I went to the 2D showing for my first watch. I hear the opening crawl is awesome in 3D and when I go again probably Saturday I’ll go that route.
As for some non-spoiler review/impressions:
-Yes, it passed the Bechdel test.
-Yes, it feels like a Star Wars movie. It also feels like an adventure movie made this decade, albeit one of the better ones. It works. It’s familiar and new at the same time, in a way I’m happy to see them pull off.
-Of all the previous movies, it reminds me most of A New Hope. Like ANH and The Phantom Menace, this is the movie that introduces the new cast and state of the Star Wars galaxy. The way the story is told, the way the first act of the film builds and gains momentum while we jump between POVs, reminds me a lot of the original.
-…But it moves faster. This is a modern movie, and scenes are a lot tighter than the old movies (the OT and the PT), things are quicker in general. Of course, the OT are more languid in part because they’re films of the 70’s and 80’s and that was more in style at the time; these are the ADHD times, after all. It feels… modern. But scenes don’t drag like they did in the PT, thank the gods.
-Also like ANH, we only get a sketchy idea of the big picture–presumably Episode VIII, like The Empire Strikes Back, will do more to fill in the backstory on what brought us here. The Force Awakens hints at a lot of things, but the main focus is on showing how Rey and Finn, neither of whom know much more about the state of the galaxy than we do, get caught up in events.
-Rey and Finn are both original characters with their own personalities, and neither “replaces” any of the old OT that way. This new trilogy is definitely their journey. There’s a lot of character work going on in this movie, like Abrams was very conscious of the need to lay that groundwork in this movie.
-I like when they’re doing with Kylo Ren and it’s obvious this trilogy is also his story.
-The combat scenes have a lot of energy, and I didn’t notice much shaky cam garbage or lens flare infestation. Nor do climactic battles come away looking like raves. The cinematography as a whole is great, very active.
-There are of course returning themes from the previous soundtracks, but the soundtrack uses them sparingly enough. The one new piece I noticed evolving throughout the movie and could identify by ear by the credits was Rey’s theme.
-It wasn’t perfect but getting into why is spoiler territory. The third act could have been more creative. In some ways it’s too self-referential (see also: Abrams’ Star Trek), but then again, Star Wars became self-referential before the OT was over.
Overall: I want to see it a few more times and let it sink in, but my initial impression is that Episode VII fits in pretty well with the first six. It’s at least as good as Return of the Jedi, and it does a good job setting up for the rest of the sequel trilogy. The way it’s sitting with me tonight I’d give it a B+, and that grade may creep up on repeated viewings.