Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on Friday, but screenings for the film start as early as Thursday morning for audiences here in America.
Although much is still unknown about the movie — like where exactly is Luke Skywalker? — the embargo on reviews has been lifted and the response is overwhelmingly positive.
Polygon will have its review of the movie up soon, but here are some of the first reviews of the film.
Time Out London says that The Force Awakens echoes the innocent brilliance of George Lucas' original films, while instilling a sense of new wonderment and humor that screams J.J. Abrams.
The rollicking, space-opera spirit of George Lucas's original trilogy (you can safely forget the second trio of cynical, tricked-up prequels) emanates from every frame of JJ Abrams's euphoric sequel. It's also got an infusion of modern-day humor that sometimes steers the movie this close to self-parody — but never sarcastically, nor at the expense of a terrific time.
Uproxx says that the film is Harrison Ford's best performance in years, and that in many ways, The Force Awakens is practically a movie about Han Solo. Uproxx's Mike Ryan adds that the one thing The Force Awakens has going for it that the prequels completely missed was a sense of humor that the original trilogy made sure coursed through its veins.
There are actual laughs to be had inThe Force Awakens! The original Star Wars had laughs. It's this, more than anything, that makes The Force Awakens feel like a direct sequel to the original trilogy."
The Verge says that if the prequels felt like a string of complicated origin stories and fan pandering, The Force Awakens feels like a small continuation in the original trilogy's arc. Bryan Bishop says that even though the movie can feel enormous at times, there are just enough restrictions put in place to keep it tightly knit and humble.
Without giving too much away, I will say The Force Awakens actually feels like Star Wars again, more so than any film since 1983.
The Wrap says that J.J. Abrams has cautiously gone about remaking the original Star Wars with The Force Awakens, and it was a risky gamble that paid off. Writer Alonso Duralde says that Abrams has made it so the old heroes can usher the new heroes in and set up an entirely new Star Wars franchise for an entirely new generation of fans.
There are some slower bits, and an ending designed to leave you wanting more, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a tingle in my neck at the familiar opening of Williams' score.
Variety says that while the movie is definitely a warm and welcome entry into the official Star Wars franchise, there's a little too much fan pandering from Abrams that he uses to cover a "thin, derivative" storyline. Justin Chang adds that unfortunately, the movie does nothing, "to fire the imagination anew."
At a certain point, however, "The Force Awakens" feels so determined to fashion a contemporary echo of the original trilogy that it becomes almost too reverential — or riff-erential, given Abrams' fondness for playing on recognizable tropes, themes and plot points in his film and TV work.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the movie breathes new life into the series and is a promising start for a franchise that can head in a variety of directions. Todd McCarthy adds that while the film does have more in common with the original trilogy than the prequels, it actually feels more like a Steven Spielberg movie than a George Lucas production.
Birth. Movies. Death. says that The Force Awakens is a perfect example of a Star Wars movie being made in a time of remix and remix culture. Devin Faraci says there are moments that feel "less like organic moments of storytelling than attempts to revisit concepts from the Original Trilogy."
"As I watched a squad of X-Wings attack a planet-destroying superweapon that they could only approach after a group of intrepid heroes on the ground disabled the shields I wondered how a universe of infinite possibilities had brought us to this scenario yet again."