As a massive fan of the Star Wars films and expanded universe, I was a little apprehensive about the new film. The abundance of trailer hype couple with the ferocious push on marketing (it seemed every shop from supermarkets to video game stores were pushing the merchandise!) worried me - surely a franchise as successfully as Star Wars shouldn't need quite the aggressive investment in promotion as episode 7 received.
I'd also just read Simon Pegg's 'Nerd Do Well' in which he talks about his disappointment getting to witness the release of episodes 1-3 first hand and had begun to feel his apprehension to episode 1 as my own with episode 7.
Luckily, I needn't have been worried at all.
Of course, it isn't the best piece of cinematography ever - it's not an artsy or cult film as we already know! What it is, is a love letter to the original films, with very similar directive choices and a tone that imitates the non serious nature of those original movies.
The acting for the most part, is extremely well performed. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher make it feel like we are genuinely picking up where we left off with some old friends, and the new talent always seem to relate to somebody from one of the other films, whether in appearance or acting style. I was particularly impressed with the work of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, who, unlike Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in episodes 1 through 3, who comes off in the end as a bit of an annoyance and spoiled brat, actually portrays a genuinely torn individual, emotionally distraught and legitimately troubled, without becoming irritating.
The special effects and artwork are superbly done; costume design is fantastic, and both the script and story kept me hooked until the end. The Williams soundtrack is yet another triumph throughout, and the action sequences are believable unlike in some of the scenes in episodes 1-3. You're playing with essentially a laser on a stock!!! There should not be quite as much spinning!!
So, in my effort to make this a spoiler free first impressions review, I'll stop there, and say that as an avid fan of the entire works of Star Wars, despite it's flaws, episode 7 is a great success and deserves your attention, as a fan or newcomer.
May the force be with you, Star Wars. Always.