Spoilers...I'm going to keep this free of any major spoilers or plot twists, but I have to admit with the fanaticism over Star Wars, it's a little hard to know what people do and don't consider a spoiler. Really, I've never worried about this for any review that I've ever written, but this movie feels different. That said, if you're paranoid about spoilers, stop reading my review. It's not worth it.
PLOT - Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place approximately thirty years after Return of the Jedi. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fischer) is leading the resistance and the new threat is The First Order. Their commander is the relentless Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Kylo Ren is on the hunt for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), whom he believes to be the last Jedi.
LIKE- I'm not a Star Wars fan. If my husband hadn't been so keen on seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I'd likely have skipped seeing it. That said, I was entertained. I liked the inclusion of Fischer, Hamill and most of all, Harrison Ford reprising his role of Hans Solo, arguably the best character in the Star Wars universe.
However, what really made the movie gel, was the cast of new characters, Rey ( Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Issac). In particular, Ridley was fantastic and carried much of the film. It was funny seeing Adam Driver in a non-comedic role, but he was good too.
Although the Star Wars: The Force Awakens is special effects heavy, it doesn't get bogged down by the effects ( I'm looking at you, episodes 1-3). The effects and action serve the story.
As with Star Trek, J.J. Abrams has proven than he can successfully reboot a franchise. As a bonus, it was fun to know that portions of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was filmed in my husbands hometown of Newbury, England.
DISLIKE- The overall story was meh. It has very familiar themes and was predictable. The comedic moments really pandered to children and weren't very funny.
Speaking of children, there was a dad with three toddlers in their jammies sitting next to us in the theatre. Not appropriate at all. The kids were actually very well-behaved overall, but several times, they were scared and complained about the loud noises hurting their ears. Although the violence may be tame in comparison to many other films, it's still not appropriate for young children.
RECOMMEND- Yes. If you're a fan, surely you've already seen it...probably multiple times. If you're not a fan of the franchise, it was still enjoyable. As a non-fan, my expectations were low and I walked out having my expectations exceeded. My husband was let-down, although this seems to be in contrast to many of my friends who have raved about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In true fan fashion, he wants to see it again, just to make sure...