The Force is said to be strong with the final instalment in the Star Wars saga, with first reactions from the premiere declaring it an “immensely satisfying” finale to the saga.
The Rise Of Skywalker is the ninth and supposedly last entry in the long-running space opera, and stars past and present lined the blue carpet in Hollywood on Monday night ahead of its worldwide release on Thursday.
British actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were among those in attendance, alongside fan favourite franchise veterans Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and a legion of stormtroopers.
Director JJ Abrams, returning to the series for the first time since 2015’s The Force Awakens, introduced the debut screening at the Dolby Theatre.
He admitted it was a “terrifying” prospect to finally show off the film, but added: “It’s rare to find something that brings people together. Nothing brings people together quite like Star Wars.”
Pressure was on Abrams to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the so-called Skywalker Saga after a disappointing critical and box office response to the most recent Star Wars film – the 2018 spin-off Solo.
The previous main entry, The Last Jedi, also garnered mixed reactions in 2017.
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But Rob Keyes, editorial director at film site Screen Rant, said The Rise Of Skywalker provided a “massive end” to the saga that “addresses issues, problematic characters and unanswered questions” from previous instalments.
Maude Garrett, from entertainment channel GeekBomb, said it was the best entry in the sequel trilogy, adding: “It kept getting better right through to the end.”
While the first reactions have been largely positive, some have hinted that the film is a little overstuffed.
Although 10 minutes shorter than The Last Jedi, The Rise Of Skywalker, coming in at two hours and 22 minutes, felt like “nine movies of plot in one” according to one critic, Mashable editor Chris Taylor.
And Mike Ryan, entertainment writer at Uproxx, said: “There is a lot I liked, but the first half gets so bogged down with exposition and new plot and doodads and beacons and transmitters.
“It feels like it should have been three movies on its own.”
Fans only have a few more days to wait to see the film for themselves, with cinemas across the UK planning midnight screenings for the most enthusiastic of would-be Jedi.
But one devotee who has already seen it is a terminally ill patient at a hospice in Hampshire, with Disney having arranged a special viewing after a plea to help the father see the film with his son went viral.
The Rise Of Skywalker will mark the final big screen appearance for the late Carrie Fisher, whose character Leia will make an emotional send-off thanks to the use of unused footage from The Force Awakens.
She first starred as the iconic princess in the original Star Wars in 1977, plus its 1980 and 1983 sequels.