Ooooooookay here we go "nerd alert". Expect a ton of stuff. I will look forward to reading comments once I'm done.
Firstly - good movie. Quite good. I might even go as far to say R1 > TFA. I didn't know anything about R1, no trailers no news articles.
Happy with the story and leads, good to see the sad/difficult parts of the rebellion and the great losses they suffered to get some achievements. Props to Mads and Donnie Yen (if you haven't seen IP Man movies, go and see them!) and the cast of no names to get it done. They did really well with the digital facing for some of the actors who were no longer with us (Peter).
Things I liked: Consistency. Something the prequels ruined was the consistency with technology. Too shiny and new. R1 kept the alliance uniforms old and worn, their ships old and worn and some of the Stormtroopers looked worn too. Plus the old 70s computers and screens allowed the tech consistency to flow from R1 to S4 well. As I explained to my wife on the way home, when you change that consistency it stands out and as 4-6 were the originals, they helped set a tone to how things were done.
I liked the introduction to a variety of planets. Nice to see some different planets that are unheard of.
The subtle nods, but not over the top. SW7 seemed to have lots of obvious nods, but these nods were more of a connection to the world and to what would follow, not just a token "insert reference here for fans".
Things I didn't like (and this is some nerd stuff, so I kind of feel at home!):
The language. When you watch 4-6 you notice that the language is quite err formal or proper English. There isn't much slang or casual language (Han got away with some and so did Luke, being a 16 yr old: "What a piece of junk"). I felt that the language didn't seem to match the originals and it lost of bit of formalness. It might just be me being really anal about it, but it something I pick up. I don't know if the "Don't choke on your aspirations" was supposed to be a pun; I took it that way (pun and threat), but it seemed out of place. I can't imagine Darth Vader saying that.
CGI: Some scenes with the CGI looked a little weird: AT-ATs being damaged was probably the most notable for me. One of the Star Destroyers looked like it was 3D printed (the really white one). On the whole though, fine.
The use of "Hope" and "The Force". That Hope thing annoyed me because SW4 being "A New Hope", just felt so cheesy to keep saying. The Force part, I get that there would have been people who would have kept hold of the force, but from dialogue in the movies, I would imagine that the fear the empire put around the death of the Jedis, the destruction of the Jedi council and the fact that Obi-Wan, Yoda and probably others, who hid away from fear of being found and killed, would have put fear into people about mentioning the force (and its association with the Jedi), that it would have died out in some way in the vernacular of people. Sorry for the long sentence! You think about it in your life: da-bomb was such a common phrase in the late 90s, that it is an obsolete term now and probably 7-10 years ago (possibly longer). To use the phrase "The force be with you", when only 2 characters heard/knew about it in the movie, makes it as if everyone uses it. Obi-Wan only said it to Luke in SW4. I don't recall anyone else saying it anyone in SW4. But in 6, the use of it increases as Luke's reputation as a Jedi increases and the use of the term "The Force", would start to come back into people's minds.
Who puts an antenna adjuster that auto-levels out on a ledge?
Who puts a princess on a "diplomatic mission", in the middle of a battle to deliver a message to Obi-Wan? That bit really confused me and I would have imagined that the original stealing of the plans would have been done secretly and with a small group, not from a massive battle. Also in SW4, Vader is the last to enter the door from the battle, as well as in SW5 in the Hoth base. You send your troops out to fight and come in.
James Earl Jones' voice sounded a bit off. It was him, but I think the recording or the effects made it sound off.
Mads robes at the intro...they looked like Jedi robes and confused me. I was expecting Jedi action, but got nothing. Might have to see if there is anything about it, or me just noticing too much.
Despite the nitpicking (and this is just one nerds intense nitpicking), I really enjoyed the movie. A tad too long, but enjoyable.