Whether you loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi or not, there is one truth. Not everyone feels the same way. And though Star Wars films have caused heated debates since 1977, The Last Jedi appears to have created a historical split. The critical consensus claims it’s wonderful, but the general public is deeply divided.
As of Sunday, the Rotten Tomatoes score for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is either 93 percent or 57 percent, depending on which metric you want to use. The 93 comes from the Critics Score, while the 57 represents the audience reactions. Critics Score on Rotten Tomatoes is calculated from a large selection of professional film critics. While the Audience Score comes from users who aren’t film critics, just regular readers who submit their own grassroots reviews.
To be clear, the movie has only been out for a couple of days, so both of these scores could go up, or down. But, in terms of recent history, this is somewhat surprising. Usually, when there is a huge difference between the Critic Score and the Audience Score, the gap tends to skew in the opposite direction; a film hated by critics is loved by the fans. For example, this year’s widely panned Justice League currently holds a 40% Critic Score and 79% Audience score. If these numbers are any representation of reality (which is questionable) this would make The Last Jedi the opposite of a Justice League; a film that critics praise, but isn’t connecting universally audiences.
To be clear, many of the negative user reviews of The Last Jedi on Rotten Tomatoes tend to be filled with profanity and give the impression they were written quickly and in the heat of passionate anger. But not all the hate is inarticulate or politically motivated. Some people — for a variety of reasons — seem to be deeply offended by the movie. Two common criticisms are centered around the fact that too many of the characters are cracking jokes and that the established rules of the Force in the Star Wars universe have been significantly altered. If the context were removed, some of these screeds could easily have applied to The Phantom Menace.
For what it’s worth, the last two new Star Wars films — The Force Awakens and Rogue One — have Critic and Audiences Scores that are pretty much aligned. The Force Awakens has 93 percent with Critics and 88 percent with Audience. Rogue One is even closer to a consensus with a near tie of 85 percent from Critics and 88 percent from the audience. Again, audience score for The Last Jedi could go up in the coming days. But, anecdotally most fans have already probably noticed a stark difference of opinions.
Back in 1999, the New York Times said The Phantom Menace was “up to snuff” in a fairly positive review that hardly matches with its reputation today. What will we think of The Last Jedi as time passes? Only time will tell.
The Last Jedi is out in wide release now.