Force Awakens Blows Critics Away

JJ Abrams got it just right, reviewers say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2015 5:38 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2015 6:28 AM CST
This photo provided by Disney/Lucasfilm shows Daisy Ridley, right, as Rey, and John Boyega as Finn, in a scene from the film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," directed by JJ Abrams.   (David James/Disney/Lucasfilm via AP)
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(Newser) – The review embargo on Star Wars: The Force Awakens ended early Wednesday, leaving critics free to tell the world just how much they loved it. The majority had nothing but praise for director JJ Abrams' reboot of the beloved franchise, and even those who thought it was hit-and-miss say it's easily the best Star Wars movie since 1983's Return of the Jedi. A spoiler-free roundup:

  • "There are very few films which leave me facially exhausted after grinning for 135 minutes, but this is one," writes Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian, praising Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan for creating a movie that is both "a narrative progression from the earlier three films and a shrewdly affectionate next-gen reboot." The Force Awakens "is ridiculous and melodramatic and sentimental of course, but exciting and brimming with energy and its own kind of generosity," he writes.

  • Abrams has "united the original cast with a group of newcomers who mesh seamlessly with their elders, in an ensemble effort that brims with the chops and brio of a great jam session," writes Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post, praising new cast members like Daisy Ridley who "shoulder their responsibilities with skill and confidence."
  • Star Wars fans are certain to love the movie, writes AA Dowd at the AV Club, though he feels Force Awakens may contain a little too much nostalgic "fan service." "What Abrams has done is strip Star Wars down to its core components, rearranging the stuff people liked about the original trilogy and getting rid of what they hated about the rest," he writes.
  • This is the best Star Wars sequel yet and one of the best movies of 2015, according to Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle, who's relieved that Disney, which bought Lucasfilm in 2012, hasn't turned out to be the Evil Empire. "It's hard to imagine any Star Wars movie better than the one they've made," he writes.
  • Abrams "blends the old with the new, along with a fanboy's love and a director's skill, and the results are thrilling," writes Bill Goodykoontz at the Arizona Republic, who says even "casual" Star Wars fans—if they exist—will find a lot to love. "What Abrams has done is find and return the ingredient crucial to the original three films in the franchise that was sorely lacking in the second round: fun," he writes.
Click for 8 things you'll hear upon leaving the theater after seeing the flick.

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