In a cinema long, long ago a 16-year-old lad sat wide-eyed as a small spacecraft entered the screen firing red-laser blasts back at something unseen.

Then the bow of a larger spaceship appeared and a camera tracked along its hull as it passed overhead, growing bigger into huge and then bigger still into gigantic.

Green lasers streaked towards the smaller ship and not only were we captured by the visuals, the sound was extraordinary.

Director George Lucas then cut to a new angle showing a large planet below the stellar pursuit and we were all drawn by the image of this utterly astounding space battleship closing in on its prey.


If I had taken a selfie at that moment I'm sure my eyes would have been as big as footballs at what was going on in front of me.

Never before had I, or in fact anyone in the world, ever seen such visual effects in a movie.

It was 1977 and I was at the premiere of Star Wars and every teenage boy wanted a lightsabre, to pilot an X-wing fighter and - most us - to kiss Princess Leia. Even if she did have dorky hair. And that was before we got to see her in a metal bikini

Luke Skywalker was popular - but the Man was Han Solo. Slightly older, wise-cracking and a rebel without a cause.

No villain has quite matched Darth Vader for menace and his regulator-distorted voice became just as much an icon for evil as the Jaws music did for imminent peril.

And the space dogfights between X-wings and Tie fighters were everything we could have imagined - and more.

But that was half a lifetime ago and since then we have had five more journeys into the Star Wars universe. Two terrific movies, followed by three sad imitations that looked good, but were woefully directed.

I almost gave away the prequels after one of the movies in which Natalie Portman changed her outfit for every scene she was in. Once I noticed, it became more and more annoying until it turned into a joke.

Therefore when the studio announced JJ Abrams was in charge of this latest incarnation I let out three cheers for it was in safe hands.

Among other things, Abrams directed the two recent Star Trek movies and did a fantastic job of updating them, without taking away the character-driven enjoyment of the crew of the Enterprise.

And, having just watched Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, I have to say he has done another amazing job returning the space series to its roots.

Both originals and newcomers blend brilliantly and there is just something about the aged visages of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher that touch an emotional note with those of us who saw the first trilogy in the cinemas.

It is as if we have grown old with them being part of our lives and to see them in their '60s and '70s gives an unreal saga a touch of reality.

Don't worry, I won't be spoiling anything for anyone wishing to see the latest edition on the big screen, other than to say you must see it in a cinema. Bigger is better.

On the issue of spoiling movies, we were unlucky enough to go to a session where a couple took their young kids along.

Needless to say the youngsters - possibly 4 and 6 - didn't last the distance without talking or asking questions. In fact they didn't even make it past the ads.

Then it was almost non stop "Daddy " "Ssssh." "Daddy " "ssssh." Rustle of bags. Chomp, chomp, chomp with an open mouth on popcorn. "Daddy when does it finish?"

I understand parents wanting to take their kids along to a big movie like Star Wars but, really, it was too long for ones so young.

Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.