Wakey, wakey, the latest slice of Star Wars enters Royston Picture Palace orbit this weekend

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens - Credit: Archant

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away George Lucas got very lucky.

At heart he’s a screenwriter with a tin ear for dialogue and not much of a clue about characters, but when he dreamed up the ‘Western in outer space’ scenario that grew into Star Wars he was undoubtedly on to a winner.

Bringing modern techniques and special effects to the hackneyed adventures pumped out by early Hollywood and giving birth to the Indiana Jones bandwagon was a neat idea, too.

Both have secured his place in the motion picture pantheon, and given him more money than you could easily stow away even if you had every nook and cranny of a Death Star at your disposal.

But viewed without the hype, both his brainwaves worked well once – or at best, a couple of times – and since then have been flogged more shamelessly than any dead horse.

The greatest contribution of the Lucas canon to cinema has been not in the films themselves, but in the marketing and the hype.

It was Star Wars that first gave us a sustained pre-release push complete with action toys, games, and the like, building the brand and the expectation and ensuring long-running success.

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And since it was announced that there would a seventh instalment in the Star Wars story – with two more to come – fans have been agog.

Rumour, expectation, sneak previews from the closed set, they have all helped prime the pump.

Which is why uberfans were happy to queue outside cinemas for days to make sure they were at the premiere.

Was it worth it? Well, action director JJ Abrams helms Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens with Lucas kept very much at arm’s length.

There are some new faces, some old hands, lots of special effects, a silly story line and plenty of spectacular set pieces.

But at the end of the day it’s just a film, a franchise now firmly in the hands of the Disney dudes.

Although it has been packing in punters since its release and winning a general thumbs-up from punters, some have sniffed about the script, the cardboard characters and the shameless borrowing from earlier instalments.

You can make up your own mind at Royston’s Picture Palace this weekend, with screenings on Friday and Saturday evening at 7.30pm with further dates set for the following weekend, too.

Also on offer this weekend there’s a Saturday matinee for so-so family animation The Good Dinosaur and historical drama Suffragette on Sunday afternoon. Visit www.roystonpicturepalace.org.uk for more, and to book tickets.