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Disney promised a new “Star Wars” movie every year after it acquired Lucasfilm, and the saga keeps on keeping on with “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” But while many would call themselves “Star Wars” fans, even they will admit that the movies in the saga are by no means created equal.

In reverse order, here is a rundown of the best and worst that these films (not counting the cartoons, the Ewok spin-off or the infamous Holiday Special) have to offer.

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Fox

9. “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 kid’s movie; it’s terrible because it’s a terrible kids movie.

Also Read: 'Star Wars': How the First 6 Films Performed at Box Office

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).

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Fox

8. “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.”)

Also Read: First Reactions to 'Star Wars: the Last Jedi' Are In: 'I Can't Wait to See It Again'

Rogue One

7. “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 than a series of Easter eggs for hardcore fans to find and enjoy; the rest of us wound up less entertained.

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.

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Fox

6. “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.

Also Read: 24 Actors You Probably Didn't Know Were in 'Star Wars' Movies (Photos)

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5. “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 that younger man beaten and dismembered. Also, the “unmasking” of Chancellor Palpatine as “The Phantom Menace” by a phalanx of Jedi who are made short work of (including Samuel L. Jackson‘s Mace Windu) 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.”

Also Read: What the Hell Is It About 'Star Wars' That Makes Us All Crazy? (Commentary)

Daisy Ridley>

Disney

4. “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 George Lucas.

Highlight: Either when General (formerly Princess) Leia is reunited with Han Solo or when Rey (Daisy Ridley) realizes her destiny.

Worst Part: R2-D2 spends too much of the movie in sleep mode, becoming fully present only at a plot-convenient moment late in the story.

Last Jedi

3. “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi”

After Ewoks, a disappointing prequel trilogy, and an entertaining rehash of the original movie, the eighth entry in the franchise brings energy and passion, mixing all the thrills and excitement of the best of these movies with genuine character depth and surprising sacrifices. It’s with “The Last Jedi” that the new-school movies start to come into their own.

Highlight: When [SPOILER] battles [SPOILER] and then [SPOILER] [SPOILER] [SPOILER].

Worst Part: Most of the scenes in which Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) is thrust into the middle of the action for seemingly no reason than to make us love a new character.

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20th Century Fox

2. “Episode IV: A New Hope”

Or, to those of us old enough to have seen the film upon its original release in 1977, simply “Star Wars.” 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.

Also Read: 9 Ways 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Could Fix 'The Force Awakens'

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Fox

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: I was 13 years old in 1980, and that cliffhanger ending — with the knowledge that the next sequel was a full three years away — really stung. (Not to mention that guy carrying an ice cream maker during the evacuation of Bespin.)

24 Actors You Probably Didn't Know Were in 'Star Wars' Movies (Photos)

  • star wars actors you didn't know were in star wars joel edgerton keisha castle-hughes

    The "Star Wars" franchise -- now 40 years young -- is full of secret cameos, soon-to-be-famous actors in small bit parts, and well-known faces behind alien masks and makeup. Here are 23 big names hidden throughout the franchise you might not have known about.

     

    For more features and deep dives into the world of "Star Wars" and the culture surrounding it, be sure to check out IMDb's "Star Wars" hub.

    Lucasfilm
  • john ratzenberger star wars the empire strikes back (1)

    John Ratzenberger ("The Empire Strikes Back")

    Ratzenberger is best remembered as know-it-all postman Cliff Clavin from "Cheers," or maybe his numerous voice roles in Pixar movies. In "The Empire Strikes Back," Ratzenberger is one of the Rebel officers hanging around Echo Base on Hoth with Princess Leia and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).

    Lucasfilm
  • Treat Williams star wars cameo the empire strikes back

    Treat Williams ("The Empire Strikes Back") 

    When you're Treat Williams, you can wander onto the set of "The Empire Strikes Back" and find yourself in the movie. Williams reportedly dropped by England's Elstree Studios set, where the movie was being filmed, to visit Carrie Fisher. Apparently one thing led to another, and now Williams plays one of the Rebel troops running around Echo Base on Hoth.

    Lucasfilm
  • julian glover star wars the empire strikes back general veers

    Julian Glover ("The Empire Strikes Back") 

    Julian Glover's General Veers is probably the most competent officer available to Darth Vader as wanders the galaxy looking for the Rebels and Luke Skywalker. He'd be decidedly less competent as Grand Maester Pycelle on "Game of Thrones," but decidedly more evil as Nazi collaborator Walter Donovan in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (you know -- the guy who ages super fast after drinking from the wrong grail).

    Lucasfilm
  • tony cox ewok star wars return of the jedi

    Tony Cox ("Return of the Jedi") 

    In an Ewok suit, you'd never know Tony Cox appeared in "Return of the Jedi." He wouldn't really show off his acting chops until later when he was stealing scenes all over comedies like "Bad Santa," where he was Billy Bob Thornton's much-smarter mall-robbing accomplice/Christmas elf, and "Me, Myself and Irene."

    Lucasfilm
  • droopy mccool deep roy star wars return of the jedi

    Deep Roy ("Return of the Jedi") 

    It's easiest to remember Deep Roy in the Johnny Depp-starring "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," since Roy played every orange oompa-loompa in that movie. In "Return of the Jedi," he was both an Ewok and the puffy alien band member Droopy McCool in Jabba's Palace. Deep Roy also worked on "The Empire Strikes Back," acting as a stand-in for the muppet Yoda.

    Lucasfilm
  • keira knightley handmaiden decoy queen star wars episode i the phantom menace

    Keira Knightley (“The Phantom Menace”) 

    Knightley wasn’t just any handmaiden in “The Phantom Menace” — she was the handmaiden. Serving as the decoy for the real queen, Knightley was the actress people thought was Amidala for half the movie, before Natalie Portman’s Padmé revealed her true identity.

    Lucasfilm
  • phantom menace darth maul

    Peter Serafinowicz ("The Phantom Menace") 

    Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will recognize Peter Seafinowicz for his turn as untrusting Nova Corps officer Garthan Saal in "Guardians of the Galaxy." He didn't appear in "The Phantom Menace," but provided the gravely, frightening voice of Darth Maul (the rest of whom was played by Ray Park), as well as for a gungan warrior and a battle droid.

    Lucasfilm
  • dominic west star wars

    Dominic West ("The Phantom Menace") 

    The prequel trilogy was filled with actors who would go on to do great things, but who were mostly filling small or background roles in the "Star Wars" universe. Dominic West's character in "The Phantom Menace" was an otherwise nondescript member of Queen Amidala's palace guard -- nothing so interesting as his later turn as Jimmy McNulty on HBO's "The Wire."

    Lucasfilm
  • sofia coppola star wars episode i the phantom menace

    Sofia Coppola (“The Phantom Menace”) 

    There really were a mess of these handmaidens. Before she was a full-time director, Sofia Coppola picked up a few small acting gigs, including the handmaiden Saché in “The Phantom Menace.” Just a few years after the 1999 movie, in 2003, Coppola would pick up a Best Director Academy Award nomination for “Lost in Translation.”

    Lucasfilm
  • star wars episode i the phantom menace sally hawkins extra

    Sally Hawkins ("The Phantom Menace") 

    Before she was an Academy Award-nominated actress for her role in "Blue Jasmine," Sally Hawkins was an extra in the giant celebration scene in "The Phantom Menace." She admitted in an interview with Conan O'Brien that she'd never actually seen the movie, despite being in it.

    Team Coco/Lucasfilm
  • richard armitage star wars episode i the phantom menace

    Richard Armitage ("The Phantom Menace")

    Blink and you'd miss Richard Armitage's small background role (second from the right in the background) among the guards on Naboo. Although, it's tough to recognize him without the lustrous locks Armitage sported in "The Hobbit" as Thorin Oakenshield, or the creepy teeth from his turn as killer Francis Dolarhyde in "Hannibal" Season 3 on NBC.

    Lucasfilm
  • star wars attack of the clones rose byrne handmaiden

    Rose Byrne (“Attack of the Clones”) 

    Before she was a mainstay of the “Insidious” movies alongside Patrick Wilson or had joined the “X-Men” franchise as CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert, Rose Byrne was one of the handmaidens serving Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the “Star Wars” prequels. Specifically, she was Dormé, who accompanied Padmé to Coruscant to do government things.

    Lucasfilm
  • marton csokas poggle the lesser star wars attack of the clones cameo

    Martin Csokas ("Attack of the Clones") 

    The "Star Wars" movies have slipped a few notable actors into the voice roles of aliens. Martin Csokas is one -- he provided the voice of the Geonosian alien Poggle the Lesser in "Attack of the Clones." Fantasy fans probably know him better as the elf Celeborn, husband to Cate Blanchett's Galadriel in "The Lord of the Rings."

    For more features and deep dives into the world of "Star Wars" and the culture surrounding it, be sure to check out IMDb's "Star Wars" hub.

    Lucasfilm
  • joel edgerton star wars attack of the clones revenge of the sith uncle owen lars

    Joel Edgerton (“Attack of the Clones,” “Revenge of the Sith”) 

    Luke’s moisture-farming, humorless uncle Owen Lars was young once, but he was never not a guy who stood around a crappy homestead on Tatooine. In the prequel movies, the role was picked up by Joel Edgerton of “Loving” and “The Great Gatsby.”

    Lucasfilm
  • bai ling star wars revenge of the sith deleted scene

    Bai Ling ("Revenge of the Sith") 

    Bai Ling actually doesn't appear in "Revenge of the Sith," but she was supposed to. Her scene as Senator Bana Breemu was cut from the film. But there are things you definitely have seen her in, including "Crank: High Voltage," "The Crow" and "Entourage."

    Lucasfilm
  • keisha castle-hughes star wars revenge of the sith

    Keisha Castle-Hughes ("Revenge of the Sith") 

    Sometime after Padmé's term as queen had ended by "Revenge of the Sith," the wise people of Naboo apparently elected another teenager queen: Queen Apailana, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes. Apailana is seen at Padmé's funeral, and Castle-Hughes is known for "The Whale Rider" and appearing on "The Walking Dead."

    Lucasfilm
  • star wars the force awakens simon pegg

    Simon Pegg (“The Force Awakens”) 

    Another secret cameo, Pegg is covered in alien costume work as the junk dealer Unkar Plutt on Jakku. He’s the guy who gives Rei less than what her salvage is probably worth.

    Lucasfilm
  • Star Wars the Force Awakens

    Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz (“The Force Awakens”) 

    You’d think the last thing a droid like BB-8 would require is a voice, given that he’s a robot and speaks in bleeps and bloops. But to get the sound and personality just right, director J.J. Abrams enlisted comedians Bill Hader (formerly of “SNL”) and Ben Schwartz (well-known for playing Jean-Ralphio on “Parks and Rec”).

    Lucasfilm
  • thomas brodie-sangster star wars the force awakens

    Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“The Force Awakens”) 

    “Game of Thrones” might have noticed a familiar First Order officer during shots of the bridge of the Starkiller Base. It was Jojen Reed, Bran Stark’s loyal friend, who also plays Newt in the “Maze Runner” franchise.

    Lucasfilm
  • star wars actors you didn't know were in star wars

    Daniel Craig (“The Force Awakens”) 

    It was something of a news item at the time, but James Bond slipped in a secret cameo in the first “Star Wars” film in a decade — as a stormtrooper. He’s the guard that Rei manages to Jedi mind trick into releasing her.

    Lucasfilm
  • star wars the force awakens billie lourd

    Billie Lourd (“The Force Awakens”) 

    Billie Lourd sneaked into Lucasfilm’s revival of “Star Wars” as Lt. Connix, one of the Resistance fighters running tactical machinery in the base of General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Known for her hilarious turn as Chanel No. 3 on the horror-comedy series “Scream Queens,” she’s also Fisher’s daughter.

    Lucasfilm
  • harriet walter star wars the force awakens

    Harriet Walter ("The Force Awakens") 

    Playing a Resistance medic who helps out Chewbacca, "Downton Abbey" alumna Harriet Walter gets a short but sweet cameo in "The Force Awakens." She actually has one of the movie's funnier moments as she talks to Chewie about how scary his ordeal must have been.

    Lucasfilm
  • rian johnson rogue one

    Rian Johnson ("Rogue One")  

     

    The director of 2017's "The Last Jedi" actually made a cameo in 2016's "Rogue One" along with producer Ram Bergman as members of the gunner crew of the Death Star

    Lucasfilm
1 of 24

The “Star Wars” franchise is full of famous people you had no idea were there

The "Star Wars" franchise -- now 40 years young -- is full of secret cameos, soon-to-be-famous actors in small bit parts, and well-known faces behind alien masks and makeup. Here are 23 big names hidden throughout the franchise you might not have known about.

 

For more features and deep dives into the world of "Star Wars" and the culture surrounding it, be sure to check out IMDb's "Star Wars" hub.

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