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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's critics say J.J. Abrams blew it

There has been a great disturbance in the Force.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the highly-anticipated conclusion to the franchise's Skywalker saga, is drawing the series' weakest reviews in years, with the film currently holding a "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a designation a movie receives if fewer than 60 percent of critics give it a positive review. If that holds, this would be the first live-action Star Wars movie slapped with a rotten rating since 1999's The Phantom Menace. The film's score is currently 55 percent, though that's likely to change as more reviews are posted.

A common complaint among the negative reviews is that director and co-writer J.J. Abrams played it far too safe, relying too heavily on trying to please the fans while departing from the bold vision presented in the previous installment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

"Abrams is at his hackiest here, coddling the fanbase while bringing nothing new to the table," Slate's Sam Adams tweeted. "Abrams is terrified of originality or doing anything bold that might be interpreted as unpopular," Collider writes, while USA Today says it's a "too-safe landing." The Washington Post agrees, saying the movie "panders wildly," while Vox asks of the film, "Is this what audiences demand from franchise movies? Films that cater to what's comfortable and capitulates to the most unimaginative fans?"

These reactions are a sharp contrast from The Last Jedi, which drew almost universal praise among critics with a 91 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, some reviewers were far more positive on The Rise of Skywalker, with CNN writing that the film "rises to the occasion" and Variety praising it as "the most elegant, emotionally rounded, and gratifying" Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back.

We'll find out which faction fans agree with when The Rise of Skywalker opens on Dec. 20.