The Force Awakens... I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it either. It nails a few key elements that make action movies enjoyable, but it has a long list of failings to go with it (see my list of pros and cons below.) I found myself thoroughly enjoying the first 45 minutes only to feel my enthusiasm steadily drop for the next hour and a half as it became clear how paint-by-numbers this movie was turning out. Its biggest problem is that it's instantly the most derivative Star Wars film ever made. The events are almost entirely a retread of things that happened in the original trilogy (OT) and it adds little of interest to the Star Wars mythos. It's the cinematic equivalent of a highly caffeinated soda: tastes good going down and gives you a nice energetic zing, but ultimately its empty calories and will be harmful to the body in the long run.
1. Most of the new characters are likable, especially BB8 who is a genuinely endearing droid with lots of personality.
2. The action scenes looked and played out well on a technical level. (Hooray for competence!)
3. It successfully recreates the inherently dangerous but intriguingly exotic feel of the Star Wars universe from the OT.
4. Mostly well paced. (Hooray for competence part 2!)
5. Humor was hit and miss, but when it did hit (mostly BB8) it was good.
1. Poe / Rey / Finn bond WAY too quickly, almost to the point of incredulity.
2. It re-enacts too many scenes / scenarios from A New Hope (Storm Trooper slaughter on a desert planet, Cantina 2.0, Death Star 3.0 blows up planets, X-wing full scale attack followed by trench run attack, etc.)
3. With a few beautiful exceptions (Jakku, new Cantina, night time light saber battle in the forest) the film's locales really did not look that good.
4. No details about why "The First Order" or "The Resistance" emerged from the old Empire and Republic / Rebellion or how these new incarnations are even different from the original ones.
5. OT characters feel like cheap nostalgia distractions, because they are.
6. Kylo Ren becomes too vulnerable way too quickly, removing all sense of mystery and menace about the character before the first movie is even over.
7. The title of the movie is bullshit: The force does not "awaken" in any general sense. The force may have awakened in ONE character, but it was already awake in other characters, so this is clearly not what the title implied.
8. Rey's "awakening" is completely vague to the point of shit just happening because the plot wants it to happen.
9. An untrained force initiate defeating a trained Sith is ludicrous to the point of breaking my suspension of disbelief. That was a cheap, unearned victory. Luke Skywalker, by contrast, spent three films learning, training and being battered down by the forces of darkness before emerging victorious in Return of the Jedi.
10. Highly derivative: What substance did this movie add to the Star Wars universe? For all the shit the prequels get, at least a lot of new things were tried and an entirely different dynamic (the slow rise of evil instead of the hero's journey to fight evil) was presented to us. This movie showed almost no creative courage.
The Force Awakens will not age well, even in the short term. As the release hype dies and people who engage in thoughtful movie analysis realize how much of the movie was carbon copied, reviews will moderate and scores will drop. Given how much longer my list of cons is than my list of pros, I'm giving The Force Awakens a generous 5/10. It seems "the force" of nostalgia holds some sway over me as well. JJ Abrams and Disney benefit more from that nostalgia than they do from anything they've contributed to the franchise.