Torch, passed

My initial reaction to The Force Awakens was that it was a much better Star Wars Film than J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films worked as Star Trek films. 

[Note: I won't be saying anything here that I believe will ruin your experience if you haven't seen it yet.] 

I've been thinking about why this was the case. For starters, Star Wars was born on the big screen. Its storytelling DNA comes from film- themes, story structure, character development, even its visuals - all were all designed to illuminate a darkened theater. Even the primary struggle, light and dark, with generally clear delineation, works in the 2-3 hour context of a big budget movie. Star Trek's episodic nature, its ensemble cast, and its willingness to embrace some moral ambiguity have always made it a challenge to bring to the big screen. 

That said, the new Star Wars is as much about developing an interesting cast of characters as it is about a novel plot. And its bag guy, while perhaps less outright badass as Vader was, is such a better villain precisely because we see some moral ambiguity in him. 

Also, reboot vs. continuation. You would think rebooting would allow you to harness all the vitality and essence of its preceding version, fixing the wrongs and accentuating the positives, but it's so seldom the case. {Exceptions apply} Continuing an existing story line, however flawed, is often the choice with more richness of possibility. Sometimes, working within the constraints of a world builds a better story than disabling the safeties and starting over.

I suspect this may make me enemies on both sides, but if you think about it, the old Star Wars is to Force Awakens as Star Trek (The Original Series) is to Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

In standardized testing parlance:

Star Wars canon : Force Awakens :: TOS : TNG