WHAT I LIKED: After years since the original trilogy, J.J. Abrams' 'The Force Awakens,' debuted amongst unprecedented anticipation from devoted fans like myself who view this franchise as a somewhat sacred entity, and what this film does so perfectly is to transition from the old to the new in an unbelievably delicate balancing act. Yes by slowly introducing fascinating and intriguing new characters and stories that are equally intricately embedded into the existing lore and world, this film not only brings a warm sense of nostalgia and comforting transition, but also an excitable mystery that was most similarly felt in the first Star Wars. Now whilst many have compared the plot here to that very film, it is arguable that Abrams made a very conscious decision there and that The Force Awakens is one half a pastiche and the other an intriguing new step forward. That feeling extends most to the perfectly-portrayed new characters who are very literally influenced by the legend of the original trilogy, and that's equally felt in the world that they find themselves in - a universe that's scattered with remnants of Imperial and Rebellion junk where those opposing sentiments also drive the new light and the dark sides. Visually too, the film clearly leans heavily into the aesthetic of the original Star Wars movies but there's also a new sense of engaging realism and darkness brought by Abrams and his choice to always use grungy authentic locations and appropriate scales.
But on top of all of that, perhaps what makes this film so brilliant is how thoroughly considered and delicate it all feels as virtually every moment gets the time and sensitive focus it deserves, and that makes for something not only engaging, but also genuinely affecting and resonant. In the end then, Abram's has delivered a film that feels like it takes place in the Star Wars world and crucially transitions slowly and delicately from the old to the new in a film that brings bags of excitable mystery about a whole new set of characters and stories in much the same way as the original.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Some of those delicate choices can feel a little mechanical at times.
VERDICT: A film that transitions from new to old in a genius balancing act, 'The Force Awakens,' is an excellent Star Wars movie that builds excitement for a new set of characters and stories, and equally proves that the franchise is thankfully in very safe hands now.