More than three thousand critics, reporters, celebrities and movie makers piled into multiple Hollywood theaters Monday night to see the U.S. premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Here's our completely spoiler-free look at the brand-new "Star Wars" movie and the night that made Hollywood one with the Force, if only for a brief minute.
Fan service with a smile
The term "fan service" usually makes theater-goers not draped in Jedi cosplay cringe. However, this premiere was teeming with fan service of all "Star Wars" tastes. John Williams' original score blared while upgraded Stormtroopers from director J.J. Abrams' new vision of the Empire, now called The First Order, stomped down the red carpet.
It was a melding of the old and the new, made even more apparent when legacy players Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Carrie Fisher (General Leia), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), who was using a lightsaber cane, took the stage. Even past "Star Wars" actors not involved in this iteration, like Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and Bonnie Piesse (Aunt Beru in the prequels) graced the scene.
The same sort of old-meets-new fan sendups found their way into the movie itself, with J.J. Abrams staples and good luck charms framing blatant nods to "The Empire Strikes Back" and "A New Hope." It was hard not to physically point at the screen (as many did) and laugh, both out of happiness and one's own self satisfaction of being in on the "Star Wars" wink.
BB-8 = all your money
Let's be real, "Star Wars" is a toy-making, merchandise machine. So it was no huge surprise when C-3PO popped into the new trailers with a red arm, now we'll all have to run out and buy the red-armed "Force Awakens" C-3PO, possessed by the the siren song of "Star Wars" that compels both adults and children to consume what we love. The toys are a dear part of the George Lucas world building — it's an imaginative safe space of want.
A kid sitting behind me in the Dolby Theater actually yelled, during an earlier set piece, "We have to buy that!" before being hushed. And I would be lying if I wasn't silently agreeing: "Me too, kid, me too."
But you have not seen anything like BB-8. The adorable chirping robot is part puppy, part droid, and part "Futurama" "Shut up and take my money" meme. Its mentally immobilizing adorableness will compel hands straight into wallets faster than you can say "Yes! That is the droid I'm looking for and do you accept Visa?"
The massive line of premiere party guests standing in the cold just to get a picture next to the dreamsicle-looking droid only confirmed that truly BB-8 is the new emperor of the this galaxy far, far away.
"Star Wars" is cool
Don't ever let anyone tell you that "Star Wars" isn't cool again. All of Hollywood showed up Monday to lay offerings at the throne of "Star Wars." And not just the folks who (probably) had to make a cameo, like the directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (whose next projects include the Han Solo standalone film), "Episode IX" director Colin Trevorrow, and Marvel lord Kevin Fiege.
The place was packed with "Star Wars" fans including Janelle Monáe, Gina Rodriguez, Geena Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Jason Bateman, "Modern Family's" Eric Stonestreet, and "Glee's" Darren Criss.
Some took the theme even further: Joseph Gordon-Levitt was there in Yoda cosplay (painted green), Sofia Vergara wore Leia buns, and Rainn Wilson wore his best Jedi robe. If it's good enough for JGL, it's good enough for you.
Who run the galaxy? Rey
Believe it or not the character who got the most reaction from the crowd wasn't legacy player Ford or Carrie Fisher (although both got their fair share of cheers and celebratory eruptions) but Daisy Ridley, who plays "Force Awakens" newcomer Rey.
The crowd went mad for Rey over and over and over again. Despite the devilishly Han-channeling Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and even the eye-watering Millennium Falcon moments, Rey made people yell. There are big scenes that happen with this character and it's a lot of fun to watch them unfold in front of a crowd who has been, clearly, waiting for a female protagonist of this caliber for a long, long time.
One thing most folks seemed in agreement over upon exiting the theater is that Daisy Ridley was and is a smash.