November 28, 2014

10 Things to Notice in The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

10 Things to Notice in The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

After months of anticipation the Star Wars:  The Force Awakens teaser trailer has been released.

As a Star Wars fan, and collector, I have been “cautiously optimistic” about the future of Star Wars under its new Disney ownership and the new movie-a-year road map.  Yet there is something about seeing the Millennium Falcon in flight and hearing the original John Williams score that takes me back to being 8-years-old and having the same excitement I did for Return of the Jedi in 1983 or The Phantom Menace in 1999.

Still, the teaser trailer gave up very few of The Force Awakens’ secrets, but there were 10 items that stood out to me as I watched the trailer again and again.

10.  The Dark Side is everywhere…or is that just editing?


The trailer was only 88 seconds long, but it starts with 11 seconds of total blackness.  After the first scene is 5 more seconds blacked out.  Then 3 more seconds.  And 14 more seconds throughout, for a total of 33 seconds of black screen.  Add to that 22 seconds of just the Star Wars logo and we ended up with only 33 seconds of actual footage.  And in those 33 seconds, no Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, or Han Solo, likely to leave fans talking as much about what we didn’t see as what we did.  A tease indeed!


9.  The Millennium Falcon‘s had a few more special modifications made.


We saw Lando’s poor piloting rip the sensor dish off the Falcon in Return of the Jedi.  It looks like Han took that opportunity (or some other time in the 30 years) to upgrade with a square sensor dish.  This one’s a bit shorter, too, so maybe it won’t go flying off when things get “too close.”

Of course this new Falcon is all CGI, and able to make moves only hinted at in the original trilogy–moves which I imagine to be stomach-wrenching in IMAX 3-D.  But even with no physical model the effects look first-rate; I’d expect nothing less from Abrams and Disney at this point.


8.  Still Rebel-lious


When last we left the Star Wars universe the Empire had been defeated.  Per the (now erased from continuity) novels, Mon Mothma and Princess Leia established a new galactic government called “The New Republic”.  It even had its own fancy logo–an iteration of the Rebel symbol seen in the movies.

Yet here, in this brief shot of an unknown X-Wing pilot we see the Rebel logo both on his helmet and his vest.  Is this the logo of a new ruling order?  An honorary tribute to pilots of decades past?  Or is the Rebel Alliance still rebelling all these years later?

(And is it just me, or does that guy look like he could be Wedge’s son?)

7.  There is no VII


Like so many movie series that get past a certain number of sequels, it seems Star Wars is eschewing its roman numeral numbering system.  While The Force Awakens has been referred to as “Episode VII” (or Ep. 7) by Lucasfilm, rumor has it the number will actually be absent from the film.  The logo in the trailer seems to lend credibility to that rumor.

6.  Stormtroopers? Where?


The first new character seen in the trailer is actor John Boyega (Attack the Block) in a Stormtrooper outfit.  Some have jumped to the conclusion that this film will let us finally know the men inside the helmet (more than, at least, the clones from the prequel films).  But lest we jump to too many conclusions, let’s recall we have seen heroes don Stormtrooper outfits before…


5.  Will new helmets help with their aim?


Speaking of stormtroopers, we are only given a strobe-like glance at the white-armored troops in this trailer–and they have a new helmet design.  The iconography of the old Stormtrooper helmet is certainly in tact, with the white dome and the black frowney-face, but it’s been upgraded.  Is this to improve their accuracy as troops, or just to sell all new action figures and helmets?  (Their blasters got upgraded too with nice LEDs…looking forward to those toys!)

4.  What is the target?


Finally with these troops, it’s curious that we appear to be following some Stormtroopers inside a landing craft as they are about to engage in combat.  The Imperial troops have long been faceless enemies but here it seems as if we’re watching them as they go out to something akin to the beach of Normandy in World War II.  (I admit readily I’m reading a lot into 2 seconds of footage).

Lucas made the Clones good guys for Episode II and half of Episode III…could they be heroes in The Force Awakens?  Or will be have some troops with whom we’re sympathetic as they go to battle?  The scene does not convey danger, it’s not filmed in a way that “they’re coming for you”, it’s “they’re prepping for combat.”

Then again, as with point 6, perhaps these are all heroes in disguise…

3.  The Desolation of Sith


Does that opening voice sound familiar to you?  Is it Benedict Cumberbatch using the same breathy, deep voice he had as the dragon Smaug in the recent Lord of the Rings:  The Hobbit film?  Is he the man in black we see in the trailer?

Update: 2pm: The answer to both those questions is “no”.  While there is no confirmation as to who the voice is, all signs point to it being fellow Hobbit alum Andy Serkis giving a great impression of the great dragon.  Others maintain that voice is that of Max von Sydow.

2.  More Probe-ing questions…


Also in the audio, pay attention when Boyega stands up and turns his back to the camera.  The sharp-eared viewer will hear the familiar sounds of an Imperial Probe Droid (seen in The Empire Strikes Back).  This adds to my theory that Boyega is a hero on the run…and that a multi-limbed robot set to self-destruct may be on his tail.

1.  Watch your fingers!


When The Phantom Menace trailer premiered fans witnessed a totally new weapon–a double bladed lightsaber.  Now Abrams continues that gambit by showing us a tri-bladed lightsaber–though the side blades appear far more like the finger guards found in a longsword than anything that can actually inflict damage.  The key difference is that fingerguards are dull and there to prevent the enemy from slicing you–lightsaber blades are pure plazma that cut through anything.  My first reaction is that they seem more likely to cut off the wielder’s fingers than to protect them, but that would be in the Robot Chicken parody, not the actual film.

Of course the bigger question is who is holding that saber.  Cumberbatch?  Luke Skywalker?  Darth Vader back from the dead?  The Emperor alive after his fall?

As I said, the trailer provokes more questions than it gives answers, and that’s just what the marketing department wants  The intent of a teaser trailer is to build anticipation and buzz, and if Social Media has been any indication they’ve already succeeded.

Did I miss anything?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Comments 6

  1. Jay N

    I’m hoping that weird astromech was a one-off and not a new character. Watching that thing roll around everywhere would give me a headache.

    Aside from that, I don’t know what the whiners wanted. It’s a teaser, and I loved every second of it, even the role-polly droid, at least for its few seconds.

  2. mike

    the unknown rebel fighter is Oscar Isaac.

  3. Brian Dzyak

    I’m just back from seeing Interstellar at the AMC Century City in LA so I was lucky enough to be able to see the teaser on a large IMAX screen.

    While the same things that bothered me still do, I do have to admit that seeing the STAR WARS logo on a really big screen and hearing that music pounding through the sound system was really exciting!

    Seriously, kids today who rely on home television or even (gasp) their phones to watch movies are really truly missing out on how these things are meant to be seen. There’s a more visceral experience having these images larger than life with sound literally surrounding you.

    I think it was a serious mistake to release this teaser online assuming the point is to get fans excited about seeing the movie. Seeing it small and quiet merely invites the kind of minute critique that even I engage in. But seeing it BIG and LOUD and unrepeatable is less about the individual shots and everything about the emotional experience.

  4. paul lawrence

    Great article, Arnie. The only thing you left out (though I’m sure it was intentionally) was the girl on the ‘rectangular speeder’. Han and Leia’s daughter perhaps? I mean there were quite a lot of visuals that made me have to watch this trailer several times. Honestly, I thought this trailer was another fake. It wasn’t until I saw it on imdb that I was convinced. Keep up the great work and Happy Holidays.

  5. chris s

    One huge problem for Jedi knights in the past has been that their light sabers would get sliced in two from the hilt. Perhaps this new design will change this weakness.

  6. Eric

    Thanks for the excellent write-up. A friend of mine had the same thoughts about the actor behind the voice-over, but I think it’s now been confirmed that the actor is Andy Serkis.

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