If its first-weekend box office take is any indication, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a worthy addition to the long-running Star Wars saga. Even the critics have been mostly positive in their opinions of the eighth episode in the film series and second part of the Disney-era “Sequel Trilogy.”
Evidence can be seen in some review aggregation websites like Rotten Tomatoes, which currently holds The Last Jedi at a 93% “fresh” rating with professional movie critics. If you’re sensing a “but” in this statement then yes. The audience score is a teeter-tottering 56%, compared to The Force Awakens’ 88%.
Why the discrepancy? One prevailing reason perhaps is the subversive plot developments prominent in Star Wars Episode VIII, which saw many popular fan theories like the true identities of Rey’s parents being quashed (the dismisses them as no-name scavengers). Some theory-crazy fans vented their disappointment in ratings as a result.
The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has taken note of the fan-theorists’ ire for how he developed the plot points from The Force Awakens to his film. He remarks that it’s indicative of the level of caring Star Wars fans have for the characters and their setting, passionate and “violent.”
“It hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love,” said Johnson. “Every fan has a list of stuff they want a Star Wars movie to be and they don’t want a Star Wars movie to be.” Still, not everything’s negative for him.
In Johnson’s own estimate, some “80 to 90 percent” of Last Jedi reactions directed at him on Twitter have been “lovely” and very supportive, concluding that “When I talk about the negative stuff, that’s not the full picture of the fans at all.” And he might just have a point.
Observers have noted that it was only the audience reviews in aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes that are skewed towards negative. Opinions from moviegoers exiting the cinema have been just as positive as most critics’ views. The picture then is that only disgruntled Star Wars fans leave reviews on the aggregators.
Then there’s the other theory regarding how both Universal (via Comcast) and Warner Bros. have a stake on Totten Tomatoes and its parent Flixster, explaining the bad ratings. The less said about that wild theory, the better.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiered in the US last Friday and is now running in theaters worldwide.