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Rey in The Rise of Skywalker

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After years of waiting, the time has finally come. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has hit theaters, bringing an end to the franchise as we know it, and wrapping up a story that audiences were introduced to back with A New Hope. The movie was hotly anticipated ahead of its release, although the critical response has been ideal. But while the reviews have been mixed, audiences seem to be enjoying the movie much more.

There was a ton of pressure associated with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as sticking the landing was key to appease the generations of fans. The theatrical cut of Episode IX included everything and the kitchen sink, moving fast with a ton of plot twists. The critical response has been fairly negative, but audiences seem to be enjoying J.J. Abrams' second installment in the galaxy far, far away. At least, according to aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes.

At the time of writing, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is one of the worst reviewed movies in the franchise, sitting on a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes based on published reviews. In stark juxtaposition is the current audience score, which is much kinder with a whopping 86%. So while critics might not have appreciated J.J. Abrams' storytelling and the final installment in the Skywalker Saga, fans who went out to see Episode IX on opening night seem to disagree.

Star Wars is one of the most popular film franchises of all time, and one that means a great deal to its rabid fanbase. Generations of moviegoers have been brought up on George Lucas' first two trilogies, creating a very personal relationship in the process. And as such, the fans are super passionate, and make their feelings known. The Rise of Skywalker seems to be pleasing those folks... at least after one night of public screenings.

Reviews for The Rise of Skywalker have criticized the movie's pacing, claiming J.J. Abrams overstuffed the movie in order to give the franchise a proper conclusion. Many of the reviews also indicated that hardcore fans and critics of The Last Jedi alike would be happy with the events of Episode IX. And if Rotten Tomatoes is any indication, they were right.

Star Wars fans can currently re-watch the movies and various TV series on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

It's been interesting to see how the Star Wars fandom has used its collective voice across the years. The passion (sometimes to a fault) was always there, and perceived missteps in the epic space opera have come under fire. For instance, The Phantom Menace was the subject of much backlash when it was released, particularly Jar Jar Binks and the family-friendly content of the blockbuster. Jar Jar actor Ahmed Best and Natalie Portman have both been open about the struggles of that backlash.

In the current age, The Force Awakens was criticized for too closely resembling A New Hope, while Rian Johnson's subversive choices in The Last Jedi drove countless critics to social media. Although now it seems that the final conclusion is sitting better with the fans than critics. And it should be interesting to see how the movie performs.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.