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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Trailer Breakdown

The first (and last) full-length trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released, first airing during a Giants vs. Eagles football game on ESPN, forming some nice Disney synergy. The trailer is just as action-packed and awesome as the movie will undoubtedly be. Here's a shot-by-shot breakdown of the trailer, complete with images and gifs, to make sure that no hidden details are missed. 

  1. The trailer opens on the mask and goggles of scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she looks through what appears to be the remnants of the star destroyer first glimpsed in the second teaser. She uses a rope to navigate through its cavernous interior. Between her appearance as the very first character in the trailer, and her central positioning on the theatrical poster released 2 days ago, we definitely know that she's very important. And her mechanical skills support the popular theory that she's a Skywalker. 
  2. "Who are you?" an authoritative female voice asks. The identity of this voice is unclear, but many are speculating that it's Maz Kanata, Lupita Nyong'o's motion-captured alien space pirate. The Mexican-Kenyan actress has a somewhat unique natural accent, and if you watch any interview with her, you'll hear similarities between her voice and this voice in the trailer. 
  3. Rey strides across the dunes of Jakku, carrying her signature staff, with BB-8 rolling behind her. Both the official Star Wars databank and scenes later in the trailer suggest that BB-8 is the astromech droid of Poe Dameron, but it seems like he'll start the film with Rey, much like R2-D2 in the Original Trilogy. 
  4. "I'm no one," Rey responds. A ship flies off in the distance, and she looks up with longing. She's one of several major characters who speak for the very first time in this trailer. Her response conveys her solitary and self-sufficient lifestyle, though her gaze expresses a desire to leave this desert world behind, much like Luke. But does she actually believe that she's "no one", or is she simply hiding her true identity as a Skywalker? 
  5. The Lucasfilm logo rolls. This film was originally started by the unpopular purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney, which has led fans to believe that the movie will be overly family-friendly. But the trailers have showed no such thing, and we can assume that the movie itself will similarly feature no Disney logo. 
  6. Rows of stormtroopers stand in formation on Starkiller Base. It appears that General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is addressing them from afar, and we can also make out Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) beside him. They represent the villainous First Order. 
  7. "I was raised to do one thing, but I've got nothing to fight for," Finn (John Boyega) says.  Unlike Rey, this character has shed its actor's natural British accent. Theories have run rampant about Finn as well, with many fans deciding that he was going undercover as a stormtrooper. But his dialogue certainly suggests that he's been a stormtrooper his whole life, born and raised to fight and kill.
  8. He pulls off his stormtrooper helmet, and we his damaged TIE fighter plummeting towards Jakku, with a star destroyer in the background. Based on footage from the second teaser, it appears that Finn's escape from the star destroyer turns pretty chaotic. But why exactly is the First Order going to so much trouble to find him? Has he stolen important information about their Starkiller Base? 
  9. Finn stumbles along the surface of Jakku, sweaty and holding his jacket by his side. He sees some sort of settlement from afar. This could easily be the home of Rey. We know that the two meet and eventually become allies as they're both chased by the First Order, but judging by Rey's solitary personality, we can guess that she won't be too happy to see a stranger wandering through her territory. 
  10. We see the bridge of a star destroyer, with a hoodless Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) standing at the helm, and a mysterious red light visible through the windows. This light could be a demonstration of the First Order's new superweapon. 
  11. "Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started," he says to the crushed helmet of Darth Vader. Unlike Rey and Finn, Kylo isn't going through any quarter-life crisis; he knows exactly what he needs to do. JJ Abrams revealed that Vader has become a martyr for the entire First Order, but Ren is particularly obsessed with him. 
  12. Ren, now cloaked, makes a Force gesture at Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who screams in anguish. The behind-the-scenes reel from Comic-Con 2015 revealed the First Order's capture of talented X-Wing pilot Dameron, and it was expected that there would be some kind of torture. "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" showed us methods of Force interrogation involving intensified Jedi mind tricks that cause the victim unbearable discomfort, but chances are, Kylo is using a new and sinister art of Force torture. 
  13. A forest is blown away under a huge blast. This could easily be our look at the destructive power of Starkiller Base's superweapon, which literally kills stars. After seeing it for the first time on the theatrical poster, fans immediately started comparing it to the Death Star. If the two superweapons are anything alike, we'll see a demonstration of the Starkiller, and this could easily be it. 
  14. "There were stories about what happened," Rey says as we see the Millennium Falcon evading TIE fighters over wreckage on Jakku. This suggests that the events of the Original Trilogy are now considered legends to most. We know that Rey will eventually pilot the Falcon herself. 
  15. "It's true, all of it," Han Solo (Harrison Ford) says to Rey and Finn aboard the Falcon, with holograms between them. We see the familiar image of the Falcon entering hyperspace, with some modern updates on the classic effects. So Han Solo will be the one to confirm these stories to our new heroes. But where exactly is the Falcon going? 
  16. Several masked figures, including Kylo Ren wielding his crossguard lightsaber, stand in the mud during a thunderstorm. These are almost certainly the Knights of Ren, the mysterious group from which Kylo gets his surname. Fans have theorized that they're on the moon of Endor to recover Vader's helmet. But if all of the Knights are grabbing it together, why is Kylo the one who keeps it? Perhaps he slaughters them all because he wants it himself. 
  17. "The Dark Side...the Jedi...they're real," Han continues. We see the familiar shot of an X-Wing squadron (including Dameron) gliding over a lake, and then their target: a group of stormtroopers in flaming rubble. This mountainous and forest-y location is present several more times in the trailer. It appears to be Yavin 4, still serving as a base of the Resistance. If Kylo Ren is really trying to finish what Vader started, then it would make perfect sense if the first thing on his to-do list is to destroy Yavin 4, the target of the original Death Star. 
  18. An X-Wing chases a TIE fighter over the same terrain. Poe Dameron gives Finn a reassuring pat on the shoulder as Resistance soldiers and pilots prepare for battle around them. The X-Wing finally nails its TIE target in a fiery explosion. It looks like Finn has finally found something to fight for. The pilot of that X-Wing could easily be Dameron, who has been described as "the best frickin' pilot in the galaxy". Great piloting skill runs through both Solo and Skywalker blood, so perhaps Poe is the son of Han and Leia. 
  19. On Jakku, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 are shocked by a huge explosion as a TIE fighter swoops by. The second teaser showed us a glimpse of the three heroes similarly running from explosions as a TIE fired at them. There are already big parallels between Rey and Luke Skywalker, and if this location is her home, then its destruction will serve the same purpose as the burning of Luke's farm: it will effectively cut off her ties to her previous life and ensure that she'll never be the same. 
  20. Han, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 approach a decorated temple with a strange red droid outside. This is rumored to be the castle of the aforementioned pirate Maz Kanata, who might just provide some clues to our heroes regarding the whereabouts of a certain missing Skywalker. The slanted walls are very reminiscent of the temples on Yavin 4 that we saw at the end of A New Hope
  21. A hooded figure places a robotic hand on R2-D2 beside a campfire. We saw this in the second teaser, and the identity of this figure is heavily rumored to be Luke Skywalker, who was missing from most of the released footage and the theatrical poster. One of the most popular theories is that he's missing during the film, possibly due to his struggle with his own powers. 
  22. A black shuttle lands in a burning village, with stormtroopers and civilians running amok. This is the personal shuttle of Kylo Ren, with dual wings similar to those of the Empire's classic Lambda-class shuttles. We've seen several shots of the First Order's nighttime village burning, and we can guess that this planet is Jakku, and Kylo Ren has been tasked with finding Rey and Finn through any means necessary...including the merciless murder of uncooperative civilians. 
  23. Captain Phasma marches with a squadron of stormtroopers through the same village. Kylo Ren ignites his lightsaber and swings it upon an unfortunate victim. Phasma has attracted lots of attention from fans, thanks to her unique chrome armor and her position as a female stormtrooper commander. Besides some pieces of promotional art, we've only seen her strutting around with a gun, but we know that she's another prominent officer of the First Order, and she's JJ Abrams' favorite character, so Phasma will probably be developed more than just a mean ol' villain.  
  24. Rey looks up from someone's body with tears in her eyes, in the midst a snowy forest. Uh-oh. The body seems to have a leather jacket, just like Finn. 
  25. "The Force...it's calling to you," says a voice believed to be Leia's. Han, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Finn have their hands behind their head in a surrendering gesture, with the same burning rubble in the background. It looks like our heroes will get captured by the First Order, at least temporarily. 
  26. BB-8 and Poe Dameron fly into a huge X-Wing vs. TIE fighter battle above a snowy and mountainous planet with a big trench in the middle. No, it's not Hoth; this entire planet has been converted into Starkiller Base from surface to core. I guess it was somehow less work to rip apart a planet and build a stronghold/superweapon on top of it, rather than just doing it from scratch. Unlike the Death Star's trench, we can guess that this one doesn't have an incredibly vulnerable spot where a proton torpedo can fit nicely. 
  27. Stormtroopers rush out of a First Order landing craft, guns blazing. Rey furiously fires a blaster in a jungle. One can only wonder what's got her so aggravated. #24 above showed Rey's fear, and now we see her fury. Yoda once said that fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, suffering, and the Dark Side. If she does have force powers, it appears that she'll struggle with the temptations of the Dark Side. 
  28. A stormtrooper is gunned down by an X-Wing. Kylo Ren turns and makes a Force gesture, with the burning village in the background. The Millennium Falcon evades another TIE fighter as it flies through an explosion. Glass shatters in the control room of an unknown First Order vessel. This trailer is loosely following the formula of any modern action movie trailer, and here we have the action-filled, semi-random climactic shots. 
  29. Han and Leia (Carrie Fisher) embrace! This is our very first footage of Leia in the film, besides a quick look in the behind-the-scenes reel. It's unclear why exactly she and Han are hugging. Perhaps he's comforting her on the disappearance of her brother Luke, or they're both about to go into battle, and they might not see each other again. Either way, this suggests that the two did indeed marry following the events of Return of the Jedi, and even have a child or two...
  30. Finn ignites a blue lightsaber and faces an uncloaked and unmasked Kylo Ren, who ignites his own and prepares to swing it towards him. If Finn's lightsaber is truly the former blade of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, then it would be considered very valuable to Kylo. This is another continuation of the scene that we saw in the very first teaser released last Thanksgiving. We have no idea how Finn learned to use a lightsaber, but based on #24 above, he doesn't win this fight. Kylo's homemade weapon has previously been described as a "plasma blade" rather than a lightsaber, and if you look closely, you can see that his blade is unstably crackling with energy. Interesting...
  31. "Just let it in," Leia concludes. Who is she speaking to? Currently the most popular theory is that Rey is either Luke or Leia's daughter, and she's Force sensitive, despite the fact that we've only seen her wield her staff and a blaster. Perhaps after Finn is wounded by Kylo Ren, Rey will furiously use her Force powers to defeat him. Leia's quote also suggests that she herself has discovered her Force powers since Return of the Jedi. Fisher is 59, so you shouldn't count on her participating in any fancy lightsaber battles, but hopefully she'll get at least one small action sequence. 
I have to say, this was a pretty perfect full (and final) trailer. The first minute expertly introduced the 3 most important new characters. Both casual fans and non-fans got the basic details: Rey's a loner, Finn's an angsty stormtrooper, Kylo Ren's a Vader fanboy. The remaining minute was dedicated to referencing the nostalgia-inducing events of the Original Trilogy while promising some epic new battles. Not to mention that nearly every shot of the trailer was an absolutely amazing visual in one way or another. It feels both incredibly familiar and refreshingly new. 

But the most admirable quality of this trailer is that it doubled the already huge levels of excitement for the movie, while ultimately still revealing very little of the plot. It's a perfectly-crafted, dramatic, beautiful, and inspiring 2 minutes that leaves you teary-eyed and completely satisfied, while simultaneously craving so much more. 

Did it meet my everything on my wish list? No. I would have liked to see more of the villains (other than Kylo Ren), and more lightsaber duels (there's certainly more than one in the film), and more of Luke Skywalker and other Original Trilogy characters and more of Starkiller Base and really just a longer trailer in general. But the trailer is such a masterpiece because it leaves so much unknown, and I wouldn't trade that for the spoiling of some of the film's biggest secrets. It's almost exciting to know that, apparently, this was the very last footage we'll see of the film until it's in theaters (the TV spots will be exclusively composed of footage from the trailer). 

And was the trailer a bit cheesy? Yes. Rey's character seems straight of a Journey song (Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world). As for Finn, it's interesting to see stormtroopers actually humanized for once, but something about his character seems cliched, as if the writers were just brainstorming some new characters and said "Hey, how about a stormtrooper who doesn't want to fight?" Kylo's deep and menacing dialogue ("Nothing will stand in our way") make him sound like any other action movie villain, which is frustrating because according to Abrams he's actually not generic whatsoever. 

But Star Wars is inherently cheesy. The heroes, the villains, the plot, nearly everything about the Original Trilogy was cheesy in some way, so they can't recreate the magic of those movies without bringing back that cheesiness. Let's just hope that the actual movie is less so. 

Can we take a short moment to recognize the awesome music this trailer had? Legendary movie composer John Williams is 83, and he still found time to make this movie's soundtrack. And I'm not just talking about the classic Star Wars themes starting midway through; the quiet music during the beginning of the trailer, coming to a crescendo when Kylo Ren appears, has been confirmed to be Williams' brand-new score.  
John Williams
While this trailer aired, advanced ticket sales went online, and The Force Awakens absolutely shattered all previously held records, despite the malfunctioning of major online vendors worldwide due to the sheer number of people buying tickets. This is clear foreshadowing that the movie's enormous box office predictions are anything but overly optimistic. 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on December 18th. What did you think of the trailer? Tell me in the comments, and may the Force be with you all. 

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