Critics have been almost universally positive about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes rating the film as 93 percent “fresh” and Metacritic (which averages reviews on a 1 to 100 scale) giving it a score of 86. Fans who packed theatres over the weekend, however, have not been so generous to the eighth installment of the Star Wars series.
More than 94,000 ratings submitted to Rotten Tomatoes have only earned The Last Jedi a 56 percent positive rating among fans, as of Sunday morning. With an average score of 3.3 out of 5, that places writer/director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars film below the critically reviled Justice League (average rating 4.1, with 79 percent of fans liking it) and Daddy’s Home 2 (3.5, 59 percent), and just above Bad Moms Christmas (3.2, 50 percent liked it).
Over on Metacritic, users have scored the movie at 5.0 out of 10, with negative reviews slightly outnumbering positive ones and about 13 percent calling their reaction “mixed.” Reviewers on the Internet Movie Database have been more sympathetic, rating The Last Jedi an average of 8.0 out of 10, although their “top 1000” reviewers only give it a 6.8. The more than 13,000 reviewers on Fandango give The Last Jedi 4 out of 5 stars, but the most recent reviews show many one- and two-star ratings being added by the minute. Cinemascore, which polls audience reactions to movies, gives The Last Jedi an "A." (Our own staffers here at Syfy were similarly mixed in their spoiler-free appraisals.)
Star Wars’ beloved place in pop culture, with multiple generations of fans stretching back through its 40-year history, means new films are almost guaranteed to provoke strong reactions both good and bad. But the stark divide between critics and fan reviews on Rotten Tomatoes is unusual among the Star Wars films.
The Force Awakens, for example, is rated at 93 percent fresh, with 88 percent of fans liking it, and last year Rogue One scored 85 percent among critics with 87 percent liking it. The Empire Strikes Back, generally regarded as the best Star Wars movie, earned a 94 percent among critics with 97 percent of users (more than one million votes) liking it. The Phantom Menace, on the other hand, was reviewed positively by only 55 percent of critics with 59 percent of users (again, more than a million of them) saying they liked George Lucas’s first prequel.
Of course, it’s still very early in The Last Jedi’s run in theatres. The film will reportedly exceed its earnings expectations this weekend while still earning less than Force Awakens' record-breaking haul, but poor word-of-mouth could potentially result in a stiff drop-off in ticket sales over the next couple weeks. If the most unhappy fans (who might count Mark Hamill as an ally) are noisy enough about their displeasure with Johnson’s take on Star Wars, Lucasfilm just might have to reevaluate their approach to the troubled Solo: A Star Wars Story due out next May, and the untitled Episode IX slated for 2019.