I considered reviewing one of the 3 terrible 2015 sci fi movies I watched on Netflix recently as my first review of the new year, but decided on Star Wars instead.
Just for the record the three movies were "Parallels", "Time Lapse" and "Icetastrophe". "Parallels" was planned as a TV pilot and as such is all set up with no resolution. "Time Lapse" was actually not terrible. It's about 3 broke roommates who find a camera that can take photos 24 hours in the future. It does not have a happy ending. "Icetastrophe" was good for a couple of laughs, totally unintended by the film maker.
Any, back to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".
You may correctly deduce that since I waited until January 3rd to see the movie that I'm not a fanatic about Star Wars. Star Trek was always more my bag.
There will be some spoilers in the following. I figure if you haven't seen the movie by now you probably don't really care.
We enjoyed the movie quite a lot. J. J. Abrams did a great job. The new characters, Ray and Fin, very much carry the story and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. Daisy Ridley does a fine job as Rey (the representation of her at the top of the poster does not look much like her). She is a scavenger on a desert planet which seems to be packed with debris (including crashed star cruisers) from some old battle). She's resourceful and a loner who was apparently abandoned there by her parents when she was a child. I presume we'll learn more about her past in future movies. I'mm guessing that she will turn out to be Luke's daughter. To quote Darth Vader "The Force is strong with this one".
John Boyega plays Fin, a Storm Trooper who's gone AWOL. His name comes from his designation number which starts as FN. His first mission included wiping out a settlement of vagabonds. He finds he can't fire a shot. Apparently the storm troopers aren't clones anymore but this is not really explained in the movie. He starts out as a tentative member of the resistance (more for convenience than anything else) but is firmly committed to the cause by the end.
There are two other brand new characters. Oscar Isaac as dashing X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron. He didn't make much of an impression on me. And then there is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, the new Darth Vader like character. It's hard to make much of an actor who plays most of the movie in a mask, but he plays Ren as a weaker Darth, less in control. And we get to see his face a couple of time. But he's also a right bastard.
The basic plot concerns the search for Luke Skywalker. The rebels want him because he is apparently the last Jedi and the rebels are losing. The 1st Order (the new bad guys, apparently risen from the ashes of the Empire) want him, pretty much for the same reasons. The bearded guy in the robe in the poster, who looks like Jeff Bridges, is actually Luke. He doesn't make an appearance until almost the final credits. The path forward to the next movie is clear.
Many of your old favorites are there and do a credible job. Carrie Fisher, now a battle hardened General Leia, plays her character as tough and bitter but with some of the old sarcasm showing through. Harrison Ford is an older and more grizzled version of Hans Solo. He didn't have much to do as the character beyond saying things like "Let's go kid". C3PO shows up about halfway in and except that he has one red arm, wasn't much different as a character. R2D2 shows up at the same time but seems to be in a coma. Even General Akbar was there.
The special effects, of course, are as good as you would want. There are a few X-Wing and TIE fighter battles, and the Millennium Falcon can still probably make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs.