Keith Watson’s review published on Letterboxd:
A few thoughts:
1. Not sure there's a single original idea here. Everything is cross-referenced to a prior entry, and the plot--as any number of critics have pointed out--is pretty much a remake of the original.
2. The original trilogy was Lucas combining everything he ever liked--samurai movies, Flash Gordon serials, kung-fu, swordfights, King Kong, etc. etc.--into one big spectacle. But Abrams brings in nothing new except a Spielbergian directorial style (which is welcome) and some (inadvertent?) Harry Potter influence. Snoke (whose name even sounds like a Harry Potter character) is basically Voldemort.
3. Adam Driver less nefarious here than he was in While We're Young.
4. Luke is Yoda now.
5. Star Wars is such a persistent cultural force in part because it offers a little something for everyone, and each fan likes the series for slightly different reasons. For me personally, it's all about the kooky aliens, which Abrams gives us so little of. Somehow the cantina scene, the best scene in A New Hope, becomes the dullest scene in AFW. Maz Kanata, the only substantial alien added to the cast, is frankly pretty boring and also quite HP-ish in character design. The original trilogy introduced us to Chewbacca, Yoda, and Jabba the Hutt in three consecutive movies
6. The diversity in casting Boyega and Ridley in the leads is welcome and also pretty clever, since it assures the audience that Rey and Finn aren't brother and sister.
7. BB-8 is clearly a dog. What's weird to me is that everyone treats it as if it has emotions. But it doesn't, right? I mean, no one ever treated C-3PO's feelings seriously. If he got annoying, they just shut him down. But this thing is treated like it's gonna burst into tears if someone is mean to it.
8. Not a lot of the Williams score here. Was the Imperial March used at all?
9. Parsing the politics of a Star Wars is a mug's game to be sure, but the politics here are worth noting for their incoherence. The Republic is in control, so why are our heroes called the Resistance? What are they resisting? And why isn't the Republic sending in its own troops to stop the First Order?
10. The First Order is pretty lame, just an amalgam of various totalitarian aesthetics (most evident in the scene in which a guy dressed like a Soviet delivers a speech to crowd of seig-heiling stormtroopers in a plaza straight out of North Korea) mixed with generic baddie affects--effeminacy, Britishness. This all allows Domnhall Gleeson to overact quite badly.
11. Adam Driver's hair.