Miles Salter, York writer and storyteller, considers the success of Star Wars as The Last Jedi goes on general release today.

AS one of the kids who saw Star Wars when it was first released in 1977, it's impossible to forget the rush of adrenaline that first film brought: the anthemic music, the amazing sound effects, the way George Lucas plundered old storytelling ideas and welded them to lasers, light sabers and extraordinary vehicles.

He produced a universe where everything was fully formed and felt utterly believable. For its detractors, the film ushered in a new era of dumber, flashier films; more emphasis on the spectacle, less work on characterisation or dialogue. The 1970s produced some of the greatest films ever made: The Godfather, The Deerhunter, Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now all spring to mind. Alongside these feasts, Star Wars can feel more like a sugary snack. As Harrison Ford once remarked of Lucas’s corny dialogue: "You can write this sh*t, George, but don’t expect us to say it".

The film’s success, and that of its sequels, changed film-making. These days, blockbusters dominate cinema screens. Star Wars heralded a new era of visual fireworks, making a ton of money at the same time. Lucas retained the merchandising rights in a move that has gone down in Hollywood history: Twentieth Century Fox allowed Lucas to retain the merchandising rights in return for $500,000 in directing fees.

The new film, released today, is set to continue that huge success. The latest instalment, The Last Jedi, will be eagerly watched by the series’ legions of fans. It’s the eighth film in the series and features numerous old favourites: Mark Hamill makes his first significant appearance since 1983, returning as Luke Skywalker. Skywalker is now a much older man, a Jedi veteran, who trains young apprentice Rey on his island home. There are traces here of the The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke was trained by the older, wiser Yoda.

Carrie Fisher also features, in her final film, as Princess Leia and Chewbacca, Han Solo’s growling crew mate, returns. In come some cute-but-funny creatures called Porgs, nest-building bird-rodents who live on Luke's island, though as their forerunners were the Ewoks and lamentable Ja Ja Binks, the new additions may not be adding much to the overall mix.

The ongoing battle between good and evil is weaved into family history that is a little to complex to explain here, but dynastic complexities form part of the emotional clout of the Star Wars mythology. It’s not just about blasters. It’s personal. The Skywalker family don’t spend time in therapy, they just get their lightsabers out. The tussle between the sides of the force is endless.

When Disney took over the Star Wars franchise in 2012 for $4 billion, it was placing a huge amount on a fairly safe bet. It has already recouped $3 billion of its investment. With several more films in the pipeline, including one about a young Han Solo, and a Star Wars-themed hotel at Walt Disney World, the franchise will continue. Disney is banking on it. Whether it will ever recover the extraordinary impact of the original film is debatable, but it’s not making the jump to hyperspace anytime soon.