Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The First Reviews Are In But Has J.J. Abrams Nailed It?


The reviews are in… and it looks like J.J. Abrams has pulled it off.

After the lifting of the review embargo, the world’s movie critics have published their two cents on the biggest movie event of the decade, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, and the consensus is pretty good.

In a four-star review, the Helen O'hara in the UK’s Empire says the movie ‘glories in reminding us what we all loved about this universe’.

However, she remarks that sometimes the homage can prove to be a bit much.

“Sometimes, too, the adherence to 'Star Wars’ past grates,” she adds. “Parts of the first half hour feel like a remix, from the plans hidden in a small, feisty droid to the rescue of a tortured but still witty prisoner from an evil authoritarian regime. It’s all beautifully crafted, just a little too deferential to what has gone before.

“By the end, this finds fresh ingredients to add to the Star Wars formula, strengthening and deepening it. The prequels this ain’t. We can all breathe again.”


The Los Angeles Times is also complimentary, but with the odd caveat too, saying it 'covers all its bases but soars only in certain places’.

“When all goes as partisans hoped it would, you’re glad you’re in the room,” writes Kenneth Turan.

“But 'The Force Awakens’ is also burdened by casting miscalculations and scenes that are flat and ineffective. Sometimes the Force is with this film, sometimes it decidedly is not.”

The casting in doubt, he says, is around some of the newcomers. “For if [Oscar] Isaac, perfectly cast in the Coen Brothers’ 'Inside Llewyn Davis’ has too sour a persona here, and if Boyega frankly seems out of his depth, Ridley’s spunky daredevil presence is exactly what the part calls for.


“[Harrison] Ford has been here before, and it shows. His 'It’s all true’ speech, featured in the trailer, is a highlight, and his scene kinda offering Rey a job is the film’s intergenerational high spot. Too bad all of 'The Force Awakens’ can’t be that way, but even in galaxies far, far away, things don’t always go as planned.”

In The Independent, Geoffrey Macnab was also warm, if not hot, calling it 'a thoroughly invigorating affair’

“The Force Awakens could easily have turned into an anti-climax. Instead, it is very close to a triumph - a film that fans of the old movies will relish but one that looks bound to capture the imagination of a new audience too,” he continues.

Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune concurred, saying: “[Star Wars: The Force Awakens] is good. Not great. But far better than ‘not bad’. Solidly, confidently good.”

Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph is gushingly complementary, however, gifting the movie a full five stars, and even admitted to crying three times.

“Fun, fresh-faced leads; a terrifying, three-dimensional villain; a lightsaber battle for the ages. Fear not, Star Wars fans: JJ Abrams has made the sequel of your dreams,” he says.


“I’ll avoid straying into spoiler territory, but if the original three Star Wars films were about young goodness triumphing over ingrained evil, The Force Awakens very cleverly turns this narrative back on itself.

“The new heroes of The Force Awakens are brightly drawn, occasionally surprising, and an endless pleasure to spend time with. There are moments of drama and excitement here that are pure late-Seventies vintage.”

The Times also gave the movie five stars, Kate Muir noting: “Adults will be floored by tearful nostalgia because this is a classic.”

In The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw was also effusive, with a five-star write up.

“The Force Awakens re-awoke my love of the first movie and turned my inner fanboy into my outer fanboy,” he writes. “There are very few films which leave me facially exhausted after grinning for 135 minutes, but this is one. What a Christmas present.”

But even with the odd criticism, the movie is still - at the time of writing - riding high with a 99% approval rating on reviews aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, where you can check out what all the critics reckon.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is out in the UK on December 17.

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Image credits: Disney