The final trailer for JJ Abrams’ new addition to the Star Wars universe, The Force Awakens, has been released and met with words of jubilation by fans and critics alike. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, the new film is the seventh in the series, seeing newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega (let’s hear it for the Brits!) join Star Wars veterans such as Harrison Ford in a new galactic skirmish, some 30 years after the Rebels defeated the Empire in Return of the Jedi. Outside of that though, do we really know anything else? Let’s see what we picked up from the new tantalising trailer.
“The Force is strong with this one.”
Fans across the world were treated to the new trailer simultaneously, being broadcast on traditional media and released online, however, it didn’t just reach die-hard fans, there seems to be a push on picking up new followers. In the US the new trailer debuted during half-time of the New-York Giants versus Philadelphia Eagles game on ESPN, which is interesting considering that American football fans aren’t the expected demographic for this sci-fi, nostalgia romp. Moreover, this strangely chosen slot will have come at a huge expense; a 30 second ad-slot during half-time at the Super Bowl usually prices at around $4.5 million according to the Wall Street Journal, making the cost of broadcasting The Force Awakens trailer a conservative $22.5 million.
Plus, have you been down to the Disney store recently? Even if you’re not keen on being faced with a plethora of cuddly Elsa’s and having Mickey Mouse stare at you from all sides, it’s now worth a trip; in preparation for The Force Awakens, even the younger generation, mainly oblivious to the joys of Star Wars, can’t escape it, being tempted by figures, soft toys and dressing up options on-mass. With no expense spared to draw in the potentially dismissive viewers of the football game and the booming trade on merchandise for the oblivious, one can’t help but marvel at the studio’s confidence in the power of this trailer’s success with fans old and new.
The next Luke Skywalker is… a woman?
Daisy Ridley’s character Rey has more links to Luke Skywalker than any half-decent fan can ignore; the fact that she is the prime focus of the trailer for the first 25 seconds suggests how central she is, not to mention that her longing stare over a spacecraft taking off is eerily close to a shot of Skywalker in 1977’s film. But most excitingly she’s a staff-wielding, “resilient survivor”, centre of the action, female, a fact which can’t help but make any feminist Star Wars buff ‘fangirl’ all over the place, surely?
The trailer isn’t just about Ridley though, we get lovely insight into all the key characters of the film, both old and new; Finn, the storm trooper, appears to be the other key-newbie on the block, he starts out as a man with “nothing to fight for” but give it another 1 minute, 10 seconds and he’s facing off evil with all sorts of positive force. Kylo Ren, the baddie of the piece establishes himself well too: he looks like Darth Vader, he sounds like Vader, so he must surely be as badass as Vader, right? But the original cast don’t look to have been eclipsed, Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia, gets some brief screen time, clutching to Han Solo’s chest (we all knew they’d be together forever, didn’t we?) but given how prominent the Millennium Falcon is, we can expect Han Solo to be more than just her saviour, because nobody else zaps TIE fighters like Harrison Ford.
No nostalgia spared.
The classic Star Wars icons don’t end with the cast though; the dwelling shot on Darth-Vader’s mangled mask, the Millennium Falcon sailing through the skies and Solo (a little older, but supposedly, wiser) in his new role as story-teller, all pull our minds back to the original trilogy. There are many other vestiges of George Lucas’ vision to be enjoyed though, with a new century look: the storm troopers are still utterly recognisable, with a stream-line finish, there’s a subtle yet exciting variation on the classic lightsaber shape and BB-8 is already a cute favourite among fans. All of these lovely nostalgia nuggets prompted USA Today to quip that Abrams is “hitting hard on the emotion and history involved with this universe…”
Another epic score.
The key element that seems to have been missed by pundits when looking at the trailer is the iconic work of composer John Williams. If you aren’t a Star Wars fan you’ll have probably caught his work in little-known films like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Jaws, ET, Indiana Jones… little bits and bobs like that, you know? In this instance though, he is back at the Star Wars helm, with his 100 or so piece orchestra in toe, to marvelling effect. The subtle use of controlled quiet, which flows beautifully into a surge of musical energy about a minute in, gives the trailer a sense of the epic that’s key for any Star Wars journey to feel exciting. When the crescendo fades however, we are treated to a few classic bars reminiscent of his original score from 40 years ago: clearly Williams knows what we want and he delivers here with, so far underrated, magnificence.
17th December is still shrouded in mystery…
You have to applaud those responsible for the marketing of this film, they’ve avoided the pitfalls of bad movie publicity; often the audience go into a cinema knowing they’ve already encountered the best parts of the film in the trailer and they can already synopsise the plot: but not this time! It’s been a year since the first teaser was released and we still haven’t seen a glimpse of many famous faces known to have prominent roles: Dominic Gleeson, Simon Pegg, Lupita Nyong’o and Andy Serkis are all missing in action. Even those we’ve seen are something of a mystery, take Rey for example: is she Han and Leia’s daughter, is she one half of the Solo twins with baddie Kylo Ren, is the shrouded voice at the trailer’s end suggesting Rey has the force, or is that message meant for Finn? We just can’t answer these one for you guys…
Yet the biggest mystery of all is: where is Luke Skywalker? We know Mark Hamill has a part to play in this film, but he is absent from the film’s poster and he gets no screen time here either… or does he? Many have postulated that the hooded figure with the black mechanical hand might just be him! Skywalker lost his hand in a battle with Vader in Empire Strikes Back, however the replacement we know was life-like. It could be Ren of course, but what business does he have with R2-D2? The more exciting alternative is that it’s Anakin Skywalker, who also lost a hand in the prequels. The mystery continues…
We can know only one thing for sure; the trailer drums up palpable excitement. Given that Yoda believed in, ‘Do or do not. There is no try’ and this film is looking like a ‘do’, all that’s left to say is, Congratulations Abrams!