Some loyalists may want to consider this the poor man's ranking of Star Wars.
I've seen these movies a few times – not dozens. Nonetheless, I'm a fan, so from least favorite to most favorite, here's how I rank the first six movies in this epic saga.
6. There's a reason Episode I: The Phantom Menace is widely considered the worst of the bunch... it's just not a very good movie. It has its moments, but it's very slow and wow, diehards aren't over-exaggerating in their disgust of Jar Jar Binks.
5. Episode II: Attack of the Clones features Anakin Skywaker complaining about sand, in what's supposed to be a scene to progress his romantic relationship with Padme'. Scenes like this remind you that a middle-aged nerd – George Lucas – is scripting the romantic dialogue of teenagers.
4. Sorry, Lord Vader, but at number four, I'm putting Episode IV: A New Hope, which is the original Star Wars. By no means is it bad, but it suffers from some of the same problems Episode I does: it's the beginning of a trilogy and just takes a while to establish the main players and pick up the pace.
3. Going against the grain, I'm daring to say I liked Episode III: Revenge of the Sith third most. I think it's a fitting and action-packed culmination of the prequel trilogy. The last 45 minutes are awfully watchable, and while Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin is inconsistent at best, Ewan McGregor gets some great moments to shine as Obi Wan, and an A+ effort from Natalie Portman, who gets stuck with weak dialogue.
2. Now we're getting to the really good stuff. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi closes everything out on a very high note – with lots of action, great character work and intense scenes between Luke, Vader and Palpatine. Plus, there are moments like this, and of course this...
1. Just like there's a reason Episode I is so hated, there's a reason Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is so beloved. It's fantastic; a wholly enjoyable two-hour watch, especially the scenes with Yoda. Episode V also brings us one of the best exchanges in cinematic history...
How will The Force Awakens fare against these six films? I think we should allow for a little time to pass before trying to place it, though I will say, my initial reaction is that it's a job well done. J.J. Abrams does a fantastic job introducing new characters that we become invested in, while paying homage to the movie's predecessors. Not that you needed more reason to see The Force Awakens, but I'm a giving it a nod of approval, as it seems most fans and critics alike are.