Movie Reviews

The Acolyte Review-Bombed On Rotten Tomatoes & Metacritic

Summary

  • The Acolyte faces backlash from divided Star Wars fandom, with review bombing affecting ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.
  • Showrunner Leslye Headland has proved particularly controversial.
  • Review bombing drowns out any legitimate criticisms, harming constructive feedback.



In spite of a favorable response from critics, The Acolyte is currently being review-bombed on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. The Disney era of Star Wars has hardly been an uncontroversial one, with the fandom dividing in the aftermath of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Those divisions remain to this day, as has been proven with The Acolyte. Showrunner Leslye Headland has proved especially controversial, and there’s been a vocal backlash against the Star Wars TV show from certain parts of the fandom.

This has continued with the release of The Acolyte premiere on Disney+. At time of writing, The Acolyte has an audience score of just 32 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while the show has a user score of 4.1 on Metacritic. Looking at the actual reviews, there’s evidence of a review bombing campaign; many appear to be AI-generated, consisting only of basic plot synopses. A surprising number of half-star reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are from brand-new accounts, another indicator of a review-bombing campaign.


Related

Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode Guide

Here’s everything you need to follow along with Star Wars: The Acolyte, from references and trivia to main takeaways from each new episode.


What’s Going On With The Acolyte?

The Star Wars fandom has always been a divided and divisive one, but it’s become worse over the last few years, with a portion objecting to what they perceive as “wokeness” in the Disney era. This even resulted in a South Park parody of Star Wars, declaring that everything was the fault of Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy. The Acolyte is headed by a lesbian showrunner, and stars female and Asian leads, meaning it was always going to be controversial with this part of the fandom.


The campaign against The Acolyte has hardly been in good faith, with many quotes pulled out of context on social media. When star Dafne Keen discussed the ambition to produce fight choreography as good as that of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, it was seen as an insult to the prequels rather than proof of how highly they were held by the creative team. Kennedy and Headland addressed The Acolyte backlash ahead of their show’s release, calling out what they perceive as racism and sexism.

It’s important to note there are probably genuine criticisms amid the review bombing, drowned out by the campaign. Some critics have called out pacing and dialogue problems, and those could well pose a problem to members of the audience as well, resulting in negative reviews. Ironically, the review bombing campaign means real dissatisfaction is impossible to evaluate, while those who loved The Acolyte wind up on the defensive. It’s a self-defeating strategy, because it makes it easier to tune out any criticism as part of the campaign.


How Do Star Wars TV Shows Typically Fare On Rotten Tomatoes?

It’s not unusual to see disagreement between Rotten Tomatoes’ critics and audience scores. In fact, that’s quite normal for Star Wars; but what is remarkable here, and indicative of review bombing, is the sheer scale of the difference.

Live-action Star Wars show

Critic score

Audience score

Difference

Ahsoka

86%

69%

19.77%

Andor season 1

96%

86%

10.42%

Obi-Wan Kenobi

82%

62%

24.39%

The Book of Boba Fett

66%

53%

19.7%

The Mandalorian season 1

93%

92%

1.08%

The Mandalorian season 2

93%

91%

2.15%

The Mandalorian season 3

85%

51%

40%

The Acolyte

93%

32%

65.59%


As can be seen, the critics scores do tend to be more generous than the audience – with the most notable example being Obi-Wan Kenobi. But the difference with The Acolyte is simply too large to be natural; a jump from 93% critic score to 32% audience score. Incredibly, that audience score suggests The Acolyte is less popular than The Book of Boba Fett, Lucasfilm’s biggest failure in the Disney+ era.

The interesting question is whether this review bombing technique works. It’s used a little too frequently, and there’s no verification system to prove a review actually watched the show (indeed, some of the AI-generated comments on The Acolyte may indicate bot activity of some kind). The studios are aware of this technique, and the comments from Kennedy ahead of The Acolyte‘s release probably mean the audience scores will be discounted when deciding whether to renew the show. All in all, review bombing is probably a waste of time – an act “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


The Acolyte episodes 1 and 2 are streaming now on Disney+.

The Acolyte Poster Showing Jedi Order, Mae, and a Sith Lord Holding Lightsabers

The Acolyte

The Acolyte is a television series set in the Star Wars universe at the end of the High Republic Era, where both the Jedi and the Galactic Empire were at the height of their influence. This sci-fi thriller sees a former Padawan reunite with her former Jedi Master as they investigate several crimes – all leading to darkness erupting from beneath the surface and preparing to bring about the end of the High Republic.

Cast
Dafne Keen , Lee Jung-jae , Amandla Stenberg , Jodie Turner-Smith , Joonas Suotamo , Carrie-Anne Moss , Margarita Levieva , Charlie Barnett , Dean-Charles Chapman

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Writers
Leslye Headland , Charmaine De Grate , Kor Adana

Directors
Leslye Headland , Alex Garcia Lopez

Showrunner
Leslye Headland

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