Which ‘Star Wars’ Films Did Fans Love or Hate the Most?

Now that the Star Wars Episode IX trailer has finally dropped and the world is looking forward to the last chapter of the Skywalker Saga, it’s a good time to look back and see what movies in the series fans loved the most – or didn’t.

The least-liked ‘Star Wars’ films

In most discussions of Star Wars films, the dreaded prequel trilogy tends to prompt more jeers than cheers – but none more so than Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Jar-Jar Binks. Enough said for some, although the film has its defenders, with praise for the pod-racing scene and the final three-way lightsaber battle between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. For the most part, though, pee-yousa!  Critics and fans give it middling Rotten Tomatoes scores of 54 and 59 percent.

Nevertheless, the movie is still the fourth highest grossing in the entire series, having raked in $431 million, or $765 million in today’s dollars. That’s what 16 years without a Star Wars movie will do to an audience.

Not far behind in fans’ disdain is the second episode of the prequel trilogy, 2002’s Attack of the Clones. It had less Jar-Jar but more clunky dialogue. These lines are often singled out: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like you. You’re soft and smooth.” Such cringe-worthy moments meant the scores for Clones weren’t much better than Phantom’s. Critics said 65 percent, audiences said 56 percent.

Last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story was the puzzler of the batch. Neither critics nor audiences seemed to hate it, but they didn’t particularly seem to like it either, with a 70 percent critics score and a 64 percent audience score. Whatever the rating, the movie took in only $213 million at the box office, and that was considered a major disappointment. Disney had planned to release a Star Wars film a year, but Solo‘s underwhelming box office may have thrown cold water on that idea.

Then there’s 2017’s The Last Jedi, one of the most divisive films in the series. Most critics respected director Rian Johnson’s reinvention of the mythology, and it ranks a solid fourth among critical scores, with 91 percent positive. It made $620 million, and financially, that’s the second most successful movie in the series – sixth if you adjust for inflation.

But among audience scores, it’s dead last among all the films, with an anemic 44 percent. Fans particularly bemoaned that Luke Skywalker wasn’t heroic enough, and they didn’t exactly like what the film’s subdued revelation about Rey’s parents.

The most-liked ‘Star Wars’ films

Hovering around the middle of the pack are Rogue One, Return of the Jedi and the best liked of the prequels, Revenge of the SithThe Force Awakens made the most money, with $936 million, and audiences rate it at 87 percent, while critics score it at 92 percent.

But there’s little debate about which movies are the fans and critics’ favorites. For those, you have to go all the way back to the beginning. The original 1977 Star Wars (A New Hope) and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back come out way ahead.

For many people, there is no topping that thrill of discovery that captivated audiences in 1977. It’s the only film in the series to score a Best Picture Oscar nomination. And its box office is beyond dispute. With an inflation-adjusted gross $1.2 billion, that makes it the second most successful film of all time, behind only Gone with the Wind. Critics say 93 percent, audiences say 96 percent.

And then there’s Empire. It grossed less than the original Star Wars and Return of the Jedi, but still takes the top spot with audiences and critics, with scores of 97 and 93 percent, respectively. The reason for the high rating?

“I am your father” may have something to do with it.

Now all that remains is to find out where Episode IX ranks. We’ll find out Dec. 20