Of all the examples to not trust critics this is a flimsy case. Star Wars was THE revolution of its time so of course its sequels wouldn't carry that same wow factor by itself. And placing Empire on this absurd pedestal of outclassing everything before or after in SW, especially with such pacing issues comparative to A New Hope, should make anyone roll their eyes by now.
Oh yeah, Empire is the one with pacing issues. The one that takes like an hour to get absolutely anywhere and from then has a weird moment right before the supposed climax where everything is just kinda silent and nothing seems to be going on, and then proceeds to the super boring generic "climactic" battle against the completely underdeveloped villains doesn't have any pacing issues.