I have a very good feeling about this…
That logo. That opening shot. That score. Cut to black with a single piano note. Abrams and co. could pretty much have left it there and the internet would still have simultaneously soiled itself the world over. Before we get into the rest of the second official teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, let’s just take a minute to reflect on this scene, as it is by far and away my favourite moment from either trailer so far. Just like the opening shot of A New Hope all those years ago, a single frame projects a thousand theories, tells a thousand stories, and recalls a thousand memories. And as with all great trailer/movie moments, it was a genuine surprise. With the speeder zooming across the epic, wide-angle framed horizon – the camera following – the reveal of the crashed X-Wing was epic enough. But it also works as an altogether marvellous distraction. For as the Rebel craft holds your fanboy gaze, the pan continues to stretch the desert, of which we now know is part of a new planet called Jukka, rather than the age old favourite, Tatooine. What appears to be just another rather large sand dune comes into view in the corner of your eye, before suddenly you realise…that’s no dune, it’s goddamn downed Star Destroyer. How did these ships get there? Did the good guys or bad discover a base of the other long ago? Was it pre-or-post-Endor? The last stand of the old Empire perhaps? Either way, my word do I love Star Wars.
Then just to crank the nostalgia up a bit, but keeping firmly within the boundaries of the future time period the film is set in, we have good ole’ Mr. Skywalker himself making his new trilogy debut, albeit via narration and a cloaked, robotic arm shot only. The charred, melted remains of Vader’s mask, coupled with the handing over of Luke’s (and, of course, Anakin’s) original lightsaber hilt from one unknown to another, suggest a lot of potential soul searching and coming to terms with the past for our old lead siblings, as well as being part of new events that break out the distant memories for one last ride. It also means someone has gone and plucked Luke’s lightsaber from the murky surface of Bespin, which means his hand may very well be kicking around too. And before anyone starts thinking too deeply about the fact that he mentions his father has the power of the force, it’s almost certain Vader remains very dead. His voice or full-on ghost could of course theoretically make an appearance to Luke, Leia, or both, but if it does I imagine it’ll be kept firmly hidden until the picture itself is released. Whom exactly Luke is talking too when he mentions a likely newcomer having the power of force is pretty much open across the character list at the moment, but based on who the likely Jedi-type character of the three youngsters is, it’s probably John Boyega (or Han and Leia’s child (?!), but that wouldn’t really match Luke saying “my sister” instead of “your mother”).
For the remainder of the trailer we’re thrust into the standard rapid pace montage, building on numerous aspects of the first teaser, but also conveying a fair few interesting revelations. On the Rebel side of things, first there’s the news filtering through that thirty years on from the Battle of Endor it is now known as the Resistance (unconfirmed). Shot from the front, the X-Wing’s appear to have had a slight tweak to update them in terms of design, while Oscar Isaac is again shown piloting one of them. His whooping and wooing reaffirmed the now clear as day human element Abrams established previously, but as a child of the prequels it’s still refreshing to see at every given opportunity. Boyega and Daisy Ridley, our other two leads, of course feature prominently without much being confirmed about either character, apart from that they’re allied together from what looks like an early stage in proceedings. There’s also another glimpse of Soccerball-D2, now confirmed as BB-8, which deserves a mention purely because of the fact that it is a real, working droid, as depicted prior to the trailer during an onstage appearance at the annual Star Wars Celebration.
The most wide-ranging story aspect depicted by the new material is that of the remnants of the Empire, now allegedly reborn as the First Order (also unconfirmed). There’s shiny chrome TIE Fighters, a kind of awesome, chrome-clad super-stormtrooper, apparently named Captain Phasma and played by Game of Thrones very own Brienne of Tarth, Gwendoline Christie, a modern Star Destroyer, and the first hints of a space battle shot from within a hanger bay (first shots of actual space yo!). Next up, we have our lead villain, revealed to be a chap named Kylo Ren. Aside from the fact that he wears a mask and looks rather, shall we say, dangerous, I’ll be steering clear of any potential spoilers or Wookiepedia digging on him for sure. What certainly does look interesting is that he is 100% involved with this new version of the Empire, as stormtrooper’s at his back and the shot of troops on a snow-based planet some kind (remember Mr. Ren’s snowy stalking from the first trailer?) all but confirm.
And so we come to the finale. Just like with the first teaser, Abrams it seems couldn’t resist, and after seeing the Millennium Falcon fly into the engines of a long-depleted Star Destroyer (so cool), pursued by a certain-to-be-merked TIE Fighter, we hear that unmistakable voice…”Chewie, we’re home”. Growl. Now whilst I, and I imagine many other old school fans would have preferred zero original character interaction during the trailers (R2 isn’t that big a deal as he was present in bordering-on-ruined fashion throughout the prequels), not a single one, myself included, could suppress a smile at the reveal of these two absolute bangers. Chewbacca’s even holding his crossbow for God’s sake. The dialogue itself suggests that the Falcon has either been in storage of some kind, was lost, or was in the possession of a different owner for a bunch of years, which keeps alive the theory that it could be someone else flying during the teasers, although, let’s be honest, with that final shot it’s probably Han and Chewie.
Overall then, things look pretty promising. Whilst everyone will no doubt be clamouring for as epic a picture as possible, at the moment it looks set up to be more of a The Fellowship of the Ring-type deal, with various elements being established and building towards the remainder of the trilogy, probably like how A New Hope was originally perceived before the threat of it only being the only well-budgeted film was issued, meaning the whole, what-could-have-been-conclusive-if-required ending with the Death Star etc. was written in. This sort of approach would be just fine with me, and I hope it’s the case as it means we get to see some early character development without being forced into too much too fast. Old Rebels breaking out the X-Wing’s for a spin and to perhaps train the young’uns due to a new threat, Luke getting involved and likely reuniting with Leia and Han (have any of the three fallen out, not seen each other in years, or gone into hiding? If so, why?), probable light side Jedi activity (has Luke and/or Leia started a new order? Are there any other Jedi floating around at this point?), and an intriguing new version of the Empire preparing to go to war once again are all possible theories.
Questions aside, it’s perfectly acceptable to simply bask in the experience of the new teaser. The revelations, the throwbacks, the characters, the craft, the music – everything seems to be chugging along nicely, with Abrams pulling the strings better than anyone could have predicted (obviously the film itself is a long way off, but one can dream). Hopefully they won’t go overboard with the next trailer, but until then…I have a very good feeling about this.