A New Hope
As a fan of the Original Star Wars Trilogy, I was cautiously optimistic when I first learned of the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. George Lucas had decided that he was retiring from making movies for profit and wanted to focus on passion projects. I have always respected George for the spirit and imagination he has demonstrated over more than thirty years of film-making, but longed for the day when he would allow someone else to play in his sandbox. That day has finally come, and J.J. Abrams has been hard at work on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, releasing December 2015. My cautious optimism for the film has turned to outright elation with the release of the first trailer.
“There Has Been an Awakening”
As the trailer opens, we see a familiar desert landscape and ominous voiceover telling us the Force has awakened. We see lots of different images in quick succession. First is John Boyega, a newcomer to Star Wars but was great in Attack the Block a few years ago (look for my review of that film in a future post). He is in stormtrooper armor minus the helmet and looks distressed.
Next we see a spherical droid that resembles a soccer ball. This droid is named BB-8, and like a lot of the effects in the new film, he is at least partially practical. This means that rather than allow computer graphics to fill in all the gaps, the filmmakers have actually built many of the props and alien creatures in the film in real life. This is a welcome change from the Star Wars Prequels, where Lucas basically stuck the actors alone in a giant blue room and asked them to imagine everything while looking at a tennis ball on a stick. In this film, J.J. Abrams is having the sets be real places so that the actors have something to act against, as well as giving the finished product that indefinable weight that only real props and effects can have.
The Dark and the Light
In the next scenes we see a stormtrooper squad in a sequence reminiscent of the D-Day landings, newcomer Daisy Ridley riding a speeder bike of some kind, Oscar Isaac in the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter as his squadron kicks up water over a lake as they scream past, and a hulking, cloaked figure igniting a unique red lightsaber with a cross guard in a snow-covered forest. The trailer ends with the iconic starship the Millennium Falcon blasting over the Tatooine desert sands in a backflip to face a pair of TIE fighters as the camera barely keeps up.
Though it is short at only a minute and a half, the trailer has confirmed a lot of my hopes for what to expect from J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and December 2015 can’t come soon enough.