Saw the first 7:00pm showing in my area. Even waiting in line for a few hours beforehand was fun. Everyone from the cosplay nerds, young kids, teens, young adults and older people were nice to one another, just having a great time. Not uncommon for strangers to be sharing a pizza and softdrinks even. Really, it was very much like a big tailgate party!
But then the movie... Loved it. Period
This was the sort of Star Wars movie I had been waiting for since 1983... It felt like the Star Wars films I grew up with, the fun, the exuberance combined with the dread and terror. Yeah, the plot was overall similar to ANH but it was still fund and exciting. It was also very respectful to the original cast and characters. While aged, Han didn't skip a beat. Can't believe they killed him off (and I'm sort of left with a sad feeling about that) but that he was killed by his son, Kylo Ren, face to face, really adds a dimension of evil to that character... Not even Vader stooped that low. The new characters were great. I loved Poe, Finn, and especially Rey. I can't say I liked Kylo Ren in the positive sense like the others, but he will turn out to be a great character. Captain Phasma seems to be the new Boba Fett, a badass that meets a comically inglorious end getting put down the garbage chute. In such a hallowed franchise, its difficult to engineer new characters - George Lucas largely failed at that in the prequels - but it was pulled off quite well in TFA and I look forward to seeing how both the good and the bad develop.
But I am left with some questions... I guess I'm coming from the POV that I grew up with the original SW movies, source materials, EU, etc. so had a since of the history and how everything connected and fit together. Since Disney has now wiped the slate clean post ROTJ, there's a void to fill. I'm curious to know more about the how the First Order came about; how the Republic and the Resistance fit together. Was the First Order born out of the (New) Republic by those seeking a return to order from chaos or was it founded on the remnants of the Empire? What caused Kylo Ren, son of Han and Leia, and student of Luke, to turn bad (other than simply the seduction of the dark side)? Lots of those sort of questions... But I guess over the ensuing years and decades, those will eventually be answered.
Nevertheless, its been a long time since I went to a movie where I walked away with such a sense of enjoyment and desire to see it again and again. The Force Awakens lived up to the hype in my opinion, and I'm elated to have a new and worthy addition to the Star Wars saga