Thousands of fans finally got to see the new Star Wars spin-off film on Wednesday as it opened across Europe, dividing critics.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has already notched up the highest first day pre-sales ever in the United States following last year’s record-breaking The Force Awakens.

But there was less enthusiasm on the other side of the Atlantic with the first screenings in Paris only three-quarters full.

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And several critics took their light sabres to the plot with the French daily Liberation branding it “stutteringly cosmic” and The New York Times calling it a “thoroughly mediocre movie” that millions would sit through “and convince themselves that it’s perfectly delightful”.

But Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet daily was won over, declaring that “despite some forced dialogue and wearying back and forths… ‘Rogue One’ is two hours and 13 minutes of hugely entertaining space action.”

Variety said “for the original generation of “Star Wars” fans who weren’t sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, Rogue One is the prequel they’ve always wanted.”

“This is another really entertaining fantasy with fan-fiction energy and attack,” The Guardian said in its review

Not that the faithful were put off.

Parisian product manager Catherine Jolivet, 35, who has grown up with the saga, said she was cheered by the fact that “female characters have become so important” as she queued up for her ticket.

Just like The Force Awakens, the grittier Rogue One has a female lead, with Felicity Jones starring as intergalactic bad girl Jyn Erso, recruited by the Rebel Alliance to destroy the Death Star, a planet-sized weapon of mass destruction.

In a typical Star Wars Oedipal twist, her father Galen, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is none other than the brilliant scientist gone bad who has designed the Death Star.

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The story, about a maverick rebel force who mount an almost suicide mission to steal the plans for the imperial Death Star, is set just before the very first Star Wars epic, “A New Hope”.

Although it has only fleeting though spectacular appearances by Darth Vader and Princess Leia from the beloved 1977 movie, it has all the familiar ingredients including Stormtroopers, X-wing fighters and a cute robot character.

Nor has the hype quite reached the same pitch as last year’s “The Force Awakens” — which came a decade after the end of the last Star Wars trilogy.

Here’s the trailer: 

with AFP inputs