Critics, schmitics. They were basically won over earlier this week.
The real Force to reckon with as the new Star Wars movie hit theaters Thursday night was the franchise’s legions of devoted, past-disappointed fans.
So what did those lucky enough to score early tickets to J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens think? Early reaction indicates Disney has a hit on its hands.
“I loved it,” said Tony Strickland, 57, who screened the film in Washington. “I liked the incorporation of the older characters and the new ones. I liked the humor. It wasn’t too heavy (and) the action was great.”
Some fans froze in their seats. “It didn’t hit me I was seeing the movie until 30 minutes into the movie,” said Brian Nguyen, 24, of Orange County, Calif., who brought his father to the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre’s first showing. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s actually happening!’ I loved it. It lived up to all expectations.”
Others indicated the new Star Wars made up for past franchise mistakes.
Review: ‘Star Wars’ is back in full ‘Force’
“It’s truly thrilling, which you don’t see anymore in movies today,” said Jack Timmeny, 45, of Annandale, Va. “We’ve waited 30 years and it made up for all the wait.”
One complaint? The Force Awakens leans a bit too hard on previous Star Wars films.
“It was very safe,” said Dane Kania, 25, from Baltimore. “It played it very close to the chest and it hit all the marks properly, but I look forward to them expanding on it. I think they were so afraid of being bad that they just stuck with what works.”
Still, Kania was happy with the movie. “It was a very entertaining movie. It wasn’t even just the action, it was just so energetic,” he said, praising the new crop of actors, including Adam Driver, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. “Everyone felt like they were coming in with their A-game.”
Overall, fans seemed pleased with an experience packed with nostalgia.
“That was exactly what I hoped it would be,” said Andy Tillman, 30, from Falls Church, Va., clad in a First Order Stormtrooper T-shirt. “It took you through just about every emotion you could possibly hope to feel from a movie, and I’m very happy with the way Star Wars is looking for the next few years.”
“It had the things you want to see,” added his wife, Erin, 29, dressed in a Boba Fett hoodie. “There were throwbacks from the original stuff, and they made BB-8 everything that Artoo was, which I thought was really cute and loved. I had so much fun.”
Twitter lit up as well. “We have a good new Star Wars for the first time in my life folks,” tweeted user @sports_clayton. “Go see Star Wars, experience it for yourself. I’ll say nothing more than it was absolutely a magical experience,” added user @RobOullette.
They weren’t alone.
I just saw Star Wars… And it was awesome! Literally lived up to the original trilogy. So good! Good job J.J. #StarWarsTheForceAwakens
— Super (@ItsSuper_) December 18, 2015
Disney did not disappoint, Star Wars was ASTOUNDING!
— Luke Ellington (@LukEllington1) December 18, 2015
Just came out of the new Star Wars movie. I only have one word to describe it……….EPIC!!!! #StarWars
— celticsfan22 (@celticsfan221) December 18, 2015
no spoilers but Star Wars ruined me completely
— festive eva (@feministlester) December 18, 2015
Star Wars is sooo true to its OG trilogy its nuts <3333333
— Jaxx (@jackiedee97) December 18, 2015
Star Wars the force awakens made my decade
— Dylan Low (@dylanlough98) December 18, 2015
Before doors even opened to The Force Awakens, die-hard fans showed their allegiance, dressing in costumes and arriving hours early.
Take Craig Brown in Fort Collins, Colo., who slept in his car (in winter temperatures) to be first in line for a good seat. Or those who filled the wait with 18-hour Star Wars marathons held at theaters around the country, some of which began as early as 3 a.m. Wednesday.
“Eighteen hours in a movie theater sounds like a good idea to me,” said Art Fyles, 27, inside a Rochester, N.Y., theater.
Catch up on all of ‘Star Wars’ in 3 minutes
“So the conversations you have at 1:30 in the morning in line at a #StarWarsMarathon are pretty much incomprehensible,” tweeted Nashville moviegoer @jason76z, adding, “Sitting in a theater for 17 hours with 500 or so people may not of been the best idea I’ve had.”
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Contributing: Patrick Ryan and Brian Truitt in Washington, Carly Mallenbaum in Los Angeles, Tracey Schuhmacher (The Democrat & Chronicle) in Rochester, Dave Paulson (The Tennessean) in Nashville and Erin Udell (The Coloradoan) in Fort Collins.
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