So, after years of anticipation, Star Wars : The Force Awakens finally arrived – to largely universal applause – and by now we must surely have all seen it. If not, what have you been doing? Seriously, it’s been months. The film’s arrival seemed to signal a change from unstoppable hype monster to never-ending backslapping on the part of the filmmakers, because it all worked out quite well, ultimately. Since the pre-production on this film must have been a tortuous tightrope with so much at stake, the simultaneous gasp of relief from Star Wars fans worldwide was surely audible even from the top of the mile high solid gold edifice that Disney executives are rumoured to live and work in.

It has to be said, at least while I can still form a reasoned coherent sentence without just cycling up to full rant mode, this is a very good film. It can even be said with perfect honesty that it’s a good Star Wars film. Of course, we know it’s a good Star Wars film because it plays out as an almost scene by scene remake of Episode IV, with Harrison Ford as Alec Guinness, Daisy Ridley as Mark Hamill, Starkiller base as the Death Star and a fragment of a star chart as the Death Star plans. While the frequent nods to the universe that the characters inhabit are to be expected, and even looked forward to with some relish, by the last act they start to wear a little thin even for the most avid and seasoned fans.

With so many nods to what has gone before the film-makers clearly wanted to show us their unimpeachable credentials. They have history with the franchise. They know it inside out, and not because they’re contractually obliged to, but because they’re fans. At least, being in the movie industry, it’s safe to say they are fans of the movies.

Here is where I personally have a problem. You see, I’m a fan too. I have been for years. Like so many, I loved the franchise from childhood. And like so many, my love of the Star Wars universe and a desire to be a part of it drew me to other places in between films. My friends and I would read books and comics to find out little snippets of backstory from the characters, and pool our knowledge in long, rambling meetings, usually over a pile of battered action figures. I still remember quite clearly when I discovered that Boba Fett ended up in the Sarlacc Pit not once, but twice. Or that the second Death Star from the battle of Endor was actually the third to be built.

Millions of fans have similarly used computer games as another entryway into Star Wars, recapturing that excitement and adventure remembered so powerfully from so long ago. They flew X-Wings at the battle of Yavin, and covered the retreat from Hoth in the X-Wing series of games, before flying the Millennium Falcon itself to destroy the Death Star at Endor. They served as Imperial Officers in Force Commander before defecting to the rebellion. And I had better not start writing about Kyle Katarn and the Jedi Knight series of games, or you will still be here reading, glazed eyed, when the next film comes out. Or more likely, you won’t.

The larger point is that there has been more than three decades of creativity from writers of both novels and comics, from artists, and from game designers, all to build a dauntingly huge, bewilderingly detailed and yet oh so familiar universe for us all to spend our free time living in. And therein lies the problem. Because however good the Force Awakens is, the new Star Wars films will always be contrary to what has gone before. We didn’t necessarily need a Snoke, when we already had a Thrawn, or a New Order when we had an Imperial Remnant. We know Han and Leia’s kids were called Jacen, Jaina and Anakin, right? And we all remember Luke setting up the new Jedi Academy on Yavin 4, surely. So much has already been put in place, cemented into the hearts and minds of so many of the fans for a long time now.

That’s why it’s hard to define how it feels to watch as the Falcon takes flight once more, dragging its ass on the landscape in every scene, like a border collie with intestinal parasites. Harder still to discover Tie Fighters are suddenly two man ships with rear mounted guns, and that the Rebellion, once in command of a sizable navy consisting of capital ships filled with Starfighters, now only has a dozen or so X-Wings left. X-Wings which they tend not to fly in space, and which they happily use as bombers. And yes, I know how pedantic and nerdy it is to actually say these things. It’s just that the film gets so much right, I find it hard to swallow those things it gets so wrong. Where are the Y-Wings, A-Wings and B-Wings? The Mon Calamari capital ships, like Admiral Ackbar’s Home One? The Nebulon-B frigates and blockade runners like the Tantive IV? Why, in a space opera style story, do the space ships so rarely actually fly in space?

It all leaves the film feeling a little oversimplified. That may be the correct reaction to the complaints about the overly complex politics of episodes 1 to 3, but it does leave me wondering how a film this high profile could end up written in crayon, brightly coloured and shiny, but sadly a little shallow. And with every character casting a shadow with clearly silhouetted mouse ears, underneath all of this is the melancholy feeling that right or wrong, good or bad, whatever we think about our new Star Wars franchise, it comes at a price. Not just the exorbitant price of the seat or the outlandish cost of the popcorn, either. It comes at the cost of thirty years of creativity from dozens of talented individuals.

Still, it seems we can look forward to our favourite mouse-based studio turning out a new Star Wars film of one kind or another each year for the foreseeable future, which both delights and horrifies me in equal measure. The next few years could be an amazing thing, building a detailed, vibrant new universe from the ashes of the old, or it could be a more cynical cash-mill, where the horse gets flogged year in and year out, without regard for the age, intelligence and acuity of a large portion of the fans. Since the filmmakers are so clearly invested in and respectful of the previous movies, we can be certain we’ll get some great films, but I still hope that we might get a film which respects Star Wars as a whole. Sure, changes will have to be made, but established scenarios and characters should not be just thrown out needlessly to be replaced by new, all to fill the same roles. We already have a universe to set our new stories in. Let’s just use that one, shall we?

I understand that paying 4.2 billion dollars for something entitles you to do pretty much anything you want with it, but given the amount of reassurance we got during production as to how the new film would respect the old, I expected more. Yes, the physical effects were great. Yes, the acting, script and score were all great. Yes, the audience in the showings I attended clearly had a ball, with laughs, gasps and whoops galore. But I still felt a certain sadness even as I laughed and gasped and whooped along with them, an unquenchable core of disappointment that refused to dissipate. It’s Star Wars, but it’s not the Star Wars I know and love.

Still, I shall endeavour to be positive, and live in hope that this new order doesn’t continue to completely spell the end for our established Star Wars universe.

Pete Wilkinson is a wanderer in many worlds, one minute holding back the Shadow in Middle-Earth, and Piloting Starships the next. But not in Middle-Earth, of course. That would be silly.