for me the first half was better than the back half mainly because the primary good guy “let’s defeat the bad guys!” plot in the second half was fairly awful, but overall i think i still liked it because the characters themselves were all pretty solid – especially the new character introductions (which is why i liked the first half so well). i was worried when watching the trailer that the use of harrison ford was going to feel like gimmicky nostalgia, but that didn’t end up being the case even a little (except for one particular part).
There were a lot of interesting visual parallels i felt myself making between this movie and some of the earlier ones (particularly IV V and VI) that at first i thought were annoying because gimmicky nostalgia, but later on as i got used to the whole universe again i decided that they weren’t gimmicky, they were just consistent with the way the universe was created in the first place, and to be annoyed by those parallels would be the same as saying, “oh, light sabers, why’d they bring *those* back again?” which wouldn’t be fair. even some of the ‘nostalgia build up’ moments which normally would have annoyed me felt okay. That’s surprising to me, but i think that that’s because despite some of the awfulness and some of the annoying predictabilities, it was mostly a great film, much better than what i remember feeling after leaving the theater after episodes I and II (i never watched III).
One of my colleagues here who watched it with me commented on how there seemed to be an overabundance of silly dialogue and one-liners that bothered him and felt over the top, not so much in comparison to how telly and film can do it these days but in comparison to the star wars legacy (which he felt had no real silly one-liners at all). i said that even if that were true it didn’t bother me because it felt like a good modern update that still paid respect to the legacy and enhanced it. In fact the dialogue and general character interaction is what i liked the most about the film, it hardly ever did too little or too much. i remember after episode II i was rolling my eyes a lot at the bad dialogue, and here i hardly rolled my eyes at all – although part of that might have been because i was sitting in the third row, so my eyes were already rolled up to be able to actually see the whole screen.