Despite the copious servings of tragic threats and good feelings, the production sinks under the weight of its emotional calculation.
The new movie, as an act of pure storytelling, streams by with fluency and zip.
That's what's so impressive about the tricky balancing act Abrams has pulled off with The Force Awakens: He's made a movie that's simultaneously gripping and a huge release. We are in good hands, at last.
With The Force Awakens, Abrams has begun one of the most important reclamation projects of our time: the complete erasure from cultural memory of The Phantom Menace and its sequels.
I bet you'll have fun - I did, mostly. But it's the fun of seeing something fairly successfully redone, with the promise of more of the same to come.
It's everything the kid in us goes to the movies for -- marvelous adventure that leaves us surprised, scared and euphoric.
There is, of course, CGI in The Force Awakens, but it's comparatively minimal. The film looks handmade, and this allows for a greater range of human emotion, too. When tragedy strikes, you feel it.
J. R. Jones
As with other installments, this is less a movie than an exercise in massaging a juvenile-minded audience that wants the experience to be new and familiar at the same time.
Like their Star Wars forebears, Boyega's Finn and Ridley's Rey are brave, funny, and admirable but also imperfect, uncertain, and sometimes afraid. That is to say, they're genuine, multisided characters with believable motivations.