Please note that this review contains minor plot details and minor spoilers.
To quantify my feelings for the latest installment in the Star Wars epic you must compare it to the other installments, and while it is a significant improvement over the detritus that was the prequels, it as a film is just not on the same level of the original trilogy, and more specifically nowhere near the level of Empire or a new hope. Indeed this installment seems to follow many of the similar thematic elements of a new hope, while modernizing the pacing and adding a more than welcome diversity boost. However despite my enjoyment of this latest installment it does not prevent me from recognizing that The Force Awakens is a deeply flawed movie, enjoyable, but deeply flawed.
The introduction of new characters into this universe is always welcome (with the exception of Jar Jar, Jar Jar can fuck off), and all of the new cast do their jobs admirably, adding weight and depth to the story and indeed the Star Wars universe, With Kylo Ren acting as more conflicted antagonist than you’ve ever seen in-universe, and Rey, Finn, and Poe all adding an exciting and weighty punch to light side of the force. The returning cast also performs admirably, with Ford in particular putting in a stellar performance.
However the issues with this film I have are not performance based, they are narrative, pacing, and writing based. It is my belief that this text and it’s adherence to the thematic elements that laid out in A New Hope will be disappointing, and while the whole point of the star wars is that there is an inherent cyclicality, (a constant battle between ying and yang) and to simply say that the force awakens is A New Hope, is an incredibly lazy analysis, it is disappointing to not have a greater distinction for the new entry.
Moreover the pacing of the film is incredibly frenetic, and while it is easy to implore this, I feel like this film needed some narrative exposition, to greater explain the formative motivations for the characters and larger organizations at work in the Film. This could have been achieved through a few expositional scenes in the film and a greater exploration of the overarching narrative. This lack of exposition for me leads to the film feeling almost too frenetic, rushed even, I would have enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Star Wars universe at points, just for the film to feel more complete (think the Yoda sequences in empire).
Nevertheless, despite my criticism The Force Awakens was still an immensely enjoyable experience, one that is not entirely dependent upon nostalgia (although it does use it heartily), and introduces a plethora of new characters and institutions. But most importantly, for me and I believe many others is that this film feels like a Star Wars film, it has all the sights and sounds, all the thematic beats, all the moralizing, for the first time in nearly thirty years it feels like we as an audience have a Star Wars film again. As such, despite it’s obvious flaws and shortcomings as a film, it intrinsically is still a good film, as such I would rate this film somewhere around seven out of ten.