I liked it.
I am not going to talk about anything specific, but JJ Abrams makes this film work. The Force Awakens is definitely a Star Wars movie.
The story is the swashbuckling adventure that fans both want and need. It is both poignant and funny in all the right places, with plenty of action. New characters are introduced and they work. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega’s performances are great and they not only fit seamlessly into the canon, but they are appealing. You care about them. The old favourites are back with a vengeance. Harrison Ford steals every scene as Han Solo, and there seemed to be a genuine affection between Solo and Leia (Carrie Fisher) which fans will find endearing.
Abram used little CGI and lots of physical sets and costumes which gave the movie a verisimilitude the prequels just did not have. He also made a film that could appeal to a younger audience without resorting to making it about kids (apparently Lucas intended to make the same mistakes he made with Episode one by focusing on children. This is Star Wars, not Goonies for space dammit!). Abrams has really focused on bringing this film, and the franchise back to its roots.
Episode VII; The Force Awakens is a story about family, the legacy of family and the impact and struggle that children can have with defining their own identity while living up to the expectation of the new generation.
My one criticism is that Abrams may have played it too safe and that at a certain point in the film it became a little predictable.
The crowd I was with seemed happy, and I think that Abrams’ has set up a successful franchise for the future. It was definitely entertaining and fun.