The movie opens with John Williams' blaring "Star Wars" theme from the first movie. With a yellow rolling text scroll. Over a star screen. That pans to a nearby world. That's revealed to be a desert world. And our young heroine is living hand-to-mouth on the surface of that planet, until inter-planetary politics interfere. It all seemed a bit ... familiar.
J.J. Abrams goes absolutely full bore for nostalgia. Or you could look at this from the other side: he's remade the original "Star Wars" with some tweaks to the plot. Except that Leia and Han are back but 38 years older. The plot similarities are extensive: a new evil empire (the First Order) has arisen, with its most visible leader being a masked man who can use the force (and has an evil, disfigured, tele-commuting mentor). And the Resistance is still there to fight, flying X-wings against the TIE fighters. And other plot points and visuals are replicated: disreputable bar with a cantina band, every alien you saw in the original movies, etc.
But is it a good movie? I'll give that a hesitant "yes." It's a LOT of fun. I'm interested to notice that Abrams pulled in Lawrence Kasdan (who worked on the best of the originals, "The Empire Strikes Back") to co-write. It'll make the old people in the audience feel young again, and entertain the young, so I guess everyone gets their money's worth. Blatant hooks are planted for the sequel: I hope that this was Abrams' way of saying "now that I have you attention ..." and then doing something new with the series.