The verdict is out: Many local fans say director J.J. Abrams' new Star Wars movie The Force Awakens takes a lightsaber to the awful memories of the previous three movies directed by franchise creator George Lucas.
Reactions at the Singapore premiere held at Shaw Lido were largely positive, although fans were also visibly shaken by a major incident in the movie. When it happened in the second half of the movie, a collective gasp could be heard in the auditorium.
Nanyang Technological University professor Liew Kai Khiun, 42, who has research interests in pop culture, said that he needed to mull things over and "calm down".
"How could that have happened? How?" he said repeatedly.
IT consultant Ng Hak Beng, 42, who is known among Star Wars fans here for building the only working replica of droid R2-D2 in Singapore, shook his head and said: "I just cannot believe it. I need to watch the movie a few more times to process it."
The screening they attended on Wednesday night was the first showing of the hugely anticipated film in Singapore. The invite-only event was open to members of the press, celebrities, trade partners and select fan groups of the iconic film series.
Several viewers pointed out how the new film successfully managed to appeal to nostalgia as well as introduce new characters.
Prof Liew said: "Director J.J. Abrams managed to pull off the perfect multi-generational story, with both the old cast and a new generation of actors.
"With a white female and a black male in the lead roles, it also broadens diversity, which I think speaks to the present," he added, referring to British stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who play the new film's central roles of Rey and Finn, respectively.
The premiere was held hours ahead of the first public screening of the film, which kicked off at midnight. Last month, fans had made headlines for queueing overnight to snag tickets to this sold-out public screening.
Law student Ravin Ramakrishnan, 26, who attended the midnight screening, said: "A whole new world has opened up in the new movie, but it also pays really nice homage to the original trilogy. A lot of fans were upset with the prequel films, so this sets the film series back on the right track."
At both screenings, fans turned up in droves dressed in Star Wars costumes.
Characters spotted include Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Darth Maul, Jedi masters, Chewbacca and a Princess Leia in the iconic slave bikini outfit.