The Star Wars series are not a success only with audiences, but also with many critics. The majority of moviegoers looks for critics’ opinions before seeing a production, and with Star Wars, the worst comments are in the “disappointment” area. Many voices considered films in the series to be “best movie of the year”, and experts have had very interesting things to say about Star Wars:
1. “An out-of-body experience” – Roger Ebert in 1977
In a review published by the Chicago Sun-Times in 1977, Roger Ebert praised the movie for its narrative, entertainment, and lack of explicit violence. One of the movie’s strengths, according to this critic, was that “it happens on such an innocent and often funny level.”
2. “It’s an epic without a dream” – Pauline Kael in 1977
Not all critics thought that Star Wars would make history when the first installment in the series was launched, in 1977. One of them was Pauline Kael, who stressed the film’s lack of emotional and mental maturity in a review published in The New Yorker: “it’s an assemblage of spare parts – it has no emotional grip. Star Wars may be the only movie in which the first time the surprises are reassuring….”
3. “More of the same to come” – David Edelstein in 2015
The last film in the series was considered enjoyable, but not surprising by a New York Magazine critic, who considered The Force Awakens a remake of everything that Star Wars has been so far: “I bet you’ll have fun – I did, mostly. But it’s the fun of seeing something fairly successfully redone, with the promise of more of the same to come.” However, there are still many fans who have not had enough of Star Wars, making Edelstein’s opinion just another point of view instead of a verdict.
4. “Most beautiful movie serial ever made” – Vincent Canby in 1977
Back to positive opinions with this review published in 1977 in New York Times, right after the opening of Star Wars at main theaters. Canby has placed the Star Wars epic on the same level with Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe, Superman, The Wizard of Oz, and the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Moreover, he says that as long as a sci-fi movie can convince an 8-year old, who is the most skeptical critic, it is a good one.
5. “A mature, philosophical aspect” – Alan Jones in 1980
Reviewer Alan Jones referred to The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 as a film with “a truly epic dimension, adding a mature, philosophical aspect to the nonstop barrage of brilliant special effects.” Jones was one of the critics who saw the film’s harder edge and considered it more than a collection of special effects.
6. “A film for children” – Mark Hamill in 1983
This opinion however is not a negative one and doesn’t diminish filmmakers’ accomplishment. The film in question is Return of the Jedi.
7. “Lucas is nothing if not an expert extender of his franchise” – Richard Corliss in 2005
Revenge of the Sith was praised by critic Richard Corliss for its return to the narrative that has made Star Wars so successful. He also admires Lucas’s ability to continue a story in a manner that still captivate audiences: “True, Lucas can pack little surprise into a backstory that’s obliged to complete the saga’s circle in the middle. But there’s an origami elegance to his folding of the old (new) story into the new (old) one.”
8. “To defy expectations or to meet them?” – Stephanie Zacharek in 2015
The issue of creating something fresh with each new installment is also commented by Stephanie Zacharek in 2015, when referring to The Force Awakens. The verdict? “When you’ve been charged with reviving one of the most obsessively beloved franchises in modern movies, is it better to defy expectations or to meet them? With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams splits the difference, and the movie suffers—in the end, it’s perfectly adequate, hitting every beat. But why settle for adequacy?” Further, she compares the genius of Star Wars with that of Jules Verne due to the new star of the film, the BB-8 droid, seen as “both modernist and old-fashioned at once”.
9. “Touching, spectacular and surprisingly coherent.” – Evan Williams in 2015
In a review about Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones, published in 2015 in The Australian, Evan Williams noted that the film “has something the others lacked entirely: old-fashioned charm. This time, The Force is with us.” The Attack of the Clones is considered one of Lucas’s best and the presence of Australians in smaller roles is definitely one of the factors that made the film win the critic’s heart.
Like most successful franchises, Star Wars is one of those productions you either love or hate; most critics have reviewed the saga positively, while a handful was not so impressed. For sure, it’s impossible to please everyone and Star Wars makes no exception to the rule.