Thirty-two years after the last Star Wars film, Return of The Jedi, and Lucasfilm has finally given us a sequel. Most of the original cast is back (Billy D. William's Lando is not present, but everyone else is), along with composer John Williams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. But the big question is: is it worth seeing? If you like adventure films, then yes. If you're expecting one of the greatest cinematic experiences of all time, maybe not.
I think it's safe to say that The Force Awakens had a lot of weight on its shoulders. It had to bridge the gap between the old films, paving way for the new trilogy, and do it in a satisfying way while also completely ignoring the prequels. I think in those regards the film is a success. Above all else, this feels like what a Return of The Jedi sequel should feel like. The actors are on sets, the creatures on screen actually exist (they're almost always human actors in prosthetics or they're puppets rather than CGI), lightsabers are hard to come by, and they're is a very clear villain (even if he's somewhat under whelming). It also helps that Harrison Ford is back on screen, giving one of his best performances in recent memory (he's pretty great in Age of Adeline, but it's hard to forget The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull), and Carrie Fisher, C3-P0, and R2-D2 all make appearances, and the best part of their appearances is that they're not milked, they're there to say hello, add something to the forward movement of the plot, and then the new characters (along with Han Solo) continue on with their adventure. It's done well, and mostly feels natural.
Now, onto the nitpicks. The film, while being a pretty decent adventure film and a not bad-at-all Star Wars sequel, is not without its flaws. The first thing that has to be mentioned is the never ending coincidences. The new main character, Rey, just happens to live on the planet the Millennium Falcon has been sitting in a junkyard for ages, she starts it up, flies it into space, and a few minutes later Han Solo and Chewbacca capture the ship, which they have of course been searching for for years. This happens over and over again. Laya shows up out of nowhere when the story needs a new direction to go. R2-D2, who sits dormant for most of the film that he appears in, comes back to life at the end of the film to reveal the location of Luke Skywalker. And the coincidences aren't the only problems with the film. There's also some issues with the hero being over powered and the villain being a huge let down when compared to Darth Vader (or any other villain). There are several scenes in the third acts where Rey and Kylo Ren (what's up with the heroes having one syllable names? Fin, Rey, Poe, Ben? Come on!) go head-to-head, and Rey over powers him, completely negating any reasons there may have been to have a sequel. Because now we know she’s more powerful than the main villain, so what’s the point of having her train with Luke Skywalker? There’s no reason, other than to have the audience relive the training scenes of The Empire Strikes Back. That’s another problem The Force Awakens has: mistaking audience’s desire for a sequel as a call for a remake of Star Wars (A New Hope). The Death Star plot is completely rehashed for this film, along with the Vader Emperor storyline, the Luke and Han relationship (with Fin and Poe), the R2-D2 Luke relationship (with Rey and BB-8) and various others.
Despite these noticeable flaws, the film’s dedication to practical effects and location shooting, along with Harrison Ford’s spot on performance as Han Solo, keep this film from being just another cash-cow remake, and turn it into a genuinely entertaining film.