Mark O’Connell’s First Impressions Of Star Wars The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

star wars the force awakens falcon

THE TRAILER AWAKENS – JJ Abrams hopes this is the trailer you’re looking for

Catching Bullets author Mark O’Connell shares his initial impressions of the new Star Wars trailer


“There’s been an awakening… have you felt it?”

Mmm… away put your exultations. For now anyway.

When a Bond film trails itself, it shows Bond. When a Batman film trails itself, it shows Batman. When an Iron Man film trails itself, it – you guessed – shows Iron Man. Here we have a Star Wars trailer with not one mention or flash of the very marquee names that justify this franchise coming back in this fashion and who sealed the very phenomenon that is a galaxy far, far away. No Han Solo. No Luke Skywalker. No Princess Leia. As much as I still believe continuing AFTER Return of the Jedi has all the story necessity of Titanic II, likewise seeing two young leads being all extended universe-y does not float this fan’s Skiff.

This Star Wars kid was sort of hoping The Force Awakens wouldn’t see director JJ Abrams re-pointing key beats of previous Star Wars films when creating his new ones. But there is a suggestion already that a lead (John Boyega) has to slip away disguised as a Stormtrooper (Star Wars IV – A New Hope) and no doubt cross paths with a Leia skewed girl speeder-biking her lone way to safety (Return of the Jedi).

JJ Abrams has a bad habit of confusing homage with narrative (Star Trek Into Darkness) and re-dressing key beats from other films of his and our youth and mistaking that for innovation. If Abrams remade Jaws he would have Robert Shaw as the shark, but wearing a Jaws 3D t-shirt and pretending for most of the film he is Ellen Brody. Seeing a new Sith avenger and his or her lightsabre being all evil and stake-like just reminds of the hard to replicate (it seems) good/bad dynamic of the original trilogy – where friends can be foes and foes can be family. Having countless Darth Awful and Darth Meddlings just feels like a wringing out the canon (most of which it seems has been created and pinpointed in endless and increasingly ghastly post Jedi cash-ins).

And visually resembling a sterile, fan-written spin-off book cover stacked high in the ‘Unnecessary’ section of Waterstones is not the visual palette this droid was looking for. Star Wars to this writer was never about Sith of the Week’s or which new angle a lightsabre can open out in. It was about three mates, nursing a rebel hangover, scraping an existence together, on the run, split up into story strands that informed and enhanced each other and ultimately getting the band back together. Star Wars was a 1940s wartime romance dressed up with sand and stars. Not the second cousins of better villains who never took real centre stage anyway.

But rather than coming down on this teaser trailer like an uncle wanting to postpone his young ward from going to space academy for another year, let’s not be kneejerk. This overture montage may have missed suggesting some of that swashbuckling veneer and total love of the movies that the first three Star Wars film had in droves. But this trailer is not the end product as written by Lawrence Kasdan (who gets the soap operatics of the whole thing and nails relationships in all his work). It is not a whole film yet scored by John Williams. It is not that final film yet shot for real (to a degree) and trying to ape that British based Elstree Studios craftsmanship George Lucas had in the late 1970s. And – for good anti-spoiler reasons – this is not a film yet that that even stars Solo, Leia and Skywalker. Would it have killed what will be the biggest film of all time to show its lead characters. Or maybe, curiously, it actually did. Put simply, this ain’t the final film and possibly holds more promise than three prequel trailers sewn together with Alderaan cotton.

There are still three beats to this trailer that inspire this home-schooled Jedi to hold some faith in the Daft Side… and that is that rollerball R2 fooling around at panicky speed, the sight of Oscar Isaac steering an X-Wing into battle and the Falcon taking on some TIE Fighters in a very different context. Gravitas and goose bumps are not just about showing old and familiar ships and landscapes again. It is about creating those sweeps of adventure, a tone of swashbuckling escapism and an often distant, bureaucratic threat we don’t have to labour and flog with throaty voiceovers from Nu-Villainy. This trailer has just enough of that to suggest that – yes – when it comes to fans expectancy, we might all shoot first.

Maybe the good and bad parts of being a first wave Star Wars fan is all contained in this new wave of films. Already they feel very Star Wars. There is a simplicity here to Abrams’ intent that the prequels lost very quickly. But it is in that Star Wars Now way – where everything is franchised and merchandised well away from that original trilogy of matinee swashbucklers. And I won’t be the first Star Wars generation kid to make the fan-logic statement of “well I loved the first trailer for The Phantom Menace and look how that turned out, so I’m perversely assuming that from this okay ish trailer The Force Awakens is going to be amazing!”.

Star Wars – The Force Awakens opens on December 18th, 2015.

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