The worldwide release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is finally almost upon us, and if you’re anything like we are, you’ll be fervently hoping that the movie lives up to expectations and then some. Following on from the world premiere on December 14th, reviews have now gone live.

Critic responses thus far have been overwhelmingly positive, with many praising director J.J. Abrams for recapturing the Star Wars magic of old. The main criticism – if any- seems to be that The Force Awakens perhaps pays too much homage to the original three Star Wars Movies. Depending on your personal preference though, this could be seen as a positive or negative thing.

Below, we have rounded up a selection of The Force Awakens review excerpts for you to take a look at. While our snippets contain NO SPOILERS, be warned that if you click on the link to read the review in full, you might come across plot details and spoilers that you might wish to avoid.

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Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Chris Nashawaty – EW

“J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens delivers exactly what you want it to: rollicking adventure wrapped in epic mythology, a perfect amount of fan service that fires your geekiest synapses, and a just-right cliffhanger ending that paves the way for future installments. The ending he’s come up with here feels so note-perfect it’s hard to imagine it any other way. When The Force Awakens ends, it feels bittersweet simply because you so badly want to get to the next chapter.”

Manhole Dargis – NYT

“Despite the prerelease hype, it won’t save the world, not even Hollywood, but it seamlessly balances cozy favorites — Harrison Ford, ladies and gentlemen — and new kinetic wows along with some of the niceties that went missing as the series grew into a phenomenon, most crucially a scale and a sensibility that is rooted in the human. Mr. Abrams may be as worshipful as any Star Wars obsessive, but in The Force Awakens he’s made a movie that goes for old-fashioned escapism even as it presents a futuristic vision of a pluralistic world that his audience already lives in. He hasn’t made a film only for true believers; he has made a film for everyone (well, almost).”

Pete Hammond – Deadline

“J.J. Abrams has taken George Lucas’ baby and reinvented it for true fans of the early films. Although it would be impossible to overtake the emotional experience of seeing the original 1977 Star Wars for the first time — as I did when it opened at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood — Abrams together with his screenwriters Michael Arndt and especially Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi) have captured the heart, soul, wit, adventure and wonder of what it is that makes Star Wars such a phenomenon in movie history.”

Todd McCarthy – THR

“The Force is back. Big time. As the best Star Wars anything — film, TV show, video game, spinoff, what-have-you — in at least 32 years, Star Wars: The Force Awakens pumps new energy and life into a hallowed franchise in a way that both resurrects old pleasures and points in promising new directions.”

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Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Chris Taylor – Mashable

“[The Force Awakens] is what happens if you take Lucas out of the equation and give a gleeful fan of the original trilogy like J.J. Abrams a huge budget and the adult supervision of Empire and Return of the Jedi co-writer Lawrence Kasdan.
Most importantly, the film delivers on Star Wars’ promise of mystery. You’ll probably end it with just as many questions in your mind as when you began; they’ll just be new questions. Your imagination will be firing on all cylinders, and you won’t be able to wait for Episode VIII.”

Justin Chang – Variety

“Incoming writer-director J.J. Abrams seems to have had the original three films firmly in mind when he embarked on this monumental new undertaking, structured as a series of clever if sometimes wobbly callbacks to a trilogy that captivated a global audience and helped cement Hollywood’s blockbuster paradigm. Still, the reassuring familiarity of Abrams’ approach has its limitations: Marvelous as it is to catch up with Han Solo, Leia and the rest of the gang, fan service takes priority here over a somewhat thin, derivative story that, despite the presence of two appealing new stars, doesn’t exactly fire the imagination anew.”

Peter Bradshaw – The Guardian

“It restores the comedy that Phantom Menace abandoned. The Force Awakens is in touch with the force of action-adventure and fun… The Force Awakens re-awoke my love of the first movie and turned my inner fanboy into my outer fanboy. There are very few films which leave me facially exhausted after grinning for 135 minutes, but this is one. And when Han Solo and Chewie come on, I had a feeling in the cinema I haven’t had since I was 16: not knowing whether to burst into tears or into applause.”

Drew McWeeny – Hitfix

“It’s a very good movie, I’d say, and should entertain audiences both deeply and casually invested in the ongoing saga of the Skywalker family. Made with a profound sense of passion and respect by an entire generation of filmmakers and performers who were influenced by the original films, this is a deeply affectionate film, and that affection, that honestly felt love, is what is going to make all the difference for viewers.”

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Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Matt Goldberg – Collider

“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.”

Helen O’Hara – Empire

“Sometimes, too, the adherence to Star Wars past grates. 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. 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.”

Kyle Anderson – Nerdist

“I loved this movie, and I loved it specifically because it’s very clear everyone making it wanted it to be good, loyal to the universe, and furthering of the story. There are certainly lots of references to the older movies, but only a few of them were necessary to the plot; mostly they were fun Easter eggs. Opposite Abrams’ Star Trek movies approach—which relied almost entirely on references to the past and copying what came before—this movie addressed the older films and built on them in order to create its own thing.”

Terri Schwartz – IGN

“The movie doesn’t wait long to introduce its new batch of heroes, and they come together in a manner that suggests the Force is still pulling strings behind the scenes. It’s easy to argue that Rey is the main hero of the bunch, and newcomer Daisy Ridley shines in the role… The plot is fairly thin as Abrams seeks to envelope his audience in this world and suggest that fate is what’s moving the characters’ adventure along… Even though The Force Awakens leaves you with an anticipation to find out what comes next, it’s also unclear where this new series is heading.”

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So there we have it; a good amount of positive praise, and only a couple of minor negatives. Of course, The Force Awakens reviews most likely have no bearing on whether or not people will go and see this movie; it seems unlikely that any Star Wars fan will decide against going based on one person’s thoughts. It’s interesting to note that almost all the reviews comment (negatively or positively) about the strong reference to the original movies, and it will definitely be intriguing to see how the Star Wars franchise moves forward from here.

NEXT: The Complete Guide to The Force Awakens’ Backstory

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015 (December 17th in the U.K.), followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Source: Various (see above)