How does "Rogue One" compare with the other seven "Star Wars" movies? Here are all of them, ranked from worst to best.
8. "Episode I: The Phantom Menace"We waited 16 years for George Lucas to return to this universe, and what did we get? Trade routes and political intrigue, blood tests for the Force, and perhaps worst of all, Jar Jar Binks. "Menace" isn't terrible because it's a kids' movie; it's terrible because it's a terrible kids' movie.
Highlight: The light-saber battle between Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Darth Maul (Ray Park) - they're the two most interesting characters the movie has to offer, so naturally both get killed off before the closing credits roll.
Worst Part: Any utterance of the word "Yippee!" whether by Jar Jar or by pre-pubescent Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd).
7. "Episode II: Attack of the Clones"A slight improvement over its predecessor, in the same way that a stubbed toe hurts less than a migraine. This installment introduces a hockey-haired Hayden Christensen as a petulant Anakin, smitten with Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman), despite her noting, "To me, you'll always be that little boy on Tatooine" upon their reunion. Also, there are clones.
Highlight: The fight between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), which feels like a genuine clash of equals. Close second: Yoda's lightsaber battle with Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).Worst Part: Anakin woos his lady in a CG meadow that looks like the set of a toilet paper commercial. (No one can forget the immortal line, "I don't like sand.")
6. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and a rag-tag group of rebels set out to steal the plans for the Death Star to prove that Jyn's father Galen (Mads Mikkselsen) did indeed booby-trap that thermal port so that one day Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) can blow up the whole mama-jama. This first non-"Episode" movie in the series is less a film and more of a collection of Easter eggs for hardcore fans to find and enjoy.
Highlight: The climactic battle sequence, spotlighting the extraordinary combat skills of [SPOILER REDACTED], whose proficiency with The Force makes up for [SPOILER REDACTED].Worst Part: The fact that the film prioritizes plot details over character -- especially since the existence of "Episode IV" assures that we already know how this one ends.
5. "Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is unfrozen from carbonite, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is briefly enslaved by Jabba the Hutt (and forced to wear the infamous metal bikini), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) resists the temptations of the Dark Side and brings his dad, Darth Vader, around to defeat the sinister Emperor Palpatine. If only so much time weren't spent with those cutesy Ewoks, whose annoying presence presages the juvenile tone of the prequels.
Highlight: The speeder chase through the forests of Endor, one of the most breathtakingly exciting sequences in the entire saga.Worst Part: The Empire seems a little less threatening when they have such a hard time standing up to a bunch of teddy bears with ropes and pulleys.
4. "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"Anakin completes his journey toward becoming Darth Vader as the Empire succeeds in its hostile takeover of the Republic. Christensen remains as pouty as ever, but there are moments in "Sith" that support the notion that if Lucas had made just this one prequel rather than three, we wouldn't think so poorly of his return to this galaxy far, far away.
Highlight: Anakin faces off with Obi-Wan for a final confrontation that leaves the younger man beaten and dismembered. Also, the "unmasking" of Chancellor Palpatine as "The Phantom Menace" by a phalanx of Jedi (including Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu) who are made short work of by the evil Sith Lord.Worst Part: A reconstructed Anakin bellows, "Nooooooooo!!!!!" when he awakens in his Darth Vader armor, in a ham-fisted homage to/ripoff of Boris Karloff in James Whale's "Frankenstein."
3. "Episode VII: The Force Awakens"The first of the post-Lucas adventures sees director and co-writer J.J. Abrams connecting some familiar faces from the previous films to a new set of fascinating characters, both good and evil. The film bears more than a few structural resemblances to "A New Hope," but it's no less thrilling for its moments of familiarity. If George Lucas cribbed from serials, Errol Flynn and Akira Kurosawa, Abrams pulls ideas from Lucas.
Highlight: Either when Han and Chewie are reunited with the Millennium Falcon or when Rey realizes her destiny.Worst Part: A key character becomes fully present only at a plot-convenient moment late in the story.
2. "Episode IV: A New Hope"Lucas' original space-spanning saga has become such an iconic American movie that it's joined the ranks of "The Wizard of Oz" -- nearly every moment, camera set-up or line of dialogue has been quoted, referenced or lampooned by another movie over the years.
Highlight: Who can choose? I'm a big fan of Luke and Han manning the turret gun in the Millennium Falcon as Chewbacca evades the Empire's TIE fighters, but if you prefer the escape from the garbage disposal or Darth Vader's hands-free strangulation of Admiral Motti (Richard LeParmentier), you're not wrong either.Worst Part: Princess Leia's British accent and Luke's nasal whining indicate that Lucas hadn't quite yet pinned down the specifics of these characters.
1. "Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back"Having created these worlds in the previous movie, Lucas (working with screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett and director Irvin Kershner) could let these characters and their relationships grow richer and more interesting, while simultaneously ratcheting up the stakes and the excitement. Here's a sequel that enhances its predecessor rather than attempting simply to re-create it.
Highlight: Again, so much to choose from, whether it's the AT-AT walkers on Hoth, Han Solo's evasion of the Imperial fleet via an asteroid field or Luke's apprenticeship under Jedi Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz).Worst Part: For people who saw the movie in 1980, that cliffhanger ending -- with the knowledge that the next sequel was a full three years away -- really stung.