An international trailer for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS made its way online today, and it features a few new shots not featured in the trailer that premiered a few weeks back during MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL.
The new clip features a shot of TIE Fighters against a sunset reminiscent of APOCALYPSE NOW, Finn and Rey introducing themselves to each other, and quite a bit more BB-8. The Japanese trailer lacks the emotion of the previous trailer, but it does feature some new dialogue from Rey, regarding waiting for her family, as well as Kylo Ren proclaiming that he will “fulfill our destiny” –w hich will surely start a slew of new theories on the plot of the film.
Most fans have been praising J.J. Abrams and Disney for not spoiling the plot of THE FORCE AWAKENS over the course of advertising the film. Abrams is notorious for trying very, very hard to keep the details of his films under wraps, particularly the reveal of Khan in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. Audiences have become very sensitive to the concept of spoilers, but fans are perhaps overly precious about this sort of thing; if spoilers truly spoiled a film, nobody would ever watch THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ever again. However, a little bit of background on the story and the characters would not necessarily be a bad thing in the promotion of the new film. Fans have more than enough gripes with the prequel trilogy: they’re dull, too much CGI, wooden acting, but one of the things that was most missing was that they didn’t feel like STAR WARS, and much of that had to do with the lack of likable characters to identify with.
The four FORCE AWAKENS trailers—as well as the Comic-Con reel—are certainly feeding on the nostalgia of older fans: the use of 35mm film, practical special effects, and environments and set design that recall the original trilogy. However, the only insight into who these characters are and their motivations have been revealed mostly from descriptions on toy packaging. The special-effects work on STAR WARS was groundbreaking, but it’s the characters and the way they play off each other that gave STAR WARS that human element which was missing from THE PHANTOM MENACE. Director J.J. Abrams’ dedication to surprising the audience is respectable, it would probably put fans at ease if they got to see the new kids in the galaxy interacting with each other. While the dogfights and set pieces of the STAR WARS movies are certainly memorable, it’s the moments between the characters that fans love and quote endlessly. Han Solo’s interaction on the Death Star detention level (“We’re fine, we’re all fine here now. How are you?”), the screwball-romance style dialogue between the scoundrel and the Princess in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and all of the fantastic good-versus-evil trash talking that occurs between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader during both of their duels. The dialogue in the prequel trilogy was certainly dreadful, be it as a result of poor writing, poor delivery, or perhaps a little bit of both. Anakin Skywalker never appears to be the good friend that Obi-Wan reminisces about to Luke while on Tattooine. Luke and Han transform from comrades thrust together by circumstance to best buds over the course of the original film and the rest of the trilogy, and a lot of that is seen in their banter. The return of Lawrence Kasdan—who brought most of the great stuff in EMPIRE and JEDI to a galaxy far, far, away—is a very good sign, but a hint of this in the trailers would have been a nice touch to attempt to bring the cautiously optimistic fan back into the fold.
So what new story is going to be told in THE FORCE AWAKENS? Spoilers are one thing, but just a hint at the story would be nice. Some naysayers see STAR WARS as empty movies with a lot of special effects, and I always thought the original series was deeper than that. The trailers seem to be saying “it’s STAR WARS, you’re going to see it anyway” and it’s unfortunate that that cynicism seems to exist alongside STAR WARS these days. In the age of the internet, spoilers are inconsequential. Audiences are aware that there will be good guys, bad guys, and more than a few that fall in between, but what’s in store for them?
The trailers—particularly the third one—hold quite a bit of emotion, especially when Han comforts a tearful Leia. It would appear that THE FORCE AWAKENS is going to be a heavier film, more in line with EMPIRE than with the 1977 original. C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels, tweeted last year “No movie sequel is better than THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.” You might eat those words for X-mas dinner in 2015. Joy & Indigestion to the world!” Some gravitas is certainly welcome in a STAR WARS film, but let’s just hope that Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan don’t forget that STAR WARS is supposed to be fun like the Saturday afternoon serials that inspired it. The original film has swash and buckle to spare, and it would be a disservice to the series to make THE FORCE AWAKENS too dark, especially since it is the first entry in a new trilogy. The second act of a three-act structure is generally the darkest chapter, so how dark will Episode VIII have to go?
Come December 18th, audiences will see for themselves whether all the secrecy helps or hurts THE FORCE AWAKENS.