Walt Disney Co's highly anticipated Star Wars movie The Rise of Skywalker has divided film critics, earning more detractors than any film in the saga since 1999 movie The Phantom Menace.
Rise of Skywalker, which debuted in cinemas around the world this week, is the ninth and final instalment in a story that began in 1977, when George Lucas introduced a young space hero named Luke Skywalker alongside an enchanting collection of droids and otherworldly characters.
On the Rotten Tomatoes website, 57 per cent of 157 reviews for Rise of Skywalker were positive as of Tuesday morning. That ranked as the second-lowest score among the nine films, ahead of only the 53 per cent for The Phantom Menace. Reviewers who praised The Rise of Skywalker called it a satisfying conclusion to a beloved story, while critics said the movie directed by J.J. Abrams seemed to play it safe in order to please longtime fans.
Scott Mendelson of Forbes was savage in his critique, calling it the "worst Star Wars movie ever".
"The Rise of Skywalker is a bad movie and a miserable finale that serves no purpose other than to reassure adult fans of the original Star Wars that they are still the 'chosen ones' of the pop culture galaxy," he writes.
Jack Coyle of the Associated Press called the movie a "scattershot, impatiently paced, fan-servicing finale that re-purposes so much of what came before".
Justin Chang of The Los Angeles Times described it as "an epic failure of nerve".
"This Rise feels more like a retreat, a return to a zone of emotional and thematic safety from a filmmaker with a gift for packaging nostalgia as subversion," Chang wrote.
Others said the filmmakers succeeded with the difficult task of producing a fitting end to a story that has drawn generations of passionate fans.
"Epic it indeed is, full of magnificent set pieces – sprawling space battles and incandescent lightsaber duels – gripping performances and a number of truly stunning surprises," said Soren Andersen of The Seattle Times.
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Brian Lowry of CNN said the movie "proves highly satisfying as an end not just to this trilogy, but a saga 42 years in the making".
"Abrams has made a Star Wars movie aimed at the people who love it best," he said.
News.com.au's own Wenlei Ma was one of the kinder critics, calling the film "two hours and 15 minutes of safe, unadulterated fan service".
Fan reactions often differ from film critics', and box office analysts expect audiences to buy around $291 million worth of tickets to Rise of Skywalker in the United States and Canada over the weekend. That would earn a place among the biggest movie openings of all time.