The hype has been massive and nothing can live up to that amount of hype. Of course this seventh Star Wars episode can't either.
Bringing back the very old faces of Leia [Carrie Fisher] and Luke [Mark Hamill] sounded like a nice move, but it didn't really work well for me. They felt just as old as they are, and I would have preferred, if they had stayed in the past. Han Solo [Harrison Ford] still had some of that dark humor intact which made him such a great character in the original trilogy, so he was much easier to accept as his older self. Other well-known characters like Chewie, R2-D2 and C-3PO all worked fine in the movie, and they weren't overused.
The story isn't far from that of the original movie, only with a new weapon of mass destruction and with new characters who have been chosen using all required political correctness, of course. The funny thing is that I thought John Boyega's ex-stormtrooper Finn would be the one to annoy me, but it turned out that Daisy Ridley's Rey won that competition. Her extreme English accent was rather annoying to listen to, and apparently she knows every single detail about any spacecraft in the Galaxy, and she is also the fastest learner of the ways of the Force in Jedi history.
The "bad guys" (if one indeed consider the Sith bad, and this movie surely does it's best to portray them as very evil), were all rather disappointing. Adam Driver's Kylo Ren was a real let down as a Darth Vader replacement, and why the hell did he take off his bloody helmet every 5 minutes? He certainly had spent much more time creating a stupid looking lightsaber, than he had spent training to actually use the damn thing in battle. The über bad guy, Supreme Leader Snoke [Andy Serkis], was better, but still a disappointment, if compared to Emperor Palpatine.
I watched the movie in 2D as to not be distracted by pointless 3D exercises, but that was perhaps not the best choice. Some of the movie looked kinda blurry, and I assume it will look a lot better in 3D. The special effects and the look and feel of it all is great though. Everything does indeed look very realistic and believable. Gone are George Lucas' excessive CGI overload and the new movie has a much better balance.
Disney has taken over the franchise and we'll get at the very least 2 more episodes and a couple of spin-offs. It's not a bad thing, because George Lucas had clearly lost any idea of how to create great Star Wars movies. The last two prequels are a monument of terrible dialogue, CGI overuse and lousy story-telling. You can't blame the new Star Wars episode for any of that. I can blame it for a lot of other things though, but I guess it ain't such a bad beginning for Disney and J.J. Abrams, it just couldn't live up to all that hype. To be honest, I'm looking more forward to the rumored "Space Balls 2 - The Search for More Money", than I do to the next Star Wars episode.
And nope, sadly Jar Jar Binks doesn't appear as a Sith Lord. I had really hoped that would happen. :)
Here's my personal Star Wars Episodes ranking - best to worst:
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Episode IV: A New Hope
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- Episode I: The Phantom Menace
- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- Episode VII: The Force Awakens