star wars episode vii the force awakens
We all love Star Wars right? With its Spaceships and lightsabers and funny droids what else in popular culture has resonated quite to the extent that this series has? In the thirty-five odd years since Star Wars (latterly rechristened A New Hope) was released the core plot has covered itself in a variety of disguises; Lego, Family Guy and Eragon have all left their marks on the Lucas legacy each to incredible financial success. In short the human race is addicted to Star Wars so it is no wonder that since the release of the new teaser trailer on the 28th of November 2014 the internet has become polluted with unfunny gifs, banal commentaries and a bunch of idiots reacting to those famous 90 seconds…
My initial reaction upon viewing these clips was indifference. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason for my apathy but there it was. I just didn’t care; naturally I have since watched it about twenty times since and formed some thoughts.
The twin-sun cooked desert planet of Tatooine is inevitably the first and most important clip on offer; after all this is where our journey began in 1977. The cogs in the minds of the editors at Disney were clearly working in overdrive because this single shot says so much. “This is classic Star Wars… None of that Naboo shit here; but ooh, what’s this? A BLACK GUY?” Yeah, well done JJ; I actually am impressed. There’s a famous joke/criticism based on the original films. Star Wars is just a bunch of white heroes fighting the blackest man in the Galaxy – Darth Vader. The first African American hero that we come across is Lando and BOOM! Betrayal over Bespin. Straight away in the teaser we are shown that this is not our father’s sci-fi nonsense, it’s a Star Wars for the modern age. It’s street; it’s cool; it’s multicultural and look at that, he’s a Stormtrooper! Glass ceilings are being descimated, the plot implications are immense. Those faceless Stormtroopers from the original trilogy finally get some character. What’s it like being one of their number? What’s the experience of Stormtrooper training? And weren’t they all meant to be Jango Fett clones? For fans of the films there is so much opportunity here to learn more about the world we love and not those bits we don’t care about (e.g. Luke’s mum used to be an elected queen who had silly hat-hair) this information matters!
From here on though, the teaser oddly chooses to waste about fourty five of its ninety seconds. The dramatic rancor-fighting music shouldn’t have to stoop to accompany a shot of a wee ball-droid and who care about some woman on a clunky hover-bike? Rancor-fighting music is better than this! There’s a couple of X-Wings in there. I guess that’s cool. I like X-Wings. I made one out of Lego but they’re not the most exciting of spaceships. They’re not Slave I. Come on J.J., show us some characters or flashes of violence or even a tiny bit of Mark Hamill’s old face! We haven’t seen Mark Hamill in a film since that last Star Wars came out. It’d be a real Dear-Diary moment.
This said the remaining clips are rather intriguing. The newly designed Stormtroopers captured my imagination and the hand-held camera style of direction here makes it look as though we’ll be put right into the stifling conditions of an actual Star War. Maybe some of the film will be devoted to generating sympathy for the armies of the Empire, maybe we’ll get to walk side-by-side with the soldiers into battle. It’ll be like Halo or Private Ryan. Most importantly maybe some of the grit has returned to the Star WarsUniverse.
And then there’s that lightsaber! Why does it have the cruciform hilt? That looks a little impractical but I don’t really care. It became tradition for each new SW film to showcase a new design of red-saber. What with Dooku’s pointlessly curved handle and Maul’s double-blades this is all par for the course. What really intrigues me is the drunken, animalistic swagger of the hooded sith. So much drama and character has been conveyed in just a moment of screen time.
People have been postulating that this unsavoury customer is everyone’s favourite public-school-alumni Benedict Faversham but it would be a bad idea to keep shoving him into every franchise going as the same kind-of-clever-but-a-bit-sadistic baddy. Besides, there would surely have been an announcement by now declaring his participation in the film. That sort of promotion would get many non-sci-fi nerds immediately invested in the picture. He’s valuable property at the moment.
For my money, I think it’s either weird and wiry Adam Driver or the king of my heart Domhnall Gleeson both of whom have been announced as cast members for the film. Rumours have been abound for months about Driver’s role; claiming that he will be the three movies’ primary villain. This naturally makes him the ideal candidate but I like Domhnall Gleeson for the part and not just because I’ve loved him ever since I realised Bill Weasley wasn’t his fault. Gleeson has proven himself a very versatile actor, performing minor roles in numerous films over the last four or five years. I picture his sith lord as not so much of an About Time Domhnall:
But as a Dredd Domhnall.
Yeah, look at that creepy-sonbich.
Oh Star Wars, the power you have over me. Even after feeling thoroughly underwhelmed by your 90 second teaser I’ve still managed to write 1000 odd words about it. This is our first glimpse at a piece of history. Everyone knowsStar Wars and Luke and Leia and Padme and Jar-Jar and we’ll be getting to know these characters (Boyega Stormtrooper, Creepy Domhnall and Girl) very well very soon.
Dah dah dah dah dah dah
Doo doo doo daaaaaaaah daaaaaaaah dah dah dah daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah daaaaah dah dah dah daaaaaaaaaaah daaaaah deedle dee dum….
Live Long and Prosper
analysis by Stephen Higham