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Return of the Jedi

December 1st, 2014
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So let’s talk about this:

I am still extremely dubious as to whether this movie is actually going to be any good (it will be a long time before I forgive J.J. Abrams for Star Trek Into Darkness) but boy, that is a pretty phenomenal teaser trailer right there.

When I was a kid there were three Star Wars movies and I really never imagined that there would ever be any more.  Then the prequel films were announced, and I remember like it was yesterday that huge thrill of seeing, in the first teaser trailer for Episode I, that first glimpse of new Star Wars footage:

I’m not someone who went to see Meet Joe Black just because the trailer was attached before that film, but I boy do I remember painfully waiting the minutes it took for my dial-up modem internet connection to download the Episode I trailer to watch.  I also stayed up late one night to watch one of those cable shows that showed movie trailers because I’d heard they were showing the Episode I trailer.  I recorded it on my VCR and I re-watched that tape of the two-minute trailer over and over again.

It’s fun to be back in that place, and this new 88-second spot certainly got me excited for Star Wars again.  That’s a great feeling.

I was impressed with the amount of new footage we saw in this trailer.  I was expecting to see hardly any new footage.  This far out from the release of the film (over a year away), I figured we’d just get an elaborate title treatment and a handful of quick shots.

Yes, I was a little surprised not to see a single glimpse of any of our recognizable heroes from the original films (I thought for sure we’d see a shot of a bearded, cloaked Luke Skywalker), but I have to say I love that this trailer focuses on the NEW.  New faces, new characters, new droids.  I love that the first person in the trailer is a very sweaty John Boyega.  (Go watch Attack the Block, everyone!!)  It’s cool to see a black face in a Star Wars film, and I love that right from the start of this trailer the focus is on introducing us to the young new characters who will, I assume, be the focus of The Force Awakens.

I like the mysterious voice-over.  Like everyone I spent a lot of time wondering just whose voice it is.  Turns out it’s the great Andy Serkis (I love that Andy Serkis is in a Star Wars film!!).  But wow does he make his voice sound like Benedict Cumberbatch, though, am I right??

That weird new lightsaber reminds me of that first teaser for The Phantom Menace, which also sent fans atwitter with excitement over the reveal of a new style of lightsaber (Darth Maul’s super-cool double-edged blade).  This medieval-looking red lightsaber isn’t quite as cool as Maul’s, but that’s OK.  It’s interesting that this blade is jagged, rather than the pure light beams we have seen before.  I wonder if it was constructed by someone who didn’t exactly know what they were doing.  I also wonder if the medieval-look of this lightsaber lends some credence to the rumor that the new villain(s) of this film will be the Inquisitors.  (An Inquisitor — a force-wielding servant of Darth Vader tasked with hunting down and destroying any surviving Jedi Knights — was recently introduced as the main villain of the new animated show Star Wars Rebels.)

But what really makes this trailer is that dazzling shot of the Millennium Falcon at the end.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous shot, one that stirs the blood of any Star Wars fan.  It’s got a nostalgic thrill — I never believed I would see the Millennium Falcon again on screen — combined with an exciting new look and style to the effects shot.  I love the Falcon’s new radar dish (remember, the old circular one got bashed off at the end of Return of the Jedi), and I love that the Falcon is fighting Ties.  It’s unclear what the status of the Empire will be in The Force Awakens, and I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the iconography previously associated with villains might now be on the side of the heroes, and vice versa.  Are all the stormtroopers we see in the film necessarily the bad guys?  Are X-Wings automatically good and Tie Fighters automatically bad?  I don’t think so.  We’ll know if I’m right in about a year.

For now, it’s thrilling to be watching new Star Wars footage.  It’s thrilling to be excited about Star Wars again.  Please don’t let us down, J.J. Abrams.

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