What’s on Wayne: The Force Awakens was so nearly the sequel I was looking for
- Credit: PA
It was a long time ago that entertainment writer Wayne Savage first visited a galaxy far far away. Nearly 40 years later, he had a bad feeling about this new instalment of Star Wars living up to the boy inside’s expectations.
I was three or four when I first saw Star Wars A New Hope. The cinema is long gone, turned into a WH Smith; my love of the space opera remained. Nervously sitting down to watch the seventh instalment, I found my sudden lack of faith in a series I’d loved growing up disturbing.
It wasn’t because the prequels - Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith - were terrible. They were but, and I don’t want to sound like a George Lucas apologist, each had their moments. There was the seed of a good story about free will versus duty, how morality is shaped by your point of view in there too. Instead we got the longest, most expensive, toy adverts in the world.
Nor was it trailer fatigue. I learnt my lesson after Avengers Age of Ultron, avoiding as much publicity as I could. Honestly? I was worried I was too old - especially after the kid-centric prequels - and too jaded by constant reboots and sequels of other loved franchises to enjoy it.
How could I ever feel like I did when I was running around my parents’ back garden with my cousin, the two of us wielding battered toy lightsabers and blasters as we renacted the escape from the Death Star or Luke Skywalker’s limb-losing duel with Darth Vader on Cloud City?
My parents still have loads of memorabilia and toys somewhere in their loft. Sadly not in their original boxing. I wouldn’t be sat in my freezing living room writing this, listening to the sound of a dripping radiator and an episode of The Clone Wars on mute so as not to wake my still sleeping wife, if they were.
I remember my mum and dad buying me a little Han Solo action figure when I was in hospital just after I saw A New Hope (I still hating using the film’s full name).
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It’s next to a larger version my wife bought me for my 40th birthday last year. My affection for the franchise runs that deep; it’s why I love films and brings the haziest childhood memory sharply into focus.
I recall being told off by a doctor during another hospital stay, this time after The Empire Strikes Back, when I dropped my die-cast Millennium Falcon onto my just stitched stomach. I daren’t tell them the real damage had been done when I’d snuck out of my bed to climb inside a life-size replica Dalek from Doctor Who a ward or two down.
I don’t know how long we queued outside a tiny toyshop in Lowestoft to have pictures taken with characters from the film including Darth Vader, Princess Leia and bounty hunter Boba Fett. They weren’t the actual actors - interviewing Sith lord David Prowse recently was a really geek out moment for me - but I didn’t care. Taking me to see the three original movies back to back multiple times must make them eligible for some sort of reward.
Our Christmas shopping took twice as long this year because I was distracted by the endless merchandise and adverts playing on store TVs. I like to think people were pointing at me because of my fetching Boba Fett knitted hat from Numskull, not because of my wife’s mounting frustration as she pulled me away from one shop window display after another like a naughty toddler.
The midnight showing of The Force Awakens at Cineworld Ipswich sold out before I could get tickets and my wife refused to come with me to the 3.30am one. Compromising, we stumbled bleary eyed into the empty foyer just after 7am for the next screening. I was too tired to point out to the lady behind the ice-cream counter her costume was inaccurate as, to my knowledge, there were no Ewoks in the movie. Instead we grabbed rejuvenating coffees and waited in our Star Wars T-shirts - mine the original movie poster, my wife’s Han Shot First.
As more people wearily wandered in - including a wildly optimistic man hoping the film would end before he was due at work - the excitement built.
Luckily there were no young children, I didn’t want to be thrown out of the cinema for shouting at them why Jar Jar Binks isn’t funny.
Hearing that fanfare, reading that opening crawl - thankfully void of talk about the taxation of trade routes - I got a little something in my eye. Sadly, it didn’t fully awaken the youngster in me.
There were a few too many nods to the original film, a mistake director JJ Abrams made with Star Trek Into Darkness. A shame given how great The Force Awakens’ new characters were.
While it won’t have me rooting through my mum and dad’s loft for my old lightsaber, I still loved it. I’m clearly not alone, it’s passed the $1billion global mark in 12 days; obliterating records faster than the Falcon did the Kessel Run and winning over critics. However, I think next year’s stand-alone entry Rogue One and 2017’s as yet untitled Star Wars movie may be the sequels I’m looking for...