It has taken me a while to digest my first viewing, here are my thoughts.
I saw the film on December 18th. I went with my brother to a 4PM showing. I saw it in IMAX 3D even thought the posters said only some of the scenes were shot in 3D. I am not a big 3D fan but I decided to make an exception for Star Wars. The theater did not have reserved seating so I got there an hour before just to be safe. I got great seats.
I really enjoyed the film. I understand some people's thoughts that it just a rehash of ANH but I think that is a bit of a naive take on the film. Fin and Rey are fantastic. I am really looking forward to see where their characters will be taken. They are dynamic and energetic and quite funny. Seeing Han and Leia again was very fun. I sort of expected to see Han die. Harrison Ford has wanted his character to die since ROTJ so I figured that was coming. It was a fitting end and it sets up the next movies to be all about the new characters. I was a bit surprised to see that Luke was really only in the last few minutes. Definitely raises a lot of questions about what's next.
Kylo Ren was a decent bad guy. Definitely didn't see the Han and Leia's son thing coming. That was cool. I like how he is not really in control of his feelings/the force. Rather than channel the force he just rips up a control room with his lightsaber. I think that is a good angle. He clearly didn't get the training he needed. I will have to hold judgement on Supreme Leader Snoke since he was in the film so little.
I thought JJ Abrams did a great job with this film, it was well paced, and true to the Star Wars saga. I am also happy that he not directing the next film. We need to continue to spread out the talent in all areas to make sure it stays fresh. Do I think it was a reboot? A little. It does continue the story but it has a reset feel to it as well.
I am not sure I understand why we had to rename the Rebels the Resistance and the Empire the New Order. It just seemed unnecessary.
Was it the best of the franchise? No. I still think ANH and TESB are the best. But this one is a welcomed addition to the Star Wars saga. Bring on Rogue One!