Kate Whittle says: 

My thoughts are: yes. If there is a film that can bring together man, woman and child in these troubled times, it is Force Awakens. I mean, people stood up in the theater and clapped at the beginning of the film, for goodness sake. There’s all the lightsaber battles and explosion-y things and cool TIE fighter swoosh noises you would hope for. Plus, there’s a lot of humor and levity that I wasn’t anticipating, and DROIDS! All of your (my) favorite droids make an appearance. I’m also thrilled that J.J. Abrams made the effort to include a diverse cast and put a cool, butt-kicking lady front and center.

Some dialogue gets hella cheesy and there’s a plethora of CGI, but I was still on the edge of my seat from start to finish. My only recommendation would be to see this on the biggest screen with the most amped-up sound system possible. 

Spoiler alert: the Kylo Ren fanfiction just writes itself, lemme tell ya.

Molly Laich says:

It's December 2015, and never mind why, but I find myself on an unfortunate but necessary layover in Waterford, Michigan, the bland suburb I grew up in. My old friends and I knew we wanted to see the movie but we're not excellent planners. All the imax showings for Thursday night were sold out, so we settled on a regular old, non imax, non 3D viewing at 8:45pm.

we bought off brand "light swordz" and beat each other mercilessly for two hours leading up to the show. I wore my Star Wars Pajama bottoms. We came in like a hurricane, three thirty-something men and me, and were immediately disappointed to see a lot of people but little fanfare or energy. I saw one princess Leia, another girl in a chewbacca onesie and a guy in a weird boxy robot costume that I couldn't place. The lady at the box office told us our light sabers weren't allowed in the theater. We stashed them behind a poster cut out of Alvin and the chipmunks terrible, screaming faces.

That yellow scrolling font and the words STAR WARS! the moment we've all been waiting for! My friends and I said, "woo!" and clapped, and we were the only ones. I didn't before, but now I get it: there's a world of difference between the kind of fan who makes sure to get an imax ticket for opening night, and the kind who will settle for whatever.

The film itself: Everything I could ever hope for and more. Practical effects, real sets, beeping robots, explosions! It felt like a real world populated by real characters engaged in fights that matter. I cried twice. When the movie ended, I cheered, and this time I was the only one.

We were split down the middle: two of us loved it, the others opposed (for stupid, ineloquent reasons!) We yelled back and forth at each other the entire ride home, and I mean literal, top of the lungs yelling. And that's what the movies and christmas and friendship is all about.

Alex Sakariassen says:

Standing in line for last night’s premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt ... different. Sure, there were wookie onesies and lightsabers and costumes galore. But the hum of anticipation that coursed through me 15 years ago as I waited, clad in Jedi robes, for the opening crawl of the first new Star Wars installment of my lifetime was gone. Instead I felt strangely like Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi—older, wiser, slightly defeated and more than a little reluctant to face what was ahead of me. Another thrice-burnt son of Star Wars fandom.

Fortunately, J.J. Abrams has given us the ideal tool with which to sponge the last vestiges of George Lucas’ abysmal prequels from memory. The Force Awakens occupies the same dusty, ragged, lived-in galaxy we left in 1983, before battle droids and CGI and—shudder—Jar Jar Binks entered the fold. Like the Force, Abrams has found balance, straddling the line between nostalgia and reboot. Familiar faces like Han and Leia have new stories. Newer characters, however mysterious, have ties to the past. Hell, even the TIE Fighters got a paint job.

As we were leaving the theater last night, a friend made a comment about needing to reassess his Star Wars movie rankings. The Force Awakens, it seems, was already powerful enough to contend for second place (suggesting anything could topple The Empire Strikes Back would have been grounds for a parking lot thumping). While I appreciate that such enthusiasm can still exist among such a jaded fan base, I’ll have to hold on any similar rankings adjustment until I’ve seen this newest film a time or two more. The Force Awakens at times feels like a faster-paced retelling of A New Hope, complete with alien-filled watering holes and treks across sand dunes. But maybe adhering more to a tried-and-true storyline is exactly the foot this new trilogy needed to start on. I know this much: I’m starting to feel that hum again.