Warning; the following review may contain spoilers.
Episode VII of the Star Wars saga is a big hit at the box office, although it has received very mixed reviews for film-goers. I have seen it twice and my opinion is that while it is by no means a brilliant movie; neither is it a terrible one.
The visuals are stunning, the acting is quiet good (especially Harrison Ford reprising his role as Han Solo, arguably the best performance of the film) and the new characters are quiet reasonable. What lets this film down is it’s ridiculous similarity to the first Star Wars film Episode IV; A New Hope.
For example, the film begins on the desert planet Jakku, visually pretty much the same as the Tatooine of Episode IV (minus the extra sun). Storm troopers are trying to capture a droid which has important information inside it (much the same as the begging of Episode IV), there is a new Emperor-like villain (though this time he is an alien), and even a third death star-like weapon (but bigger).
The parts featuring the characters from the original series are an important part of this film, and while it is good that the film-makers tried to make it feel like the originals (and I believe they succeeded), they could have tried to make the basic plot seem a little less familiar. It seemed a bit rushed (pacing wise) at times, though it managed to capture the feel of the original trilogy, including the use of many practical instead of visual effects.
There was also a fair amount of comedy sprinkled throughout, some worked quiet well (particularly those involving the old characters), some not so much. The action scenes were also well done, particularly a lightsaber battle toward the end of the film.
Overall I believe that this is a solid addition to the Star Wars saga – a classic story of the struggle between Good and Evil – much better at least (in my opinion), than the recent prequels (Episodes I, II and III). Hopefully Episode VIII will take the characters through a more interesting and original story, something the ending of the film hints at. Visually this is a good film for the big screen, but if you are not already a Star Wars fan, it would probably be much better to wait for the dvd release.