Ranking the Star Wars movies

How have you been spending your quarantine time? As a Star Wars fan, I’m using it to up my game a bit. My husband Reed and I have been wanting to rewatch all the movies in order for years and finally made time for it.

Because I love over-thinking, I quickly found a way to track how I was analyzing each movie. For each, I noted the following:
things to like
things to hate
new thing(s) The Force can do
things that are retroactively wrong
who says the famous line “I have a bad feeling about this.”
plus other thoughts
and thoughts from Reed (in case you need a white dude’s perspective)

Episode I

inconsistencies: Can things be inconsistent if this is the “first movie”? My metric is compare to the original trilogy in which case – there’s no random ALL CAPS words in the opening scrawl. Even as a kid, it annoyed me what words they chose to capitalize. My first brush with the inner editor in me.
Why doesn’t Qui Gon disappear when he dies? Instead he’s burned, like Darth Vader (or maybe it was just Vader’s suit and the man did disappear? never wondered this before)

consistencies: Invading forces always land hella far from their targets. There are no railings on any behind the scenes areas on ships or in palaces. Considering gravity works the same, this seems like a real oversight. How many people do they lose annually?

things to like: Uh, not much. The light saber battle. And the critters shown underwater and on the peripheral of other scenes were cool.

things to hate: I had totally forgotten that Anakin was an immaculate conception by mediclorins. Wow. Also, I cannot separate my feelings of disappointment seeing this in 1999 from the movie itself. Jar Jar’s weird way of speaking and Michelle Tanner (from Full House) catch phrases are unforgivable. The overuse of CG versus puppets. Why does Qui Gon keep touching people’s shoulders? The Trade Federation guys’ accents and mouth movements seem racist, or at least very insensitive.

new thing The Force can do: Lightsabers cut through doors.

retroactively wrong: If the force can bring people back from the dead, why not Qui-Gon?

who says it: Obi-Wan

other thoughts: The railing-free overly-complicated area just off the main hangar is ridiculous. It was a good light saber fight though, I’ll give them that. You can tell that Ewan McGregor at least took his training very seriously. And gave good standoff face while behind the unneccessary glowing locks. Definitely killed off Darth Maul too quickly, one of many reasons to see the animated series. 

From Reed: I had not remembered that Palpatine is from Naboo. Given what we learn about Rey’s family in ep9, the force really seems concentrated on just a couple of planets. Speaking of the Jedi/Sith fight – the location they end up in is definitely one of those ‘why is this thing even here?’ places. Randomly opening force field doors, giant circular holes going to somewhere, and this is just off the main palace somehow??
I had the same thought about the invading forces being so far away too. I mean, in modern earth warfare you want to be able to assemble your ground forces and have air support before facing the full brunt of the defending army. I still think it was a bit of an excuse to show grand vistas in the movies. I was a bit unclear when watching about the immaculate conception by mediclorins. I was thinking possibly it was just the dad wasn’t around. How would Qui-Gon not mention this to the Jedi council? Seems like an important detail, unless this sort of thing is relatively common long ago in this galaxy.

Episode II

consistencies: Jedi hair remains terrible.

inconsistencies: R2-D2 can fly?!

things to like: Hey, at least there’s a plot, and some galactic implications. Obi-Wan’s detaching ship is pretty cool. 

things to hate: Anakin is SUPER creepy and makes every situation, personal and professional, so weird. But then I thought about it and maybe it’s on brand for an 18 year old who’s hardly been socialized. Still, I was yelling at him to shut up and/or act normal. CG Yoda is lame. Also, he seems much younger than in Empire, considering what we know of his age then and that it is only 20 or so years later. I would have preferred the puppet with some CG, for fight scenes and all. I remember seeing it in the theater and being like “get em Yoda!” Christopher Lee had a harder task to battle against himself, or whatever stand in they had, and it shows vs the battle in ep1.

new thing The Force can do: Apparently a light saber can take the brunt of the lightning bolts. That’s definitely not true later.

retroactively wrong: the Death Star plans maybe?? Did the writers of Rogue One watch this movie? I can’t blame them if they didn’t. When I think about it, the timing could be right, though it seems unlikely that they’d have such a nice diagram of it say 20 or so years before it was built. Say Leia and Jyn are the same age, that’s about the timing I figure.

who said it: Anakin

other thoughts: Do any Jedi, even one, complete their training or do they all rush out of apprenticeship? So far, none have. Obi-Wan is close, and says he’s ready (don’t they all?) but it’s still clear that if it weren’t for Anakin, he wouldn’t be taking the test yet. And I don’t think any of the rest of them make it to trials at all, though that could be because there isn’t a council anymore (spoiler alert). They totally stole C-3PO from his step-family. Like, he could be the reason they are able to make a living and they just take off and never mention that. In the execution scene, did Padme have the hairpin that she used to pick her lock in her mouth when she was making out with Anakin on the way to be executed? And wow, that’s a Bond villain level execution, tying people to posts and having animals kill them (or not, as the case may be). “I have a gun in my room, I’ll go get it” – could have been so simple.

From Reed: There seemed to be a lot of foreboding in this one, some was subtle and some hit you over the head. Biggest example I noticed was Obi-Wan saying to Anakin “Why do I get the feeling you’ll be the death of me?” when they were going after the hitman in the club. So many crazy hairstyles for Padme. Seemed from the palace that there was a lot of courtly presentation going on on Naboo, but does she have a hairstyling droid or does it take her days to get somewhere? What all is in those Jedi utility belts? In ep1 they had the little scuba breathers for visiting the Gungans, and a belt with pockets was visible in this one too. The center sphere of the battle stations on the planet looked a lot like the cities in Spaceballs. Maybe Lucas got a call from Mel Brooks. Maybe R2’s booster rockets ran out of juice for the later movies. Kind of a grim one- after the Jedi and droid battle in the ampitheatre Jengo Fett gets beheaded. Boba picks up the helmet in mourning, but I’m pretty sure the head is still in there.

Episode III

consistencies: R2 flies again (not sure if this is a consistency now or still an inconsistency). Palpatine really loves a good chair near a window. Hands getting cut off. Palpatine being obsessed with death/keeping people alive (didn’t seem relevant until ep9). No railings or safety lines on the edge of things.

inconsistencies: No ALL CAPs in the scrawl again, though there was for ep2. Jedi hair is not terrible, this seems unrealistic. Obi-Wan is almost dapper. Buzz droids are pretty effective, seems like those would have stuck around. Same with ray shields. A half droid, half person in General Grievous, totally random and not really explained.

things to like: I don’t think Jar Jar says one word. Obi-Wan’s ginger beard and the way he keeps stroking it (Ewan McGregor clearly studied the tape of Alec Guinness). Also him being a daredevil, smiling when faced with 4 sabers, leaping out to more treacherous spots during his fight with Anakin. The scenes of the Jedi being attacked on various planets was put together nicely. 

things to hate: We don’t know if the lizard survived that fall, poor thing. Padme is given very little to do and could have been a much more interesting part of this. Though the “thunderous applause” line is particularly good – which makes me think Lucas lifted it from somewhere. Also, does Obi-Wan just put her to sleep when she starts asking him questions as they’re leaving the lava moon? Not cool, bro. And her dying of a broken heart or whatever. She was so tough all through, fighting and getting into the thick of things. But she can’t handle this when physically everything is fine?

New thing The Force can do: Apparently those lightning bolts seriously transform people in certain circumstances (Palpatine’s disfigurement). Also, apparently the dark side gives you yellow eyes, but only sometimes.

retroactively wrong: Palpatine having no sign of a family. Wasn’t surprising then, now it’s a big issue.

who says it: Obi-Wan again. I was hoping it would be Yoda in front of Chewie and then he says it to Han in Solo and that’s why Han says it in IV. Would have been great to have it carry through that way.

other thoughts: They needed to separate the lines of Padme saying “you’ve been gone so long” and “I’m pregnant.” Makes one wonder. Does the unknowing audience already know that Siddius and Palpatine are the same person? I knew as soon as he was introduced in ep1 because my action figure as a kid said “Emperor Palpatine” on the box. It was weird when they showed the off-world Jedi calling in to the council meeting. I thought they were blue because they were dead, not just calling in. I’ve realized that none of the previous Jedi disappeared when they died and came back as ghosts because that wasn’t a skill they knew yet. So that is consistent from ep1 on, though it seemed an inconsistency at the time. Ian McDiarmid is a good actor, watching him blur the lines between senator and emperor was cool, the mannerisms and voice. I wish they’d given Hayden a little more time to transform from good to bad. He does ok at it but a lot is just lowered head glowering. I have a feeling this will bother me even more once we’ve watched Clone Wars. I also noticed all the different light saber color combinations in this movie. The red/purple was ugly, blue/blue confusing. Gotta think about these things. Anakin is on his third (?) light saber already?

From Reed: Anakin has lost a couple of light sabres, or had them destroyed. Are there tracking devices on these things, and how do you get a new one made? The storm troopers (or proto ones, clone army) on the Wookiee planet have camo armor. It doesn’t do any better against blasters or light sabres, but it would blend in a bit. The attack ships that Obi-Wan and Anakin fly in the opening battle, and Obi-Wan later flies farther, look and sound like proto tie fighters to me. They keep sending people to the outer reaches, or long ways away. How long would that take even at light speed or however fast they travel? I know there are a lot of peculiarities in how The Force works, but it seemed odd that Obi-Wan and Yoda couldn’t sense that Anakin was betraying them and killing everyone at the temple. A lot of weird emotions going on with Anakin in this movie. Some of them looked like it was intentional from someone who had a really messed up upbringing. A few moments looked like either good acting by Hayden Christensen or good directing by Lucas, not sure which to believe. We don’t get to see him fight much, mostly just sit on council, but apparently Mace Windu is supposed to be one of the most powerful Jedi. Maybe he could manipulate the lightning a bit when sending it back at Palpatine?

Episode III.V aka Solo

I didn’t have this movie with me at the time. More notes coming soon!

other thoughts: Is referring to the Millenium Falcon as junk a thru line? That might be every character’s first impression. I love that it was Han’s too.
I always wondered about droid naming convention too. I thought maybe they gave themselves their names. A good time to write that in would have been Anakin in ep1 having created C-3PO. But not in the universe, I’m assuming it’s Lucas or the writers just deciding what sounds cool and what nicknames come from it.  Why put all those fighting droids out of service? I’m assuming it’s just to tie up that loophole, that they didn’t exist in the OG trilogy. Probably another thing the TV shows could clear up.

From Reed: Storm trooper “armor” looks the same as it does in eps4-6. They had looked a little different in ep3 I think. There is the battle that Han is in after running away from Correlia, and in that battle there are storm troopers and regular soldiers. I am guessing they are part of different fighting units, but fighting side by side basically. When they go to Kessel, there is reference to spice mines on that planet too. This movie got me thinking about the structure of droid naming. R2-D2, C-3P0, L3-37, K-2S0. Is it just what they think sounds right or is there actually a format to this?Beckett refers to a job on Tattooine, which presumably Han takes. How long before ep4 does this happen? Does this job get him on Jabba’s shit list for a long time or something farther down the line? Overall, Han comes off as an optimist if this is your introduction to him as a character. In almost every situation he thinks things can get turned around and go his/their way.

Episode III.IX aka Rogue One

consistencies: The tech, views on display screens and through binoculars – this makes me happy. Invading forces park so far away. Mouse droids! Love them. Lack of railings (except on the outdoor catwalk). There’s an opening for red 5 and the blue squadron is all killed off (never mentioned in OG).

inconsistencies: I miss the opening scrawl. Though I like all the exposition scenes, some bits could easily have been sacrificed to make a scrawl. Why do Krennic’s guard troopers speak a different language? Planet labels and descriptions when first introduced – though I’m glad since there were so many locations.

things to like: The portrayal of the shifty side of the rebellion, the assassins, the spies. The info that the Death Star has different settings and can blow up only areas of a planet if desired. The retro details like the display screens, and that Saw’s crew has a non-digital version of the table top wrestling game. Cassian gets some great character details – killing but a moment to look conflicted, rounding up the other guys, the line about carrying his prison around with him. Saw being a low-tech version of Vader, mechanical feet, breathing apparatus, etc is cool, though I felt like it was very weird on first viewing or before I made the connection to Vader. All the actors’ accents, especially Diego Luna’s. Color morphs of the squid-headed aliens. The subtlety of the various goodbyes said between our main team as they split up and go on separate parts of the mission and all die. The effectiveness of this aspect may be the only reason I end up ranking Rogue One so high. Krennic’s death is fantastic as well. I’m glad he stayed down long enough that I wasn’t mad at Cassian for only shooting once but woke up in time to see his own project come to kill him. 

things to hate: The bor gullet (mind-reading creature) Saw has. It seems cruel to everyone involved, and completely unnecessary to the story. Just plug in the USB! The Tarkin CG. It’s cool but shows flaws the longer it’s on the screen. And it would have been so easy to just have him be in window reflections or as a hologram more. Jyn as a female lead is great, but there’s so few other women in the crowd – why not any on Imperial bridges or meetings, or in the group of assassins that go to Scarif?

New thing The Force can do: Info about kyber crystals powering light sabers and Death Star. 

retroactively wrong: Maybe nothing, though it definitely twists itself in loops to bridge the Death Star storyline. Krennic says “work has stalled” when he comes for Galen, so that explains why it took SO long to build the first Death Star. Cassian says he joined the rebellion when he was 6 so that’s at least 20 years now since the split, probably closer to 30 if we go by the actor’s age. But the Senate is still together? Both sides mention the Senate. And did we know the Death Star could hyper jump?

who says it: K2, though he gets shouted down before he can finish the sentence. Which tracks as he’s spent the rest of the movie only bringing up stats when they’re negative.

other thoughts: I love when K2 slaps Cassian on Jedha, that was an ad-lib on Alan Tudyk’s part and you can see Diego Luna laughing from shock. I want a cut of the whole movie with Tudyk still in, on stilts and wearing the grey polka dot CG suit. I would love to watch that. I missed the music a bit, didn’t realize until the end credits that John Williams didn’t do it. They go back to his score only a few times, Jimmy Smits gets it, Darth Vader of course. I feel bad for the actor who had to lug the huge gun and wear armor and a pack on the set constantly. I’m curious why they didn’t get Palpatine in here, kept making excuses. Would make sense if the actor had died (though that didn’t stop them with the others). Wish they’d shown similar restraint in ep9. You’d think Tarkin would get into trouble for blowing up all their data archives.

From Reed: I was thinking the same thing about Saw, that he was a lower tech Vader. When I first heard his name this time, I was thinking that it was a linguistic play on words – I heard Saw Gerrera as ‘Sol Guerra’ which would be roughly ‘lone fighter’ in Spanish. I was thinking of that along the lines of you saying the German translation of Darth Vader kind of giving things away in the original and how Saw was seen as an extremist and fighting alone for so long.  I don’t think we knew that the death star can hyperjump. That kind of brings up something that I have wondered about traveling around the galaxy in this universe. How fast do they actually go? It seems like getting from point A to B takes hardly any time, like the launching of the X-wings that Cassian calls in. 

Episode IV

consistencies: both sabers Obi-Wan has are blue (what he and Anakin had when they battled last). So many mentions I hadn’t caught before: spice mines on Kesell. Knowing all the backstory, I thought Obi-Wan would end up lying at some point, but all the shifty eyes and generic info makes sense. His whole “truth, from a certain point of view” in ep5 holds up, I didn’t expect it to. Storm trooper banter about a new model of gun, goes along with banter in Rogue One about an outdated model. Love it.Parking hella far away – the Death Star rolls up on the wrong side of Yavin, giving a 30 minute countdown. Weird metal darts in people’s pockets. I noticed these on Jimmy Smits and a few others in 3 and Rogue One. Some costume designer picked up on it in the OG trilogy, good for them. 

inconsistencies: it’s almost inconsistent how much of Rogue One is covered in the opening scrawl, because in the other movies it’s essentially stuff we don’t know or get to see onscreen, even in past movies. This whole timeline is mushy though. Luke and Leia have aged about 20 years, but Obi-Wan has aged more. They should have aged Ewan up a bit in ep3. Maybe desert life is rough. Obi-Wan says “only storm troopers are so precise” with their blasting. LOL. Vader being so close to his Force-sensitive kids and having no clue. Maybe it’s blocked in him since he thinks there was no baby, and definitely not two. He does notice Luke once he gives in and listens to the Force – so maybe that’s the explanation. The Death Star plans are wrong, they show the dish at the station’s equator, not above it. There are commas in the end credits, does this exist in any other movie ever?

things to like: Leia is a bad ass. Diplomatic mission is a bold lie considering Vader saw that ship outside Scarif. R2-D2 gets great character moments, clearly talking trash the whole time, singing to himself when he travels alone, scared noises, and tricking Luke into removing his restraining bolt. Retroactive props to Ewan for doing Alec’s accent and beard tug so well. 

things to hate: Luke is so whiny and a total pain in the ass. Around the farm, in the bar, on the Millennium Falcon, about Leia. 

new thing The Force can do: I guess there’s the whole disappearing dead body and disembodied voice thing. Darth seems surprised, which I’d never thought about before. But makes sense given the setup from ep3. 

retroactively wrong: No mention of Rogue One or the Ersos or any of that. Some of the people in the briefing room must have been there for the meeting in Rogue One where going to Scarif was debated.

who says it: Luke says it, and then later Han says it. I still wish it had been Obi-Wan, so that there would be the through line.

other thoughts: There was some backstory I didn’t remember and it amazed me to see and hear new things after a lifetime of watching this movie. Luke wanting to go to an academy, which is clearly for training in the rebellion since he mentions his friend Biggs going and then meets up with him as a X-wing pilot later. Mention of Luke being from the outer rim. When they kept using this term in ep1-3, I felt like it was new, but clearly wasn’t. I like than Han and Luke keep their storm trooper belts. We get to see that there’s a grappling hook on there at least. Is Han Solo a Disney Prince? He does have notably tight pants. The cheesy ending is a product of its time, but feels especially corny when watched after Rogue One. I always thought it was super rude to not have given Chewie a medal (fixed in ep9), but now I realize that there were also 2 other ships, Y-wings, that survived the run on the Death Star. Nothing for them either?

From Reed: The CG in the special edition is distracting. It also seemed to overfill some scenes, either with animation or with sounds from animals that weren’t there before. Storm troopers mention setting their blasters to stun when shooting at Leia. I don’t remember that happening in any other movie, seems like a nice option though. Luke – whiny from the very beginning. Obi-Wan gives Luke a light saber and says his father wanted him to have it. Is that the same one that the same one that Obi-Wan picked up off the volcano planet after cutting off Anakin’s limbs and leaving him? Seems like a bit of revisionist history. Darth seemed to have a faster breathing pattern when fighting Obi-Wan. Shows that he has stresses and there is a man within the machine. The Death Star traveled to Yavin really quickly, implying that it has light speed capabilities. Not sure if that ever gets mentioned out loud but that question had come up in Rogue One.

Episode V

consistencies: I don’t even know where to put this anymore – but no all caps in the scrawl? Did I make this up? Luke is a whiny child (though a bit better than before). More people losing arms, Luke, the Hoth ice monster. The cold weather Rebel jacket Han wears is the same as Cassian’s in Rogue one. And now there’s a Rogue squadron too! This feels like a sendup the Rogue One team deserves, even if it was done retroactively. They park hella far away on Hoth again, but this time there’s a reason. Darth kills a guy for coming in too close and alerting them. C-3PO mentioning the Millennium Falcon’s weird dialect, which we now know comes from Lando’s droid L3-37. Luke’s cave scene being all weird and Greek chorus-y makes me less annoyed that Rey’s is similar in ep8. And I swear there’s a very similar line about moving rocks being a waste of time in ep5 and 8 too. Boba Fett does sound like a Kiwi! Somehow I didn’t know this or remember it, but it makes me very happy that they didn’t retcon that for ep2 when they needed like a million of him. Side note – it must be weird for him to see all the storm troopers suits that used to be filled with clones like him. Vader telling him “no disintegrations!”

inconsistencies: Does R2-D2 need a power source? It seems like it on Dagoba. Also, R2 plugging in to the wrong type of port on Cloud City seems weird, and kind of pointless. Imperials say “shields up” and mention a cloaking device. I don’t think these concepts are ever mentioned again. Obi-Wan saying Luke is the last hope, he’s the one who knows Padme had twins. Or maybe he thinks Leia died on Alderaan? Luke mispronounces Tatooine – his home planet…

things to like: R2-D2’s continued amazingness. While I had pondered my love for him versus BB-8 and K-2SO, it is clear R2-D2 is the best, mostly because of how much he talks trash. Telling C-3PO he’s looked better when he’s in literal pieces – harsh, bro. He sightsees from the X-wing when Luke is driving, his little periscope swimming, and looking in through Yoda’s windows when they leave him in the rain (he was supposed to stay at camp even). All the promotions via choking, especially the first time it happens – that actor plays it perfectly. AT-ATs are super cool. I wonder how they landed them there. Do they have thrusters to get through atmo? Leia and Han’s flirting. Those lines would work on me too. Han literally punches the cape off of Lando, hilarious. Harrison Ford did a good job in this one of being conflicted, his fluctuating emotional state as he starts to care about more and more people. Ford’s seeming annoyance at being known for this role in recent years had colored my memories of his performance, but it’s clear to me that, at the time, he took it seriously.

things to hate: Maybe I was wrong about that whole “Yoda sucks” thing I’ve held on to so long, I don’t like admitting that. Han’s “then I’ll see you in hell” comment on his way out to search for Luke is super harsh, poor safety officer just trying to do his job. Leia and Luke kissing, gross. I think there’s only one other female besides Leia who gets a line, someone in the rebel radio room. (this goes on the list for ep4 too, as I think it was only Beru). Lando literally wearing Han’s clothes at the end. I mean, I know he was rushed and couldn’t pack extra capes but still, weird. Chewie being back in prison and Han being tortured for no reason are hard to watch. 

new thing The Force can do: Projecting a hologram of themselves after death and having full on conversations, versus just the disembodied voice from ep4. Also seriously protracted training here. Luke’s “learned so much” and is already facing the cave on like day 1. Calm down.

retroactively wrong: Obi-Wan says Yoda trained him, no mention of Qui-Gon. I wonder why they added that character into ep1. They make a big deal of the AT-AT armor being too thick for their ships, but in Rogue One that’s how they bring them down. This would come up if we did Mandalorian, I scoffed when they said how hard AT-STs were to take down – like, I’ve seen the Ewoks do it no prob dude.

who says it: Leia! I did not remember this. And while inside the slug even, so that’s getting a mention in my Star Wars Insider article. Though there’s a moment earlier where R2 maybe says it, Luke responds something like “yeah, I don’t feel right about this either.”

other thoughts: Mischievous Yoda always annoyed the crap out of me. Somehow only on this viewing did I realize that he’s trying to be annoying to test Luke’s patience. And Luke has none and that is why Yoda says it’s a bad idea to train him. And then serious Yoda with his philosophical Force stuff didn’t annoy me either. I caught myself hanging on every word. I’m annoyed that I wasn’t annoyed, if that makes sense. Vader goes from learning the news that he has a son to “he will join us or die” real quick. But then tells Luke they will overthrow the emperor and rule together, so maybe that was just a front? Also, apparently it’s not Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine in this one, I was so sure it was the same guy. Is the slug scene the only instance of people wearing respirators? They are essentially in open space, so it’s amazing that’s all they need. I feel like they couldn’t have just opened the Falcon door if anyone besides a droid was staying behind, it must have affected the whole ship. Yet they take them right off when they go back inside. Trying not to think too hard about it. Why was Vader freezing Luke to take him to the emperor? Seems so overly complicated. Especially if he’s going to try and turn him, wouldn’t he want to conversate on the trip there? Also, it seems like Luke enters the room via the freezing chamber, so…why didn’t Vader just push the button? It’s only fair that Luke is going to rescue Han, since it’s his fault TWICE that Han doesn’t get money to Jabba in time.

From Reed: The military ranks get thrown around a lot by both sides with only some semblance of following what is commonly known now. Tauntauns struggling with the cold on Hoth – aren’t they native there? Presumably they would be able to tolerate the cold better than humanoids. The stop motion animation of them and the AT-ATs on Hoth were great, much better than a lot of the CG animation added with the anniversary edition. Why does the Imperial attack on the rebel base on Hoth stop once the power generator is taken out? Luke has time to hitch a ride back to base and get onto his X-wing. We get the first glimpse of the life form inside Vader’s suit. I guess laying the ground work for the big reveal later that his is a human. Luke is still real whiny, goes over and pouts after he can’t pick up the X-wing on his first try. And yet another example of a Jedi not finishing their (much abbreviated) training. In Cloud City, storm troopers are walking Leia, Chewie, and Lando towards Darth’s ship. When Luke spots them and they start shooting at each other, the Imperial officer with the group uses Leia as a human shield. Classy.

Episode VI

consistencies: Overly complicated executions. Jabba even says to kill them immediately and then they take a ride out to the desert.

inconsistencies: They got real far into building this new Death Star if it’s been max like a year since the first one blew up. Or maybe it was like in Contact, “why build one when you can have two for twice the price.” Luke only having one more task before he can be a Jedi. Though maybe the standards are lower when you’re the literal last one left. Also, Luke doesn’t whine once (though he is a backseat driver on that speeder). There’s a lot of Luke “destiny” talk all of a sudden, and the repeated line “the power of the dark side” could have used some intro in eps 4-5. 

things to like: Jabba’s palace characters are well done. Poor little rancor, managing to get us to feel sad when he dies with a little puppy whimper and his keeper cries. Lando gets a new cape. Little Han moments, him clocking the connection between Luke and Leia a few times. The way he treats every character very differently. He feels real, and it’s not necessarily in the script. Harrison Ford did really well. Also, “fly casual” is an amazing line. I like Han and Leia together (which makes me sad, wondering how many good years they got). I have nostalgic love for Endor – the noises, the trees, the sound of the speeders, the camo outfits. These were my favorite scenes as a kid. C-3PO is a great storyteller and at his least annoying in the Ewok village. His double take to Han when he tells him to hurry up is classic.

things to hate: Updated CG, especially the song at Jabba’s palace and the sarlacc pit. The implied sexual violence of Jabba to Leia, and to his previous chained up girl. Gross. I can almost see how the Ewoks would be annoying to an adult fan watching this for the first time (this is hard for me to admit). I also don’t like how Leia simpers through all the scenes in the Ewok village “but these are my friends” “hold me” etc. Where’d the badass go? Cheesy bad-dancing ending (though I actually like the celebrations shown on multiple planets). Made worse by the fact that we know this was not the end of the Empire and beginning of good, happy times. Though when I think about it, there were plenty of star destroyers and bad guys left alive, so not super surprising that the New Order rose up and sought revenge. But the 80s movie ending never gave me that impression before, so I was sort of horrified at how bleak things were in ep7.

new thing The Force can do: give Luke the knowledge that the center switch jams comms, apparently. Can’t be used to carry one’s dying father to an escape ship though. 

retroactively wrong: Leia talking about memories of her “real mother.” This was the first thing I thought of when I first saw ep3 and Leia doesn’t live with Padme for at least a few years. Because that’s what this movie sets up as true. Also, sheesh, I hope Leia already knew she was adopted when Luke asks her about her family otherwise – yikes, indelicate! It’s not that easy to make a new light saber, we know now that you’d need a kyber crystal. I had wondered where Luke got his new one, assuming it was Yoda’s since it was green. But Vader says he built it himself. Lando telling Han he knows what the Falcon means to Han. Uhhhh, that should be the other way around!

who says it: Both C-3PO and Han Solo.

other thoughts: The biggest thing I took away from this movie is that I think Adam Driver practiced Harrison Ford’s after-kiss face. If so, he’s a phenomenal actor. Something about Han’s smile after learning Luke and Leia are siblings reminds me so much of Ben’s smile after Rey kisses him.  

C-3PO kinda sucks as a translator (his literal purpose) and has a serious accent to his speech. Also, does covering his mouth with a hand actually shut him up? His mouth doesn’t move. Multiple people do that in this movie. I never understood why they couldn’t make the Han carbonite a bit cuter, like it’s the worst possible version of Harrison Ford. If it had been a female character, I guarantee all the right things would have been accentuated, rather than just being ugly (which is realistic). I wish someone had said “I am one with the force and the force is with me” so that the line in Rogue One would be a consistency, or I guess that they had chosen a line used elsewhere in that movie. Why did they bother with the chosen one nonsense in the prequels, there’s no mention of it in the OG trilogy? The whole twin reveal is a bombshell! Seriously, nothing hints at that earlier on. So either it’s convenient ret-conning or they didn’t feel the need to drop a few lines earlier to wink at us. Also, I had never noticed that Luke arrives to Vader in an AT-AT. Something else I’d never seen – there’s a rebel guy in a stormtrooper outfit with his hands over his head when Han comes out of the bunker and is captured. Speeder bikes – so intuitive even an Ewok can figure out how to use one in mere seconds! Also, why does the button to jam fellow comms even exist?

From Reed: Loved the “fly casual” line too. And I noted the backseat driving by Luke. I don’t understand the language that Leia’s bounty hunter character is supposed to be speaking. The word/phrase ‘yoto’ is used too much to create too many sentences. Jabba is quite disgusting- runny nose, drooling, a bit cross eyed. How did his family come to power anyway? We see that he has basically no physical defenses or offensive maneuvers at all. R2 – cocktail waitress on the cruiser. Boba is kinda useless. Not very convincing at being a badass. After having rewatched the prequels and ep5 and 6, I much prefer the puppet Yoda. There is so much emotion and life that can be conveyed there that seems more real than some pixels. R2 has a circular saw? What doesn’t he have? He’s got rockets in the prequels, the USB key for everything, can electrocute things nearby, make really cute noises, and a saw. Storm trooper armor- not even effective against bows and arrows from the Ewoks. Han and Leia had the reverse I love you/I know moment. I would prefer to see the old Anakin as a ghost than Hayden Christensen. I did like the celebrations on other planets too, it is a galactic battle taking place after all. 

Episode VII

consistencies: referring to the Falcon as garbage (Rey). Celebrating after blowing up stuff from those weird gunner chairs on the Falcon. They also use the same breathers as when inside the space slug in ep5. Spark plugs in everyone’s jacket pockets. C-3PO is a dolt and interrupts important moments. Harrison Ford brings a lot to the role of Han Solo, I love it when he calls BB-8 “ball.” Odd wipes between scenes. 

inconsistencies: Females in the bad guy crew (this is a good thing). That the Empire would have the rest of the map but somehow the resistance doesn’t have the same charts. 

things to like: Shots of downed Imperial craft. BB-8 and his purring. TIE fighters stacked in the hangar. Finn and Poe scene together on the TIE fighter. Finn’s casual nature, jokes, etc. Is this good writing or some improv on his part? Chewie being saucy, and also a bad patient when he’s wounded. That starkiller base shows rocks on the inside. The idea of being seduced by the light side, that Kylo is worried about his feelings of love. Kylo wearing a mask for sheer dramatic effect, no breathing issues or anything. It’s also hilarious to me that his hair is perfect every time he takes it off. That Kylo describes Rey’s dreams and it’s literally where Luke is. Adam Driver is really incredible in this part. He looks like a total psycho in the snow scenes. I wonder if him pounding on his wound (nice shot Chewie) was scripted. He does a good job being all conflicted. Maybe the best line of the entire saga: “I like that Wookiee” from Maz.

things to hate: I put this here since we never get this info, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if it had come later: More backstory is needed for Ben going bad and Luke fleeing. Doesn’t Kylo know that Vader went good in the end?

New thing The Force can do: Stop lasers in midair (super cool). Also, apparently give you lightsaber skills even if you’ve never held one before. Both Rey and Finn are a little too good at this against Kylo. Maybe it’s ok since they both show skills with other similar weapons.

retroactively wrong: I just – this whole lightsaber nonsense. Since we’ve been tracking it, we know that the one Maz had is actually the one Luke lost along with his hand in Cloud City. I do like that when asked how she got it she says it’s a story for another time. Clever writing trick. Wonder where Luke’s green one went. 

who said it: Han

other thoughts: Why is Kylo’s handmade lightsaber so rough? Other ones aren’t nearly as wild. I do like the visual though. It made me sad that the resistance is once again just a tiny band of people on the fringes once the planets and Senate are blown up. And that Han hasn’t had the Millennium Falcon for ? years and that Han and Leia have been apart for ? years. That R2-D2 went to low power mode when Luke left. Did Luke tell him to, was that the whole hand on R2 thing in the flashback scene? I kept picturing Ben’s childhood – playing on the Falcon, hanging out with Chewie. Poe is the one who shoots Finn’s buddy, the one who gets blood on his helmet. To me it seems obvious that Finn is force sensitive. Kylo feels him, right? I want to know more about Kylo and Hux’s beef. Especially since it’s set up right away and important in ep9. Hux is such a believer during that Nazi speech that it’s surprising to know he turns out of sheer spite to Kylo. 
There are a lot of parallels between episodes 4 and 7. I know it bothered some people at the time how similar the storylines were. Didn’t bother me then, doesn’t bother me even now that I’ve watched it with this in mind and. Enough is different (and better done this time around).
leave important files with a feisty but loyal droid
droid ends up with orphan who lives in the desert and has a hovercraft
owner of droid captured and tortured by bad guys
ill-conceived and sloppy rescue of droid owner
end up in a bar trying to find a pilot
orphan gets a mentor and glimpse of a promising future
mentor is killed by an old friend who’s gone evil
large spherical object blown up

From Reed: A bit of symmetry for the characters – we see Poe in a new and functional star destroyer and we see Rey in the downed one scavenging but basically in the same part of the ship. When they get to the starkiller base and need to disable it, Rey pulls out the same part that she did in the star destroyer she was scrapping from at the beginning of the movie. One consistency with the scene where Han dies – no guard rails on the walkway (which goes to where…?) and a giant hole in the structure for, reasons. You said good shot Chewie, and yes it was good marksmanship from that far away to hit Ren. How did he survive that and storm troopers are blasted across the hallway when shot with the same gun? Whatever armor he is wearing should maybe get included in what is handed out to the storm troopers. Snoke reprimands Kylo for letting Finn and Rey fight so well against him when they haven’t had any training or anything. Kylo was probably feeling pretty torn up right then, having just killed Han. He was also fighting injured, having got shot by Chewie just before too.

Episode VIII

consistencies: Leaders get slightly different fighters so we can tell them apart, seems like a bad strategy in the real world though. Also, I was annoyed at Kylo for saying “follow my lead” and not giving actual info to his support, but that’s what led to Leia’s spacing, so I see that it was necessary for the story. Someone telling C-3PO off while he’s giving out grim stats.

inconsistencies: All of a sudden, 10 movies into the series they can’t just steal a code for an enemy ship and slip through. Instead have to head out to a casino. Ok.

things to like: The tummy rubs that BB-8 gets from Poe when they’re reunited. *faint* Rey and Kylo linked moments are very compelling. Especially when you consider that the actors were probably never together until their characters were. The use of silence throughout the movie, but especially in these scenes when they hear each other’s background noises. In battle sequences when we don’t need shouting, seeing someone yell or scream from the other side of a window is effective. There’s some really compelling shots in general, the bombs away, Leia on the salt, the speeders kicking up lines of red. I think “Finn naked leaking bag” is the first translation we get of droid, and it makes me very happy. Linguists probably get some insight. Also, the fact that BB-8 makes mouse droid noises when he has the trash can over him. I love that droid! The iron thing is hilarious, and honestly I love that they get their disguises from the laundry rather than hoping to come across 3 people their exact same sizes.

things to hate: Benecio’s stutter that relegates a potentially very memorable character with outside perspective to just a “what in the hell” moment. Wasted time – even liking it more than I thought I would after seeing ep9, I just can’t condone how little was accomplished towards the end goal of the trilogy. Had they told us Rey’s backstory here and/or left Snoke alive to be the big bad in ep9, all would be forgiven. The animal cruelty towards the sweet hyena horsies 🙁

new thing the force can do: Project yourself (though it’s fatal). They at least set this up earlier in the movie, Kylo knowing Rey isn’t behind their connection “the effort would kill you.” But still, that’s just writing an out, rather than it being established. Snoke linking Rey and Kylo is apparently a task he can do and is strong enough for. Summoning lightning from the hands of a holo Jedi (Yoda).

retroactively wrong: Nothing (?).

who says it: BB-8! I love that it’s implied and never actually said. Would have been tragic if it was missing entirely. “Happy beeps.”

other thoughts: Before even watching the movie I had written “Poe deserves better than this itchy flyboy storyline.” But seeing it again, maybe it’s ok. He is a hothead cocky pilot. They gave him lots of reasons to think he knew best. Leia molds him (when she’s awake) into a good leader, step by step. Sure Holdo could have avoided a lot of grief if she’d just told everyone the plan, or at least him. Or told everyone about the tracking through hyperspace, since Rose had a fix for that. I don’t see any reason why she didn’t, especially as things deteriorated. Then again, she probably wishes she’d thought of that whole “fly at hyperspeed through the fleet” thing when the first of their ships ran out of gas. That Benecio didn’t turn on them until he was caught makes it clear that his character, one of few we ever meet, is not on either side. And that’s interesting. If not for his damn stutter, this could have been a really compelling character. I had assumed Luke put the sacred texts in the Falcon when he snuck aboard. But he seems genuinely concerned for their well being after Yoda lights the tree on fire. So maybe Yoda did? Still no specifics on when Kylo turned. Luke has no grey in his beard, so awhile ago. And they did a good job making Driver look young. I like the unreliable narrator perspective of this story, and the whole Greek tragedy thing of knowing the future dooms you to put it into motion. Dude, those fish nuns are gonna be hella pissed when they see Luke has blown apart one of the beehives and burned the tree. They’ll probably blame Rey. I feel like I shouldn’t like the dynamic between Rey and Kylo. I’m sure he’s a textbook abuser, gas lighter for sure. But…swoon. I shipped it on first viewing and I ship it still. Him telling her she’s “nothing, but not to me” – whew boy. Is this the only one where they say the title of the movie in the script? Ok, I guess Rogue One. And Solo, but that’s too easy. I saw Joseph Gordon Levitt as a voice in the credits. Curious which character now.

From Reed: On the island, it looked like Luke’s mechanical hand still had a hole in it, presumably from ep6. I am guessing it is the same inner working of the flesh hand he had gotten and he just hasn’t kept up the outer skin. I busted up laughing at Luke messing with Rey when she reaches out for The Force. Great expressions on Luke’s face while Rey is discovering everything all around her. Rey is very excited by the rain, quite possibly the first time she has ever seen or felt precipitation.

Episode IX

I’ve seen it. It’s a lot. I wish they have gotten at least one or two of the plot points into ep8 instead and then skipped a few more. Riso Tico deserved better. But there’s plenty to like and, in the end, I like where the characters end up. I’ll format my thoughts soon!

And finally, my ranking, from best to worst:

This got complicated. What am I ranking in the end? Likelihood that I will watch them again? How much I enjoyed them this time? Cinematic impact? I can easily rank within each trilogy, but amongst is hard.

7: interesting bad guys, old and new cast
Rogue One: such strong characters, diversity in cast
5: higher for Han’s storyline of caring for people
6: lower for threat of sexual violence, cheesy ending that gave me hope all would be well, simpering Leia
8: lower for hopelessness, wasted time before overcrowded ep9 (honestly considered putting it at the top for BB-8 moments alone though)
9: over-crowded but still cinematic
4: lower for extra-useless Luke and cheesy ending
Solo: interesting characters but could also do without and be fine
3: best of the worst
2: lower due to creepy Anakin
1: lower due to Jar Jar and remembered disappointment