I wish I could open my review with the Star Wars music. That would make it a whole lot better.
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens opens gloriously. We see the Lucasfilm logo, with no music playing. The screen goes black. BAM! John William's beautiful, iconic Star Wars music plays. It made me jump in my seat, in the best kind of way. Fortunately, the rest of the movie pretty much lives up to that.
The First Order, a revived version of the Galactic Empire from the original trilogy, threatens to destroy the Galaxy, with only the Resistance defending it. Luke Skywalker is nowhere to be found. Luckily, a map to his location is on a BB-8 droid. The BB-8 encounters a young scavenger named Rey and a former stormtrooper named Finn. Together, they must bring the BB-8 droid to the Resistance to find Luke, the last known living Jedi, to save the Galaxy.
This movie is a lot of fun. It has a ton of great action sequences, and really nails the "star" part of Star Wars, with lots of Sci-Fi space battles, rather than mainly sword fights -- with the swords being light sabers. Different characters even have different fighting styles if you watch closely enough, which is a great small detail. J.J. Abrams channeled George Lucas' inspiration for the original trilogy, Akira Kurosawa, very well. The shots were always alive, and brimming with movement, which is what Kurosawa does best.
The new actors were a lot of fun, had a ton of charisma, and were very energetic. The movie also has some very funny moments. It's probably the funniest movie in the series, unless you want to watch the prequels ironically.
But there's a cost; it's too much like A New Hope, both with story and with character. Everyone seemed to channel a character from a New Hope; Rey is Luke, Finn is Han, Supreme Leader Snoke is Palpatine. The plot followed a similar structure to it, too. A droid has some information so people band together, and they try to destroy the Death Star/Starkiller Base, a device that can destroy planets. Because of the similar plot structure, the film became sort of predictable for me, and made me enjoy it less.
Still, the fun you will have in this movie surpasses everything else. I don't believe that this is a bad movie by any standards; it reboots the franchise very well, and for someone who likes Star Wars but isn't obsessed with it, I'm excited for the next one.