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Sometimes The Force is with you, sometimes it isn't

The Star Wars franchise has produced wildly divergent results. Here are the big-screen movies ranked (per Metacritic data) from worst to best, along with their worldwide gross.

Originally published Nov. 29, 2016.
Update, Feb. 28, 2019, 4 p.m.: Adds slides from the newer movies. 

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Metacritic score: 35

Year released: 2008

Critics hated this CGI animated feature, calling it confused and characterless.

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But it cloned a lot of cash

Viewed as a vessel to launch the Emmy-winning 2008-2015 TV series of the same name, The Clone Wars was a success. It made money, too: grossing $68 million worldwide off a spare $8.5 million budget and the show is being revived for upcoming streaming service Disney+.

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Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace

Metacritic score: 51

Year released: 1999

This was the movie generations of Star Wars fans had waited for, the first installment of a prequel that promised to tell the dark origin story of Darth Vader. But despite Liam Neeson's star power, The Phantom Menace was a "curiously soulless," "ho-hum" letdown.

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Bad acting, great profits

Fan complaints about the pint-size Anakin (Jake Lloyd), Jar Jar Binks and more might have been legendary, but so was the movie's box office, with a $1 billion worldwide gross.

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Star Wars: Episode 6 -- Return of the Jedi

Metacritic score: 53

Year released: 1983

The concluding chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy fell into a trap -- a trap! Critics said the trailblazing saga -- what with all the Ewoks running around -- came to "an almost cheesy conclusion."

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It's good to be bad?

If Star Wars fans of 1983 were displeased with Return of the Jedi, they didn't show it. The trilogy closer grossed more than $475 million worldwide during its original run.

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Star Wars: Episode 2 -- Attack of the Clones

Metacritic score: 54

Year released: 2002

The burgeoning love between Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé (Natalie Portman) was a focal point of the second Star Wars prequel. It also was a sticking point for critics who found Attack of the Clones to be "too long... too dull... [and] too lame."

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'Only' $650 million

Either audiences agreed with critics or it's tough to be the middle chapter in a trilogy. In either case, Attack of the Clones was the lowest-grossing movie of the prequels. (It "only" made about $650 million worldwide).

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10 - Solo: A Star Wars Story

Metacritic score: 62

Year released: 2018

Critics liked but didn't love the second standalone Star Wars movie. The Atlantic's Christopher Orr noted that the script and direction are "capable but unremarkable." The cast's charisma was the movie's real asset. 

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11 - Audience fatigue

Coming only a few months after The Last Jedi and with a fraction of the marketing buzz, Solo grossed just $392 million worldwide. The other movies Disney had released since 2015 all brought in more than $1 billion, so many dismissed Solo as a box office failure.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Metacritic score: 65

Year released: 2016

The first standalone Star Wars movie did a little better with critics. Forrest Wickman of Slate said it was the first since The Empire Strikes Back "to redefine the boundaries of what a Star Wars movie can be."

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Stealing Death Star plans and making bank

People were apparently pretty eager to see what happened before A New Hope, since Rogue One grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. It was less than half of what The Force Awakens made, but a success considering it took a different approach to the franchise formula.

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Star Wars: Episode 3 -- Revenge of the Sith

Metacritic score: 68

Year released: 2005

The final live-action Star Wars movie of the George Lucas era concerned Anakin's descent to the dark side. Critics called the prequel trilogy's concluding chapter "a vast improvement over the previous two outings."

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Stellar box office

Revenge of the Sith marked a box office rebound for the franchise. The film grossed about 30 percent more than Attack of the Clones, bringing in nearly $850 million worldwide.

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Star Wars: Episode 5 -- The Empire Strikes Back

Metacritic score: 80

Year released: 1980

You love this movie. We know. Critics loved it, too. They praised the first followup to Star Wars as "richly imaginative, engrossing and spectacular."

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It didn't quite strike back at the box office

It was a massive hit in 1980, bringing in more than $538 million worldwide, but didn't draw in quite as much as the original. Still good going, Yoda.

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​Star Wars: Episode 7 -- The Force Awakens

Metacritic score: 81

Year released: 2015

A movie has to be pretty good to outrank The Empire Strikes Back, but The Force Awakens did just that. The film marks the start of Disney's Star Wars stewardship and introduced a new generation of characters, including Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega). It got a rousing reception.

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The franchise re-awakens

The Force Awakens, which also featured original trilogy fan favorites Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), rode its positively giddy buzz to a nearly $2.1 billion worldwide gross, which remains the world's third biggest of all time.

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Star Wars: Episode 8 -- The Last Jedi

Metacritic score: 85

Year released: 2017

Critics loved The Last Jedi, and many praised its ability to surprise the audience. Paste Magazine's Will Leitch said it "plays with your assumptions and upends them," but remains true to the traditions of the series.

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Fan backlash

Some vocal fans didn't appreciate the movie's surprises and character development, and its $1.3 billion worldwide gross reflected that mixed reaction.

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​Star Wars: Episode 4 -- A New Hope

Metacritic score: 92

Year released: 1977

"A grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977," Gerald Clarke wrote for Time back in the day. The critic was so right. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) became the face of the blockbuster era and a cinematic icon.

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A new era of movie blockbusters

Originally released on just 43 screens, the first Star Wars played and played and played. Audiences couldn't get enough of Darth Vader and company. The movie rewrote the box-office record book en route to a $775 million worldwide gross.

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