The new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is upon us.
Take a moment to compose yourself, wipe that joy-snot bubble away, and let’s dig in to this thing.
Now, as a warning, I will be skipping some of the more minute details, which could very well hold some huge importance. I’ll just be commenting on the things that stood out the most to me on the first (few) viewings. Think I skipped something ridiculously important? Be sure to let me know in the comments. I want to geek out with the rest of you.
The opening shots give us a little better look at Daisy Ridley’s scavenger character, Rey. We get a very strong Luke a la Episode IV from her, almost what would’ve become of Luke had he still been stuck on Tattooine. There’s even the voiceover apparently questioning Rey on who she is, getting, “No one” as a reply.
It’s also a pretty solid confirmation that BB-8 is associated with her from the beginning, as it is seen rolling along beside her through the desert.
Also, a note on BB-8’s design, I never noticed how well suited it is for the sand dunes of Rey’s home planet. The large ball construction of it’s movement mechanism is far superior to things like R2’s wheels or legs. So, BB-8 isn’t that way just for cuteness-marketability or just to prove they could, but actually serves a valid purpose. It’s just that kind of attention to detail I appreciate.
We also get a beautiful shot of Rey rappelling in to what we can assume to be the hollowed out shell of the Star Destroyer previously seen on other teasers. There have been other examples of the scale of this film, but that shot really helped it sink in.
Next, we get the eponymous Lucasfilm logo. I appreciate the subtleness of this, and the previously mentioned absence of Disney branding all over the place on this thing. Nothing would’ve thrown off the feel more than seeing the castle and Tink.
Then there’s John Boyega’s character, Finn, apparently crash landing a TIE-fighter in to Rey’s planet, all the while voicing this section over with references to the way he was raised and such.
Unless Abrams’ is making a concerted effort to trip us up, this appears to dispel some of the rumors about Finn only wearing the Stormtrooper uniform as a disguise in the earlier teasers. It looks like his character will bring a unique perspective to the films; that of the enemy now on the rebel’s side.
…Then again, a TIE fighter pilot would typically wear a different uniform, so are we witnessing the act of Finn deserting, or is there something else at play?
Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren takes the screen next, talking to the burned remains of Vader’s helmet and vowing to, “finish what [he] started”, the whole time feeling very Vader-esque himself. If they were going to drive that point in any harder, they would have had him trying to put on Vader’s helmet over his own!
Next begins an energetic montage of a lot of stuff happening, the content of which will surely be gone over frame-by-frame for clues. While I will assuredly be doing that along with the rest of you, I don’t want us to lose focus on what’s happening over it all. We have Harrison Ford returning as Han Solo, talking with Rey and Finn. They question the stories they’ve heard, obviously in relation to Solo, and he confirms them with, “It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.”
I think that that is the most important part of this whole trailer. Those few words do more world-building than most films in the last decade have. With the conclusion of Episode VI still fresh in our minds, it’s easy to forget that there’s a big, big, universe out there, and they all didn’t have a front row seat to everything happening. The events leading up to VII have become half-truths and legends, to the point where the common person, or even a soldier fighting in the very wars they’re referencing, don’t know Skywalker’s tale other than as fantasy. I think this all is an excellent call to roots for the franchise. What made the original trilogy so fantastical was our lack of understanding; our acceptance of the strange and unusual. I think the biggest flaw of the prequels (I said biggest, not only) was how they pulled back the curtain. The Force became something biologic in your blood. The clone war became a spelled out history lesson rather than something offhandedly referred to by a wizened old man. The key word here is Mysticism, and there’s no better vehicle to bring it back than Solo, the staunch denier of the Force from the originals. It’s clear from these few lines that Abrams is making a concerted effort to bring the fantastical back to this franchise. Speaking of the wizened old man, did you notice the key absence from this trailer, and from the official poster released a few days ago? Mark Hamill is nowhere to be seen. Food for thought, I guess. Now, I know I’ve skimmed over a lot here, and I do want to hear your own opinions about everything, but I’d like to quickly wrap this up with my own hopes and fears so we all can get back to salivating over this thing until December.
There is so, so, so much going on in this trailer, which is wonderful for the fan to pick apart and digest, but I worry that the whole film will read this way. I’m all for hidden meaning and convoluted plots, but I think the true joy of a Star Wars film lies in simple, elegant storytelling, allowing the audience to participate in a journey of self-discovery. I want the equivalent of a lightsaber compared to a blaster. A weapon for a mire civilized age, rather than a barrage of space explosions. Though I’m okay with those too. Everything in moderation.
I also am worried about Abrams’ penchant for intentionally pulling the rugs out from under his fans. I want the story to lead to the death if it does happen, and for it to make sense as a catalyst for change in the narrative. It shouldn’t feel like it was put in there just to make the audience gasp. Make it serve a purpose, even if it is a surprise. It can come unexpectedly, just make sure that there’s a reason why. On the note of Abrams, I really don’t want there to be any tounge-in-cheeks gambits either. There’s been references to maybe seeing Jar Jar’s scattered remains at some point, or actually killing him off on-screen. Anything that breaks the fourth wall like that would instantly ruin the suspension of disbelief, and pull us right out of the story. The trailer had that magical element, where we could shut out the world for a bit and get lost in what was happening before us. I hope that doesn’t get lost.
I don’t understand a lot of things from the trailer, and that is a very good sign. I want to be wooed by new material. I want that sense of attainable mystery. I want that, “world bigger than my own” feeling. I think that all signs for this point to good by the trailer. I want to be chewing on this film well after the first (or seventh) viewing.
On that note, I want to see something new. Not something from the trailer. Not something from the substantial marketing campaign. New. Sitting in that theater, I want an element to be fresh, yet still fitting in well with the cannon.
What do you want from this behemoth of a film? Did you catch something plot-altering in the trailer that you think I should’ve mentioned? Please, enlighten us in the comments below, and I’ll be right there with you in a couple of months! May the Force be with us all.