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7.03.2008

Blast from the past. The OT reviews!

Every once in a while I like to browse Metacritic. Not because I give a hoot about what the critics say, but because as much as I hate statistics, I live for collective feedback and averages. Or something like that. There's just something about Metacritic that gives me hope, or perhaps an excuse. Can't quite put my finger on it.

I recently checked out how Wall.E was averaging, and was surprised (well, not really) at the amazingly high ratings it has received so far. I think we would be hard pressed to find too many more major theatrical releases that made it into the 90 percentile in the past decade, and Wall.E hit a whopping 93.

Of course, one thing led to another and I couldn't help but see how our beloved saga fared... and I couldn't believe I hadn't done this before. What I found most interesting was digging up reviews for the original trilogy. The original 1977 Star Wars received a 91, which puts it in an elite class of percentages in the 90s, but amazingly is lower than Wall.E. Perhaps more critics had more to say about Star Wars than Wall. E.



The only 100% I happened upon was for The Godfather, which also had a small amount of submissions to average out.

In the case of the Star Wars films, particularly the original trilogy, Metacritic has an average of mostly reviews from the original release dates, but there are a few mixed in that discuss the Special Editions. Namely, those by the pimp-daddy-tastic love monster that is Chris Gore. *ahem* *gathers self together*

While I'm not sure how variables like that factor in, and don't really care, what was most interesting to me was the progression of ratings, or lack thereof, that each consecutive film received. I have an unsettled arguement with a screenwriting mentor of mine who declared that The Empire Strikes Back is unanimously considered the worst of the Star Wars original trilogy. That being my all time favorite movie of the saga, of course I had bones to pick. While he mainly meant considered the worst of the OT at the time, I had no idea what a critic even was at the time TESB entered my life. All I knew then was that when winter hit, I was well prepared for any Wampa attacks.

I digress. While the ratings for The Empire Strike Back take a step down from Star Wars to a still respectible 78%, it's worth noting the declining mood of one particular NYT critic from the late 70s and 80s. Look for the reviews by Vincent Canby in each of the OT sections. Here's his 1980 review of TESB.

Excerpt:

"Ordinarily when one reviews a movie one attempts to tell a little something about the story. It's a measure of my mixed feelings about "The Empire Strikes Back" that I'm not at all sure that I understand the plot. That was actually one of the more charming conceits of "Star Wars," which began with a long, intensely complicated message about who was doing what to whom in the galactic confrontations we were about to witness and which, when we did see them, looked sort of like a game of neighborhood hide-and-seek at the Hayden Planetarium. One didn't worry about its politics. One only had to distinguish the good persons from the bad. This is pretty much the way one is supposed to feel about "The Empire Strikes Back," but one's impulse to know, to understand, cannot be arrested indefinitely without doing psychic damage or, worse, without risking boredom. "

- It's hard to believe how someone can be so totally 180 degrees off the mark you are on about something. I think Mr. Canby was 50 years old when he was born? It's obvious I disagree here but I still have to say... Everything happens in TESB!

I won't even get into what the above critic had to say about the final chapter in the saga Return of the Jedi, and my squeamishness may have something to do with the fact that something deep down inside never really clicked with me and the Ewoks. So therefore, do I agree with the 52% that Jedi earned? Heck no! To me, it's still one of the better movies ever made. I can easily look past fake fur and zippers to embrace the glory of a pack of rabid mutant bears taking down the high-tech Empire. Speeder bikes trump everything anyway.

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