It is with great trepidation that Star Wars fans await the latest instalment in the franchise. For those old enough to have experienced the original films the first time around, this will be a very emotionally tough week. Having seen how a trilogy of near-perfection can be shat upon quite so spectacularly with a series of prequel movies that read like the scripts were written in crayon has left them very nervous that the upcoming Episode VII: The Force Awakens could be another bullet to the brain of their dreams that were originally ignited in the 1970s.
Those who were children of the 1990s re-releases still had their hearts ripped out of their chests by the prequels, though they were clearly mildly desensitised to the ultimate cruelty of George Lucas thanks to some of the edits to the original films.
Greedo cannot ever shoot first. It fundamentally destroys any ambiguity the audience has over whether Han Solo is a good guy or a bad guy; the viewer is supposed to be suspicious of him - right up until the point he returns to help Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star.
Nevertheless, those re-releases weren't a disaster. When they were updated for the DVDs and again later for the Blu Rays, the changes didn't necessarily detract from the film. Some would argue there's little point in adding in extra Stormtroopers (a few riding digital Banthas), while others question whether the scene with Jabba the Hutt outside the Millennium Falcon really needs to be spliced back in, but there is worth in making the skies look better over Tatooine or on Bespin.
If only Greedo didn't shoot first on the latest release and the fans would probably be square with them, providing they also axed the "weesa free!" from the end of Return of the Jedi - which catches everyone out, just as they thought they were clear of any Gungans.
But here's the thing. The prequel movies aren't a patch on the originals and that's why the legacy always feels tainted. I mean, compare and contrast two scenes where two main charatcers try to woo each other. First, Han and Leia Organa's delicate and well played out love story, with dialogue that is full of nuance and acting that is suggestive.
Then, without the help of those around him to aid his crafting of the story, writing of the dialogue and directing of the actors, Lucas ends up with this bull-in-a-china-shop approach to dating in the prequels when Anakin Skywalker is in the process of hooking up with Padme Amidala.
The storylines of the prequels aren't really that bad, all told - it's the execution of them that lets them down. Many will disagree because many won't be able to get past the horror show that was Jar Jar Binks, but The Phantom Menace is probably the most complete. While the taxation of trade routes and the general bureaucracy of the picture might not be the most exciting, it has a viable and complete storyline to it - and a really cool action sequence at the end.
Attack of the Clones suffers too much for Hayden Christensen's wooden-to-the-point-of-furniture acting and some very dated CGI to go with the nightmare love story that is about as subtle as a lump hammer to the testicles. Meanwhile, Revenge of the Sith is one action sequence tacked to another without much story in-between - it's easy to see why many consider it the best of the prequels given there's very little room for acting with all the lightsaber duelling going on, but still Lucas manages to cram in some extraordinarily bad dialogue.
The Anakin-Padme balcony scene (where each proclaims the other one is beautiful because they're in love) is only bettered by Anakin's exchange with Obi-Wan on Mustafar (where Obi-Wan effectively tries to talk him down from the ledge he's about to fling himself over). It's clear by this point even Ewan McGregor can't take the lines he has to say seriously.
It all gets so difficult to fathom where it all went wrong. How could someone responsible for one of the best series of films in the 1970s produce such bile in the 1990s-2000s? The gulf in quality has left many scarred.
Lucas gets a lot of blame for the legacy of Star Wars being ruined, but it's the tragic tale of someone who doesn't have somebody with them to guide them and keep their feet on the ground. The prequels aren't bad stories - nobody is suggesting that Lucas isn't a good storyteller - but they're bad scripts. Characters say how they feel instead of showing it; dialogue tells the audience what's happening in a scene instead of demonstrating it.
At least with the new instalment those problems should - should - be removed, with a owner, a new director and new writers.
The excitement is getting ramped up by the footage and spoilers that JJ Abrams and the Disney corporation has allowed to break into the public domain regarding The Force Awakens. That's a positive - especially as his Star Trek reboot (effectively his audition for this his new film) was pretty good and Disney's track record with live action is also fairly decent.
The fans shouldn't go into this film expecting another Empire Strikes Back. They should expect a solid seven-out-of-ten film; something enjoyable and complimentary towards the legacy of the originals, but nothing ground-breaking. Then we can talk about creating something better for Episodes VIII and IX.
It should be remembered, too, that the trailers alone aren't enough to go off how good this film will be. The trailers for all three of the prequel films were incredibly exciting for the fans and it left the movies as let downs.
The trailer for The Force Awakens fits the pattern, with plenty of fan-service too. We get to see our favourites again - Han Solo is there, the Millennium Falcon is back in action with TIE Fighters, and Darth Vader's helmet gets a brief cameo with the new villain. All of that points to the film being really cool; but be mindful that all of the trailers for Episodes I-III did similar things and left us hopeful the prequels were about to pick up in quality.
With that in mind, don't get your hopes up - instead, keep them tempered and then be pleasantly surprised if The Force Awakens is amazing. That way you won't spend a year defending the film as a brilliant masterpiece as so many of us did with The Phantom Menace, trying to convince ourselves that it was just as good as the ones we loved when we were younger.Suggest a correction