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Here's what the critics are saying about 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Rey crying star warsLucasfilm

The first reviews for the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” movie are here and fans can rest easy — the film is good.

Of course, it was always going to be a success, but after three universally despised prequels and years of waiting, fans hoped for something better from new “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams.

And it seems that they got it. Rotten Tomatoes is rating the film at a whopping 98% (8.4/10 average) based on 121 reviews. Only three reviews are “rotten,” with the other 118 gushing about the movie.

There are a few reservations, however. The movie is funny, heart-wrenching, action-packed — but the word “derivative” kept popping up more than a few times.

Keep scrolling to get a spoiler-free taste of what critics are saying about the latest “Star Wars” film.

Tech Insider called it “nostalgic” — in a good way:

The seventh instalment in the saga, taking place 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” is like a giant reunion party with a group of best friends you haven’t seen in ages. You catch up, reminisce, and go out on another crazy adventure together. It’s a lot of feel good fun while setting the stage for the next films. There are many callbacks and nods to the original trilogy. It’s nostalgic.

The A.V. Club liked the way the movie referenced the preceding films:

It doesn’t just know that it’s operating in the long shadow of a classic; it hardwires that understanding into its own DNA, making legacy a prevailing theme. The “Star Wars” movies build myths on top of myths on top of myths, creating a universe where future legends are always nipping at the heels of established ones.

The Mirror UK gave it 4/5:

For action, humour, and heart, the Force is strong with this one, even if the storyline is strikingly familiar to the 1977 movie that started it all.

It may be billed as a sequel but it often feels weirdly like a remake.

Parade called the movie “fabulous”:

With composer John Williams’ spectacular, swelling orchestral score once again providing the soundtrack, “Star Wars” has come roaring and soaring back, a fabulous, bountiful, richly rewarding payoff for anyone who’s been waiting, patiently or otherwise. You’ll cheer, you’ll chuckle, you’ll gasp, you’ll be giddy and you’ll maybe — likely — even shed a tear, or possibly two.

WIRED was plot-heavy in its review, but ultimately decided the movie was well worth the wait:

I’ll just say this: If you loved “Star Wars” once, everything you loved is back. And if you’re new? Welcome home.

The Chicago Tribune said it was a solid movie, though it didn’t blow the critic out of the water:

Not great. But far better than “not bad.” Solidly, confidently good. Spoiler alert: The word “good” will crop up throughout this review, because it’s the most accurate adjective for this Disney-owned product launch.

Uproxx thought it was well done — and funny:

“The Force Awakens” does not take itself too seriously […] and this is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong! There are many “serious” moments, it just threads that needle like a “Star Wars” movie should.

The Associated Press said fans will rejoice:

It’s a movie made by someone who loves “Star Wars” deeply. Someone who can see more clearly than even its creator what made it so special to so many people. Abrams has taken everything that we adore about that first film, delicately mixed up a few elements, and churned out a reverent homage that’s a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

USA Today said it was a wonderful first film for the new franchise:

“The Force Awakens” reveals surprising connections, begins a few bromances, solves mysteries while digging up others, and sets a strong tone for what comes next in “Star Wars” lore. Best of all? It will make you feel like a kid being introduced to something truly special once again.

Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+:

The wait is over. You, or that special someone you love, can stop panting into that brown paper bag and finally relax because there are about to be a lot of very happy “Star Wars” fans out there. 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.

Only a few people didn’t like the movie. Salon’s critic was one of them, arguing that it was too much like the original:

For better or worse — and here’s where my hoodie-wearing friend’s thought experiment comes in — “The Force Awakens” is more like a remake or a mashup of the first two “Star Wars” pictures than a sequel. Yes, in technical terms Abrams and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt are picking up the narrative some 30 years after the destruction of the Galactic Empire at the end of “Return of the Jedi.” But they barely even pretend to advance the story of the initial trilogy; they rewind it and repeat it, with new characters substituting for old ones but many of the same action set-pieces, narrative dilemmas and hidden connections.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will open in theatres on December 17.

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