Rise Of Skywalker reviews among most critical in Star Wars galaxy

Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. PHOTO: LUCASFILM

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Walt Disney's highly anticipated Star Wars movie The Rise Of Skywalker divided film critics on Wednesday (Dec 18), earning more detractors than any film in the saga since 1999 movie The Phantom Menace.

Rise Of Skywalker, which debuts in theatres around the globe on Thursday, is the ninth and final installment in a story begun 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 Rise Of Skywalker called it a satisfying conclusion to a beloved story, while critics said the movie directed by JJ Abrams seemed to play it safe in order to please longtime fans.

Jack Coyle of the Associated Press called the movie a "scattershot, impatiently paced, fan-servicing finale that repurposes 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.

Brian Lowry of CNN.com 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.

Fan reactions often differ from film critics', and box office analysts expect audiences to buy around US$200 million (S$270 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.

Disney has forecast a lower debut of around US$160 million from Thursday through Sunday, followed by strong interest around the Christmas holiday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.