Quick thoughts on the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer

Man; I am excited about this film. Even though this trailer give me no idea of what the storyline is going to be; it still somehow reassures me that this film is going to be true to the Star Wars world.
How can a Star Wars fan not be excited about this trailer, and thus about the upcoming film? The visuals, the music; the Han Bloody Solo!
Yes a lot of us remember the prequels being a bit of a let-down, and therefore are doing our best to not throw our hopes as high as they may have been in 1999. But I can’t help feel that here are a few legitimate reasons to be optimistic for the new trilogy.
First of all, I have faith in J.J. Abrams. Excessive lens flare aside, I think the man tells a great story, is able to make interesting characters (Jack Bristow FTW), and in general makes entertaining films. He is able to capture the essence of the stories he sets out to tell.
Second, we have enough from the old Star Wars trilogy to make it feel familiar. And I don’t just mean Ford, Fischer and Hamill; Lawrence Kasdan is back as co-writer. In case you don’t know, he was the co-writer of Empire Strikes Back, arguably the best of all Star Wars films.
Plus if The Force Awakens is a good film, then it means the majority of Star Wars films are good films, regardless of what you think of the prequels.
But having finally seen the trailer (as thin on actual plot details as it may be), I think I can see the way that Abrams will be taking this story; and I like it.

All of it

What I take from this trailer is that The Force Awakens will be a story about the Star Wars story itself. A kind of meta self-referential tale about the power of the Star Wars story.
Star Wars casts a big shadow not only on science fiction films, but on film-making itself. It opened up a whole new way of telling stories, and inspired a new generation of directors. Directors like Abrams himself.
Abrams has long been a Star Wars fan; in fact I remember an interview with him upon the release of his reboot of Star Trek where he talked about not knowing much about Star Trek, and being more of a Star Wars fan.
In his film Super 8 Abrams gave us a movie that was as much about film-making itself as it was about an alien stuck on earth. Many claimed it was an homage to Spielbergian film-making (which I can see), but it was also a story about making films, and I think this is an example of how Abrams is able to convey a sense of awareness in his filmmaking. He understands where these films fit into the public’s perception of them.
So naturally when tackling one of the biggest film franchises of all time, he knows that there is a lot of history surrounding this, and that the fans of these movies are a part of that. The story of Star Wars has been around for almost forty years after all, so it has had plenty of time to have a life all of its own, and to pervade the way we think and feel about other stories.
This brings me to, in my opinion, the most interesting part of the trailer (narrowly edging out the lack of Luke); this exchange of words:

Rey: There are stories about what happened.
Han Solo: It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. A Jedi. They’re real.

You can hear in her voice, in the way Rey talks about these stories, that there is a power in such tales. It is this talk of stories that to me explains the direction this movie may take.
The Star Wars world in these new movies is almost a parallel of our own. Indeed the passage of time between the original trilogy, and this new series has taken place in real-time, so the memories of what happened in those movies is comparable to the memories of those movies for us here in the real world.
The power of the stories people told of the downfall of the Empire mirrors the power of the original Star Wars trilogy for us, the audience. The story of old glories come back, of the power of past experiences, rings true regardless of whether you are a character reacting to them, or an audience member reliving them. Even the films new villain, Kylo Ren, appears to mirror the public’s obsession with the classic villain Darth Vader, as he seeks to ‘finish what [he] started’.

So perhaps this Star Wars will be a story about the story of Star Wars; about the power it has over people down the generations. It will be a tribute to Star Wars, as it very well should be.

Quick breakdown of other thoughts from the trailer;

  • Number one; where is Luke! Clearly there is a reason Luke isn’t being shown (beyond a pat on R2-D2’s head. Maybe how he looks will give something away (has he turned to the dark side?). Or maybe he simply isn’t that main of a character. After all he is also absent from the poster.
  • Rey’s travels through the ruins of derelict Empire starships just looks awesome. (P.s. when she is watching that ship fly off into the distance, there is clearly an AT-AT foot at the bottom of the frame, which is suggested to be where Rey lives)
  • The music in this trailer is awesome. Going to be great to hear John Williams on the big screen again.
  • I like that we see Finn wielding the Skywalker lightsabre, yet I can’t help but worry that he is going to have his arse thoroughly handed to him by what appears to be a more sabre competent Kylo Ren. Unless there is going to be some awesome Jedi training montage in this film (seems unlikely), then this looks to be quite the mismatch. So either someone will come along and save Finn, or perhaps Kylo is more interested in collecting another Darth Vader icon than he is in disposing of Finn.
  • Speaking of Finn and Rey; what are their last names!! I can’t help but feel that at least one of them is being kept under wraps due to it being excitingly familiar (and familial).
  • Not much captain Phasma in this trailer.
  • Lots of awesome looking battle sequences though.
  • Lens flare.
  • Kylo Ren and his band of masked bad guys in the rain. And I don’t care what people say of its practicality; that red cross-guard lightsabre is awesome.
  • Voiceover from Finn seems to lend credence ot the theory that he is a storm trooper who becomes disillusioned with the First Order after taking part in, or witnessing a massacre. Sure looks like he escapes in a TIE fighter and is shot down by a Star Destroyer over the junkyard planet of Jakka (soon to meet Rey no doubt).
  • Millennium Falcon. Millennium Falcon! MILLENNIUM FALCON!!!!
  • People a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, clearly have terrible memories. They don’t know about the Jedi, or the dark side? Much like these people seemed to have quite quickly forgotten about the Jedi and the power of the force in the original trilogy. Han Solo may just have no interest in history when he says “I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.”, and perhaps when Motti references the Force as an ‘ancient religion’ he just forgot about the whole Jedi Council that existed a couple of decades previous. But it still seems odd that a civilisations collective memory could be so forgetful; its like people being shocked to learn that Nazis were real things, or that there used to be this thing called communism.