Three screenings later, here are my thoughts on the newest entry in the Star Wars franchise, THE FORCE AWAKENS.
  1. Storm troopers have feelings.
    This is the first time I have seen a storm trooper made into a relatable human being. Proves they aren't just mindless soldiers brainwashed into doing what they have been.
  2. Rey is the Jedi, and it was a plot twist.
    Not a single trailer for the film showed us that Rey would rise up and become the new hope (no pun intended) for the Resistance. All of the marketing for the film has shown Finn holding a light saber at some point, so it was a nice plot twist and definitely a win for women in the film industry.
  3. All new characters are ACTUALLY "new."
    Despite similar plot points to A NEW HOPE, THE FORCE AWAKENS has characters that are anything but similar to previous ones. Everybody is speculating about who the "next Han Solo" will be, but I believe these characters are totally fresh and shouldn't be compared to old news.
  4. Kylo Ren is the most "human" Sith in Star Wars.
    It was a nice surprise to see that Ren isn't just another unstoppable renegade like some Sith end up being. He is human. He is torn apart by his decision to work with The New Order. He is more than just "Han Solo's son" or "The main Sith of the new trilogy." His flaws make him one of the best characters of the franchise so far.
  5. The cheesy romantic tension is actually good.
    It reminded me specifically of Flash Gordon and, of course, the original Star Wars films. It works very well and isn't cliché.
  6. The chemistry between the new characters is astounding.
    Poe and Finn establish a better brother-brother relationship in one scene (stealing the Tie Fighter) than Anakin and Obi-Wan do in three films. Finn and Rey work extremely well together and it makes me happy to see them both on screen. I hope we get to see them as a full trio some in the next few films.
  7. The major character death does justice to him.
    IF YOU ARE STILL READING AND HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM, TURN BACK NOW. I knew somebody had to die, I just hoped it would be done well. And boy was it. Han Solo being killed by Kylo Ren was an incredible scene, and brought a good close to Harrison Ford's beloved character.
  8. Lots of "Heck yeah, Star Wars!" moments without going over the top.
    THE FORCE AWAKENS pays homage to classic Star Wars many times, but still manages to create its own magic. While we all love hearing Han Solo wink at the camera about trash compactors, we also love the moment when Ren tries to take Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, but it flies past him into Rey's hand. This is what separates this blockbuster from another certain movie this year that involves dinosaurs. (Spoiler alert: it sucks.)
  9. Rey's sudden use of the Force from her life experience.
    I've heard complaints that Rey uses the Force way too quickly without training compared to Luke Skywalker, but think about it: Luke grew up in his aunt and uncle's farm comfortably without having to fight to survive. Rey's past is rough, and she probably had to have this "sixth sense" to help her get through it (the Force). This is how she could quickly harness it and use its powers later in the film, but it still wasn't perfect.
  10. J.J. Abrams used some of my favorite directors for inspiration.
    Through the use of motion and landscapes, you can definitely see an influence from Akira Kurosawa (THRONE OF BLOOD, SEVEN SAMURAI) and Terence Malick (DAYS OF HEAVEN, TREE OF LIFE), two of my favorite directors. Abrams even cites them as starting points he used when conceiving THE FORCE AWAKENS.
  11. Starkiller, the new Death Star, is underwhelming.
    The new weapon could've been a much, much smaller weapon and made just as big an impact on the story. It wasn't as big as they made it out to be, just felt like it was massive for the heck of it.
  12. It could have been less predictable.
    I don't mind the similarities to A NEW HOPE, but they could have given us something.
  13. Snoke looks stupid.
    His CGI reminds me of the horrid Indiana Jones film that doesn't exist, KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Maybe that's because he's a hologram, but I didn't like it either way.
    "Oh my God, Randy, did you just say that a 2015 blockbuster is better than a CLASSIC MOVIE?!" Yes. And I'm not sorry about it.