You may be aware of the recent release of this obscure micro-budget arthouse flick - in fact you may have noticed there are already one or two reviews elsewhere on the Internet. A few observations:
History does seem to repeat itself through the Star Wars movies. Certain themes and plot elements, particularly the obsession with genocidal planet-busting weapons, recur quite often. I'd like to think this is deliberate. After all, no-one complains if the recap at the end of a symphony movement sounds a bit like the first part of the movement, do they? It's called structure.
There seems to be a different approach to character-building. Finn, Rey and Kylo all have believable internal conflicts and grey areas, whereas the cast of all six previous films* are easily classifiable into "good" or "bad" (with the possible exception of Lando). It's particularly interesting to see "bad" characters that are so conflicted - in plot terms this might also indicate that the First Order is different from the monolithic Empire. However these characters are only complex for Star Wars - they still seem simplistic compared to many other films.
Overall The Force Awakens worked for me - it was a lot of fun, I thought the new cast were excellent and brought something fresh to the series, and there were a lot of new ideas even if there were also a lot of familiar ones. I look forward to Episode VIII.
*The six previous films are, of course:
A New Hope
Empire Strikes Back
Revenge of the Sith
Return of the Jedi
Attack of the Clones
Ewoks: Caravan of Courage