Guest Blog: A review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Lloyd Page

imageLloyd Page has a learning disability and works in the Programmes team at learning disability charity Mencap. He has been here for 22 years and recently won the hotly contested 'Mr Mencap 2015' award at the staff Christmas party. He enjoys watching films, especially science fiction and war movies. Lloyd spends his spare time at Lewisham Gateway Club, playing pool, singing, and telling jokes.

When I found out about the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, I couldn’t wait to see it. I’m a big movie fan, so I was thrilled that the story would be continuing. The first time I went to the cinema was to see The Jungle Book in 1967. I was 8 years old and my mum fell asleep during the film. There was no way I would be falling asleep during the new Star Wars!

I went to see the film at the Odeon cinema in Covent Garden, with one of my colleagues from Mencap. As somebody with a learning disability, I know that helpful staff can make your experience at the cinema really great. The staff at the Odeon were brilliant. They were friendly and spoke to me in an accessible way that was easy to understand. There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability living in the UK, so it’s really important that staff at leisure facilities have disability awareness training.

My favourite part of the film was at the beginning, when the Stormtroopers arrived at Jakku to find the rogue Stormtrooper, Finn. It was here when he first meets Rey. I found out that this part of the movie was filmed in Abu Dhabi. I thought they did a great job of making it look like another planet.

I thought Rey was a great character. She was a good fighter but she also made me laugh a lot. She is played by Daisy Ridley, and I think she did a great job. I laughed so much when she said ‘this droid is not for sale!’, when she was thinking about selling BB-8. BB-8 reminded me of R2D2, so I was pleased to see him pop up later in the film too.

The character I enjoyed watching the most was Chewbacca - I was so shocked when I found out that Peter Mayhew, who plays him, is 7 foot 3 tall! Chewbacca has always been my favourite. I’ve enjoyed watching him in all the Star Wars films since the first one, A New Hope, came out in 1977.

Although I really enjoyed the film, there was part of my experience which left me feeling downhearted. During the film, I asked my colleague a question about the characters, to help me understand what was happening. Most of the audience were fine, but two people started telling me to be quiet in an aggressive way. If people had a better understanding of learning disability, they might have been a bit more understanding and we could have all enjoyed the film.

Altogether, I would give Star Wars: The Force Awakens 10 out of 10. The director JJ Abrams did a truly fantastic job. I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

Star Wars

Star Wars is a science fiction film series created by George Lucas. It debuted in 1977 and the first film was quickly retitled to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. It was followed by two sequels - The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. A trilogy of prequel films were launched in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. In 2015 Star Wars returned to the screens for a new trilogy under the control of Disney with The Force Awakens directed by J J Abrams. This was follows in the main Star Wars saga by Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi with the final film of the sequel trilogy, Episode IX, due in cinemas in December 2019 with J J Abrams back at the helm,A series of spin-offs were launched in 2016 with Gareth Edwards' Rogue One, which was followed in 2018 by Ron Howard's Solo and a fourth trilogy of films has been announced for release after 2020 which will be overseen by Rian Johnson which will feature entirely new characters and an entirely separate story.In addition, there are the animated TV series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels along with Star Wars Resistance which starts in late 2018 and finally a new live action series currently being developed by Jon Favreau set some time after the events of Return of the Jedi.

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