First there was fear – fear that the distant, loving memory of a trilogy many of us grew up with would be further tarnished.
Then there was hope – hope that, having done a good job with Star Trek, JJ Abrams would restore the Star Wars universe to where it should be.
Not where George Lucas left it when he gave the world Ja Ja Binks and Hayden Christensen.
So it’s not without some trepidation that you take your seat.
Then the screen goes dark.
Then the music starts.
Then the oh-so-familiar text appears on the screen.
And you start to relax.
This could actually be OK.
But it’s not OK.
It’s better than that.
So, so much better.
From the opening scenes, you know JJ has got it right. This is a film made with love and reverence for the source material.
We already know some old characters are going to be appearing (thankfully episodes one, two and three happened so long ago in Star Wars years everyone is now dead), but what of the new characters?
Will they be up to snuff?
Yup, they got that bang on too. Even with BB-8, the little orange and white droid fella, who manages to portray more emotion in this one film than Christensen managed in three.
And so it goes on with every passing scene.
Some places are new, some references are old, but across every frame you feel the warmth and comfort of home.
This is where we were meant to go next. Not backwards, but forwards.
The effects are superb, with everything feeling real and solid – not the dodgy CGI of recent outings. This, again, bolts Force onto the original trilogy firmly and solidly.
Each shot and scene is framed perfectly, in places harking back to the landscapes of the original film while in others giving you another bar you’d kill to drink in.
And there’s not a duff performance to be seen.
Sure, Harrison Ford shouldn’t be asked to run about, but to be fair running wasn’t his forte 40-odd years ago, so that kind of works.
The stand-out, though, is Daisy Ridley.
Thrust front and centre from the get-go as Rey, the young actress with just a handful of TV credits to her name takes to the big screen like a duck to water.
She owns every scene, she more than holds her own against the likes of Carrie Fisher, and she balances humour and drama with consummate ease.
Alongside her, John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) deliver fine performances, again delivering both quick one-liners and hard-paced action like they’ve been up in space their whole lives.
Ultimately, of course, it’s the action that makes or breaks a Star Wars film.
Fans just want to see space ships flying about shooting stuff. It’s what they grew up with.
And boy, do they get it.
From the moment the Falcon takes off, you’re grinning from ear to ear. When you see an X-Wing, you want to cheer. When a Tie-Fighter blows up, you want to shout and applaud.
And that’s the great thing about The Force Awakens.
The passion with which it was clearly made just flows off the screen, washing over you and taking you on another great thrill ride. One you haven’t been on since, arguably, The Empire Strikes Back.
Your blood will pound, you will find yourself holding your breath, at times you won’t believe what just happened, but through it all you’ll just want more and more.
There are quibbles, sure (just how does BB-8 get UP the stairs?), but when the whole thing is just this much damn fun who cares?
It’s not hugely original, the story will be very familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of the history, but again – that doesn’t matter.
You’ll be too busy grinning and laughing to care.
Any film that’s been this hyped stands every chance of falling short of expectations, but JJ and the gang have pulled it off.
With nods, winks and glimpses of what has gone before, we have been ushered into a whole new Star Wars era.
Buckle up, it promises to be a hell of a ride.