Best Star Wars Movies: Top 5 Iconic Films To Watch On May The 4th!

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Sound familiar? That line is one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history and was the origin of one of the largest movie IPs ever: Star Wars. There have been many movies, TV shows, video games, and of course, toys to feed into the fandom for the science fiction epic. Some of the best Star Wars movies stand out from the rest among the masses and are still widely loved today.

Star Wars films have even moved to become real locations you can visit at places like Disney World. Ride the rides and stay in an actual space hotel. If a fictional space cruiser isn’t enough for you – the real thing could be happening really soon. A new Star Wars-style aircraft could fly you from London to Sydney — and take you directly to the building you’re headed, rather than the airport. The Ranger vertical takeoff plane claims to travel farther than any passenger airliner, while traveling from rooftop to rooftop.

The movies are broken up into four categories. The original trio, the prequels, the sequels, and the one-offs, normally called, “A Star Wars Story” after the title. With the legendary mark these films have left on the world, make sure to go into a viewing with realistic hopes. A new Star Wars study finds expectations for movies often ruin the experience. Researchers at Ohio State University surveyed 441 people before and after they saw “The Last Jedi” and found that their expectations before they saw the movie had a large effect on whether they liked or loathed the eighth installment of the popular sci-fi/fantasy saga. If you go into the movie expecting to hate it, you probably will. If you expect it to be the best movie in history, chances are you’ll be disappointed.

Like the battle between the Dark Side and the Light, it’s always a debate on what the best Star Wars movies are, and StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!

gathering of stormtroopers on black background
Storm troopers (Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash)

The List: Best Star Wars Movies, According to Experts

 

1. “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)

This isn’t a big surprise. An iconic film that built on the foundation of “A New Hope” and delivered one of the biggest twists ever in cinema history

"Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back"
“Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” DVD

IGN says, “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains the gold standard of Star Wars movies. With A New Hope having planted the seeds for the franchise, Empire blossoms in a thrilling and surprisingly dark fashion.”

Entertainment Weekly agrees with the above statement, “A sequel that’s also the ultimate cinematic expansion pack, the second Star Wars movie pushes the first film’s retro-junk space opera style into cosmic glory, even as it layers in transformative new notes of romantic comedy and haunted-bloodline Greek tragedy.”

“Decidedly not as exuberant a crowd-pleaser as its predecessor (in fact, it plunges headfirst into darkness and despair), The Empire Strikes Back is nevertheless an even better film, and it represents some of the most powerful and sophisticated broad strokes in cinema,” adds Parade

2. “A New Hope” (1977)

The one that started it all lands right here at two, though the majority of experts rank “The Empire Strikes Back” and “A New Hope” very close together. 

Star Wars: A New Hope
“Star Wars: A New Hope” DVD

Collider ranked it at the top of their list when they note, “George Lucas’ minor miracle remains the best film in the franchise. A New Hope is such a deceptively simple story using archetypes that had already been around for ages, but the sensitivity, detail, and imagination with which Lucas brought this thing to life made it a landmark piece of filmmaking.”

Despite its age, it holds up, “Not only does this tale of underdogs fighting oppression feel universal and poignant to this day, but A New Hope is also visually stunning, an absolute trailblazer in terms of what could be done with practical effects in the late ’70s,” says Den of Geek

As simply put by MovieWeb.com, “A New Hope is a poetic masterpiece that changed everything.”

3. “Return of The Jedi” (1983)

The conclusion to the original trilogy takes the 3rd spot. Where we see Luke come back after a large emotional defeat in Empire.

"Star Wars: Return of The Jedi"
“Star Wars: Return of The Jedi” DVD

One37PM writes, “To me, it always felt like the most emotional of the bunch, and being that I’m an avid crier, this one’s the perfect fit.”

It’s how a trilogy should end, “Return of the Jedi still entertainingly rocks. Capping off the end of the original series, the arcs conclude concerning Luke vs. Vader, a final reveal of the Big Bad, Emperor Palpatine, and Han and Leia finally getting together,” adds MovieWeb.com

“It’s a movie that seems to say something different at any age at which you watch it, depending on where you are in your own life journey compared to Luke’s burdened self-discovery,” says Den of Geek

4. “The Last Jedi” (2017)

A divisive film to be sure, but after our research, we find this entry at the four spots to a consensus among experts. The only sequel trilogy movie to make an appearance.

"Star Wars: Return of The Jedi"
“Star Wars: Return of The Jedi” DVD

It changed the game in the Star Wars world, “it’s this very rule-breaking that actually makes it one of the best Star Wars movies because it was the first one in a while that felt like it had something new to say… but overall The Last Jedi broke the rules in new and exciting ways, and it did it with style,” says Space.com.

Parade liked how deep the film was, “​​Rian Johnson’s take on Star Wars also raises the pulse with heart-stopping, surprising action sequences. There’s something deeper that sets The Last Jedi apart from, frankly, every other picture on this list: tangible melancholy, themes of regret, loss, and failure.”

Thrillist says, “The Last Jedi rarely lets up, pinging from Jedi training sessions, casino hangouts, and Battlestar Galactica-like space battles.”

5. “Rogue One” (2016)

The only non-mainline movie to make the list is “Rogue One.” A different-styled movie that bridged the gap between the prequels and the original trilogy. 

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” DVD

“Rogue One comes together in the end, delivering one of the best third-act battles in a franchise full of absolutely amazing third-act battles. Darth Vader has never been more badass than in those final moments,” says IGN

Rotten Tomatoes mentions, “Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground — and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.”

Entertainment Weekly talked about the villains in the story, “Bad guy Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is the perfect middle management of evil, worried his boss will take all the credit for his Death Star; K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) is one of the better droid personalities in the galaxy.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

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