Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

TV & Film

A First-Time Viewer Reviews and Ranks Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Having never seen a single Star Wars film, a new fan is here to honestly review and rank The Skywalker Saga.

Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Perhaps no franchise in cinematic history has produced a wider array of differing opinions than the Star Wars film series. It’s no wonder considering how expansive the content output has been since its debut in 1977. Comprised of nine episodic films dubbed The Skywalker Saga, two spin-off films, an expansive list of live-action and animated TV series, and an endless amount of video games, books, and other media, there is no shortage of Star Wars content to gobble up and have opinions on.

Opinions are most certainly something every Star Wars fan possesses. For better or worse. While the majority of the fan base is here simply to be swept up in a fantasy tale of lightsabers and X-wings, the extremely vocal minority gives the entire fan base a terrible reputation. Star Wars discourse has gotten worse over time with the rise of the internet. It’s led to comment wars on various online platforms, harassment and death threats being sent to various actors, and even potentially contributed to series creator George Lucas selling his beloved franchise to Disney in 2012.

The Experiment

Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Harrison Ford, and Alec Guinness in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Harrison Ford, and Alec Guinness in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I know how toxic the fan culture can be. That’s why I wanted to conduct a little experiment. As shocking as it may sound, there are some people who have not seen a single Star Wars film. How would someone approaching these films for the first time with no expectations react to them? Removed from the vitriol of the fans and the various complaints that get thrown about on the internet, would their experience differ from the masses?

That’s where the subject of our article comes in. Ashley is a 24-year-old woman who has never seen a single Star Wars film. Eager to change that, she agreed to watch each of the nine films in The Skywalker Saga. When it was all said and done, I asked her what she thought of each film. I showed them to her in chronological order rather than release order (for simplicity’s sake). Here is Ashley’s review for Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga!

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Liam Neeson, Ray Park, and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Liam Neeson, Ray Park, and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Things were off to a rocky start for Ashley’s Star Wars introduction. When asked her thoughts on The Phantom Menace, she noted how most of the events of the film had already left her mind aside from how boring she found most of it.

She noted the performances from Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker) and Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) were okay and not as lifeless as the rest of the cast. She enjoyed the podrace sequence, but was disappointed at how fleeting of a presence Darth Maul was in the movie. Based on his popularity, she expected him to have a larger role in the story.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Like The Phantom Menace, Ashley was once again not impressed with Attack of the Clones. She noted how these first two movies come across largely as backstory movies. They spend most of their time setting the pieces for the events of the original films rather than telling their own compelling story. She found the expansiveness of the story confusing and felt that there were too many plotlines in the film. The Anakin and Padme romance was another sticking point for her given their age gap.

She also “had a bone to pick” with the Jedi Order’s code on suppressing emotions. She felt it was stupid and made no sense, as it created a catch-22. “The only way to get rid of (fear and anger) is to work through it, but you can’t work through it if they’re telling you you can’t feel it.”

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Surprisingly, coming off of her boredom with the previous two episodes, Ashley proudly declares Revenge of the Sith “the best one.” She found herself thoroughly engaged not only with the political moves being made in this film but with Anakin’s tragic downfall as well. She noted the previous films were “just so immensely boring, and there’s so much going on but nothing happening at the same time.” Contrasting this entry with those two, she said the drama felt much more meaningful. She says this is because the viewer gets a better sense of the relationships between the characters.

She also went on record saying her love of Anakin may have influenced her love of this one. She stated “I could fix him” numerous times throughout the interview.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Alec Guinness, and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Alec Guinness, and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Not exactly one for older films, Ashley struggled to connect with A New Hope. She certainly acknowledged that it was a huge step up from the first two films, but said that jumping back from the CGI of the prequels to the old-school effects of the originals was “jarring.” She admits that the simplicity of the story made it a good starting point for a franchise that would eventually grow into something much larger.

She found some of the dogfight sequences in space a bit repetitious in the way that they were shot and edited, but noted that the effects were impressive for the time. She also was a bit confused why the force was treated as such an ancient concept when only 20 years had passed between the previous two films. “It was a good starting off point, but it’s just not for me.”

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Mark Hamill and David Prowse in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
Mark Hamill and David Prowse in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Ashley felt similarly about The Empire Strikes Back as she did A New Hope. She found the Han and Leia romance enjoyable and appreciated the darker tone. She admits that much of this one didn’t stick with her and that she can only remember a handful of scenes.

Aside from the “creepy” practical puppet model used for Yoda, she found his personality change odd as well. Going from stoic Jedi master to a silly old hermit didn’t sit quite right with her. The most memorable sequence of the film to her was Lando’s betrayal and redemption at Cloud City.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

David Prowse and Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.
David Prowse and Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

A fan of finales, Ashley thought Return of the Jedi was the best of the original trilogy. She attributes this to the previous films establishing the characters, which helps sell the emotional scenes better. That said, she took issue with Vader’s redemption arc. She found Luke pulling his father back to the light side of the force after all of the atrocities he had committed to be “not realistic.” The most memorable sequences in this one for her were those on Endor, largely a result of the adorable Ewoks.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Ashley found herself enjoying The Force Awakens more than the entirety of the Original Trilogy, in large part due to the modern special effects and the characters. She liked how the story took familiar plot points from the previous films and put a new spin on them. The characters of Finn and Rey and their struggles were more engaging to her than the leads of the previous films.

She noted how she prefers the small character moments in the series compared to the large battle sequences. Most notably, the confrontation between Kylo Ren and Han Solo and the final moments with Rey and Luke.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Perhaps the most polarizing and divisive film of the saga, Ashley was a big fan of The Last Jedi. She loved the direction in which the filmmakers took Luke’s character and the way the film addressed concepts like PTSD and failure. It was a mature and realistic way to explore his character that she believes paid off.

I mentioned the concept of subverting expectations when asking her about The Last Jedi, but she found the direction of each plot line to feel natural and organic. She does admit that she hated the kiss between Finn and Rose and that it felt very awkward. That moment aside, she loved everything else.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.
Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

While it may be her least favorite of the Sequel Trilogy, Ashley found The Rise of Skywalker to be a strong concluding chapter. Similar to episodes III and VI, she appreciated the crescendo of events in this one. She admits that the first act fetch quest wasn’t a very investing storyline. However the emotional moments hit hard for her, particularly C-3PO saying goodbye before his memory wipe and Leia’s sacrifice to save her son.

Rey’s connection to Palpatine felt natural to Ashley, considering the hints the previous films gave to her strength with the force. She also thought the Rey and Kylo dyad in the force connection was a really interesting and fun concept. She loved the “I am all the Jedi” line despite its cheesiness, as well as the sense of finality that the film delivered on.

Final Ranking of The Skywalker Saga

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Following the interview, I asked Ashley how she would rank all nine films in The Skywalker Saga. Her ranking is as follows:

  1. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  2. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  3. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  4. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
  5. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  6. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  7. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  8. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  9. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

“No… there is another.”

Yoda drops a cryptic line in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Yoda’s words ring loud in my head as I look over Ashley’s ranking of Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Many long-time fans of the franchise are likely taken aback by the high ranking of the sequels and the center placement of the original films. But I think Ashley’s perspective on the films, one many of us aren’t used to seeing, is telling for what the upcoming generation of new Star Wars fans will behold.

I believe the reason Star Wars is a hub for such vitriolic behavior from fans is how ingrained the franchise is in so many of our childhoods. We grew up adoring the first three, or even six films and are unable to detach those deeply rooted memories from them. We are now grown, and for some, any new content we are faced with will simply not compare to the films we grew up loving.

A New Generation of Fans

Temirlan Blaev in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

But what about the kids growing up in the Disney Star Wars era? They will never know a time when there were only three, or only six films. They are going to see all nine films as one continuous story, and carry forth the same nostalgic love for the Sequel Trilogy the way many of us do for whatever trilogy we grew up with.

While I have my own problems with individual chapters of the saga, I cannot deny that I love elements of all nine films. Overall, it is a big, beautiful, flawed, yet stunning and spectacular fantasy epic that changed pop culture forever.

So thank you, Ashley. You have given me hope that the Star Wars fanbase may someday not be as divided as we are today. May the force be with you… always.

Written By

24 years old, Metro State University graduate with a Technical Communications and Professional Writing BA. Lover of films, writer of words, builder of Legos, walker of beagles. Constantly adding films to my watchlist.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement
Advertisement

You May Also Like

Entertainment

Here are seven LGBTQ+ films you may have overlooked for your viewing pleasure.

TV & Film

It’s Such A Beautiful Day from experimental animation director Don Hertzfeldt is one of the most impactful and impressive films I have ever seen....

Entertainment

Six of the greatest hits to add to your summer list: Twin Peaks, The O.C., Bridgerton, Sex and The City, The Bear, and Gravity...

TV & Film

“May the odds forever be in your favour” or at least until 2026 as a new Hunger Games film is set to reach our...

Copyright © 2024 Trill Mag