The Star Wars review aggregator on Rotten Tomatoes have given the new film, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, one of the best roundups in the history of the site.
Currently, J.J. Abrams’ revisit of the saga from a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away has managed to charm hundreds of critics with a 94 percent “fresh” rating out of 232 reviews.
The average rating is an 8.2 out of 10. Not too shabby for an industry still reeling from the much maligned prequels.
But you cannot please everyone, and that is something that Abrams is now finding out. There is a handful of Star Wars review writers out there, who simply were not impressed with The Force Awakens.
Criticisms seem to focus on one commonality — that Abrams spent too much time recreating George Lucas’ original film and not enough time forging a new path.
As Kate Taylor of the Globe and Mail writes in her Star Wars review, “Some may thrill with delighted recognition at the spectacle of yet another primal duel fought over a great void. Others, though, may know that the real test of myth-making lies in an ability not to repeat but to reinvent.”
In Taylor’s mind, Abrams did nothing to reinvent and create the same type of influential film of the 1977 original. This is a sentiment shared by Stephanie Zacharek of TIME Magazine, who opines that “Somewhere along the way, Abrams begins delivering everything we expect, as opposed to those nebulous wonders we didn’t know we wanted.”
For Michael Sragow of Film Comment Magazine, the new film implodes, trying to do too much in a short amount of time.
“But the movie can’t sustain its playfulness — or its tension, either,” Sragow writes. “Abrams is too busy trying to roll the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into one two-hour-and-15-minute movie.”
In all, only 13 critics have had the courage to write a bad Star Wars review for a new film, though many might say “courage” is a little bit of a stretch as bashing something that people mostly love is a good way to draw attention to yourself.
And as the old saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”
That said, Abrams and fans who embrace The Force Awakens should not feel too discouraged by the handful of bad reviews. For starters, there are many more people who love the film than don’t.
Secondly, Episode VII is in great company with Episode IV (aka the 1977 original). Before Lucas’ inaugural installment hit theaters, there was resistance from theaters to actually carry it.
Furthermore, there was more than a single bad Star Wars review from critics of the time.
— Vulture (@vulture) December 17, 2015
Film criticism was a much more limited field at the time — in other words, no one could just start a blog and let their opinion be heard, you had to work for a newspaper or magazine.
Many big-name critics of the day saw the first film as foolish. There was even a bit of hate for The Empire Strikes Back.
Just watch the classic review team of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert argue with one of these critics in this throwback clip.
If you can’t watch the video above, critic John Simon said Star Wars types of films keep children “stupid” children forever, “and that I think is wrong.”
With Thursday night (Dec. 17) being the first general audiences see of The Force Awakens, only time will tell if the writers in this Star Wars review roundup have a point.
If you’ve had a chance to see the film, weigh in with your (spoiler free) thoughts below.
[Image via Star Wars: The Force Awakens screen grab]