Star Wars is not a film series; it is a religion. The original trilogy is some of the most universally beloved pop culture in history, a work of art that, for many people, absolutely defines their perspective on narrative structure. However, what pervaded the fandom in the build-up to the newest film in the franchise was not optimism but cautious cynicism. The prequel films left a sour taste in most fans' mouths, and it was announced that the director of the first film of the new trilogy would be J.J. Abrams, whose work with the similarly influential Star Trek is heavily criticized by fans of the franchise. There was a lot that could go wrong in a film like this, and it comes with absolute relief to see that the movie works as well as it does.
Now, to clarify, yes, this film is basically the plot of A New Hope told verbatim. Yes, there are some glaring plot holes. Yes, the characters have somewhat thin writing. However, there is an intangible electricity in this movie's accomplishments. It's almost as beautiful to look at as the original films, creating the same feeling of life that A New Hope did almost 40 years before. The new characters introduced in the film feel like natural extensions of the Star Wars universe. It's all highly organic writing that, considering the context, is very impressive.
If there is anything that pulls me away from loving this movie, however, it is that it is directed by J.J. Abrams. His approach to action sequences is very flashy and high-energy, but there isn't much impact in any of the motion. Everything is so sterile and distant when the battles start that I find it difficult to connect with anything happening. Compared to the visceral, personal experience of any of the action in the original trilogy, his style fails to connect on any real level.
Despite any flaws, Star Wars is back. The value of the franchise has always been in the strength of the individual films, and we finally have another good Star Wars movie. I don't know where this trilogy is going, but, honestly, I don't care. I just care that there's finally a reason to love this franchise again, that there's something happening worth being invested in. Star Wars is back.