After 3 maligned prequels Star Wars had lost some of its edge amongst a lot of the die-hard community (they aren’t as bad as you remember but are immensely flawed). Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm and subsequent announcement of a new trilogy of films found itself with huge pressure to not only prove Star Wars wasn’t going to become corporately cynical but that these new films could bring back the required magic to make them sing once more. Hence why in November 2014 they dropped a lip-smackingly good teaser for The Force Awakens. Fans needed to be calmed, excitement needed to be built ($4 billion is a large investment) and back of neck hair needed to be erected. Thankfully the mystery, the tone and the look of that iconic teaser worked gangbusters.
The reasoning for all this preamble is to detail why the first glimpse at the next chapter in the Skywalker saga has arrived a lot closer to the films release date than previously. Possibly to make the eventual release even more of an event but more accurately due to the fact that The Last Jedi has a lot less to prove. After TFA and the massive success of Rogue One last Christmas we are very much back onboard the Star Wars love train again.
Star Wars Celebration came to Orlando this Easter weekend and I for one was gutted not to be there. After visiting the convention when it hit London last Autumn I fell in love with the enthusiasm, passion and sheer love that exhumed throughout the ExCel centre. Star Wars fans tend to face their fair share of teasing (albeit not so bad as the committed Star Trek nerds) but the way it inspires such devotion, such joy and such inspiration is truly powerful, and I’m so pleased to count myself amongst that group. There is a community spirit to those who share in the adventures of their favourite characters, and one I will look back on with warm memories (and of course one I hope to repeat in the future).
As the Celebration before the next saga chapter opens it was a given that the first trailer would land here and director Rian Johnson did not disappoint. But first he and Lucasfilm overlord Kathleen Kennedy revealed the first poster, and what a doozy it is:
Evocative of the artwork for A New Hope it is simple, beautifully arranged and moody. Thematically it speaks a lot to what we can expect come Dec, Rey is the light between two opposing forces, but notice how both Kylo and Luke are bathed in red suggesting that The Last Skywalker perhaps represents a threat to the future of the Force as well. Daisy Ridley spoke herself at the Convention that Luke may not be the hero she and we all expect him to be.
Soon after this reveal came the moment we have all been waiting for the first glimpse at The Last Jedi:
Oh man where to start?!?!
Before we get onto what this reveals story wise, it is worth noting how effective this teaser is. Just as aloof as the ones for The Force Awakens, it shows absolutely nothing at all detailed, relying on mood, voiceover and that spine-tingling music to get the blood pumping. Blessed with numerous shots of real artistry, note the long shot of Rey training on the cliff face that kicks the trailer into gear, it appears Rian Johnson has maintained the Star Wars feel (model work mixed in with stunning CGI) but spliced in some of his own sensibilities. The cinematography is earthier, greyer and grittier. Behind the scenes talk has consistently spoken of the amazing work Johnson has been doing and this very brief look already suggests that they’re right.
In terms of story there is some key points to note here:
- Rey is clearly deep in training at least for the first half of the film, with the portentous voiceover and this glimpse of a mysterious bookshelf, which I assume to be Luke’s. Rey and us may be getting a far deeper look at the history of the Jedi than we’ve had before.
- This snippet of a broken helmet has divided opinion, some believe it to be Kylo Ren’s whilst others think it is Vader’s. I’m of the mindset that it is Darth’s but it is cleverly framed to make it hard to pick. Although based on the image of Kylo without his iconic mask later in the trailer perhaps he does toss it aside in favour of his scarred emo face. I would be disappointed if this turns out to be the case as it was certainly one of the cooler aspects of TFA.
- We get what looks to be the first flashback in the SW movie universe, as we appear to be seeing the destruction of Luke’s training school for young Jedi by Kylo Ren. The following shot of Captain Phasma walking through the fire (man that is some brilliant framing by Johnson) may or may not be part of the same sequence.
- The Force Awakens surprisingly didn’t have any real space battles, with the Starkiller base attack taken place within the bases atmosphere, but TLJ features what looks to be a return to the epic space combat sequences the series is known for. The attack on Poe Dameron’s ship looks to be part of the same battle, plus the return of BB8 immediately puts a smile on my face.
- This glimpse at Carrie Fisher’s back to the camera brings out all the feels, going to be hard to see her one final time as Leia. Love the soft melody on the soundtrack at this point.
- This is from new planet Crait, with these red spouting Resistance ships going to face off against incoming AT-AT walkers, of which you can clearly see in the distance in the next shot. Not sure what is with the red powder, but it is certainly a striking shot.
- Yes, yes and double yes!! Some are claiming that their appears to be a little figure on top of the rock in front of Rey, and that that may be Yoda. I have little faith in this theory (of which is always the downside of these cryptic teasers, nerd theories are the worst) but there were a lot of rumours that Frank Oz was down on set last summer.
- The final kicker is a doozy. Luke seeming to confirm that he wishes the Jedi to end. A tantalising prospect, furthering the talk that Rian Johnson’s script is going to dramatically change up the SW universe as we know it. Perhaps Rey is the start of a new order that is not called Jedi or Sith. It is a terrific way to close out the trailer and makes the wait for December unbearably long.
So much shown but so little shown, it is a triumph of marketing. No Benicio Del Toro, no Laura Dern, no Maz, no Snoke, and no footage of major new character Rose played by newcomer Kelly Marie Tran:
The chances of any more footage being seen before the big Disney convention in August is slim, so we will just have to make do with this for now and I for one would be content with no more footage between now and Dec. The film is almost finished with the last remaining editing work going through the motions as we speak.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15th!