So…not really sure exactly how to feel about the 3rd and seemingly final trailer to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
By the looks of things, this is intended to be all of the story-based and character-based material that we are going to see until the movie comes out. Meaning no shots of General Hux, no shots of C3PO, no shots of Captain Phasma with her helmet off, and of course, no shots of Luke Skywalker. Like all trailers, this is the big main one–lasting a full two minutes and thirty-five seconds–and all of the remaining TV spots will likely only include variations of this trailer, perhaps with a few extra shots and info thrown in. So we may still see variants with other “new” material, but they will all exclude those characters and further plot details in order to save the goods for the theater.
Admittedly this is both infuriating, and quite refreshing, as it shows just how intent J. J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and Disney Studios are on keeping all the spoilers they can a secret, in spite of any leaks that are floating around.
My personal thoughts on the trailer, like I said, are still undecided.
I’m curious if the film itself will feature a piano heavy score, as that seems to be the trend with these teasers and trailers. But including a piano, or playing a piano rendition of a famous theme for a movie franchise revival has been a gimmick for a while. It’s builds up nostalgia and adds a sense of distance and faintness: almost like these new images are calling back the good old days. Which they are. But I always presumed that that was just for the trailers, not for the actual movie score. Even Jurassic World used a piano version of the theme to make all the fans drop a tear of child-hood memories as all of the dinosaurs passed over-head. So I’ll be curious if the piano will actually be a part of the real movie score, as it has never (to my knowledge) been a part of the previous Star Wars films.
My biggest gut-reaction gripe with this third trailer is the heavy use of battle scenes and explosions. I honestly didn’t think this film was going to be as battle-ridden as it is. I know all three original films featured a big climactic battle scene, so perhaps all of these big shots are from the tail end of the film. It just kind of irks me a little that just like all other films, their highlighting the battle scenes more than they are the story here, and that could be for any number of reasons. Maybe it was designed for the sake of being played at Half-time on ESPN, even though the trailer is already up just a few minutes later. So we really didn’t need to waste time sitting around watching Football half the night. But back to the point, I had hoped that just like with the previous two trailers, this trailer would follow a similar path: featuring a lot of atmosphere, heroic moments, touching and intriguing lines of dialogue, and giving us time to actually take in the visuals. Instead, I got a nice slow opening to a fast paced, quick-cut explosion fest, which doesn’t really impress me. I’m old enough that explosions in a movie just don’t excite me any more. Regular old burning inferno explosions are no longer “cool” like they were. Now they’d have to be anime-inspired, double-whammy, neon-colored explosions–the kind that you see in a bullet-hell game–before I can really like them just for the sake of it.
I just… all this space-ship dog-fighting stuff doesn’t do it for me, man. The old movies were stunning in that respect. But that was in part due to the fact that every single ship had to be separately photographed on an step-motor camera rig with a blue-screen and lighting. So it was a painstaking process to make visuals like that happen. Here it just seems a bit much.
However, the rest of the trailer was really really promising. I gave a lot of the shots some much-needed thought, and it seems that because the Empire didn’t officially disband just because the Emperor was dead, things just kept going on. Like the interviews with J. J. have said, this is like if the Nazi’s had run off to South America, but instead of hiding, they actually rebuilt the regime and began dominating neighboring countries again. The strength and power of the Empire endured and built itself back up, perhaps even bigger than before. They designed a stronger and more durable super-weapon. They appointed new commanding officers with a lot more skill and fierceness. And they likely did everything they could to dispel all of the “rumors” that not only was the Emperor not dead (as was stated in one of the upcoming Star Wars game trailers), but that the Jedi, and the Rebel Alliance were nothing but a myth. It was a complete fluke what occurred at the end of Return of the Jedi. Thus, no one really knows if Han, Luke, Leia, and Lando really did all of those things 30 years ago.
I’m sure there are plenty of leaked script pages and details, and plenty of theories which already exist explaining what the film is likely about. But here are my interpretations of what the plot will be for The Force Awakens.
Considering that this film will be making countless obvious and not-so-obvious call-backs to ideas, imagery, and even shot compositions from the original trilogy, we can just as easily expect a similar story structure and scene progression. So just like the beginning of A New Hope, we will begin in outer-space, with Finn up in a Star Destroyer, somehow deciding to get himself out of the service and commandeering a Tie-fighter. That then sends him tumbling down to Jakku, where he meets Rey: she shall be our Luke Skywalker type.
By some sequence of events, Rey and Finn will get to talking about the lost Rebel Alliance, which may still be going strong with Leia and the X-Wing pilots which we see later on. And that leads them to where Rey may have already discovered the Millennium Falcon while spelunking through the fallen battle-fields of abandoned star-ships. Repeating another famous set-up from the first film, Rey and Finn likely meet Han Solo and Chewie in a bar on Jakku, and they then take him to where they found the Falcon: since it’s clear by his dialogue, “we’re home,” that he and Chewie lost it at some point. Or, perhaps Han and Chewie are out looking for it themselves, and they stumbled upon Rey and Finn having already found it, and maybe they both draw guns on each other in an awkward encounter.
After that, Han gets them off Jakku after a run-in with some Tie-fighters, and they head off to find Luke Skywalker, who is no doubt the person that our main heroes will be seeking out in order to help them with some impossible task.
Now it is my assumption that one of two things must have happened to Luke between Jedi and now. Either one: he was forced into hiding because he was the last living Jedi who knew the ways of The Force, and thus found himself stuck in a corner with his only course being to run off and hermit it up like his former masters, Yoda and Obi-wan. Or two: he fights like mad the whole time, keeping the Empire’s forces at bay, until at one point he lets his guard down just enough that he gets captured, and sent away to the deepest, darkest cell of the Empire’s most secretive base on some long forgotten world. Again, we are likely not to see Luke at all in any future trailers between now and December 17th, but I hope in the film we actually get some early flash-backs about what happened to everyone, as Han gives some exposition. We see everyone with digitally youthful faces, just like Michael Douglas in Antman. We Han and Leia together and whether or not they broke up at some point. We see what happened to C3PO and R2, likely not with Luke but off somewhere else. We see what happened to Luke. And we see how the Empire forged it’s new order.
After all the exposition, Han then takes Rey and Finn to what my best guess is an ancient Jedi Temple, one that Luke may have found in old Jedi historical documents, and then took Han and Leia to before something happened to him. Or maybe Han had never been there before, but was somehow able to track it down himself. Based on the dialogue over the end of this third trailer, this Temple is mostly likely where we will see Lupita Nyong’o’s character: as she may very well be some sort of Keeper of the Knowledge of The Force. Thus she is the one who unlocks the knowledge and connection to The Force within one of the two main heroes. Based on the poster, it looks as if Rey is the main character. But Finn is the one who wields the light-saber. Although, no one ever said that the ability to use the Force was required in order to properly utilize a light-saber. In fact, there are some reasonable theories that suggest a light-saber is a weapon only suitable for a humanoid creature of an appropriate average height. Anything smaller, taller, or of a wholly different anatomical shape, would not be able to effectively use a light-saber as a weapon of choice. So it is entirely plausible that Rey is the one who will learn the ways of The Force, while brandishing her unique staff weapon which we see in the trailers, and then Finn will take up the Saber, and may unlock his own Jedi powers at some alternate point.
I say this also because in the second trailer, Luke’s dialogue from Return of the Jedi (possibly an alternate take they fished out of the archives) says that “The Force is strong in my family. I have it. My father has it. My sister has it. You have that power too.” Now that line is not in the trailer just “because.” And he wouldn’t begin his speech by pointing out his “family” if it did not mean that this person he’s speaking to is not related to him or Leia in some way. So my best guess is that Rey is Han Solo and Leia’s daughter, and was somehow separated from them a long time ago due to an Empire raid perhaps. And it’s more likely that she is Han’s and Leia’s daughter rather than Luke’s because Luke wasn’t the one who found a significant other at the end of Jedi. I have a feeling Han and Leia probably slept together very soon after that Ewok party, wouldn’t you think?
Beyond that point though, there’s not much more to infer. I can’t quite say when and where they first meet Poe Dameron; maybe by the half-way point. We may even see him earlier considering that shot of Kylo Ren probing his mind with The Force. But all in all, it’s hard to say how I really feel about it. I’m concerned due to the heavy amount of battle scenes, but I want to love the heck out of this so badly because there’s so much that could be utterly amazing about it. So much more history that can finally unfold about the Jedi, so much more detail that can be seen with how the Empire is structured. So many more characters we have yet to witness, and that have been so cleverly and carefully hidden from us.
I may not be as giddy or fan-crazed as everyone else is now, but I still hold very high hopes for this, because I just feel like this film really can’t do wrong. It’s going to be quite different than the originals, that’s quite certain now. But it will also be closer to the originals than the prequels were, that is also quite certain. There’s a deeply routed interest, from day one of pre-production, to make this film a part of the franchise more than the last few projects were. There’s a need to want everything to be cohesive and live in the same tangible universe. And I absolutely love that. I love that all so much.
So please don’t take my negative thoughts too harshly. I’m very particular when it comes to what I like and what I don’t like. And I would actually chop most of my issues up to the specific footage they chose to show, and the editing they chose to do for this particular trailer. The previous trailers still look amazing and present a very strong image of what this film can be for us all. And in the end I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I’d be mad not to want to at least pre-order the 3D Blu-ray the moment it becomes available, whether I really like the film, or just consider it okay. It’s just too big of a deal not to love in some capacity.
So here’s to another 2 months of waiting. Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.