Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has divided fans and critics. And while it’s done well enough at the box office, it’s struggled to make the kind of record-breaking impression some might expect of the final chapter in one of cinema’s most legendary franchises. It has just earned a new distinction, though not one its creators were likely hoping for: It’s officially become the lowest rated Star Wars film on Rotten Tomatoes.
Currently, the last chapter of the Skywalker Saga holds a 52 percent rating on RT, a site that aggregates reviews from critics around the world. That means it surpasses Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which previously held the lowest RT score at 53 percent.
That’s painful on multiple levels, since the first chapter of the prequel trilogy has long been considered a low point in the franchise. The Rise of Skywalker’s ratings are aggregated from a larger pool of critics, too. It has 470 reviews logged on RT, with 224 being “rotten,” or negative reviews. The Phantom Menace has a total of 228 reviews, 107 of which are rotten.
It’s interesting to note that where the critical reviews of these two films are relatively close, RT’s other notable metric, the audience scores, are much different. The Rise of Skywalker has a solid 86 percent audience score -- not a resounding success, but much better than its critical reception. The Phantom Menace’s audience score is much closer to its critical reviews, at 59 percent.
You could take that to mean that The Rise of Skywalker is still viewed more positively by fans and general moviegoers, even if it didn’t sit well with film critics. Or it could just mean that fans need more time to weigh their opinion on RT -- the site has registered 93,184 fan reviews for The Rise of Skywalker, as opposed to The Phantom Menace’s 1,208,952.
As of now, the Star Wars films with the highest RT scores are The Empire Strikes Back (94), A New Hope and The Force Awakens (93), and The Last Jedi (91). While the films from the original trilogy both boast high audience scores (97 and 96, respectively - no surprise there), and The Force Awakens has a healthy 86 percent, The Last Jedi comes in dead last at 46 percent. All in all, this data seems to indicate that the final two chapters of the most recent trilogy have been incredibly divisive.
It will take us a while to fully measure the impact that The Rise of Skywalker will ultimately have on Star Wars’ legacy. But a lack of sustained box office enthusiasm and fan backlash show that, at bare minimum, it will continue to be a controversial end to the beloved series.
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