Friday, April 14, 2017

What Do You See? My First Thoughts About the New Star Wars Trailer


Like many Star Wars fans, I tuned into the live stream of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration. I mostly just listened while I worked, so I'm sure I missed a lot of details about what they were talking about. But when the Rian Johnson, the film's director, said he had something to show everyone, my ears perked up. "We have a teaser-" (There it is! I though. They're going to show the trailer!) "-poster," he said, and then revealed the image above. But after a few minutes of pretending they weren't going to show a trailer, they relented to the audience's demands. "Of course we have a trailer!" Johnson exclaimed, as the whole place went wild.

And this is what we saw:

I'm not going to pretend to have some profound insights that no one else has, but here is a brief breakdown of what the trailer shows, interspersed with my thoughts, reactions, and theories.

The first shot of the trailer is Rey collapsing to the ground, out of breath. I assume she is still on Ahch-To, the planet she found Luke on at the end of The Force Awakens. My first thought, to be honest, was that Luke had attacked her, because earlier in the panel, Daisy Ridley had said something along the lines of, "We know what it's like to meet our heroes, and sometimes they aren't who we expect them to be." But then I dismissed that thought as nonsense. More likely, Luke is training her, and she's exhausted. Or perhaps she has just experienced an intense Force vision.

We hear a voiceover from Luke: "Breathe. Just breathe. Now, reach out. What do you see?" This seems to lend credence to my theory that Rey is having a vision, but we can't always assume trailers are cut linearly.

The Force Theme is playing in the background, with some bits of Rey's Theme mixed in. We hear Rey answer Luke's question. "Light."

A figure, most likely Leia, stands facing away from the camera, looking at a holographic map. She might be looking at the map which led Rey to Luke, the map BB-8 delivered at the end of The Force Awakens. Perhaps she's wondering what Luke has been doing, or hoping that he will come back. Or she might be looking at a different map. Maybe she's looking at worlds the First Order has conquered, or strategic plans for an upcoming battle.

Then, as Kylo Ren's Theme starts playing, we hear Rey say, "Darkness." Something - I'm not sure what - lies broken, shattered, on the ground. I honestly couldn't tell what it was, but the music made me think it was Kylo Ren's mask. After more viewings of the trailer, I'm more confident that guess is correct. There's a bit of smoke rising from it. What happened? Has he been punished by Snoke? Electrocuted with Force lightning?

A voice, difficult to hear over the music, says something about the Dark Side. I think it's Ben Kenobi, saying "...seduced by the Dark Side," followed by Yoda saying "surrounds us and binds us." Will we see Obi-Wan and Yoda Force Ghosts in this movie? Or maybe, like in The Force Awakens, they'll just use audio clips from previous movies.

I'm not sure what we're seeing during this part of the trailer. Some kind of structure, on a planet we haven't seen before? Then we see a painting of the symbol of the Jedi Order, with a weird looking hand slowly reaching towards  from out of the frame. I'll be honest: I have no idea what to make of that.

Rey continues: "The balance." And we're back on Ahch-To, with Luke and Rey standing on the side of a mountain, the latter swinging her lightsaber. When I say her lightsaber, I'm referring to the lightsaber handed on from Anakin to Luke, which Luke lost on Cloud City.

Luke responds, "It's so much bigger." Something I didn't catch the first time was as the shot pans out, there is a third figure with them, standing farther away. It's a very wide shot, so it's impossible to tell who's who, but I would guess it's Chewbacca. He did come with Rey to Ahch-To, after all, and I don't think he would just stay on the Millennium Falcon the whole time. Actually, looking at it again, I don't think that is Chewie. He or she is too small. So who is it? Could it be Kelly Marie Tran's character Rose?

We cut to a shot of a fighter bouncing off the surface of a rocky planet. This is a ship model we haven't seen before. It is joined by a squadron of ships of the same model, flying along the surface, and either emitting red exhaust or kicking up red dust in their wakes. It reminds me of the shot of the X-wings flying across the lake in The Force Awakens. I assume these ships are also Resistance, because it looks like they're flying into battle against some large - presumably First Order - walkers. From the silhouettes on the horizon, the walkers are probably similar to the AT-ATs we first saw in The Empire Strikes Back.

We see Finn asleep in some sort of pod. It looks like he's still recovering from that serious saber slash he took in the back from Kylo Ren. While we don't see him in the action in any of the trailer shots, I have to think he will have more to do than sleep in this film.

Then we see everyone's favorite Resistance pilot Poe Dameron running through a ship corridor with  BB-8. They almost make it to Poe's X-wing, in what looks to be a capital ship's hangar, when an explosion engulfs the hangar. Which begs the question, how many ships is Poe going to go through in these movies?

The next shot shows the Millennium Falcon in battle, blowing up some TIE fighters. This either means that Rey eventually leaves Ahch-To, or Chewie left her behind to rejoin the Resistance. (I'm betting it's the former.)

We get close-ups of our main protagonist and antagonist - Rey running with lightsaber ignited, and Kylo Ren (notably without his helmet), holding his lightsaber towards the camera.

As we rush towards the end of the trailer, Luke starts talking again. "I only know one truth." As he says this, we see R2-D2 and a cloaked figure looking towards the flaming ruins of a building. Could this be a flashback to the destruction of Luke's new Jedi Academy by Kylo Ren?

Maybe not, because the next shot is what looks like Captain Phasma leading Stormtroopers through those same ruins. Then again, maybe Phasma helped Kylo Ren kill all of Luke's students.

We cut to a space battle with large, blue-painted capital ships (most likely Resistance or Republic), as well as X-wings and TIE fighters.

And in the trailer's chilling conclusion, we Luke standing in entrance to cave, while his voiceover reveals what that "one truth" is: "It's time for the Jedi to end." Boom. Title Card. December.

Wow, what a closing line. Let the speculation on the meaning of "last Jedi" continue. What is Luke talking about? Maybe he's saying they need to have a new relationship with the Force, that the old Jedi Code was not the way to go. I suppose that wouldn't be so surprising. Ever since the Prequels came out, we've seen that the Jedi Order was flawed, and thus doomed to fall. After the rise of the Empire, Yoda and Obi-Wan started to take a different path. And even then, they instructed Luke to kill Darth Vader. Luke rejected that way, and found another way - redeeming his father. Maybe that knowledge, as well as whatever happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, has taught Luke that he needs to continue along a different path.

There are a couple of things we didn't see in the trailer (besides the other 99% of the movie, of course). As far as I know, we didn't see Chewbacca. We didn't see Laura Dern's new character, or Benicio Del Toro's new character. (I don't remember if their character names and descriptions have been officially announced, or just rumored, so I'll say no more.) We didn't see Supreme Leader Snoke or General Hux. And we didn't see Maz Kanata, whom I believe is confirmed to be in this film.

But we have eight months to debate, discuss, and theorize. And there will be more trailers, and interviews, and TV spots. It's going to be an exciting ride.

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2 comments:

  1. Was that last line delivered by Luke? I also thought that was Mark Hamill's voice when I watched the teaser. But someone I know has proposed that maybe it's actually Benicio del Toro's character that we hear. I didn't think so at first, but after I watched some interview footage of Benicio del Toro, I noticed how remarkably similar his speaking voice is to Mark Hamill's.

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    1. Hmm, that's an interesting idea. But it seems like we're meant to think Luke says it, based on the way the trailer is set up. Are they trying to misdirect us?

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