I’m immensely excited over the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, due to come out next December. As a teaser trailer, it doesn’t offer much insight into the plot of the new movie, which isn’t really that surprising since too much information too early can kill the buzz of people talking about it. Still, there’s enough in those very few shots—39 seconds of actual footage—to start talking.
Scene 1—We get a sinister voiceover from Andy Serkis, the man behind The Lord of the Rings’ and The Hobbit’s Gollum/Sméagol. Don’t anticipate him appearing in a screen-capture suit this time. He’ll be getting some on-screen time even if he doesn’t visually appear in the trailer. Serkis says that the Force has awakened, asking an unknown listener, “Have you felt it?” Cue the appearance of John Boyega in Stormtrooper apparel but without a mask. He’s sweaty and slightly disoriented. He’s apparently been through quite an ordeal and now he’s on Tatooine, home planet of Luke Skywalker, and the place where we first met Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookie, all of whom will be still around when the action starts in December 2015.
With rumors that Boyega is the lead in this film, I can only suspect that his appearance on Tatooine is directly linked to Serkis’ question—he has felt the force awakening in him. It may be that he’s gone AWOL from the Empire’s (or it’s remnant’s) armed forces, which would mean that the sound of a probe droid in the background might suggest they’re looking for him. This is the most popular opinion online. I could also be, as some have suggested, that he’s been impersonating a stormtrooper, though I doubt that. Personally, my hope is that he’s just survived a mission that has gone terribly wrong and he now finds himself alone on the barren waste of Tatooine.
Scene 2—Here we see a small droid with an R2-D2 head on a soccer-ball-type body. I can’t imagine such a long shot of one specific droid if it wasn’t trying to convey a message or to get its master’s attention. It might be racing to tell Luke or some other character about Boyega’s arrival or that of the girl from Scene 4 (below). The background clearly shows broken down podracer engines, which is a clear nod to The Phantom Menace. It also suggests the location to be Mos Espa, a city on Tatooine was visited only in the prequels. The original trilogy takes place in Mos Eisley and at Jabba the Hutt’s Palace.
Scene 3—Stormtroopers prepare to disembark from a craft of some sort into a dark landscape. Their rifles look impressive and could feature some upgrades that blasters in the first six movies lacked. We’ll have to see. The helmets have changed since the original trilogy, offering some new black lines we haven’t seen before. This may not be the only changes we’ll see to the stormtrooper uniforms, since these baddies may also be special forces. Boyega could be one of them if this takes place before the opening scene of the trailer. If the darkness we see them stepping into is Tatooine, which I believe it is, they may find themselves outmatched where only someone with force powers can survive…
Scene 4—A pretty girl is in a hurry to get somewhere on a speeder bike. Some have suggested that it’s a refurbished podracer engine, but since those babies tended to have exhaust ports out the back, I’m thinking not. Its bulk may actually be because it has extra space for storage. The girl may be the offspring of Han Solo and Leia, if rumors are to be believed. She has a staff attached to the speeder bike in the close up shots, reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s encounter with the Sand People in A New Hope. It’s absent from the far away shot, so J.J. Abrams is being nice in releasing this trailer so quickly—they’re not even done editing the 39 seconds they’ve given us. In the distance a few structures can be seen, maybe the remains of a podracer finish line, but it’s definitely not the one from The Phantom Menace. As to where she’s going in such a hurry or why, we can’t really know, but I suggest it’s to get to a person, not because she’s being chased, since we don’t see any blaster fire from a would-be pursuer. Again, I’m hoping everyone on Tatooine that we’ve seen thus far (Boyega, droid, stormtroopers, girl) are converging on Luke Skywalker.
Scene 5—We finally find ourselves on a new planet. There are mountains and water and three X-wings flying in low. You don’t fly that low just to show off. These rebels are on an attack run and are trying to avoid detection by flying low. This also suggests their target is a ground-based enemy. I can’t even begin to guess what planet this is on, but I think it may be new. Other possible candidates from prior films include Naboo, home planet of Padmé, the mother of Luke and Leia, or Kashyk, home planet of Chebacca.
Scene 6—We’re greeted by Serkis’ voice again as the camera follows a dark, hooded figure through some snowy woods. It could be the same planet that we see the X-wings flying over, but it’s definitely not the same area or same time of day. Chances are, it’s not the same. Serkis identifying the dark side of the Force before mentioning the light gives further credence that he’s a bad guy, and the apparent Sith warrior carrying a wicked new lightsaber is likely his apprentice. In the movies no one whips out a lightsaber just to show off. This guy senses or sees a threat and is prepared to meet it. If Abrams had given us just two more seconds of film, I’m sure we would have seen who that was.
Scene 7—The last scene gives us a shot of the Millenium Falcon, the iconic ship of Han Solo and Chewbacca, flying low over the desert of Tatooine before flying past two Imperial TIE fighters and evading their blasts. Someone is escaping from Tatooine in a hurry, and I bet Boyega, the girl, and whoever they’re going to see is with them.
Order of events—Movie trailers don’t usually keep scenes in the same order they’ll appear in the film. I think it’s safe to say that the action will begin on Tatooine and then migrate to other worlds. I’d guess the order of scenes is this:
- Scene 3 (Stormtroopers)
- Scene 1 (Boyega)
- Scene 4 (Girl)
- Scene 2 (Droid)
- Scene 7 (Millenium Falcon)
- Scene 6 (Sith)
- Scene 5 (X-wing)
Final thoughts—J.J. Abrams wasn’t just randomly selecting scenes when he decided what to include in the trailer. His focus is on the new characters who will make the action happen in this new trilogy. The trailer also had a theme of movement and urgency. The Force has awakened. It’s moving. So too, virtually every scene is characterized by someone or something that is moving in a hurry to get somewhere. I look forward to the next trailer, rumored to be released around May 4, 2015 (May the fourth be with you). You can bet I’ll revise my theories and bring new analysis to that trailer as well.