‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Rotten Tomatoes Scores Show Discrepancy Between Critics and Audience Reactions

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Courtesy of Disney

Rotten Tomatoes released its “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” score this week, and at least by that metric, the film is measuring up to the high standards set by some of the previous films, though it’s not quite all roses.

“The Last Jedi” is currently sitting at a 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, though that rating is subject to change as more reviews are aggregated. The film has matched the previous entrant in the franchise, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is also certified “fresh” at 93%. Both films are topped only by “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back’s” 94% — “A New Hope” also sits at 93%.

“The Last Jedi” hasn’t fared so well in the Audience Score department however, as that rating has been dropping since the film’s release, and is currently at a surprisingly low 57%. The score marks a nearly 40% difference where “The Force Awakens” had only a 5% difference with an Audience Score of 88%. “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One’s” Audience Score reflected a gain of 2% over the Tomatometer, at 87% to the Tomatometer’s 85%. All “The Last Jedi’s” scores are early, however, and subject to ongoing change as the film’s rollout continues. The Tomatometer represents the percentage of critics who rated the film positively, with the Audience Score the percentage of ratings from Rotten Tomatoes users that were positive (3.5 stars or higher). “The Last Jedi’s” current Audience Score was drawn from 81,842 user ratings, with the Tomatometer score compiled from 291 reviews.

While most reviewers lauded “The Last Jedi’s” thrilling effects and emotional core, not all critics shared in the unbridled praise of the film. Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote that while entertaining, “The Last Jedi” is “the longest and least essential chapter in the series” and that due to its inconsequential plotlines, “audiences could presumably skip this film and show up for Episode IX without experiencing the slightest confusion as to what happened in the interim.” CNN’s Brian Lowry wrote that despite reintegrating Luke Skywalker into the main action of the series, the film is a “significant letdown” in terms of its story.

Both “The Last Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” earned A CinemaScores, with all the other “Star Wars” films that have been rated by the company beginning with 1999’s “The Phantom Menace” yielding scores in the A range, with the exception of 2008’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which earned a B-.

See what the critics have said about “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”:

Variety‘s Peter Debruge:
“As it turns out, although “The Last Jedi” meets a relatively high standard for franchise filmmaking, Johnson’s effort is ultimately a disappointment. If anything, it demonstrates just how effective supervising producer Kathleen Kennedy and the forces that oversee this now Disney-owned property are at molding their individual directors’ visions into supporting a unified corporate aesthetic…It may sound like a backhanded compliment, but with so much on the line, Johnson deserves credit for not messing things up.”

CNN’s Brian Lowry:
“While ‘Force Awakens’ did an admirable job of engineering a baton pass by establishing the new cast (the other key members being John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe), ‘Last Jedi’ bogs down in the middle and, the cooler parts notwithstanding, doesn’t rally enough at the finish to offset that. The flaws also invite second-guessing about Lucasfilm’s pre-release vote of confidence by anointing Johnson as the force behind a separate trilogy set in that far-away galaxy.”

The New York Times’s Manohla Dargis:
“Yes, the latest ‘Star Wars’ installment is here, and, lo, it is a satisfying, at times transporting entertainment. Remarkably, it has visual wit and a human touch, no small achievement for a seemingly indestructible machine that revved up 40 years ago and shows no signs of sputtering out (ever).”

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty:
“Despite the flabby mid-section of the film and its menagerie of new alien creatures that are a mixed bag, Johnson really delivers with the third and final act. The climactic last 45 minutes of the film is as thrilling and spectacular as anything Star Wars has ever given us….And again, the film ends on a note that feels…just…right.”

The Washington Posts’ Ann Hornaday:
“There’s no way for the latest trilogy of Star Wars films to capture the novelty and sheer exhilaration of the original films, but Johnson and producer J.J. Abrams understand the spirit and emotion of the thing. When the feelings come in ‘The Last Jedi,’ and they do come, they’re deep and they’re real. Go ahead and try to watch the penultimate scene without crying, or pretending not to. And may the Force be with you.”

NPR’s Glen Weldon:
“‘The Last Jedi’ is fun and fast, rollicking and suspenseful. It supplies us with all the things we expect — nay, demand — in a Star Wars movie, and manages to surprise us by revealing that this fictional universe, in which we’ve already clocked so many hours, can still surprise us.”