Saturday, November 14, 2015

Entertainment Weekly Reveals More "The Force Awakens" Images and Details

Han Solo covers Entertainment Weekly
With barely a month to go before its theatrical release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens' promotional campaign is in full throttle. Entertainment Weekly is helping out by covering the film once again in this week's double issue. For such a monumental film, EW has four different collector's covers, featuring Han Solo (pictured), C-3PO and R2-D2, Rey, and Finn, respectively, along with tons of new images and details inside. If it wasn't clear already, spoiler alert!

Let's start with scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), whose dialogue in the international trailer revealed that she's been waiting for her family on Jakku. “She’s been alone for a long time. When something occurs when you’re 5, you know what went on but you don’t understand the reasoning... She’s never sat around a table and had a meal with someone else. She works to feed herself, and she goes to sleep, and she gets up again. It is a sad life," Ridley told EW. But all this loneliness hasn't made her resentful or pessimistic. "She's hopeful for what lies ahead, whether that involves the past or not. Hope makes people good, a lot of the time. You hope for a brighter future, and resentment is outweighed."

But why was she left alone on this dangerous desert planet in the first place? Well, anyone with half a brain can infer that she's a part of the Skywalker family, in which case her parents (Han and Leia) might have hidden her away on Jakku to protect her from the Dark Side...because she's the last Jedi. 
Rey places spare parts on her speeder
In any case, we know that her destiny will be truly significant for the Star Wars universe, despite her self-identification as "no one" in the official trailer. "Rey, Finn, and Kylo, they all start off in a place where they have been led to feel like they’re wanting," Ridley added. "The film, for Rey, is a journey of finding out that no one is no one."

EW also provides some insight into how exactly Finn (John Boyega) escapes the First Order and leaves behind his life as a stormtrooper. Below we can see him meeting with handcuffed Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who's looking more than a little bruised. The trailer showed us Poe's brutal interrogation by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), which occurs in the beginning of the film. Poe gets captured, then he's tortured by Kylo, then Finn frees him and borrows his jacket. And then the two part ways; Finn escapes on a TIE fighter and crash-lands on Jakku (where he'll meet Rey), and Poe is left to find his own way home. 
We still don't know the event that finally pushes Finn towards his violent escape of the First Order's Star Destroyer, but it could easily have something to do with their incineration of a Jakku village, seen several times throughout the teasers and trailers. Witnessing the murder of innocents could certainly convince Finn, once and for all, that the First Order is not for him. 

But why exactly did he join in the first place? In the trailer, Finn says "I was raised to do one thing, but I've got nothing to fight for." According to EW, the soldiers of the First Order are fed propaganda from an early age. They know all about Luke Skywalker and his band of Rebels -- unlike Rey, who's only heard "stories" -- but they've been taught that these guys were big meanies who destroyed the benevolent Empire. 
Stormtroopers defend Starkiller Base
It's not yet known if stormtroopers have improved their infamously terrible aim, but at least they've got some new toys, including the rapid-fire blaster pictured above. Their commander, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is a woman -- much to the delight of the Internet -- but as it turns out, the anti-sexism doesn't end there. "We had women in stormtrooper costumes in the movie," director JJ Abrams said. You might think of all stormtroopers as men, but in The Force Awakens, at least a few of them will be female, underneath the unisex armor. 

Now we see Poe earnestly thanking Finn, later in the film when they've both somehow wound up on the Resistance base. He must also be grateful that Finn's returned BB-8, Poe's personal astromech droid that gets in the hands of Rey before she meets Finn, and accompanies the two on their escape from the First Order on Jakku. So grateful, in fact, that he might just give Finn the rumored cargo inside BB-8: Anakin (and later Luke) Skywalker's blue lightsaber!
But of course, Poe would be cruel to not let Leia (Carrie Fisher) take a look at the lightsaber first, seeing as it belonged to her missing twin brother. Abrams revealed to EW that Leia's not called "Princess" anymore, or even "Queen", both of which specifically imply the female gender. "She’s referred to as General, but…there’s a moment in the movie where a character sort of slips and calls her ‘Princess.’” We can guess that this character is Han Solo (Harrison Ford) , who used her royal title ironically in the Original Trilogy. 
General Leia
Han and Leia are still working hard to fight the First Order, but both of them have had some hard times since Return of the Jedi. "I can't imagine that Han Solo would ever not be a smart-ass," Abrams said, "but when you've had loss, you've experienced love and family and epiphanies and tragedies, those thing accumulate." Hmm...these "tragedies" could include the disappearance of Luke, and also Han being forced to put his young daughter in isolation. 

As for Leia, Fisher said, "She's solitary, under a lot of pressure, committed as ever to her cause, but I would imagine feeling somewhat defeated, tired, and pissed." Who wouldn't be pissed to see the evil Empire that they fought to destroy, turn into an even more evil First Order? She went to extreme lengths to blow up not one but two Death Stars, only to see a new, more powerful one built. 
The First Order assembles on Starkiller Base
That's right, Abrams finally admits that Starkiller Base, glimpsed on the movie's poster, is just as it seems. "It is very much -- and it’s acknowledged as such in the movie -- apparently another Death Star. But what it’s capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done. Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power." The base is an entire ice planet ripped inside-out and turned into a superweapon capable of literally killing stars, and their orbiting planets. That's definitely something that our heroes -- both old and new -- are going to want to destroy. 
General Hux

Starkiller Base itself is commanded by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), a leader of the First Order who EW finally gives some details on. "He’s pretty ruthless. A strong disciplinarian would be a mild way of putting it," Gleeson said. “People who are messed up themselves often want to squash the individuality out of other people because they’re afraid of what it means." Gleeson also revealed that there's at least one baddie who Hux doesn't get along with. "He’s kind of opposite Kylo Ren. They have their own relationship, which is individual and unusual. One of them is strong in different ways than the other. They’re both vying for power."

Adam Driver agreed that evil is often born from one's personal issues. “When you break all of those things down, really it’s just because someone wasn’t loved enough or felt betrayed,” he said. Kylo is rumored to be another Skywalker, and even the twin brother of Rey. If his parents similarly placed him in hiding, that would give him reason to feel unloved, and join the First Order. This would also explain his temper, described as "as fiery as his unconventional lightsaber". He's a total Vader fanboy, so let's hope that Hux doesn't get on his bad side, or he might receive a good ol' fashioned Force choke. 
Another thing that Kylo and Hux have in common? They both answer to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), who Abrams previously identified as "the most powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force". Motion-capture pioneer Serkis couldn't tell EW exactly what Snoke's alien body will resemble, but he gave some details on the motives of his character. “Supreme Leader Snoke is quite an enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful. Obviously he has a huge agenda. He has suffered a lot of damage. As I said, there is a strange vulnerability to him, which belies his true agenda, I suppose.”
Andy Serkis motion-capturing Snoke behind the scenes
If Snoke is "damaged", does that mean he's lived through the events of the Original or Prequel Trilogy, and we've seen him before? "No, he’s a new character in this universe. It is very much a newly-introduced character," Serkis said. "He’s aware of what’s gone on, in the respect that he has been around and is aware of prior events. I think it’d be fair to say that he is aware of the past to a great degree." 

EW also sheds some much-needed light on the movie's other mysterious motion-captured character: Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o), who has given multiple intriguing voiceovers in the recent trailers and TV spots. Abrams confirmed that she appears in the theatrical poster (pictured), looking pretty short and wearing very special goggles. "I had this pitch about these goggles that she wore. Her eyes are an important aspect of her character, and you’ll see how it plays out," Abrams said. 
Maz Kanata (center)
Oscar winner Nyong'o couldn't say much about Maz's role in the movie, but she explained that her character's eyes hold a secret power. "As an actor for films, your eyes are a lot of the way you communicate anyway. So it was definitely a gift to have that be the means to her magic as a motion-capture character." We can certainly wonder about what kind of (Force?) powers Maz has, but they must be pretty strong, because she's already been deemed the "new Yoda" by the Internet, based on her short stature and infinite wisdom. 

That title seems a bit strange, considering that she's a shady pirate, not a Grand Jedi Master. "She’s lived over a thousand years. She’s had this watering hole for about a century, and it’s like another bar that you’d find in a corner of the Star Wars universe," Abrams said. Her bar is built in an ancient castle, and it houses all sorts of exotic smugglers, thieves, and bounty hunters, much like Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope. Han, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 will travel there to ask Maz for information about Luke, but they may get a little more than they bargained for. 
Kylo Ren confronts Finn and Rey
Here we have the most important image released by EW, revealing the third (and final?) element of Kylo Ren's snowy stroll. The very first teaser almost a year ago showed him angrily igniting his crossguard lightsaber; then, an Instagram teaser in late August divulged his opponent to be Finn, wielding the blue lightsaber. Now we see that Finn is joined by Rey. This means all kinds of bad news for the ex-stormtrooper, judging by the trailer's shot of Rey weeping over someone's body in what looks to be the same forest. 
But fear not: Boyega has reportedly shot test scenes with actresses auditioning for a part in Episode VIII, so his character is unlikely to die. If my own theory is correct, then after Kylo wounds Finn, Rey will grab the lightsaber -- which belongs to her family -- and attack him with her own Force powers. 

Lastly, producer Bryan Burk told EW what the final day of major filming was...and we've already seen a glimpse of it. It was a dark, dreary scene involving Kylo and the presumed Knights of Ren (pictured), a group that may share his obsession with Darth Vader. After seeing this shot in the trailer, many fans predicted that this takes place when Kylo retrieves the remains of Vader's helmet on Endor, judging by the rain and mud. This would provide some background onto another scene in which Kylo speaks to the helmet, "I will fulfill our destiny, I will finish what you started." 
This theory would suggest that the Knights' scene took place during the beginning or middle of the movie. And the new information presented by EW disproves nothing -- movies are very rarely shot in chronological order, especially when they're as big as The Force Awakens, so we still have no confirmation of when this scene takes place. But if it was the final scene of the film, instead of a congregation of the protagonists that most of the previous Star Wars films have ended on, then this would have to be some kind of cliffhanger. You can see lots of dead bodies in the background... Maybe, just maybe, the Knights of Ren slaughter a whole bunch of innocents, and then use their life force to resurrect Darth Vader. You hear his iconic breathing, and then the closing credits begin. 
Would that be a bit ridiculous? Yes. But it's been suggested that the Dark Side of the Force holds the secret of resurrecting life (Palpatine used this myth to manipulate Anakin in Revenge of the Sith), and you can't deny that this would be a truly amazing end to a (hopefully) amazing movie. This would also inspire fresh anticipation for Episode VIII, which will be unable to capture the nostalgia and wonder of The Force Awakens' promotional campaign. 

What are your thoughts on this new information? Tell me in the comments, and may the Force be with you all. 

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