I can’t claim aesthetic objectivity here, but I really, really liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I lucked out last night when a friend of mine announced on Facebook that he had an extra ticket to a showing at the National Air and Space Museum’s IMAX theater. Pretty sweet!
Anyway, I pretty much agree with the critical consensus: J.J. Abrams et al. don’t do anything radically new with the franchise; it’s a more-or-less paint-by-numbers refresh of A New Hope (or just “the first Star Wars” as we used to call it). But it really is refreshing: a breath of new life into the stilted museum-piece George Lucas’s universe had threatened to turn into. The new characters–Finn, Rey, Poe and Kylo Ren–are just as easy to invest in as Luke, Han and Leia were the first time we met them. I’m more excited to see future stories with the new cast than to see more of the veterans. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is a particular standout. (Though don’t get me wrong: The return of Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, not to mention Chewie and everyone’s favorite droids, was more than welcome.)
And just on a basic level of craft (sets, direction, dialogue, performances) the new movie is galaxies away from the prequels in particular. It is legitimately exciting, funny, and affecting at various points. You could easily argue that the plot is a bit undercooked, but that didn’t stop it from being the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time.
Basically, if you love Star Wars (as I do), you’ll probably love The Force Awakens.