The embargo on reviews of the new Star Wars film was lifted today (December 16) ahead of the film's release tomorrow. Critics' reaction has ranged from begrudgingly impressed to utterly overjoyed, but everyone seems to agree that The Force Awakens is a return to form for the franchise, whose reputation had been tarnished somewhat by the average-to-poor prequel trilogy of 1999-2005. Here's a selection of comments which we guarantee will not spoil anything for fans.
The Independent – 4 stars: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens is actually probably objectively the best Star Wars yet, and would be held up as untouchable had it come first. So let's not let ourselves get too bloody internet-y about it and start it tearing to pieces, and enjoy what is a fun, well-executed and thoroughly corrective sequel."
Empire – 4 stars: "It’s all beautifully crafted, just a little too deferential to what has gone before. But then the new characters take shape and new elements emerge. By the end, this finds fresh ingredients to add to the Star Wars formula, strengthening and deepening it. The prequels this ain’t."
The Times – 5 stars: "This seventh movie is a humongous piece of cinema — all that a sequel should be and more: a nostalgic homage to the 1977 original, coupled with intergalactic, warp-speed, panoramic blockbuster action, and a new heroine in the form of Daisy Ridley’s Rey."
NME – 4 stars: "If you were concerned the oldies would only be here for glorified cameos you’re wrong. Old and new are knotted together in a story that makes the already complicated Star Wars mythology richer, rather than denser."
The Daily Mirror – 4 stars: "Pleasingly, this isn't a film that takes itself too seriously, with the seriously cute BB-8 supplying plenty of humour with his electronic beeps and chirps and no end of playful references to the original trilogy crammed into the 135-minute running time."
The Telegraph – 5 stars: "You wouldn’t describe the choreography as snazzy, but the dramatic stakes are dizzying. Never mind the spacecraft and explosions. Two beautiful faces in tight close up, dramatically lit and blazing with emotion? That’s what cinema is for."
The Guardian – 5 stars: "It basically powers along on a great surging riptide of idealism and optimism, that family-movie ethic which some have derided for killing off the dystopian tradition of sci-fi. In fact, Star Wars has now gone beyond the sci-fi genre to its own kind of intergalactic quasi-Arthurian romance: that and a return to the world of Saturday morning pictures. The Force Awakens is ridiculous and melodramatic and sentimental of course, but exciting and brimming with energy and its own kind of generosity. What a Christmas present."