Update Dec. 17, 2015 7:45 a.m.: Rotten Tomatoes now counts a total of 10 negative reviews out of 197. Read excerpts from them below.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is going to be a monster box office hit, but at least 10 film critics will not be putting on their wookie masks for a second screening.
J.J. Abrams‘ seventh entry in one of the most iconic franchises in film history currently has a 95 percent approval rating from critics counted by Rotten Tomatoes. Of the 197 reviews currently available, only 10 were not favorable.
TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde joined the vast majority of critics praising Disney’s effort to revive George Lucas‘ galaxy far, far away. Referring to it as the new “New Hope” in his review, Duralde noted there was a lot pleasant familiarity, but said Abrams also put “a new angle on the material,” “cast the film wisely,” and “set an interesting course for moving forward.”
Other critics who loved it used complimentary adjectives including “triumphant,” “exhilarating,” “wonderful,” “rewarding,” “dazzling” and “fantastic.”
But what about those four haters? Well, since TheWrap’s good review pretty much sums up what every other critic is thinking, here are the minority of critics dissenting from near-universal adoration.
Roger Moore from Movie Nation:
“The earliest reviews of this are all glowing, as indeed they were for this past summer’s ‘Jurassic Park’ clone — ‘Jurassic World.’ This will certainly make billions. ‘Brand’ above all, right? But ‘The Force Awakens’ boils down to a couple of genuine lump-in-the-throat moments, and those are due to nostalgia. The rest? Seen it, done it, been there, and remember it — even though it was ‘a long time ago.’”
Rubin Safaya of Cinemalogue:
“‘The Force Awakens’ is passably entertaining for the two hours and fifteen minutes of its running time. Abrams still a slave to his marketing-friendly-but-intellectually-bankrupt Mystery Box, one can’t help but feel it’s all Snoke and mirrors… Perhaps another director will pick up the elements that Abrams left scattered about, imbue them with some…any kind of subtext, to give us some real poetry.”
Andrew O’Hehir of Salon:
“Yes, in technical terms Abrams and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt are picking up the narrative some 30 years after the destruction of the Galactic Empire at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi.’ But they barely even pretend to advance the story of the initial trilogy; they rewind it and repeat it, with new characters substituting for old ones but many of the same action set-pieces, narrative dilemmas and hidden connections.”
Scott Mendelson of Forbes:
“Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan‘s screenplay feels like a ‘greatest hits’ reel of the first three movies, with the thinnest of possible stories on which to hang chases and escapes along with nostalgic callbacks… This is a film terrified of offending the fans who still claim that George Lucas‘s last three films “violated” their childhood. The picture feels so afraid of repeating the ‘trade routes and midi chlorins’ shtick of the prequels that it ignores some important narrative questions about the new status quo and avoids being about anything beyond its existence as a new ‘Star Wars’ film. We instead get teases of fascinating relationships and seemingly important plot points that take place off screen, in blink-and-you-miss-it flashbacks, or expositional monologue before moving on to the next chase/escape set piece (there are four action scenes in the first act alone). The adherence to the narrative structure of the first film quickly establishes that the only narrative mystery is whether Abrams and company will pivot to the left or continue down the path most traveled at any given juncture.”
Sam C. Mac of Slant:
“‘The Force Awakens’ is still more or less a fetish object, a film that exists to inspire phrases like ‘It feels like Star Wars again’ ad nauseam from a fanbase that equates the lasting impact of Lucas’s prequels as something akin to PTSD.”
Carlos Boyero of El Pais:
“Pero entiendo que para infinidad de espectadores esta película les regale el éxtasis. Y es fantástico que el cine, en la gran pantalla, a oscuras, en tres dimensiones espectaculares, siga disfrutando de un público masivo y entusiasmado en épocas que auguran su definitiva agonía.”
Matthew Lickona of the San Diego Reader:
“The kind view — the uncynical view, the generous view — is that director J.J. Abrams just wants to give the joy of childhood back to a generation that fell in love with ‘Star Wars’ back in 1977. (Plus maybe win a new generation over to that story’s mythological power.) Because what he’s done is to remake ‘Star Wars: A New Hope.’”
Ryan Gilbey of New Statesman:
“Abrams is also too susceptible to the solemn self-mythologising that always threatened to spoil the fun of any ‘Star Wars’ film. He hasn’t made a terrible picture — just a safe one, where the farthest reaches of fantasy feel merely routine.”
Kate Taylor of Globe and Mail:
“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.”
Stephanie Zacharek of Time:
“Somewhere along the way, Abrams begins delivering everything we expect, as opposed to those nebulous wonders we didn’t know we wanted.”