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  1. #1

    Study Finds: Prequels Overall Actually Better Reviewed Than Originals!!

    I found this to be really fascinating. Especially given how everyone seems to bash the Prequels for not being as good as the Originals. But as the study shows, only the original film faired better than Episode I and Episode II once the numbers are compared. A rather intresting study, especially for those of us who love the Prequels just as much as the Originals. I'm sure this will only lead to massive debates, but it still rather intresting.
    The results are not what one might expect, based on reviews collected during the time of each trilogy’s original release dates.

    Based on current active critics though, the results are as expected. The average RottenTomatoes.com-style "Tomatometer" ranking (i.e. the percent of positive reviews) of the original trilogy handily beats the prequels by 20% -- 90% to 70%, respectively.

    Prequels Tomatometer Scores Based on Current Active Critics:
    83% - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    65% - Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
    62% - Star wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
    Average Tomatometer: 70%

    Original Trilogy Tomatometer Scores Based on Current Active Critics:
    80% - Return of the Jedi
    98% - The Empire Strikes Back
    93% - Star Wars
    Average Tomatometer: 90%

    However, in reality, it’s not fair to compare the two trilogies based mostly on current active critics because most of them saw the original films as children, and are reviewing them based on nostalgic memories as well as judging them on established ‘classic’ status.

    Instead, you have to go back to what the critics thought at the time — the late '70s and early '80s.

    When “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” was released in 1999, a group of "RottenTomatoes.com" staff members actually went through library archives and dug up a sampling of available sources that reviewed the original trilogy during the time of their respective release dates in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Because those reviews weren’t available online, the staff OCR-ed them and put them on the web, breaking all kinds of copyright laws in the process (they were quite the rebels back then). However, upon legitimizing the company months later, those reviews were the first to go. Thanks to Archive.org, a site that archives the web pages, the quotes are still there but the full text reviews are gone. The results are actually quite surprising.

    Tomatometer Scores for Original Trilogy During Original Release Dates:
    31% - Return of the Jedi
    52% - The Empire Strikes Back
    79% - Star Wars
    Average Tomatometer: 54%

    As one can see, only “Star Wars” managed to gain an overall positive response, with a respectable 79% on the Tomatometer, while the other two sequels got successively worse. Most of the critics thought the first film was an inventive, fun, and entertaining summer popcorn movie. What's most interesting is that they constantly complain about the dialogue back then too, just as critics do now.

    “Empire,” which is regarded as the best of the series nowadays, only managed to score a mixed 52%. It received great technical grades, but critics had problems with the plot, one way or other, and thought it was just “minor entertainment.” It got worse with “Jedi” – uneven pacing, no character development, tired acting, and hollow and junky filmmaking. It scored a moldy 30% on the Tomatometer. Prequels were probably the last thing critics wanted back then after the thrashing of the last film.

    Ironically, if you compare the average Tomatometer of the prequels and the original trilogies during the time of their respective original release dates, the Prequels are actually better reviewed by 16% -- 70% to 54%, respectively!

    Tomatometer Ranking of Star Wars Series Based on Critical Reaction During Original Release Dates:
    83% - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    79% - Star Wars
    65% - Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
    62% - Star wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
    52% - The Empire Strikes Back
    31% - Return of the Jedi
    MTFBWY and HH!!

    Jar Jar Binks
    Last edited by Beast; 05-26-2005 at 04:03 PM.
    THE SPY. THE SPACEMAN. THE GODDESS. THE ROBOT. THE GORILLA.

    AGENTS OF ATLAS - Returns in Early 2009.

  2. #2

    Re: Study Finds: Prequels Overall Actually Better Reviewed Than Originals!!

    very interesting, but not at all surprising (to me.) i'd known all along that critics were as, if not more, unresponsive to the originals than they were to the prequels. just another reason why i disregard all critics except jay sherman!
    Nachos are the right of all sentient beings.

    The guns... They've stopped!
    - Dan Akroyd, Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope

  3. #3

    Re: Study Finds: Prequels Overall Actually Better Reviewed Than Originals!!

    The unspoken assumption being made here is that the Prequels are inherently just as good, if not better in some cases, than the originals. The study does not indicate that. All it suggests is a snapshot of published critical opinion at the respective points in time. Even then, we don't get an true indication of how many reviews were looked at nor exactly who. And since when do "lovers" of movies (any movies) ever listen to what critics have to say? Oh yeah, only when the critics agree with them. When the critics disagree, then they are labeled as hacks or whatnot.

    It also assumes that current reviews of the older films are somehow "tainted" by nostaglia. While tastes and sensibilities can and do change over time, simple and rational literary comprehension skills still prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the original films were written better and arguably, executed better in almost every way. Interestingly enough, the opposite assumption was not made, which would be that reviews may have been more positive in regard to the Prequels because of "nostalgia" and/or "perceived loyalty" to the Star War saga. In other words, a kind of non-objective blind fandom can take over a critic's better judgement and result in a positive review when it might not have otherwise, if the film was being judged in a vacuum. I personally believe that this is what causes current "fans" to enjoy the Prequels more than they otherwise would if these films didn't have the Star Wars branding all over them. Take away the title, change the character names and the overall look...leaving just the story...and no doubt there would be universal scorn for the films.

    While the Prequels provide an interesting photoplay illustrating the continuing advancement of digital technology, in a lot of cases, new does not necessarily always equate with "better." The long and short of it is that the Prequels were not written as well by George as the original films were which were written by professional and qualified writers. Lucas himself has admitted as much. Why Prequel Defenders refuse to acknowledge this still is beyond me. That train left the station weeks ago.

    Now all of this isn't to suggest that a person shouldn't enjoy whatever he or she desires. However it does call into question our collective prerequisite for what passes as "quality" anymore. If the Star Wars Prequels are as good as it can be...and we choose to agree to accept them as 100% "can't get any better," then why should anyone make an attempt toward greater achievement in anything? Mediocrity should not be acceptable by anyone.

  4. #4

    Re: Study Finds: Prequels Overall Actually Better Reviewed Than Originals!!

    I think all 6 movies have room for improvement. I still love all 6.

    I don't care what the critics think, good or bad. If someone reviews a movie positively and I happen to agree with it, well yeah I will make note of it because it articulates what I felt as well. If I read a review that I am at odds with, I am able to explain why I feel that way.

  5. #5

    Re: Study Finds: Prequels Overall Actually Better Reviewed Than Originals!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar
    I think all 6 movies have room for improvement. I still love all 6.

    I don't care what the critics think, good or bad. If someone reviews a movie positively and I happen to agree with it, well yeah I will make note of it because it articulates what I felt as well. If I read a review that I am at odds with, I am able to explain why I feel that way.
    Right on!
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    — David Brent

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