At the opening of this third instalment of the Star Wars saga in the States, an audience rioted, convinced that someone had switched reels on them, so baffled were they by the shifts in the narrative. It is confusing.
All the old gang are there, older, wiser and tinnier: Luke Skywalker is looking more like Han Solo, who is looking more like Ben Kenobi; Princess Leia seems almost Queenly; and in the concentration on sub-Muppet gothic, impressive aerial combat effects, and occasional attempts at 'love me, love my monster' humour, it's not surprising that Billy Dee Williams's Lando Calrissian has little chance to re-establish his Empire Strikes Back persona in all the toing-and-froing.
But try telling that to the kids and the parents who come, not to riot, but to wonder. To wonder at the teddy-bear tribes, the monstrous Tenniel-style Jabba the Hutt, and the way in which heroes and heroines can fall off high-speed motorbikes without a stain on their 25th century jockstraps. The rest of us might be wondering if it isn't about time George Lucas tried his hand at universes new.