of the characters from the original trilogy, specifically Luke Skywalker. They also didn’t like some of the new characters, especially the new females cast in the series.

Rise of Skywalker tried to walk back some of what happened in The Last Jedi, but it ended up as the worst-ranked Star Wars movie in the entire franchise.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – 52%

Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace relaunched the entire franchise in the ’90s and set out to tell the story of how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

The first movie saw Anakin as a child, and part of the problem with the movie is that few fans liked the acting of young Jake Lloyd (or Hayden Christensen, for that matter, when he replaced him in the next two movies).

However, this movie was a load of fun, with the pod race one highlight and the fantastic Darth Maul as another high point.

The movie was geared toward younger audiences and disappointed older fans of the original trilogy, likely accounting for the lower critics’ score.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones – 65%

Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones
The Jedi prepare for battle in Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

While it is ranked higher than Phantom Menace, the movie that was considered the worst Star Wars movie ever made up until Rise of Skywalker was Attack of the Clones.

This movie relied too heavily on CGI, and those effects overshadowed anything else in the movie. There was also the problem of the stiff acting of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and the forced love story with Padme.

This movie was also the middle film, and unlike Empire Strikes Back, it didn’t do much to inspire confidence in the trilogy coming to a satisfying conclusion.

Luckily, the final movie of the prequel trilogy was the high point after this very low point.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – 69%

Solo A Star Wars Story
Han Solo and Chewbacca in Solo A Star Wars Story. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Solo: A Star Wars Story had the misfortune of coming after Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so fans who hated the fact that Rian Johnson was moving the franchise into the future dismissed this one.

However, Solo was a fun adventure movie that relied a little too much on fan lip service at the expense of an otherwise solid story.

Alden Ehrenreich starred as a young Han Solo as he started his career as a smuggler. He met Chewbacca and a young Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) along the way.

Ron Howard directed the film, and it was a good Star Wars movie, although it remains underrated due to its lackluster theatrical release (it was the lowest-grossing Star Wars movie ever).

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) – 80%

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

The final part of the Star Wars prequel trilogy was the best rated movie of the three.

This was the movie where Anakin Skywalker went to the Dark Side of the Force and his old partner Obi-Wan Kenobi had to stop him.

There was so much darkness in this movie, including Anakin slaughtering all the children in the Jedi training school and Obi-Wan chopping Anakin to pieces in their final fight.

This movie was more mature than the first two films in the prequel series and remains a solid watch for fans who want to see the birth of Darth Vader.

Return of the Jedi (1983) – 82%

Return of the Jedi
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Return of the Jedi has its fans, but it remains the low point of the original trilogy.

This was the conclusion to the first story, where Luke Skywalker had his second fight with Darth Vader as a more experienced Jedi, and Anakin finally had his redemption by turning on the Emperor.

However, there were also some serious problems with this story, as Star Wars added the Ewoks, which were cut Muppets that were actually cannibals, and the Han and Leia love story never felt right here.

It was a solid conclusion to the Star Wars movie trilogy, but it was miles from the first two movies in terms of quality.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) – 84%

Rogue One A Star Wars Story
The cast from Rogue One A Star Wars Story. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

While Lucasfilm stopped making Star Wars Story movies after the failure of Solo, they had a huge hit in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Released in 2016, this movie mostly ignored the characters from the original trilogy, which helped it avoid the fans who complain about everything involving their original favorites.

The movie focused on the ragtag group of mercs sent to retrieve the Death Star plans and deliver them to the Rebel Forces, which set up the first Star Wars movie.

The acting was great, the action was top-notch, and this Star Wars movie dared to have an ending that was satisfying but far from a happily ever after conclusion.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (1983) – 90%

Star Wars The Last Jedi
Luke training Rey in Star Wars The Last Jedi. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Last Jedi tried to do more than any other Star Wars movie, and that caused a lot of fans to hate it.

The movie turned Luke into a recluse who was wary about the Force, seeing how it was as dangerous as it was helpful. He became the Yoda of the sequel trilogy, avoiding action when he watched first-hand the Force corrupt someone close to him.

The movie also pushed the new characters to the forefront, with Rey, Finn, Poe, and company working to become the next generation of fighters, resisting the evil Empire.

This Star Wars movie did more to move the franchise into a future where anything could happen, and that makes it one of the best movies in the entire franchise. Those who want the franchise to remain stuck in the past disagreed strongly.

Star Wars (1977) – 92%

Star Wars
Luke, Han, and Leia in Star Wars. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

The first Star Wars movie, shockingly, is the third-ranked on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is the movie where a farm boy named Luke Skywalker decided he wanted to leave home and become a fighter pilot for the Rebellion.

However, it took the murder of his aunt and uncle to set him off, and he joined Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Chewbacca to save Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.

After this, he set out on a mission to stop the building of the Death Star and embraced the powers of the Force within himself to do so.

This is almost a perfect Hero’s Journey adventure movie.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – 93%

Star Wars The Force Awakens
Rey and Finn running in Star Wars The Force Awakens. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

When Star Wars movies returned in 2015, it was with J.J. Abrams as director and he introduced a new era of heroes to lead the franchise into the future.

This included Rey, a girl who learns she is Force sensitive, Finn, a former Stormtrooper gone good, and Poe, an X-Wing pilot who is this movie’s version of Han Solo. Also new is Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, who has gone to the Dark Side,

The movie basically follows the exact same storyline and beats as the first Star Wars movie and just retells the exact same story everyone already saw, but with new characters in the roles.

That made most Star Wars movie fans happy at the time.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 94%

The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader reaching out to Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

The highest-rated Star Wars movie of all time is no surprise. It is The Empire Strikes Back.

The second Star Wars movie had Luke Skywalker as a more experienced Jedi Warrior after going to visit and train under Yoda, another surviving Jedi who went into seclusion.

Han Solo was a key player this time, as he was on the run from Jabba the Hutt’s bounty hunters and this movie introduced his old friend Lando Calrissian, who betrayed him to Vader.

This movie also featured the major twist that Vader was Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father.

The ending was a cliffhanger, with the good guys losing to the Empire and having to reground to head off and try to finally win in the next movie.

This was a true masterpiece.

What are your rankings? Which Star Wars movie do you rank as the best of all time?

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Jill Gardner
Jill Gardner
2 years ago

The Force Awakens was horse-pucky. I would have walked out of the theater but I kept hoping it would get better. NOPE. Every next minute of it was worse than the minute before. Who got paid off at Rotten Tomatoes for the score to be that high??

BTW: The year is wrong on Star Wars: The Last Jedi