Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

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Star Wars: The last Jedi and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Walt Disney Studios

Directed by Rian Johnson

Sure enough, Disney is going forward with their plan of turning the month of December into Star Wars month (Merry Lucas-mas!!) and they have just released the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi!  Now The Force Awakens topped my Best of 2015 list, and Rogue One ended up pretty high on my Best of 2016 list, so while the sense of HYPE isn’t really there this time (Disney knows what they’re doing and if this one doesn’t work we’ll have another one in 2018), I’m still rather interested to see where they go with the main story and hope they can build upon the success of The Force Awakens.  Anyway, let’s get started with the speculation!!

Now the first thing I noticed is that this trailer is cut EXACTLY the same as the teaser for The Force Awakens which is an interesting choice.  Both trailers are narrated by one of the characters in the movie, doesn’t connect to any of the scenes they actually show.  Both trailers start with a quite shot where one of the protagonists suddenly enters the frame with an accompanying musical sting.  Finally, both trailers are a collection sizzle shots to show off the graphics and incentivize speculation.  The only major difference in regards to the style of the two is the pacing.  While the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens had a strong sense of energy and movement, this one is much lower key and methodical with makes sense considering what the movie seems to be about.  At least partially, this movie is going to be about Rey’s training as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker which will require as much soul searching, meditation, and self-control as it will chopping dudes to bits with a glowing stick.

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“And then I’m gonna go WAAAA!  HIYAAAAA!  FFWWWOOOSHHHH!  And then everyone’s gonna go ‘YAAAAYYYYY!’ and then I’ll be all WOOHOOO!!!”

So what can we gleam from the scraps that Disney has offered up to us to speculate on?  Well… it’s feeling a lot like Empire, in that the trailer is cut to be half a training montage and half a rather bleak war movie.  Now that’s not NECESSARILY a problem in and of itself as so much of the imagery they have on display doesn’t look like direct lifts from that movie, but a lot of the common complaints about The Force Awakens is how much it was a remake of A New Hope.  While I didn’t have a problem with how it ALLUDED to that film (it certainly was NOT a remake of it), I still hope they don’t do the same thing with this movie.  Other than that, the imagery is still rather vague but enticing.  We’ve got a few bits of Rey staring at the ocean and telekinetically levitating pebbles with Luke Skywalker looking on, we know that Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren are coming back this time around, and the action looks to be just as good as what we got in The Force Awakens.  However, out of everything we see in this trailer, this is the shot I find the most interesting.

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“This symbol… it carries memories.  I can see them.  Who is this… Hayden Christensen?”

It’s a bit early to speculate what exactly this means or who’s hand is in the shot, but for those unfamiliar that is the symbol of the Jedi Order.  Now I’m not sure EXACTLY when that symbol first appeared, if it was in the original trilogy or the prequels, but it’s been an iconic part of Star Wars expanded/alternate continuity since then such as the Jedi Knight games and is even referenced in the movie’s poster that was revealed at the same time as this teaser.  Now if I were to guess this shot is in a scene where Luke is describing the Jedi before they were all killed (screw you Anakin!), but hopefully there will be a bit more insight into what happened in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens as well.  Remember, Rey got some flashbacks in The Force Awakens that indicated Kylo Ren was training under Luke but then killed all the prospective Jedi under his tutelage the same way Darth Vader did which is why he’s been gone for so long in this (presumably self-imposed) exile.  Since we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the final line in the trailer where Luke says “It’s time for The Jedi to end.”

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“Darkness… No parents…”

Honestly, this doesn’t do much for me as it implies a rather predictable story arc for him that ALSO feels ripped out of Empire.  Look, the Jedi are total drama queens, alright?  Whenever things go bad, they always exile themselves and are prepared to die in some hole while the world crumbles around them.  Obi-Wan Kenobi was a BIT more proactive in that he was watching over Luke the whole time, but he’s still just sitting in his cave twenty-three hours out of the day!  I honestly don’t care what reason Luke has for wanting the Jedi to end (probably due to that backstory we’ll hopefully see fleshed out between him and Kylo Ren) and I get the feeling he’s gonna be proven wrong anyway.  Hopefully there’ll be a bit more nuance as to WHY he thinks they should end, but I’m worried that his story is gonna be dead weight on the plot if he’s gonna be moping most of the time.  Then again… maybe that’s not EXACTLY what he means.  He said THE JEDI should end, but it’s not like they controlled who were and were not able to control the force.  Maybe he’s talking more about creating THE NEW Jedi!  Jedi 2.0 with Rey as its first master!

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“Meh.  Insurance will cover it, and we needed to rebrand anyway!”

There’s not much to grasp on from this initial trailer as everything we see in here is basically stuff we already knew about; mostly in regards to Rey and Luke’s Jedi training.  Everything else is just sizzle and speculation which admittedly is EXACTLY what a teaser trailer is supposed to do, but it doesn’t have the impact that the original one had.  Mostly due to the fact that The Force Awakens was the one to bring Star Wars back and therefore was a clean slate, but the way this teaser is cut also doesn’t lend itself to feeling too original as so much of it still feels like that first one.  The director this time around is Rian Johnson who’s filmography I’ve unfortunately overlooked entirely (I’ve got an unopened copy of Looper around here somewhere), but he’s also done a few episodes of Breaking Bad; including the episode Fly which is a real standout for the series.  Hopefully he does bring something new to the table here as it’s gonna get stale pretty quickly if every single one of these had the same tone and directing style, and hopefully this trailer feeling so much like the JJ Abrams one is more for marketing purposes than a genuine reflection of what the film will be like all the way through.

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