I've seen The Force Awakens four times now. Three viewings at the theater, and one at home on my new BD copy.
Review Grade: A
I simply adore The Force Awakens! I love it! I love it more than any of the prequels. I love how it feels like natural 30-years-later continuation of the original trilogy that I loved as a youth. I like the new actors and characters, all of them. I give credit not only to the actors but to the film's director, JJ Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan.
Top 3 reasons I love The Force Awakens:
1. Rey. From the moment she shows up, after every spoken word by her, watching her live her life at the beginning and then she displays disgust, fear, anger, aggression, and sadness. I believed this character exists. John Williams' "Rey" score fits the scenes so incredibly well. Rey's duel with Kylo Ren in the forest gives me the shivers. She means business. Just watch how she kicks Kylo Ren, grabs his arm and forces his saber into the ground, cancelling it out. I can't wait to see what she becomes. Daisy Ridley was a real find. I think the greatest "payoff" scene in TFA is when Rey successfully pulls the lightsaber out of the snow and it whips past Ren who was also vying for the lightsaber; there she stands holding it, the music swells... wow!
2. BB-8. This little guy cracks me up! Seeing him rolling and just booking along the ground ( Booking: urban slang for running really fast, probably comes from setting a record/putting it in the books) . Kudos for the filmmakers for creating a new, earnest and feisty little droid that can stand beside R2 and C-3PO.
3. Familiar SW universe stuff. Destroyed AT-AT walkers and huge crashed Star Destroyers, TIE fighters and X-wings, blasters, stormtroopers, Imperials and Rebels (under different names), lightsabers. Also Han, Chewbacca, Leia, Admiral Ackbar, Nien Nunb, 3PO, R2, and even Darth Vader's helmet. They couldn't have added more to satisfy me.
Grumbles about The Force Awakens:
1. Mirrored plot points from the OT. Nope. I change my mind. At first, I was originally slightly underwhelmed by the ideas of Snoke and Starkiller plaet. But that's passed. I now don't mind the fact that "there's another Death Star-type thing!" in TFA. That is the Empire's modus operandi. And being introduced to another desert planet (Jakku , not Tatooine) where an important character is unknowingly about to be thrust to bigger things , well it worked. Nostalgic familiarity, true. But it made sense why an old ex-Rebel would hide out near the junkyard of this dustbowl planet.
2. Han Solo's death. I don't mind that it happened. But for such a huge moment and extremely beloved character's death, Harrison's acting wasn't the greatest in this scene. C'mon, he looks surprised but it doesn't really look like it HURTS to be ran through by your son's lightsaber. I loved how Chewbacca went a little berserk , but really, more time and attention could have been shown at his rage (he didn't even pull the arms out of any stormtroopers! this was the chance to show it!) and his grief.
3. Absolute lack of Luke Skywalker!!! I am just grumbling here, because it was a good idea to keep him reserved for the ending scene, and the next film. But dang it. I wanted to see him in action! What if he gets hit by a truck, or a TIE fighter panel, before he is done filming Ep8? What were you thinking Abrams?
4. I didn't like Greg "Matt Parkman" Grunberg being in the SW film as Porkins Snap Wexley, a heavyset rebel pilot. He takes me out of the scene a little bit. I see Greg Grunberg, not a SW character. Thank goodness he didn't have Force powers. I don't want to see the Matt Parkman Stare in Star Wars. There were 2 other out-of-place actors, in my opinion -- Ken Leung (X-men and Lost), and the other was Carrie Fisher's daughter. Nepotism! If you watch her, she looks like she doesn't know what to do, she is just standing in the crowd in the background. But she is in several scenes. At least she is cute..