Star Wars: The Last Jedi (teaser trailer)

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Breath…just, breath. Aye, that voice sounds familiar. Given that I haven’t exactly been holding my breath for The Last Jedi’s debut teaser trailer – due primarily to my well documented negativity towards 2015’s The Force Awakens –  Mr. Skywalker’s first piece of advice for thirty-four years wasn’t one I needed to heed. Rogue One did a decent job of restoring my confidence in the franchise following Abrams’ messy New Hope remake, so now it’s over to writer/director Rian Johnson to haul me up the rest of the way. Fortunately, Johnson is well known for sci-fi originality on both page and screen, as fans of 2012’s Looper will testify too. Is he the man to save Star Wars? It’s still too early to say, but as he’s our only logical hope we may as well take a look at what we’ve got to work with so far:

The standout feature of the new trailer is that – like TFA’s initial teaser – the secrecy of the plot is maintained. I mean, sure, on the surface it’s essentially a sort of inverted Empire Strikes Back; Rey will be trained by Luke in the ways of the force, only this time it won’t be to preserve the Jedi order as we know it. As for the rest of it, most of it we already knew or could have sussed fairly easily; Luke may well reunite with Leia (for the last time?), Finn’s currently out of it but will certainly buddy up with Poe for a space adventure or two, and Kylo will be back for another bite at the character development cherry. I don’t personally brush up on fan theories, so any speculation here is purely my own, but when it comes down to it there’s only one line of the teaser that warrants a legitimate discussion…

It’s time for the Jedi…to end. Ooo now that does send a tingle down the ol’ spine, eh? Just a tad. The idea that Luke survives Episode VIII is surely supported by absolutely no-one, but that single line certainly adds a more-than-welcome layer of intrigue. Luke turning to the dark side would of course be such a monumentally heart stopping theatrical moment, that to merely dangle the possibility is enough to get those fanboy juices flowing (gross, I know). If he doesn’t turn, will Rey? Maybe her purpose is one beyond that of your average Jedi; a destiny beyond even Luke’s all-powerful capabilities. She’s going to be tempted by Kylo and Snoke at some point, otherwise there’s never going to be any tension, but aside from that it’s impossible to say with any real certainly, so to make it easy I’m not even going to try.

Instead, let’s focus on what we do know; that the writing and technical aspects are set to vastly improve. At least, they should. We’ve got a new writer (Johnson), director (Johnson again) and cinematographer (frequent Johnson collaborator, Steve Yedlin), and while Abrams’ work on TFA wasn’t bad as such, it just felt really fucking disjointed. The story was undoubtedly my main gripe, and while the special effects were generally outstanding, something about the visual feel just didn’t sit right with me from minute one. The framing was off and the footage looked a little too clean and slick, to the point where the fantasy sci-fi movie element (you know, the point of the damn thing) never really managed to take over. He did pull things around towards the end, but all in all it was a major disappointment compared to what it could (should) have been.

Johnson, on the other hand, inspires a greater amount of what I’ll call grounded confidence. From the plot, to the dialogue, to the direction, I fully expect the overall package to be a lot tighter. The teaser points us in the right direction, with the limited shots on display already depicting a greater subtlety and vastly improved scope on the framing side. It’s still far too early to tell, of course, but it’s not a bad start. When it comes to the content itself, Johnson has the advantage of being able to pick up where the dreaded mishmash of the initial set up leaves off, and start to drill down into the crux of this trilogy’s story. I feel for Abrams in that sense that his tasking of setting the pins up was always going to be more difficult than knocking them down, but what irked me the most was the decision he and his fellow writers took to plump for the most basic option, which, in turn, ended up being the least original.

Now that the countdown has officially begun, I can safely say I won’t be evacuating true fanboy status just yet. As we get closer I’m sure a few more previews will drop your way. After all, who knows; The Last Jedi just might be the sequel trilogy’s moment of triumph…

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