THE MAGIC OF STAR WARS
So I hear there is a new Star Wars trailer dropping today. I can safely say I’m excited. Normally when trailers drop I’m at work and have to make do watching it on my phone. Then watch it on a bigger screen with more sound when I get home. But today in the UK is a bank holiday.
Whilst I’m waiting I got around to think about blockbuster movies and how they have evolved since Star Wars opened in 1977. Okay when A New Hope came to cinemas it was far from a blockbuster. But boy did it start something. It became a multimillion dollar franchise. Every time something Star Wars related was released it was on everyone’s lips. People queued around the block to see it. The toys became a success story all of their own. Everyone wanted a piece of the galaxy far far away. Nobody knew Star Wars was going to be the phenomenon it turned out to be. That includes the people working on it. It was for sense of a better word magic. Which brings me to my point. Nowadays it seems the studios with their big summer blockbusters, comic book movies in particular are trying to manufacture this Star Wars magic. We get trailers for trailers, TV spots, teasers for posters. Yeah the films do well at the box office and largely well received. When you think about no movie has ever out done Star Wars. Then Force Awakens came along and it seemed like not only was this movie erasing the bad taste of the prequels it was restoring a touch of magic to Hollywood.
Spoilers for Force Awakens and Rogue One…
Admittedly Force Awakens fell into the modern conventions of cinema and had a teaser trailer. But boy was it beautiful. It used a series of quick cuts that were essentially re familiarizing yourself with the Star Wars universe whilst also hinting at these new elements. Mainly it was just fun. Goosebumps when the final cut is the Millennium Falcon soaring accompanied by the John Williams music. You didn’t come away from that trailer with any idea of how the movie was going to be. The internet was just speculation from that point on. Even when we got a longer trailer we had no idea how the movie was going to unfold. Not like the recent Spider-Man Homecoming trailer. I already feel like I know that movie beat for beat. Looking at the second Force Awakens it didn’t expand heavily on plot and if anything had an element of misdirection if anything. I for one certainly had Finn as uncover at first not as a defecting Stormtrooper. Most importantly it gave no indication whatsoever as to the size of the roles the original returning cast members would play. No one could have predicted the impending demise of Han Solo just from that trailer. The biggest misdirection of all was putting the scene of Finn with the lightsaber in and not one of Rey!
Footage of the Falcon was used purely for nostalgia. The scene that reintroduced audiences to the iconic ship was for me one of the most enjoying scenes of cinema. It pushed all the right buttons. Lets look at Rogue One now which was fresh territory for Star Wars but it largely kept to the same conventions as Force Awakens. As they were all new characters no matter how much or how little they should us, it would only lead to more questions. The only familiar cues were Stormtroopers and of course the Death Star. The Rebel base on Yavin was the only moment they could play the nostalgia card. In a later trailer we got a fleeting glimpse of Darth Vader. Although that trailer did play out to a version of his theme. Again they used misdirection in the scene with Jyn in the Tie Fight pilot outfit. All of the major cast get plenty of time in the trailer without many clues to the plot being given. We don’t know how the team comes together. No indication that Bodhi is a Imperial defector. Little of Chirrut and Baze is revealed we mainly see them in action. Now think about that in comparison to the Captain America Civil War trailer. The educated of us knew the premise of the movie was heroes fighting heroes.
Obviously the two sides would be much smaller than the original comic but did we need to see the two sides running head on at each other in the trailer? You can also compare the amount of screen time Black Panther got to that of new additions to the Star Wars mythos in Rogue One. The biggest crime the Civil War trailer committed was revealing Spider-Man. Because of the internet we knew he was going to be in it. Why did they feel the need to show his first scene in costume in the trailer?! When we had the fleeting glimpse of Darth Vader in the second Rogue One trailer we had no idea what was coming. We had no idea we were going to get the greatest minute of Darth Vader in Star Wars history at the climax of that movie. There wasn’t even a hint in the trailer like the flicking on of a lightsaber.
So what of The Last Jedi trailer? Again even though it is a new director it sticks to what has been set out by the first two new movies. It goes big on action and again plays the nostalgia to its strengths. Force Awakens was wrongly accused of being too much like A New Hope. This trailer does carry a certain feel of Empire Strikes Back. Most notably with Luke training Rey. You could also point to the glimpse of an injured Finn in some sort of tube. This could easily be explained away as being at the start of the movie, as last we saw him he had been cut deep by Kylo Ren. I’m sure there will be those speculated if this is like Empire that is Finns frozen in carbonite moment. Thanks to the internet the planet with the red dust has been revealed as Crait, home of a rebel base. So yeah they are going to end up there or start there.
The clip of Poe’s X-Wing blowing up could be related to this. I didn’t notice the first two times I watched but on the horizon on Crait are Imperial Walkers! Heres a tip watch the trailer once. Then watch it again without sound. You pick up more details. I’m still not sure of that is Vader’s helmet or Kylo’s? More misdirection? This movie will very much be the passing of the flame to the new generation. Although Luke is prominent in this trailer we only get Leia in rear profile. This maybe because of he untimely death. That they decided to keep her final performance till we actually see the movie. A small glimpse of R2, no C-3P0 and no Chewie! Although he could be piloting the Falcon in its one quick scene. More surprising was the very small Kylo appearance. But I feel later we will be getting a more Dark Side themed trailer too. In final comparison to the Marvel trailers there is no footage of any of the new cast members Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern. Marvel undoubtedly would have shot their load like they did with the Guardians trailer showing Kurt Russell as Ego saying he is Peter’s father! Think about that for a moment. In 1980 know one going into Empire Strikes Back had any idea Darth Vader was going to utter those immortal words to Luke Skywalker. Lastly this trailer and the first for Force Awakens share a nice piece of symmetry in that they both start one with music one with narration then that is broken by a character gasping. I don’t know if this was intentional or a happy coincidence. The trailer for episode IX will confirm all this!
In conclusion thank you to everyone working on the new generation of Star Wars movies. You are making going to the cinema fun again. Okay I still have to stay off the internet but what you are doing with you trailers and then the movies is nothing short of genius. Beautiful. May the force be with you!
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
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Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
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