DannyOMovieGuy’s review published on Letterboxd:
I, like many of you, went into Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the highest expectations, and how did this movie turn out? I am delighted to report that The Force Awakens is an incredibly entertaining and surprisingly well crafted blockbuster. Director JJ Abrams has resurrected Star Wars, and proves once again that he does Sci-Fi better than almost anyone working today.
The characters in this film are great, we see the introductions of fantastic new characters that you become very invested in. The determined Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the charismatic Finn (John Boyega) are a compelling duo. A surprising amount of depth is given to the antagonist Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). What starts off as a Darth Vader rip off turns into a layered character. The return of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is just as great as you'd hope, Ford proving he still has the ability to play the character with as much charisma as he did back in 1977.
The screenplay is witty and clever, having an unusually high amount of humor, most of which works. Comic relief in the form of a ball shaped Droid resembling R2D2, BB8 steals many of the scenes it's in. But the movie isn't afraid to go to darker places when needed; the comedy and tension is perfectly balanced.
The action scenes are fantastic, Abrams gets you up close to the battles as the camera follows ships flying over the chaotic space duels. Utilizing practical effects whenever possible makes the world feel and look like an inhabited and tangible universe, something sorely lacking from the prequel trilogy. The impressive cinematography, eye popping visual effects, and nostalgic theme songs make for a brilliant film from a technical stand point.
My main complaint is that there are very derivative story elements pulled right from the first movie, Star Wars: A New Hope. The movie has enough of its own new story and characters to not play it safe and fall back on previously used formulas such as another Death Star. It has some story issues that it dismisses with the phrase "a story for another time". This is a movie that doesn't do much wrong, but doesn't try anything new.
Star Wars has returned with a bang. JJ Abrams has made an incredible sequel to the original trilogy. He developed great characters, thrilling action, and a sense of nostalgia without submitting to fan-service to cloud the narrative. This is essential viewing for a cinephile, and for anybody who wants to watch a massively entertaining movie.