Star Wars: The Force Awakens gets rave reviews
The first full reviews for the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens have hailed it as "a triumph" and "a classic".
UK newspapers were happy with the movie, with many awarding it five stars.
The Times critic Kate Muir wrote: "Adults will be floored by tearful nostalgia because this is a classic."
However Variety criticised a "derivative story that, despite the presence of two appealing new stars, doesn't exactly fire the imagination".
Justin Chang added: "Marvellous as it is to catch up with Han Solo, Leia and the rest of the gang, fan service takes priority here."
The Daily Mail's Brian Viner described The Force Awakens as "a triumph of escapism and the most exhilarating film yet in this mighty franchise".
Viner began his four-star review with the words: "Boy, has the force awoken," and raved about its "almost balletic airborne battle scenes, evocative of all the best Second World War films".
The "real star of the show", he declared, was British actress Daisy Ridley, whose performance as scavenger Rey should "send her career into orbit".
The Telegraph's Robbie Collin, who admitted to crying three times, said director JJ Abrams and his team had "taken a slightly tattered franchise and restored its sense of magic and myth".
Harrison Ford is "terrific", he says, giving pilot Han Solo "a sardonic, rough-chinned world-weariness that's perhaps not entirely acting".
The sequel - the seventh movie in the Star Wars franchise - is "a humongous piece of cinema", according to Kate Muir in The Times.
She went on to describe Abrams as "a better action director" than Star Wars creator George Lucas, concluding that the film was "exactly what we were hoping for".
The Daily Mirror, John Hiscock wrote: "All I can say is The Force Awakens evokes magical memories of 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, with plenty of humour, action, drama and heart."
Christopher Hooton in the Independent gave the film four stars and said: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens is actually probably objectively the best Star Wars yet, and would be held up as untouchable had it come first."
The Guardian also gave the film five stars, with Peter Bradshaw pointing out: "The Force Awakens is ridiculous and melodramatic and sentimental of course, but exciting and brimming with energy and its own kind of generosity."
Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter said: "The Force is back. Big time. As the best Star Wars anything - film, TV show, video game, spin-off, 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."
The New York Times said the "big news about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is - spoiler alert - that it's good!".
"Despite the pre-release hype, it won't save the world, not even Hollywood, but it seamlessly balances cosy favourites - 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," Manohla Dargis said.
Empire's Helen O'Hara gave the film four stars and picked out Kylo Ren as "the best villain that the franchise has ever produced. He's not just a worthy heir to Vader; he may be more interesting".
While Total Film's Jamie Graham said: "If Episode VII is almost too slavishly reverential, its every sub-plot mirroring or reversing those that have gone before, and its nods and winks so plentiful as to border on the distracting, it is better this than to repeat [George] Lucas's prequel mistakes."
"This, undoubtedly, is the movie that fans wanted, the movie that fans deserve. And it's only fitting that it is, beneath the scintillating action and striking world-building, a film about parents and children, about the effects of one generation on the next, about legacy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be viewed and passed down for many years to come."
The film will receive its UK premiere later on Wednesday and will begin its release roll-out, opening in cinemas in France, South Africa and several other countries. It had its world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday evening.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in the UK and Ireland on 17 December and 18 December in US.
Lizo Mzimba - BBC News entertainment correspondent
There's much in The Force Awakens to please fans of the original Star Wars trilogy, and not just the return of Han, Luke and Leia.
The look and tone of the film is extremely reminiscent of A New Hope, from the production design to the familiar story of a youngster from a desert planet dreaming of a better life.
And that's at the heart of what makes this film feel less like the prequels and more like the films from the 1970s and '80s.
The story is rooted in strong characters and real conflict, making them relatable - even if they're not always likeable.