The Force Awakens

There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Of course you have. The only way you could be unaware that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out this month is if you live on the dark side of Mars, fingers jammed in your ears. Barely an hour goes by without a new plot rumour, or a new trailer, or a teaser for a trailer, or an Instagram photo showing a teaser of the newest poster going up on the side of a bus shelter.

New movies get scrutinised to the nth degree, so The Force Awakens has an uphill battle ahead of it. This isn’t any old franchise. This is one of the greatest franchises ever, and one that’s already induced crushing disappointment in its fans.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that The Phantom Menace is not the disaster that, say, Attack of the Clones turned out to be. It’s a halfway decent action movie with some above-average CGI for the period. But upon its release in 1999, it received the worst backlash of any major release.

The reason the Phantom Menace bombed so badly is clear. The fans didn’t want a new movie - they wanted an old one. Like Marcel Proust dipping his cakes in coffee, they wanted to be transported back in time, to feel like the wide-eyed kids who saw the original trilogy long ago.

And it’s that, above all else, which JJ Abrams has nailed with the marketing for The Force Awakens. Everything about that infamous first teaser trailer, peaking with the Millennium Falcon swooping across the sky to John Williams’ iconic score, sent nostalgic shivers down the spines of Star Wars fans everywhere. It damn well worked.

Only time will tell whether the film will fulfil expectations - after all, many stinkers over the years have been marketed brilliantly - but as 18 December rolls closer, the Force is looking strong with this one.

Phil Bayles