Never Trust A Trailer

Boy, I picked the right week to return from my sabbatical, didn’t I?

I’m sure by the time this sees print that you’ll have all read countless articles describing the minute details of the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens, not to mention the exponential times you all must have watched it already. But although I am certainly not the only Saga fan with a I-III lean writing a commentary out there, I figure it’s still a fairly rare point of view in mainstream geekdom circles.

When I was first sent the YouTube link for the first official teaser, I clicked not with anticipation and excitement, but with fear and nervousness. It’s little wonder, then, that my first impression of the piece was overwhelmingly negative:

  • “Okay, opening on Not!Tunisia.”
  • “Weird voice over.”
  • “Guy in a Stormtrooper outfit?! Why are there still Stormtroopers?! Jedi had a happy ending and you’re ruining it Goodbye!”
  • “Weird little droid.”
  • “This all looks like a fanvid from someone a little too obsessed with the EU.”
  • “Practical Effects my backside. I don’t know whether to slap the filmmakers for making that claim or laugh at the haters who actually bought it.”
  • “Lightsaber with…lightsaber…hiltguards? And it’s RED?! What did I just say about Jedi?! Does the Chosen One mean nothing to you?!”
  • “Oh look, the Milennium Falcon looking like it flew out of Abrams’ Star Trek reboots. YAWN.”

I mean, I was really starting to rage. I guess it didn’t help that I was already on edge due to other issues (don’t you hate it when you go on vacation to de-stress and end up with MORE stressors?). But then I realized what I was doing.

I was doing, big surprise, exactly what I said I wouldn’t. I was judging the film and the trailer based on meta-information rather than judging just by what we’re shown. I was looking at this as JJ Abrams’ attempt at Star Wars – not thinking of it as a real Star Wars movie. And comparing to the feeling I got watching the teaser for The Phantom Menace, one of the greatest teaser trailers ever made that nothing can be fairly compared to. Which of course is exactly the kind of thing I call haters out on.

There’s a film I’m quite fond of called “A Time to Kill”, based on a John Grisham novel about a man (played by Mace Windu himself, Samuel L. Jackson) who kills the people who assaulted his young daughter, and has to defend himself in the US South, where race relations aren’t all that great. At the end of the film, his lawyer (played by Matthew McConaughey) asks the jury flat out to vote how they would were the ethnicities involved different.

Now, obviously, that is a deeper and more serious issue than what one person does or does not feel about a series of silly space movies, and I would never be insensitive enough to compare the two. However, remembering this scene (which admittedly wouldn’t have worked in a real court but is powerful anyway) helped me put some things in perspective. If I was to truly give The Force Awakens trailer (and by extension the final film) a fair shake and not become a giant hypocrite, I had to go back. I had to watch it again, and again. Take in all the details, acknowledge that they happened. Now imagine it’s Lucas!

After all, George himself wrote the treatments, and ostensibly the screenplays are supposed to follow his notes, right? I mean, we’ll see when all is said and done, but as far as we know right now, this is still George’s story.

So I watched it again with this mindset. And this is what went through my head the second, third, fourth, and fifth times I watched the trailer:

  • Hey, wait a second, that voiceover is Andy Serkis! How could I not have recognized it?!
  • Okay, so this is a guy in a trooper outfit…that outfit could mean a whole lot of different things. If what this incredible Star Wars Ring Theory article I just read is true, then the story goes in cycles. Are there Imperial remnants that could be the plucky underdogs to the New Republic? Intriguing…
  • Ha! Beach ball astromech really is cute. Glad to see Star Wars hasn’t lost its sense of whimsy.
  • Hmm, these new Trooper designs look like a believable evolution from Clone through Storm to whatever these guys turn out to be
  • That speeder looks like a marriage of McQuarrie and Chiang sensibilities. It doesn’t feel too out of place, though it still strikes me as something out of the comics more than any of the movies.
  • Still bored with X-Wings, but this shot has some nice atmosphere.
  • Hmm, does “Awakening” mean the Force is once again out of balance? I mean, George loves his cycles. I wonder what the reasoning is…
  • And really, the Broadsaber is no more ridiculous than the Doublesaber – and, if I’m completely honest with myself, no less awesome. In fact, though there’s greater chance of self-harm, it is an effective protection against disarming by an enemy.
  • It’s a dizzying shot, but still a sweet move.

There are teasers that have gotten me far more excited about movies than this one has, but when I really sit and consider what it’s giving us I have to say I am truly intrigued. Awakened indeed!

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Adam lives with his wife in Providence, Rhode Island USA (a wife who was gracious enough to allow “Across the Stars” as their wedding processional). Adam plays World of Warcraft, writes and manages the self-indulgent blog “Nilbog’s Storybook Land”, and attempts (often in vain) to complete his novel. He secretly hopes that the production of the new Star Wars films will lead to open auditions.