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“The Spice Girls may have been many things, but the authors of a back catalogue packed with deathless pop classics is not among them,” said Alexis Petridis in The Guardian.

Others felt the script, by comedian Jennifer Saunders _ co-creator of celebrity-skewering sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous” _ was surprisingly un-funny.

“You would think it would be easy to strap the songs of one of the biggest girl groups in recent history to an exuberant story of girl power to create a worldwide money-making machine,” wrote Alun Palmer in the Daily Mirror. “But you would be wrong.”

The show’s success or failure may depend less on critics than on how well the Spice Girls are still loved a decade and a half after their heyday.

The five-member group, known for its brash attitude and “Cool Britannia” branding, shot to fame in 1996 and sold 75 million records around the world. Halliwell left the group in 1998 and the group effectively split a decade ago.

The five members appeared on stage together for the first time in five years at the London Olympics closing ceremony in August and have reunited to promote “Viva Forever.”

All five attended Tuesday’s premiere _ although Beckham arrived later than the others, and sat apart from them in the theater.

On the red carpet before the show, Melanie Chisholm _ “Sporty Spice” _ said she was not afraid of critics’ verdict.

“If people criticize it, we don’t care _ because we love it,” she said.

Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless