Monday, 8 December 2014

12 moments from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer

Many of you have no doubt watched the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer more times than you care to admit, but there are still more details that only a screen grab analysis will bring out. In other words, if you're a Star Wars fan – or even just a film fan – you've come to right place for conjecture and rumour based on the teaser for J. J. Abrams' (Star Trek Into Darkness) take on a galaxy far, far away...

Both the opening and closing shots, and much of the action that takes place in between, would seem to take place on Tattooine, the desert world that was once home to Anakin and Luke Skywalker. But, of course, until we get official confirmation of that from J. J. Abrams, we're not taking anything for granted.

Here, we see the character widely mooted as the film's lead, John Boyega (Attack The Block). But he's clearly a stormtrooper – or at least dressed like one. Word has it that he plays a character who is taking stock of his life, and aching to do the right thing. But it also raises complex questions about this post-Palpatine world – the Empire is clearly still around, but in what form? And if our hero is a stormtrooper, then can anything be seen as truly good or truly bad?

The nature of Boyega's character has been rumoured for a while, but it's certainly an interesting choice.

Abrams has long promised a return to practical effects, and droids, where possible, and here we get our first glimpse of new droid who seems part R2 unit, part World Cup mascot.

Although the name of the droid is not yet known, like so much about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this nippy little fella is rumoured to be the sidekick to Boyega and Daisy Ridley's characters, and apparently has multiple defence/attack capabilities.

As played by Daisy Ridley (Silent Witness), this young girl is said to be the co-lead of the movie. Early, and fairly obvious, speculation had pegged her as Han and Leia's daughter Kira, but scuttlebutt would seem to have her living alone on this desert planet, possibly in the carcass of an AT-AT. Fiercely independent, the story may see her team up with Boyega to solve a mystery that will take them into contact with heroes from the original trilogy.

The vehicle Ridley is driving seems to be some kind of new land speeder, and is a sure sign that Abrams will be able to introduce new vehicles and droids that feel like they've been around in the Star Wars universe for years. And listen to that engine noise. Legendary sound designer and Star Wars stalwart Ben Burtt once again bridging the gap between the familiar and the fantastical.

A squadron of troopers, presumably featuring Boyega (many people have questioned the stormtroopers aren't played by Temuera Morrison from the prequel trilogy – by the time of the original trilogy, stormtroopers were recruited, not grown in a lab). Note the redesigned helmets and armour – subtle, yet clearly part of the classic Star Wars universe.

The shaky handheld camera effect here, as the troopers prepare to land on a planet and load up their ammo, is the one stylistic conceit in the trailer that feels modern. Otherwise, camera moves and general compositions all feel very classic George Lucas.

Here we see Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) as an X-wing pilot, in a shot that feels in many ways like it could have been ripped straight from the original trilogy. We don't know much about Isaac's character, as yet, but we do love the subtle revisions to the outfit of an X-wing pilot, including the Rebel Alliance insignia on the helmet. Could this be the symbol of a New Republic?

Also, if we know anything, we'd imagine that Isaac didn't just sign on to be a glorified Red Leader. Expect him to play a prominent role in proceedings.

Here, an X-wing squadron – note the new blue stripes down the side – fly in formation over a lake on a planet that seems to be very different from anything we've seen in the Star Wars universe to date.

Later, we'll see a snowy forest, a far cry from Hoth and Endor.

The trailer begins with Andy Serkis' (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) voiceover that is none more Sith. An interesting choice, perhaps indicating that, although Darth Vader and the Emperor have gone, evil is still present in this universe, awaiting the right moment to awaken and strike.

And here we have our first glimpse at what appears to be the Sith Lord villain of the piece. Smart money suggests this is Adam Driver (Girls), stumbling through that snowy forest. Who's he looking for? Or what? And then there's the...

Finding new and interesting things to do with a lightsaber is no easy task. Star Wars Rebels has managed it with The Inquisitor's spinning blade, and here we see the unnamed Sith Lord spark up a saber that has a different blade – more ragged – than previous models. And then there's the laser hilt, two bursts of flame that make this an actual laser sword. Seeing this thing in action is certainly going to be interesting...

Here it is, arguably the hero shot of the trailer. As the Star Wars theme blasts from every available speaker, the Millennium Falcon – bruised, battered, missing a dish or two – manoeuvres around the desert planet with all the sprightliness of before. And as it swoops around, it reveals two new TIE fighters. And no, they still can't shoot straight.

Big question, though – who's flying the Falcon? Early word indicates that Han and Chewie are piloting something very different, and much larger, when the story introduces them. But we would be pretty amazed if Solo and the Wookiee didn't get on board the ship that did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs at some point. And speaking of Han and Chewie...

The return of the Millennium Falcon is as good as it gets for anyone hoping to see overt links to the original trilogy. Not showing Han, Luke, Leia or Chewie, is a very interesting move for Abrams to make. We have no doubt that they will all play a huge role in the movie... But for now the director is clearly focusing on the future of the franchise.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives on 18 December next year.

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