Surprise? The New Shaft Is Getting Very High Scores From Fans

Shaft 2019, alexandra shipp, Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie T. Usher
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

After almost 20 years away from the big screen, Shaft is back -- and this time there are three generations who can answer this call. While the new movie starring Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jessie T. Usher did not impress critics, there’s a very different tune being sung by audiences, who are strutting out of the theater in smiles.

After almost 80 reviews were filed on Rotten Tomatoes, Shaft was given a disappointing score of 35%. However, the Audience Score is at 93%, and polled moviegoers gave the 2019 Shaft an A rating on CinemaScore. Perhaps critics were too hard on how much fun the flick is? Sometimes the consensus between reviews and fans just don’t agree with each other and Shaft seems to be another one of those cases.

The fourth Shaft movie has the worst Tomatometer score yet. The 1971 original scored an 88% with critics, 1973’s Shaft in Africa has a 56%, and 2000’s reboot a 67%. On the audience side, the new Shaft is the most loved of the franchise, per the numbers so far, with the original’s 68% being the highest of the other three.

On the site, fans of the film praised the summer movie for its blend of action and comedy, and the appearance of Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson, and newcomer Jessie T. Usher all together. Many noted they’d see it again and can’t wait to see a sequel (which director Tim Story has expressed interest in).

And what of the critics? Chatter includes “ruin your childhood bad,” “shamelessly regressive,” and “non-badass”. Some even accused the film of being sexist, racist, and homophobic. CinemaBlend’s own Mike Reyes gave the film a 2.5 stars of 5 in his review, noting that although the cast had chemistry and humor, its weak script ultimately made it a “missed opportunity."

Sometimes it’s not the audience consensus but the box office numbers that do the talking, and Shaft doesn’t have an impressive run in front of it. In a weekend of disappointing new releases, the action-comedy is expected to open anywhere from $8M-$15M, behind Men in Black: International, Secret Life of Pets 2, and Aladdin.

The new Shaft also features two new female characters, Dark Phoenix’s Alexandra Shipp as J.J. Shaft’s crush, and Regina Hall as his mother and old flame to Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft. The movie has FBI agent J.J. enlist his estranged father (Jackson) and grandfather to help him when his best friend dies under suspicious circumstances. The three generations venture to the Harlem underground to crack the case.

The movie does certainly seem like a good pick for Father’s Day weekend. Considering critics' overt dislike for the film, and some audiences' high praise, it may be tough to know whether or not to take the gamble. You can see it for yourself in theaters now.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.