In case you’ve been living in a mud hut on Dagobah, a new trailer hit the Internet yesterday for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Naturally, Dave and Paul watched it 427 times, and then decided to break down all their thoughts.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngElkyQ6Rhs?rel=0]
Paul: So, we open on that magnificent Lucasfilm logo and those familiar strains of the “Binary Sun” theme. It’s gonna be weird without the 20th Century Fox fanfare, but at least Lucasfilm is still there to usher us back into…I dunno, it’s like the Bridge to Terabithia, really. The realm of childhood fantasy.
Dave: Even as the first images hit the screen, it’s all about that music. I saw the first Star Wars film when I was five, and that music creates this incredible Pavlovian response. They ALWAYS get me with these trailers. Right from the music. The same thing happened with the first Phantom Menace trailer.
Paul: There’s a resonance about that theme that’s almost hardwired into us at this point, like you said. You can see young Luke looking out over the desert and those oppressive twin suns. But even removed from that historical context, it’s just a great composition. So wistful. Familiar, yet otherworldly.
Dave: There’s a longing to it. A certain melancholy? A perfect match for the massive husk of a star destroyer… the skeletal remains of an X-wing fighter.
Paul: I adore that opening vista. First the juxtaposition of seeing a majestic Star Destroyer downed in a desert. But I also realized it looks just like a Ralph McQuarrie painting. I’ve already seen someone tweet out a panoramic stitching of that vista as a an ultra-wide image. It’s stunning. It’s not just the obvious symbols and reprised music though. It looks and feels like Star Wars, while still feeling like a J.J. Abrams movie.
Dave: And then we get Luke’s voice! A familiar speech. Matched to specific images. The burnt out shell of Vader’s helmet! I have questions! Why is that in the shot? Does someone visit the site of his funeral? I have to know!
Paul: That burnt Vader mask is so chilling!
Dave: The way the torn mouth grill hangs slightly askew, like a loose jaw on a skull.
Paul: And yeah, SO many questions. Did Luke hold onto it? Did someone follow him to that funeral pyre?
Dave: And then when Luke refers to himself, we cut to a shot of a man with a metallic hand, reaching out to R2D2. Of course that’s Luke. But it’s interesting that he seems to no longer attempt to make his hand look human. That feels like an interesting little nuance all on its own.
Paul: In the expanded universe, Vader’s severed bionic hand is used as a kind of talisman, its finder considered a new heir to the Empire, to the Sith. I wonder if Vader’s death mask is going to take on a similar significance beyond just a reminder of the baddest man to ever walk the cosmos.
Dave: The next shot, matched to “my sister has it,” does make me feel like this is indeed a flashback. That perhaps some time post-celebration, Luke gives Leia a lightsaber. Is this during the action of the movie, or perhaps a flashback?
Paul: There IS a lot of lost time to recover between now and the battle of Endor. Much of that could be flashbacks, you’re right. Another thing that’s interesting about Luke’s speech: He says the Force is strong in *his* family. Not “our family.” So there are so many different characters he could be talking to here. And we’re still totally in the dark about all of these relationships, whether it’s family or pupils or even strangers.
Dave: Yeah, so interesting that it’s over black at this point. We finally get to the “new” part of this speech… and we don’t know who he is addressing.
Paul: Artoo beeps. Caption: “I WAS THERE, DUDE.”
Dave: Hey, why can’t a droid use the force? It’s those midichlorians, isn’t it? Midichlorians tend to gunk up a droid’s parts, I hear.
Paul: Not BB-8 though! He gets around pretty quick! Sometime barely before he can get caught in an explosion, but he can seriously move! A lot of close scrapes and frantic escapes in this trailer.
Dave: Yeah, there’s a rush of imagery, but this does give us a sense of the scope. It feels new, yet very familiar: we have a cheering X-Wing pilot, we have an escape on a dusty Tatooine landscape. We have a sinister threat from a man in black. We have ominous formations of Stormtroopers, though I’m not entirely sure whose side they’re on.
Paul: Obviously the Empire lives on here, at least in some form. Tie-Fighters and neo-Storm Troopers. We see a banner with a new symbol (at least I don’t recognize it). Is that the scattered remnants of the Empire or an entirely new faction using the stormtrooper armor and iconography?
Dave: Yeah, that’s a great question about the stormtroopers. I mean, the empire has fallen, everyone danced, but… that doesn’t necessarily mean there was peace and harmony across the galaxy. I suppose we’ll see that there are different factions… maybe even the Alliance has fragmented slightly, with different ideologies on how to keep the peace?
Paul: I think it’s smart that it’s not an entirely new threat. The expanded universe dabbled in a little of both, some new alien adversaries as well as the feuding shards of the once glorious Empire. Those images remain bold and powerful in 2015.
Dave: We have a silver (chrome?) stormtrooper! The individuality makes me feel vaguely of the feeling that I had when I first set eyes on Boba Fett… kind of Stormtrooper-eque, but different… what’s his story?
Paul: Yeah, we’ve seen several different imperial armor designs, but this chrome look is new and could either be a lone character or a new take on those red Imperial Guards, sort of an elite status of some kind?
Dave: And then we head into pure classic territory as the Millennium Falcon bursts onto the screen, evading TIE Fighters and diving into the husk of that Star Destroyer… there’s only one pilot I know who can navigate that ship through the ruins of another ship with such skill….
Dave: I was thinking… scruffier.
Paul: I’m just saying, Han is the best, but he’s not the only one to fly that boat with skill!
Dave: All right, all right. Fair enough. But c’mon… this leads us to my favorite reveal yet.
Paul: A lot of speculation that this first movie in the new trilogy is all about passing the torch. Maybe it’s Han in there. Maybe it’s Poe or Rey or Finn.
Dave: Did I ever tell you that before cosplay was called cosplay… back in the day when it was just dressing up? My mom sewed me some black plants and put a red stripe on them. And made me a black vest. And I had one of those toy blasters that Kenner made…
Paul: That’s great!
Dave: All because of a CERTAIN dude who made such a huge impression on me at five years old. Right from that first film! So, let me tell you… when I hear Harrison Ford, over black, say, “Chewie…” and then we see Han and Chewbacca on screen together for the first time since Return of the Jedi? It was like realizing I had been waiting 30-odd years for this.
Paul: I’m glad you bring that up, because this trailer does such a spectacular job delivering on nostalgia, but not at the expense of the new stuff.
Dave: Yeah, you’re right. The new stuff seems to strike the right tone; it feels like it’s the same world… but it’s not just fan service. It has its own spark, I guess?
Paul: Han and Chewie show up to endorse it the way Nimoy did with his role in Star Trek. But it’s clear that this is about something more than that, it’s about a continued legacy. It’s about family and the never-ending adventure.
Dave: Exactly. It’s also interesting that the old stuff sort of bookends the trailer. Luke’s voice and Vader’s mask up front, then a visual barrage of new things, and then… Han and Chewie step in to tell us that the old guys aren’t quite done yet.
Paul: I’m also heartened to see that they embraced multiple elements and classes (for lack of a better term) that we love about the Star Wars universe. It’s not just the Jedi stuff. We’re getting pilots! We’re getting adventurers that may have no connection to the Force. That’s something that really got lost in the prequels.
Dave: If they handle this right. And I know that’s still a big “if” even based on this trailer, I think you’ve nailed the core of what would make it work — it’s got to extend beyond the original trilogy, it’s got to stand on its own as the next chapter of that never-ending adventure, and it’s got to be multi-faceted and expansive. BUT: I like that we can still use elements of the past to usher in the new… to show how these legends have shaped the world. I hope they can balance all that the way this trailer does. This has definitely raised my hopes quite a bit!
Paul: It’s the next New Hope!
Dave: Hah! I can’t think of a better end note than that!
Paul: Hey, Dave?
Paul: I love ya, brother.
Dave: I know.
That’s our take! Did you watch the trailer as many times as we did? What are your takeaways? Let us know in the comments below!
But before we go, one last note to consider. –Paul
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