Akin to a “disturbance in the Force” is how Obi Wan Kenobi might have described the online reaction to the release of the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens on October 20.

It’s reminiscent of the spectacular exploding Death Star sequence which closed the original Star Wars in 1977 (later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hopeclick here for the original trailer). It has been viewed more than 47 million time on YouTube, or about 5,500 times a minute, confirming that the franchise is more popular now than ever.

In a cinema not so far away on December 18 the iconic sci-fi saga will come full circle with perhaps the most eagerly anticipated follow-up in a generation. The underwhelming prequel The Phantom Menace (1999) and its two sequel prequels disappointed as much as the original trilogy delighted.

Given the pedigree and CV of the man responsible/accountable for reawakening the Force, director J.J. Abrams (Lost, Cloverfield), Star Wars fans (myself included) may confidently anticipate this latest entry in the iconic sci fi series with more excited expectation than nervous apprehension.

Abrams successfully masterminded the tricky re-engineering of the Star Trek brand for the mainstream market with Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), making the concept, characters and cult iconography of the original TV show and films accessible and relevant for a new generation.

If you haven’t seen the new trailer for The Force Awakens, it’s well worth a look.

Like Star Trek before it, J.J. Abrams seems to have created a new standard for a beloved franchise which may well have given an ageing icon a welcome and perhaps much needed refresh. If, like me, you’ve seen the original films and their pitiful prequels but are by no means a purist and would welcome a decent upgrade, this trailer provides new hope.

If you’ve never seen the original films, aren’t a sci-fi fan and have little to no interest in Star Wars but are willing to give it a go anyway, you might just be glad you did, come December.

Ronan Wright is a graduate in Film Studies from The Queen’s University of Belfast. As well as contributing to MercatorNet as a film critic since March 2011 he has run Filmplicity, a Belfast-based film...