Galaxy of stars and fans out in force for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Irish premiere
AN ARMY of stormtroopers flanked the red carpet as the Force awoke in Dublin last night.
They weren’t waiting for Darth Vader, or even the new Star Wars film’s villain, Kylo Ren, but for more than 800 guests lucky enough to get invited to the Irish premiere of the most eagerly awaited blockbuster of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hits cinemas nationwide today.
Outside the Savoy cinema, the Spire was transformed into a giant blue lightsaber to mark the return of Jedi knight Luke Skywalker to the big screen after more than three decades.
Celebrity superfan Liam Cunningham told the Herald how he had been avoiding spoilers online. “I’ve just worked with Mark Hamill on [video game] Squadron 42 and he was an absolute delight,” the Game of Thrones star said.
“Mark Hamill, to me, is Luke Skywalker; to my daughter, he’s the Joker because he does all the Batman video games.
“I’ve heard rumours that Luke may have gone over to the dark side – but I’ve been trying not to read anything about it.
“It’s a bit like Game of Thrones,” he added. “People want spoilers, but as soon as you turn around and say, ‘OK, I’ll tell you’, they go, ‘No, don’t tell me!’”
Directed by JJ Abrams, the seventh instalment in the space saga – which is a sequel to 1983’s Return of the Jedi – reunites Hamill with the other original stars, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Newcomers to the galaxy far, far away include John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who was unable to attend the premiere as he was promoting The Revenant in Hollywood.
Star Wars fanatic Tom Smith and his 18-year-old daughter Emma from Oldcastle in Co Meath got last-minute tickets to the sold-out event.
“I was seven years of age when I was brought to the first one and it just started from there,” Tom said. “My four daughters really had no choice in becoming Star Wars fans!
“The burning question for me is ‘Who is Kylo Ren?’,” he continued. “I’m just hoping it keeps to the tradition of good versus evil ... and won’t go too haywire. It’s very exciting.”
Partly filmed on Skellig Michael, the movie is already tipped to shatter box office records after taking €50m in pre-sales.
Attending the star-studded premiere, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys confessed she had never seen the movies.
“I’ve seen a few clips – but I understand that you can watch the [new] movie without having seen any of the previous episodes,” she said, adding the movie would be “hugely important” for tourism.
Although Star Wars star Domhnall Gleeson is set to see his star rise even further thanks to the movie, he said he doesn't focus on becoming one of the Hollywood elite.
"I've no idea [if I'm entering the A-List]. All I know is, when you read a great script, you know it," he told The Herald earlier this week.
"And I've been lucky - over the course of two years I've got to read a number of them, and got to be in a few. So I'm hoping I can continue that."
Even though he's now an international star, Domhnall said Dublin will always be home. "I love my home. Whereas some people do not like either where they came from or who they grew up with, I'm very lucky - in that all of those things were positive to me," he said.
"I got very, very lucky in the lottery of where you were born," he added.
Critics have hailed the latest instalment of the Star Wars film series as a tour de Force to rival the original trilogy.
The first reviews in newspapers will make pleasant reading for fans of the space saga, with Episode VII: The Force Awakens coming 10 years after the last film.
Robbie Collin, in the Daily Telegraph, gave the film five stars, saying JJ Abrams' effort managed to "reconnect with its long-missing past".
He said: "The tension-easing news is the Force Awakens find it, gloriously so, restoring the myth and magic to George Lucas's faraway galaxy. It's no bewildering science-fiction epic, but a fantasy adventure in a world we already know."
The Daily Mail's Brain Viner offered four stars, and said: "Devotees can now lather up with their Yoda-shaped soap under that Darth Vader shower content that in the hands of director and co-writer JJ Abrams, the empire has struck back.
"The Force Awakens is the most exhilarating film yet in this mighty franchise. It is the magnificent seventh."
Kate Muir, for the Times, called Episode VII a "humongous piece of cinema" and gave it five stars.
She said: "This is the first Star Wars with a 12A rating and most children should find it unterrifying; adults will be floored by tearful nostalgia, because this is a classic. Exactly what we were hoping for."
John Hiscock, in the Daily Mirror, said: "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."
And the Independent's Geoffrey Macnab awarded four stars, saying "the reboot turns out to be a thoroughly invigorating affair".
He added: "The Force Awakens could easily have turned into an anti-climax. Instead, it is very close to a triumph - a film that fans of the old movies will relish but one that looks bound to capture the imagination of a new audience too."