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The Star Wars Movie That Over 20% Of People Would Cut From The Franchise

Nobody's perfect.

Moviemaking is hard. Consistent excellence is even harder. Sometimes the ingredients just don't add up; the script is off, the actors lack chemistry, that idea that seemed smart on paper doesn't translate visually. Countless franchises have discovered for themselves that track record can only take you so far. Sometimes you make The Blues Brothers, and sometimes you make Blues Brothers 2000. Even if you have The Godfather and The Godfather Part II on your résumé, you still might make The Godfather Part III.

Star Wars is no different. (In fact, some might argue Star Wars was a precedent-setter in this regard, though these people have presumably never seen Jaws: The Revenge.) The franchise has its share of classics, its share of stinkers, and its share of movies in the middle that people will be arguing the merits and faults of until the end of time. With a whole new trilogy to consider now, however, the calculation has become a lot more complicated.

This prequel was chosen as the least essential core Star Wars movie

Only one film can take the title of the franchise's worst — or, at least, its least essential. And so Looper put it to a vote, conducting a poll that asked respondents if they had to cut one movie from among the nine core films of the Skywalker Saga, which would it be?

Nearly 21 percent of 658 total respondents picked Star Wars: Attack of the Clones as the movie they would be most willing to let go, like a handful of coarse, irritating sand. There's a certain logic to this. As the middle movie of the prequel trilogy, it feels less essential than the two movies that bookend it — neither introducing as many new and important concepts as The Phantom Menace, nor having the emotional climax offered by Revenge of the Sith.

The prequels as a whole faired worse than either the original or sequel trilogy, with more than 45 percent of respondents choosing to excise one of those three films from the saga. Only 27 percent of respondents selected one of the original trilogy, while 28 percent opted for an entry from the sequel trilogy.

Critically, Attack of the Clones isn't at the bottom of the Star Wars barrel

Though Attack of the Clones is the Star Wars movie that the majority of people who responded to Looper's poll would scrap from the franchise, the film isn't actually the worst-rated entry in the franchise. In fact, it's only the third-worst-rated of the live-action Star Wars movies – which isn't great in the grand scheme, but in this particular situation, helps contextualize things and shed some light on the difference between a bad movie and a non-essential one. On Rotten Tomatoes, Attack of the Clones sits at a 65 percent critical rating — not quite Certified Fresh by the site's standards (it would need at least a 70 percent cumulative score from critics), but not too bad. The Phantom Menace has a Rotten score of 52 percent, while The Rise of Skywalker sits at 51 percent, making it the worst-rated live-action film from the galaxy far, far away. (2018's animated feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars sports a dreary 18 percent.)

But even with two live-action flicks sitting lower on the critical-rating scale than it, Attack of the Clones is, to many, a film that the Star Wars franchise could do without. The Rise of Skywalker, divisive as it is, couldn't be scrapped since it wraps up the Skywalker Saga. Similarly, The Phantom Menace may not be the pinnacle of filmmaking, but it kicks off the Star Wars prequel trilogy and begins the Skywalker Saga (from a narrative standpoint — the original trilogy obviously debuted before it). 

On the flip side, as evidenced by the outcome of Looper's poll, even well-received films might not be totally essential to a franchise. Let's dive into those results.

How did the rest of the Star Wars franchise fare?

The second-most popular individual selection for removal was The Phantom Menace at 15 percent, which nudged out The Rise of Skywalker, also 15 percent, by a single vote among respondents. Coming in at 12 percent as the fourth-highest vote getter? The first film in the series, A New Hope, which, okay smart guys, how would you kick off the franchise then?

The most essential Star Wars, chosen for banishment by the least amount of respondents, was 2015's The Force Awakens, which just five of voters selected. The second-least likely to be voted off the island was Return of the Jedi at seven percent, followed by The Last Jedi at eight percent. The Empire Strikes Back also clocked in at eight percent, but came in a couple of tenths of a percentage point above Episode VIII. Right in the middle at a solid ten percent: prequel trilogy-ender and Darth Vader origin story Revenge of the Sith.

The Star Wars fandom is large and features a nearly infinite variety of tastes and preferences. Somewhere out there you can find an argument that each one of the movies is the franchise's best or its worst. The only thing we can all agree on is that some are better than others.