Star Wars: Croydon Awakens


By - Monday 21st December, 2015

In a borough not so far, far away, Max Shirley went to see the new Star Wars film


Disclaimer, there may be some spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens throughout this article. 

In recent times, Croydon has been to London what Mos Eisley is to Tattooine. No, not a spaceport, but in the words of Obi Wan Kenobi: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”. Well, that’s at least what the outside populous seems to think. Croydon hasn’t had the best reputation and too many still think of it as full of such ‘villainy’.

As I look deeper into the universe of Star Wars, more and more links appear. The events in this galaxy far, far away may occur closer than we think. Each planet in this galactic ensemble has its own thriving community, full of different and unique characters – much like our very own multi-facted Croydon.

Jakku, a new sand planet in the most recent of George Lucas‘ stories, holds a community of scavengers and traders, bounty hunters and Tusken raiders. Early on in the film Finn, played by John Boyega, escapes the grasp of the First Order and finds himself in a junkyard. He meets with Rey, a local scavenger played by Daisy Ridley, then Imperials turn up in search of him. Finn grabs hold of Rey’s hand and they run; however, Rey refuses to hold his hand, shoving Finn away. Croydon, perhaps like all modern cities, appears alienating: people walk through the town centre refusing to acknowledge the existence of any other being and behaving in ways which don’t foster community spirit. But things can change and by the end of the film a friendship develops between the two characters.

This film re-unites us with the magic of the original trilogy

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a nostalgic adventure, which stays faithful to the original films. Within the first few frames J.J. Abrams brought out the little fanboy in all of us, especially me, as I sat with a grin on my face for the whole 136 minutes. He reunited us with the magical feeling of the original trilogy, helping us to forget about the dreadful prequels that co-exist in the Star Wars universe. The satirical feeling that was lost in The Phantom Menace has returned in this action-adventure masterpiece and Star Wars has once again regained its title as the romantic, action-adventure, science-fiction narrative that sparked George Lucas‘ creative cells.

J.J. Abrams has created a narrative both believable and true to the end of Return of the Jedi back in 1983. A mixture of both existing plots and new story arcs has arisen, along with new characters who have familiar personalities. Old plot lines are tied up and gaps are filled, Han’s and Leia’s love story continues and a new Sith lord rises.

The story takes a place thirty years after Return of the Jedi and a lot has happened. The Sith has recuperated and formed the First Order, whilst the struggling rebels take up the name of the Resistance. The premise of the story is the search for Luke, who ran away after an unfortunate mishap with one of his apprentices. Leia is now a general of the Resistance and Mr. H. Solo is still his plucky self who travels the galaxy. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill return for their authentic roles and don’t look a day older.

Along with these old faces a notable handful of new have arrived. John Boyega plays a storm trooper with a conscience – something that the younger version of me longed for. His performance is striking but somewhat overshadowed by the illustrious achievement of Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, a scavenger and later a Jedi apprentice. Daisy’s appearance in her first feature film is remarkable and her performance feels true to the original films. Adam Driver conquers the role of the new powerful Sith knight, Kylo Ren. His backstory gives immense depth and emotion to the character, which is well portrayed by Adam and from the beginning he is able to exhibit his power by stopping a laser shot in midair, demonstrating the amazing computer graphics present in the film.

Space battles have never been more balletic and thrilling

The world created by George Lucas and J.J. Abrams is beautiful. It is vibrant and colourful. Space battles have never been more balletic and thrilling. New variations of the blaster rifle have emerged, adding a stylised look to the revamped storm troopers. Light-saber battles have returned to the heavy-handed-hacking seen in the original trilogy, less flashy but each battle is more emotional as a result.

J.J. Abrams counts himself as a fan of Star Wars and wanted to bring back the artistry that it once possessed. He has achieved his goal. I look forward eagerly to seeing how this adventure will unfold. Even if something has been lost, it’s never too late to recover the original spirit and then improve on it. Audiences put off by the second trilogy of movies will hopefully return and see the original spirit of Star Wars restored. It would be great if Croydonians could take inspiration from that.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a stunning, well-written production and a must see! It receives 9/10 from me.

Max Shirley

Max Shirley

Max recently finished Sixth Form at a local independent school and will be starting an English Literature degree in the new academic year. Max is a copy-editor at a Croydon-based start-up. Twitter: @max_shirley_

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