Squeaky Mouse Droid: The Final Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer
The time has come: we’re two months away from the release of the new Star Wars film, and I’m sure that Disney’s marketing department – which, to this point, has been holding its finger just shy of the trigger at the behest of the film’s director, J.J Abrams – is eager to finally promote the hell out the film to more than just genre fans. It needs to let the general audiences know that a new Star Wars film is upon us, and it needs to let that audience know what that film will look and feel like. Last night, during Monday Night Football, the first and final trailer for The Force Awakens, aired during halftime and then was dropped online.
Yes, they call it the first trailer. The other two trailers were simply teasers. The very first teaser appeared on line just after Thanksgiving of last year. With only eleven shots on display, it was just meant to give fans a mere taste of what J.J. had been working on. Some months later, at the Star Wars Celebration event, J.J. showed off a new teaser to the die hard fans and then, the world. This brief trailer gave us our first look at Han and Chewbacca as they board their ship, the Millennium Falcon, after years of being away. It was, indeed, the ultimate teaser. Since then, J.J. has somehow been able to keep much of the film’s story a secret; even the release of the first wave of toys and figures did little to really spoil the film. Left to his own devices, it’s reasonable to think he wouldn’t release anything else, if for no other reason than so the audience could see the film completely unspoiled. Yet, this film represents the resurgence of the biggest film franchise in history, and there was no way that the Mouse’s marketing people were not going to amp up the publicity a bit. A third (or first, ha ha) trailer was inevitable.
The question was: could they cut together a true “story” trailer without spoiling the film? They’ve done an admirable job so far of keeping things mysterious enough…
The answer: yes. They did it. How they were able to do it was simple: they made a trailer that enhanced the more mysterious aspects of Star Wars.
With the prequels, the veil had been lifted, we were told too much, with a storytelling style that was less interesting than what we’d seen in the previous trilogy. Little was left to the imagination. Even when the characters were confronted with tiny mysteries along the way, the overall universe had lost that sense of wonder and intrigue that would have made things more interesting. Remember, in the original Star Wars film, the one released in 1977, when Governor Tarkin was talking to Darth Vader, and he mentioned that the idea of Jedi of the was something that had long since passed into myth? Remember how this conversation really just added to the whole mystery of this galaxy and gave the viewer the impression that there was always more to uncover? That’s the feel that the new Force Awakens trailer wisely aims for. They’ve put that sense of mystery above the need to show specific story points. With Batman v Superman’s final trailer offering us specifics about why these two superheroes are fighting each other, it makes sense, since we already know these characters so well, to go into some more detail about why they are at odds. With The Force Awakens, we are being introduced to new characters 30 years after Return of the Jedi ended. It makes more sense to leave much of the story for us to discover while watching the film. Some of the analysis from here on out will be augmented by news and rumors that were discussed in past Squeaky Mouse Droid columns here on comicbooked.
We begin with a few shots of Rey, the desert scavenger, who is scurrying about the wreckage of a downed Star Destroyer on the planet of Jakku. A strange female voice (I believe this is Lupito N’yongo’s alien character, Maz Kanata) is heard asking who she is. “I’m no one,” Rey says. Rey might actually believe this is the case, or she might simply want others to believe it. We then cut to Finn, who was a stormtrooper with the First Order (a remnant of the Galactic Empire that ruled all those years ago), and we see his TIE fighter (likely stolen as part of his defection) shot out of the sky. He stumbles upon a settlement on Jakku as we hear his voice-over: he’s always been a warrior, and now he has nothing left to fight over.
Then, we see our villain, who is aboard either a Star Destroyer or base of some type, clearly feeling that, as he has Darth Vader’s helmet as a museum piece, that he can fulfill Vader’s ultimate aims.
These opening scenes give us a few seconds with the main characters, establishing at the most basic level who they are. They do not spoil the story or how it will play out.
As Kylo Ren uses the Force to torture his prisoner, Resistance Pilot Poe Dameron (possibly forcing images of destruction into his mind) we cut to a great bit of action that we’ve seen tidbits of before: the Millennium Falcon evading TIE fighters above the surface of Jakku. It’s about here that we really get a sense that the Star Wars galaxy is a place of mystery: Han tells Rey and Finn that the stories that the stories they’ve heard about the Force, the Jedi, and The Dark Side are true. It stands to reason then, that, thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, any talk of the Force at all was squandered by any new established governments, similar to how Tarkin told Vader that he was all that was left of that religion at the time.
Ever wonder why we really haven’t seen Luke Skywalker in these trailers, save for the visage of a man in a hood that may or may not be him? It’s quite possible that he has gone into exile following the events of Jedi. Another possibility: he was forced into exile as a way of keeping all rumblings about the Force to a minimum. Now, as the title of the film suggests, the Force itself has awakened, and – just maybe – if our new heroes are able to find Luke – the galaxy will be forever changed as the influence of the Force will be brought into focus.
Yet, for now, the Force is so distant that Han has to assure the new protagonists that it’s even real, and in one swoop, J.J. was able to allow us to forget that too much was revealed in the prequels as a sense of mystery and awe returns to Star Wars. Also, by having Han confirm the stories and legends, he completes his own personal arc that began in A New Hope, when, to him, he had no reason to believe that there “was an all-powerful Force controlling everything.”
Even with all of that, the trailer still managed to give away much about the actual plot of this film. Instead, it just gave us a sense of time; that this movie takes place years after the original films and that the Force is hardly spoken of at all. No real spoilers there.
For the rest of the trailer, we are given a few fantastic battle scenes, with a couple of character moments – sans context – that really hit home. Who is Rey crying over aboard the Falcon? Did someone die? We see a glimpse of Han and Leia reuniting in a firm embrace, as Leia seems overwhelmed with emotion; it’s kind of a callback to their embrace on Endor in Return of the Jedi.
We catch a glimpse of the Falcon entering hyperspace, and J.J. was able to make the fantastic old effect of the streaking stars/ wormhole transition seem new by slightly shifting our perspective a bit. We see Kylo Ren and others like him standing in the rain (there is little doubt that these men are the Knights of Ren that J.J. mentioned some months ago.)
We see stormtroopers plundering ruins. These shots take us back to the glory of the original films, as these stormtroopers are once again played by actors in costume. The prequels used CGI troopers instead, and something human about them was lost in the process: if feels now like this is a trailer for a real film and not an animated one. We see some great dog-fighting scenes between X-Wings and TIES that are visually fresh and new.
One of the best shots in the trailer depicts a group of pilots readying for battle, and Poe disembarks from his X-Wing and pats Finn on the shoulder as he walks by. The camera movement is more fluid than we’ve seen in a Star Wars film in some time, and the silent exchange these two men have tell a much more interesting story than some lines of dialogue ever could. Indeed, one of the great things about this trailer is that we are getting more exposition and context from what we are seeing than what we are hearing in dialogue: just look at how the clothes the characters wear define where they are in the story.
This trailer is something to behold, yet people are scratching their heads a little, still wondering what it is that this film is about. It’s that sense of wonder that makes the return of Star Wars such a thing to behold.
Sidenote: I got my tickets already!