It’s a question which has been terrifying everyone, from the most hardcore fan to Disney themselves, since October 2012 when the Lucasfilm buyout was announced. Will it actually live up to the hype? Will it deliver in any way, shape or form? Will J.J. Abrams succeed in revitalising Star Wars for a new generation?
Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes.
While we got the first reactions from the premiere on Monday night, those were only brief – and in tweet-form. The full-blown reviews went live at 00:01 this morning, with many worried that the initial thoughts were a result of the excruciating hype clouding their judgement, however it seems as if there was no such thing – The Force Awakens is really, really great.
The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently sitting at an incredible 97% with 140 total reviews so far, making it the highest-rated Star Wars movie ever (three points ahead of Hope and Empire). But what are those reviews saying?
The Force Awakens is the Star Wars movie for remix and remake culture. It’s not a remake or a reboot, but it’s a movie that tells a story not entirely dissimilar from the original Star Wars, except that many of the familiar beats and moments have a spin put on them.
-Devin Faraci, Birth. Movies. Death.
The Force Awakens is an exciting return to form for Star Wars. It extends the Skywalker saga while introducing some great new characters whose stories I think audiences will get really invested in.
The Force Awakens is a success, although it falls short of greatness because it never fully embraces the new, exciting energy Abrams and his cast bring to the franchise. The movie is reactionary—a reaction to the prequels and a security blanket that wants to give fans what they already love. While no one expects Star Wars to disrupt cinema, the movie’s greatest weakness is in how it tries to look tall by standing on the shoulders of the giant original trilogy. Thankfully, more often than not, the sequel forges its own path with endearing new characters who will make you eager to see them on an adventure that leaves the safety of certain plot beats and signposts behind.
From the opening crawl to the ending credits, it’s the Star Wars movie we waited decades for, and it sets the stage for even bigger, better and bolder adventures to come.
-Scott A. Mantz, Access Hollywood
Star Wars has returned to us again, and it brings us a wonderful gift: a brand new chapter, mixing old and new elements, original and new cast, in [an] amazing picture.
The filmmakers have mined the previous Star Wars films deeply to proffer up recognizable elements albeit rearranged into something new like big-budget found art.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens should make you forget that the prequels even happened. It feels like a continuation of the original Star Wars trilogy that we all know and love. JJ Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote Empire and Raiders) have perfectly captured the feeling, tone and sense of wonder that filled the original trilogy.
An exhilarating ride, filled with archetypal characters with plausible psychologies, melodramatic confrontations fueled by soaring emotions, and performances that can be described as good, period, rather than “good, for Star Wars.”
-Matt Zoller Seitz, Roger Ebert
While I don’t think THE FORCE AWAKENS is perfect, to me it was a very nostalgic ride and at times it almost made me feel like I did as a kid watching these movies on CBS/FOX VHS tapes. It’s not a perfect film but it’s far superior to all of the prequels and exactly the movie fans have been waiting the last thirty years for. It definitely kicks-off a new franchise that should both please veteran fans and appeal to a whole new audience, and it’s hard not to walk out of this and not be excited to see what else the new team at Lucasfilm has in store for us.
Its script is ludicrous, riddled with coincidences and a fealty to existing text that a less forgiving person might call lazy. Yet I can’t wait to see it again.
Considering what a precedent-setting franchise the original Star Wars was, it is not a little disheartening that this new installment does not blaze its own path, but rather rehashes its former glories for our approval.
I enjoyed the seventh Star Wars film more than any since The Empire Strikes Back and much more than – yes, reader, I was there, for this newspaper, reviewing it – the now 38-year-old saga start-up.
-Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
It must have seemed like a nearly-impossible task when JJ Abrams and his collaborators set out to bring Star Wars back to life, but they’ve more than done it. They’ve made something honest and beautiful and, above all, fun, and I find myself energized by the movie and by the promise it represents. Maybe one day we’ll climb all those distant mountains, only to see another range on another horizon, one that will be there for another generation of storytellers. For the first time in a long time, I believe wholeheartedly again in that galaxy a long time ago and far, far away, and I am eager to return as many times as possible.
You probably get the point.
The common theme amongst all the reviews is that a lot of the movie “rhymes” with A New Hope – i.e. reusing plot points but presenting them in a different way. During the initial build-up, pre-production and early rumours I believed it would go in a very different direction from the rest of the franchise (partly due to those rumours). However, as more accurate spoilers started to hit last year and the marketing campaign picked up it became apparent that this was gonna rhyme very heavily with the Original Trilogy. Another critique appears to be that the plot is very coincidental. I have no idea what reviewers mean by that, and I don’t want to know before I watch it tomorrow, but hopefully it won’t be too much of a hinderence.
Nonetheless, it’s clear that The Force Awakens is a fun movie which is delivering the goods – and then some. While there are a few minor details I would have liked to avoided (thanks reviewers!), I’m still absolutely fucking excited to finally sit down and watch a true continuation of the Saga, after so many years of waiting.
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