A few months ago we ranked the Star Wars movies, taking from fan polls and lists online. But how do the critics agree? We looked at Rotten Tomatoes, score the movies in chronological order, and also included the latest installment to see where it falls!
A legendary beginning to a legendary series, the original Star Wars is regarded as one of the silver screen’s enduring legends. Based on the classic hero’s journey and set in a unique and imaginative world. Movies changed after “A New Hope” came out, but how does it stand up to the critics?
“Star Wars is nothing short of pure unadulterated entertainment, something that has been sorely lacking in a great majority of recent films.” – Vern Perry
“It’s a near timeless milestone in cinema that lives up to its legacy as a simple, exciting, and fun science fiction fantasy.” – Felix Vasquez Jr.
Almost universal acclaim. Critical reviews call it childish and nothing more but a toy creation system – though their voices are covered by positive reviews. And the audience? Seeing even a three-star review out of five is surprising (allowing for the knee-jerk ½ star reactions).
Scores: Tomatometer 93%, Audience 96%
Regarded as the prime cut among the Star Wars series, “The Empire Strikes Back” is the series’ highest point. Bearing even higher scores than the original, this movie is fraught with emotion, danger, and one of the greatest twist endings in movie history (albeit one everyone knows of by now). What have the critics said?
“The Empire Strikes Back is the ultimate in fantasies, a visual wonder and a movie that should be recommended highly if only because it makes you feel good.” – Rena Andrews
“Has any movie sequel ever so thoroughly surpassed impossible expectations as The Empire Strikes Back?” – Tim Brayton
Again, nearly universal. The audience as well loves this movie to the ends of the earth, and their scores reflect it.
Score: Tomatometer 94%, Audience 97%
Finally we get a movie a bit more contentious. Known as the weakest of the original trilogy, “The Empire Strikes Back” is still very well-liked by critics and audience.
“It’s everything it ought to be — glorious, exhilarating, exciting, absorbing, technically wondrous. But there also is something bittersweet in the knowledge that, with Jedi, we are bidding a fond farewell to all of the characters we got to know so well.” – Rena Andrews
“[A] capper to a solid trilogy that’s nevertheless not quite the flawless work its reputation would seem to indicate.” – David Nusair
Audiences seem to enjoy it at a higher rate, even though some might not like the Ewoks.
Score: Tomatometer 80%, Audience 94%
And thus we begin the lean months. The first of the prequel movies began at the top of the box office, but the shine quickly wore off. Dense sections of special effects bookend boring trade, politics, and the beginning of the worst movie romance in twenty years.
“Mr. Lucas is not without a certain technocratic sagacity, but I don’t think he’s communicating even with the young as astutely as he once did.” – Andrew Sarris
“The Force may not be strong in this episode, but it’s there.” John Hanlon
There are some bright spots – Darth Maul was a compelling if underused character, and the podracing sequence, while too long, was at least exciting – but George Lucas’ iron-fisted control of the entire production brought it down. Audience reception has been better but nowhere near as good as even Episode VI.
Score: Tomatometer 55%, Audience 60%
Better? Worse? The debate rages on whether or not this one or Episode I is the worst of the Star Wars films. While better received by critics, audiences were not as kind. The aforementioned romance, terrible dialogue, and more overpowering special effects equal the movie’s redeeming qualities.
“In lieu of a proper climax, Attack Of The Clones ends with a tantalizing cliffhanger for the next episode, but Lucas’ lumbering series is presenting fewer and fewer reasons to tune in.” – Scott Tobias
“Attack of the Clones is the best Star Wars installment since The Empire Strikes Back, hurtling along so quickly that you hardly notice the many moments when the story fails to make sense — even on its own fantastical terms.” – David Sterritt
The battle scene at the end was exciting, as was the lightsaber fight against Count Dooku, but as the movie ages it proves its lack of quality.
Score: Tomatometer 65%, Audience 58%
Seen as a dramatic improvement on Attack of the Clones, “Revenge of the Sith,” but this installment brings much more dramatic tension and real emotion to the table. Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side is the crux of the entire series, and manages to get the on-screen respect it deserves.
“Special effects have greatly advanced since 1978, but technology needs imagination after it has made an initial impression. Imagination is not the strong suit of Revenge of the Sith.” – Philip French
“Revenge of the Sith is far from a great film but it easily trumps its two predecessors.” – Jeff Meyers
Audience scores make rising and falling mountain range of reception. Some like the close of the trilogy for its emotional weight. Others find the acting and dialogue enough to bring it down.
Score: Tomatometer 79%, Audience 65%
J.J. Abrams gives us another taste of delicious Star Wars pie, and the consensus is it brought back the magic of the original trilogy. One of the common criticisms is the film is a modern copy of “A New Hope.” So?
“I’m happy to tell you that, despite some minor fumbles, this is definitely the Star Wars film we’ve been looking for.” – Kanin Srimaneekulroj
“That’s what’s so impressive about the tricky balancing act Abrams has pulled off with The Force Awakens: He’s made a movie that’s simultaneously gripping and a huge release. We are in good hands, at last.” – Christy Lemire
Audience reaction is joyful, exuberant, and full of the happiness the last ten years has lacked. It has more humor, solid characters, and better special effects.
Score: Tomatometer 92%, Audience 89%
Thanks for reading! Do you agree with Episode VII’s place? Where does it fall for you? Come back next week for more fun fan information!