Why is Star Wars 2 receving raves from Europe, but not from U.S. critics?

It’s like it is a French art film.

European reviewers seem to be raving(or at least heavily praising) Attack of the Clones, while U.S. reviewers are coming down hard on it. I have read qute a few reviews form Europe that call it “one of the best in the series”.

It seems amazing that a film like this would divide Europe and U.S. critics. Ebert even gave it two stars, after giving Phantom Menace FOUR STARS!!!.

Very odd. Any explanation?

First, are there any links in the house?

Second, film reviewers typically explain their reasoning in their reviews. Is this not the case with the reviews you’re seeing?

FWIW, all the advance press I’ve seen (no actual reviews, however) has been very positive.

Yep, it is indeed getting positive reviews in America.

Okay, perhaps I should have done a bit more research before posting. I thought others would have noticed this as well.

Ahem, let me try to find some good links.

Jump to the story entitled “Clones Watch” here. If that link changes, go to the imdb news for May 10, 2002.


Here is Eberts less than kind review.


Here is his review for Phantom Menace. It was 3 1/2 stars, not four.


Here is the New York Times review.

Gosh, I swear there are more, but I can’t find the full reviews. I saw a mention of this phenomenon on the news as well, so I know I’m not the only one noticing it.

I’m not posting the NY Times review link because you have to register, but that critic hates the film.

The BBC gave a summary of British print reviews and the majority were positve - to - very positive in their reviews.

Richard Corliss of Time and Todd McCarthy at Variety both gave it sound, positive reviews. And all the geeksite reviews I’ve seen all basically say “this is everything Phantom Menace wasn’t.”

The IMDB said that the british reviewers had mostly bad things to say about the film except for the fx.
Of course if there is a more review-proof film than SW:ATOC I’d like to know.

At least for the French critics (?), 2 words: Jerry Lewis

For some bizarre reason, the French are supposed to love Jerry Lewis movies, thus their movie taste buds are malfunctioning.

Cecil on French affection for Jerry Lewis.

I think the “French art film” analogy might be on the money. American critics might be looking more for sheer entertainment value, while European critics might be looking for innovation and new techniques (which the new Star Wars movies apparently have). Since I care only about plot and character, and couldn’t tell CGI from a hand-puppet, things that are really meaningful to some critics mean nothing to me.

Fan site TheForce.net published a link today to the NY Times’ review, by Vincent Canby, of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It was, interestingly, less than complimentary. I say “interestingly” both because “Empire” is widely considered the best of the series and because Canby gave an extremely positive review to “Star Wars.” Just goes to show the depth of subjectivity that can arise in film criticism.

Well, I’ve actually seen the film (today, at a sneek preview). I liked it much more than Episode I. I think it’s starting to play on it’s own franchise a bit too much. But that’s okay. That’s called “fan service”. And Lucas knows his fans are lining up around the block, not the critics.

The best in the series? Uhm, I’m not buying that. However, it works enough, and you’d pretty much need an axe to grind to not like it. I think this is one of those cases where if you’re not into the franchise then you won’t like it.

I haven’t read all the reviews, but from what I’ve seen, many critics are asking a lot from Star Wars nowadays. I think this is why Lucas is saying he wants to return to a more “camp” …fun…version of the series.

Nuff said.

In all fairness the fellow from the NYT who did the reviews of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back is not the same person who gave an unfavorable review to Attack of the Clones. I don’t think that Pldennison was implying that he was, I just wanted to make that clear.

Having read said review of AotC I must say that it seems like the reviewer had more than a smattering of cynicism in his system. He claims the movie is two and a half hour ad for action figures and seemingly not much more. He does everything from comparing the movie to Dawson’s Creek to The Mummy franchise, and the comparisons are never complimentary.

I get the feeling that he went in with the intent to dislike it and I wonder if part of his dislike stems from his knowing that the movie will turn a handsome profit regardless of his critique, or even the public’s consensus on how good or not the movie is (it happened with Phantom Menace). He even goes so far as to state:

Perhaps I am wrong and when I see the movie my opinions will be very similar to Mr. Scott’s (the reviewer) but I suspect that he disliked the movie, but not to the degree that he claims in his review: I think he’s just venting his frustration.

OK, we have hit on a pet peeve of mine. sorry for the Hijack here.

French Cinema is equal, if not better to Hollywood.

The French movie industry certainly know their stuff, so please dont give me the “Jerry Lewis” blowoff.

Don’t accept the “American=Best” analogy in cinema that rears its head waay to often.

Seriously. I’m an american and we’re stupid. We let Titanic win best picture, for the love of christ! No wonder the rest of the world thinks we’re a bunch of cocky idiots, we are!!!

Er . . . what do you mean “let?” And what do you mean “we?” Are you a voting member of AMPAS or something? I’m not.

Also, according to the IMdB, during all of 1998, around 21 million people saw Titanic in France. It was the top-grossing movie in France that year, making three times as much as the #2 film. So I guess maybe the French liked it, huh?

I don’t know that I’d say that French cinema is qualitatively different from American cinema, anyway. I mean, for every Baise-moi there’s another crappy Asterix movie with Gerard Depardieu.

Are you trying to imply that Basie-moi was somehow worth the film on which it was printed?

I don’t know how Episode II is tracking in Europe, but it is only doing so/so here among the critics. Rotten Tomatoes tracks this stuff and is showing a 43% positive reviews from the top critics (though only seven are listed right now) and only 60% positive from the generally easier “all critics” category.

Maybe not, but it’s got a hell of a title.

Re the Rotten Tomatoes tracking, Obfus, is 60% substantially different form most films? I don’t visit the site as much as I’d like, so I have no clue.

Any movie that includes a scene of a woman vomiting in the lap of a man she’s fellating is worth at least the price of a rental.

Anyway, I just hate the characterization of European cinema generally, and French cinema specifically, as a bunch of existentialist, beret-wearing, clove-cigarette-smoking, auteur-theory-spouting fans of Godard, Cocteau and Tati. French cinema produces as many dogs as any other countries film industry; and the French sure love American movies.

I don’t know averages or anything, but my feeling that 60% is kind of low is based on the fact that there is so much hype and expectation placed on this movie.

But 60% is the minimum for a “Fresh” rating. It is also my experience, that the overal critics are softer on mainstream fair (where frequently the overall rating will be lower than the restricted rating for art films) than than the “cream of the crop” critics.

Overall ratings for other recent “event movies”:

Spider-Man: 84% positive
Harry Potter: 79% positive
Lord of the Rings: 96% positive
The Scorpion King: 39% positive
Monsters, Inc: 94% positive
Shrek: 87% positive
Pearl Harbor: 27% positive
The Mummy Returns: 47% positive
Planet of the Apes: 45% positive
Rush Hour 2: 48% positive

Episode 1: 58% positive (so the critical reaction so far is about the same as for the last movie).