It was the film which took everyone by surprise, even the studio who released it who had little faith in it, but in the summer of 1977 Star Wars defied all expectation to become a global phenomenon. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi followed and made good on the promise of a wider universe of bolted together technology filled with exotic species ruled by a great evil and the band of determined rebels who sought to restore freedom to the galaxy.
Original writer and director George Lucas took full creative control for the long awaited prequel trilogy released between 1999 and 2005 which divided the fans in their courting of a younger audience, a fear which seemed to crystallise when Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney in October 2012, but directed by genre wunderkind JJ Abrams from a script co-written with Lawrence Kasdan who collaborated on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi and produced with Kathleen Kennedy whose resume includes Poltergiest, E.T. the Extra-Terrestial, Gremlins, Back to the Future and dozens of other highly regarded classics, the future of a long time ago seemed to be in good hands.
A new cast was announced including relative unknowns such as John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, established actors new to the genre Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, veterans new to the franchise Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow alongside returning stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker, all conspicuously absent from a teaser which focuses on new characters though hints at familiar settings. With the release of the first footage, do the team sense a disturbance in the force or a new hope? From the comments and strength of their reactions, it is apparent that Star Wars still has an enormous hold on them.
Michael Flett – It’s not given us much to analyse, but what it has is on the whole good. The oversaturated gold of the desert sand – it’s almost a shame when it fades to normal. A black man in a Stormtrooper uniform – is he actually a Stormtrooper or is he in disguise? Is he running to somewhere or running from something? And look at his face – he is panicked. There is genuine concern there. I’ve deliberately stayed away from rumours and speculation and I have no doubt a lot that we will be told is disinformation, this being the Bad Robot boys, so I have no idea who John Boyega is playing but he actually seems to be acting, engaged in the scene, so that puts us ahead of The Phantom Menace already.
That’ll be Daisy Ridley atop her speeder brick. Does she look to be of royal blood? Like stormboy, she looks like she’s running scared, but with the cold menace of those genuine Stormtroopers, who can blame her? There’s more of a likeness to Natalie Portman than Carrie Fisher, but I feel this could be the grandaughter of Anakin Skywalker, though that could just be coincidence, as why would she be back on Tatooine, assuming this even is Tattooine. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of her, ahem, less than courtly transport, but to me it looks like an engine which has been repurposed, and as a guy who to this day still patches his jeans rather than throws them out, so I don’t have a problem with it.
Tatooine was a farm planet, it was poor, it was cobbled together technology. I was seven years old when I saw Star Wars, and I was poor, and I lived out in the country, our nearest neighbour two fields away. Most science fiction was about the elite – the trained pilots and engineers who grew up with all the advantages. They never came from one horse towns like I did. Star Wars meant that I was in with a chance. Even the Princess wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and throw in with the men if it got the work done. Leia Organa, almost forty years on, I still love you.
Of course, the prequels changed all that. Courts and palaces and “elected queens,” the Jedi council, the Senate, and all the technology pristine, polished chrome starships and gleaming corridors. A world which I once thought I had a place in was off limits again. The whole midichlorian thing, too – Ben told me that the Force was generated by all living things and that it surrounded all of us, and that while some might have an innate talent, anyone could tap it at some basic level. But no, now you have to have been born with a fungal infection. Yeah, that was another slap in the face. But back to business.
The rolling astromech droid I’m not so sure about – I mean, when I think about it, why not, there were all kinds of varieties and I’ve always felt they were modular, but it seems a bit too cutsie which isn’t the message I would have wanted to send at this point. Also – it’s rolling left, Stormtrooper headed left, flying brick gal headed left; it may be nothing, but it could imply a connection between them.
Another thing I see complaints about is the flaming lightsaber with the flaming cross-guard, how impractical it is. I’m sorry, a lightsaber is by definition an impractical weapon liable to inflict as much damage on the user as their opponent if they drop it or stumble and fall on it: the argument would be valid if it had been made a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but lightsabers are part of the universe now, so deal with it.
And then we have modified X-Wings – does anyone call them Snub Fighters anymore? Am I showing my great age? I must say I don’t care for the modifications but those are minor, they’re still a design classic and look great blasting across the screen and pulling up the water vapour behind them. And then comes the Falcon and the John Williams fanfare. Is it really thirty years since we last saw her on the screen? She still looks amazing, and look at her go.
It’s only a teaser, it’s meant to give a hint of the tone of the piece, it’s not a trailer which would focus more on plot and character. This is just a hint, and it’s got me wanting more, and I trust JJ Abrams to do better than the prequels. And apparently with minimal lens flare… I know his Star Trek films divide people but despite some irks, I’ve loved them both and could watch them over and over. My only sadness is that the price for him saving Star Wars was that he left Star Trek behind.
Gordon Robertson – I think my enjoyment of this trailer says far more about JJ Abrams’ ability to craft a really good teaser than anything e
I utterly adored the original Star Wars – until the film came out that it is. I read the US import comic adaptations, I read the book and all well before the film arrived on these shores. The hype seeping over the Atlantic was intoxicating to a thirteen year old nerd discovering the joy of being ahead of the curve for the first time.
Back then new films started on a Monday, they hadn’t worked out how to maximise impact by releasing at the weekend, and so I queued with a couple of dozen others Monday morning to see the very first showing. It wasn’t a sell out. Of course, no film was going to live up to the build up I had given it in my head, and it did disappoint. Not that I admitted that to anyone for a very long time. I never quite got over that and have never been that huge a fan as a consequence.
So the trailer was never gonna be that big a deal for me, and I broke my no trailer rule out of curiosity. Started off all a bit meh… but then the Millennium Falcon swooped in, the music started and I’m im. I’m all in and I know I’m gonna be disappointed all over again, but maybe, just maybe I won’t be. Like I said, it’s all about how good Abrams is at making teasers.
Damn you/Thank you JJ.
Matthew Rutland – When I was a child, I didn’t love Star Wars, I lived Star Wars. Every toy, every character, all the vehicles, curtains, bedspread, lunchbox, you name it, I had it. Nothing quite beats the goosebumps when you first hear the stirring theme as the two suns set over Tatooine, or the first flash of a lightsaber. Inevitably, we all grew up.
Technology grew up too, at an alarming rate, and the beloved polygonal lines of the Star Wars arcade game gave way to the (at the time) amazing graphics of PC Star Wars titles such as X-Wing Commander and Rogue Squadron, and even the SNES “super” series allowed us to relive those days in happy reminiscing.
Then, a darkness fell upon us. I fondly remember being excited for The Phantom Menace and when I went to see it, I actually enjoyed it. After such a hiatus, and knowing it was going to centre on a child therefore have some childish antics, I didn’t mind Jar-Jar who was far better than the torrid love scenes shown in Attack of the Clones and who I still think is scapegoated way too much for peoples’ feelings of let down.
But after the prequels came, and cynicism and the Internet grew hand in hand, I became more beleaguered by the whole franchise. The reports of Lucas and his constant tinkering became more depressing, and the digital rewipe of Sebastian Shaw’s old Anakin to be replaced by Hayden Christensen’s young Anakin was the last straw, The dark side drew me in and I loved Star Wars no more.
But now, now is the time for a title of A New Hope. The CGI looks smooth and crisp, yet the Millennium Falcon feels as real on the screen as the old models did. The stirring sounds of John Williams, the cinematography looks great, and its a whole new story featuring our beloved characters we grew up with: Luke, Han and the whole gang, last seen around a campfire presumably BBQing fallen Ewoks.
However, to quote Glorificus, “So why am I not happy?”
Well, a new Sith sightsaber with two seeming exhaust ports looks poorly designed, and I’m not sure about the voiceover – is that meant to be Palpatine or Luke? Either way, it felt very Hammer Horror put on (the lack of Hammer legends in this is another gripe, but that’s another story) and the Falcon was a beat up old girl who looks too shiny and new. Probably weighing most heavily is the thought of being disappointed again, and considering that I have been nothing but disappointed with everything Jeffrey Abrams has done (I refuse to pander to his ego by calling him “JJ” like we are so cool and informal) and Star Trek and Cloverfield and Lost all point to a stylised but content light visual feast that lacks the gravitas this title needs. Should have been Edgar Wright, but that’s just this critic’s opinion. So there has been an awakening of the light and dark side, just of films, not the Force.
Dario Persechino – Holy F…orce!!! I’ve watched it once, on my tiny little insignificant phone screen and every hair on the back of my neck stood on end as the Force flowed through me. I beamed the smile of a child whose dreams have come true. Memories of a childhood filled with wonder and excitement came flooding back to me.
Star Wars is back! And really back, not in some hideously shiny little-orphan-Ani-building-C3PO-while-midi-sodding-chlorians-abuse-your-childhood back, properly back! I loved it when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars because it meant Uncle George could never hurt us again.
Finally after years of waiting and enduring the abominations, there really is A New Hope.
So initial geek-gasm over, what have we seen? The effects look good, the droids look solid. The Stormtroopers look classic. What else, oh I’ll load it up again… Stormtrooper in the desert, oooh X-Wings over water, solo sandspeeder looking good, a cross-like lightsaber…um ok, not so sure about that but – HOLY CRAP THE MILLENNIUM FALCON!!! UPSIDE DOWN! OVER A DESERT WITH TIE FIGHTERS SHOOTING AT IT!!!
This more than anything else this year stands a chance of actually breaking the Internet. The film is a year away, and this is just a teaser which reveals very little about the plot, but I don’t care. I am so damn excited I could scream. It doesn’t just look good, it looks great! The ships, the droids, the universe looks like it used to. Physical, solid (with touch ups of CGI). It looks like Star Wars. Like it did when I was a kid 🙂
A lot can change in a year, and in the large amount of footage that wasn’t in the trailer. Maybe I am being too hopeful but I think JJ has earned some faith, and just from this trailer, for me at least, the Jedi look like they have finally returned.
Les Anderson – Well – I was half-expecting to see Chewie welding the Falcon back together – at night, of course… Had to watch it without sound but visually it sticks to the original palette. The cg work looks like it’s lacking some finessing but it’s all very promising. Not sure about the beach-ball droid – just too damn cute for my liking.
Could that be R2’s girlfriend by any chance? As for the Is That Cumberbatch? question, the figure shown certainly moves like him. Pity they didn’t show any of the oldies but I suppose they will take a lot more post-production finessing than some tatty old X-wings. Miaow.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled for release on 18th December 2015