I’ll have more to say tomorrow, I hope, but Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ remarks strike me as apposite:
However one feels about The Force Awakens, it is—in fact—a film. The aims of the heroes are coherent and accessible. The acting is good. (I really liked Ridley and Boyega.) And the pacing is well-managed. I’m an old man, so I thought the film was too loud. And I thought the film overplayed certain things, that it should have underplayed—the critical scene where Kylo Ren solidifies his place with the Dark Side (for now, at least) is interminable.
But The Force Awakens is a film—something that the last three offerings from Lucas were not. Indeed, I walked out of the movie theater amazed that I now actually thought less of the prequels, then when I walked in. Everything—save special effects—is wrong the last three iterations of Star Wars. The plotting is indecipherable. The dialogue is painful. Otherwise good actors struggle under Lucas’s direction. Also, Jar-Jar Binks. (What? Ain’t no more.) That this horribleness was strapped to an incredible hype machine only made matters worse.
Now it’s true that Abrams didn’t invent much and that he borrowed quite a bit. But he understood what was good about the Star Wars universe, and what was not. He took that expertise and made something that critics, and fans, have been waiting on for over thirty years—a decent Star Wars film, and arguably the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back.
I liked it too.