This post contains SPOILERS for The Last Jedi
UPDATE: The Last Jedi now has the worst audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of any Star Wars film. The original story follows.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has become the most divisive installment in the franchise, in terms of Rotten Tomatoes critics and audience scores. At long last, the eighth chapter in the Skywalker saga playing in theaters, giving audiences plenty to unpack. Writer/director Rian Johnson definitely took the property in some new directions, serving up an abundance of surprises that even the most die-hard fan couldn’t have seen coming. Though The Last Jedi feels like it’s from the same world The Force Awakens set up, it’s a different beast entirely.
The Episode VIII hype reached a fever pitch last weekend when the premiere was held and social media reactions praised the film for its emotional story. Anticipation only continued to rise when the full reviews went live, and The Last Jedi became Certified Fresh with marks that rivaled The Empire Strikes Back in terms of acclaim. However, now that the general public finally has a chance to see what all the buzz is about, the narrative surrounding the consensus has changed in surprising fashion.
Related: The Last Jedi Box Office Predictions
On Rotten Tomatoes, The Last Jedi currently has an audience score of 60 percent, which is a stark contrast from its 93 percent Tomatometer score. That’s a gap of a whopping 33 points, which is by far the largest in the series to date. The second-biggest discrepancy is a two-way tie between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi, both of which have a 14 percent difference in critic/audience ratings. Episode VIII also sports the third-lowest audience ranking in all of Star Wars, with only The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones faring worse. The numbers are similar on Metacritic, as well.
Lucasfilm has had great success delivering crowd-pleasing blockbusters in the early part of their Disney era, with The Force Awakens earning an audience rating of 89 percent and Rogue One scoring 87 percent. That The Last Jedi is this polarizing is a surprising development, especially since the studio green lit an all-new trilogy from Johnson a month before its debut. Though many fans are highly impressed with what the filmmaker did with the material, some were left feeling a little colder. Viewers aren’t sure what to make of the abundance of new Force powers The Last Jedi introduces, feel the characters continuously made poor decisions that the film barely addresses, and may have gone too far in places with the comedic beats. Much like the DC Extended Universe, there will be debates about The Last Jedi for years to come.
What’s fascinating about all this is that The Last Jedi seemed to rectify the “rehash” complaints that hamstrung Force Awakens. As Johnson promised, his installment was no mere Empire Strikes Back remake, changing the saga forever with its jaw-dropping finale and layered themes. Unlike its predecessors, it isn’t a simpler space opera about good battling evil; Episode VIII is more complex in its approach, and it may become a film that improves upon multiple viewings. In any case, this is further evidence that Lucasfilm is constantly in a lose-lose situation with moviegoers. There would have been criticisms if The Last Jedi was too similar to the original trilogy, so all the studio can do is just stay on course and do what they feel is best.
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