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December 29, 2019 06:44 pm

Why Is 'Rise of Skywalker' Dividing Critics and Fans?

"After opening 20 percent behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi last weekend, Skywalker has almost caught up with its predecessor as it heads for the $1 billion mark in a fitting end to Disney's unprecedented domination at the 2019 box office," writes the Hollywood Reporter. But Forbes senior contributor Paul Tassi notes that critics seem to hate it -- while it's been embraced by Star Wars fans:Rise of Skywalker now has some critics calling JJ Abrams' finale effort one of the worst in the series, oftentimes even more so than the dreaded prequels. In contrast, a good chunk of fans seem to enjoy the finale and think it's a fitting end to the series, and "fixes" much of what went wrong from with The Last Jedi... You can actually see this play out in the numbers. I went through and measured the critic score versus the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes for every Star Wars film... the biggest gap in favor of fan approval, by a huge margin, is Rise of Skywalker, with fans rating it a full 31% better than the critical average... [W]hat's going on here, really? To me, the impression I'm getting is that critics have overreacted to Rise of Skywalker's flaws just like fans overreacted to the problems with The Last Jedi. Neither of these films are even close to the worst Star Wars film in the grand list. Critics are insane to say that Rise of Skywalker is worse than movies like Attack of the Clones or Phantom Menace, so much so that it almost seems spiteful to try and make that case. And the same goes for The Last Jedi haters who would rate it as the worst Star Wars move in history by a 13% margin under the worst prequel, Attack of the Clones. Just... absolutely no way. To sum up what happened, fans were mad that The Last Jedi took traditional Star Wars arcs and shattered them, ignoring questions like the mystery of Snoke and Rey's origins, and that the film turned Luke from shining hero to grumpy sacrificial lamb. And that's exactly what critics liked about the film, that it broke away from tropes and tried something new. That's why those same critics are so mad now, because JJ Abrams did everything possible to undo so much of what Johnson did in The Last Jedi, providing specific answers to those questions that Johnson said weren't important. Abrams sidelines lambasted characters like Rose, he mocks Last Jedi moments like the Holdo maneuver or Luke throwing away his lightsaber. It's such a complete rewrite of The Last Jedi it actually feels vengeful. But fans like it A) because they got those Last Jedi "fixes" they were looking for and B) it was specifically...made for fans. The film is rife with fan service, which is often viewed as a negative by critics, but you know who likes fan service? Fans. He also shares some "lessons learned" for Disney: that one person should be in charge of an entire film series, and "that maybe we don't always need a trilogy, and stories should be as long as they need to be." "Technically JJ Abrams' Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker could have just been a two-film set, given how much of The Last Jedi was flat-out erased."

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