Brothers, Matthew Hurd and David Hurd take a look at last week’s teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens . From lightsabers to the Millennium Falcon, the guys have had varied reactions from the trailer. But are they looking forward to next year’s film? Read on to find out.
And if you need a reminder of what the fuss is all about:
“It’s more like the originals, not like the prequels!”
That’s what everyone is saying. That’s what has got everyone so excited. And that’s what everyone is wrong about. What they actually mean is, “It’s got the Millennium Falcon in it!” and they’re right about that much, at least. But if we all take our nostalgia-goggles off for a moment, let’s actually weigh this up.
The only truly new designs we see are the speeder-bike thing, which is very much in the podracer-y droid-army style of the prequels, and the rolling droid, which is pure prequel silliness through and through. There’s actual podracers in the background as the droid rolls past, too. But it’s far more than just the imagery – the way it’s shot and edited is also very prequel-esque. There’s handheld shaky closeups of redesigned Stormtroopers crowded in a dropship, just like in Episodes II and III. And as for the Falcon’s big money-shot – the shot everyone is going completely nuts about – there is nothing even close to that in the original trilogy. It’s a completely impossible camera move, yet it’s shot in a hand-held style that loses focus slightly – which is a distinct type of digital shot pioneered by George Lucas and ILM during Attack of the Clones. Sorry everyone, but this looks and feels way more like the prequels than the original trilogy.
But I personally like the prequels, so that’s not actually a problem. What is a problem is that seeing the Falcon in action does nothing for me. I love the Falcon – I’m a Star Wars fan and it’s the freaking Millennium Falcon – but I love it because it’s a great location, with real personality, and I love the other characters who call it home. The main problem with the prequels is that they don’t have a similar home-base for us to share with the characters (something Rebels, Firefly, and Knights of the Old Republic all realise). I love that old bucket-of-bolts like family, but I don’t care about seeing her fight – she’s not even really designed for that. It’s silly.
What I do want to see fight is smaller, more manouverable fighters. And this is the one part of the trailer that really did work for me. A squadron of X-wings skimming across the surface of a lake, echoing the flight out to meet the Death Star, kicking up spray in glorious, beautiful twilight? Yeah, I can’t argue with that. This part is awesome – I want more and I want it now.
The rest of the trailer is… ok I guess. Nothing wrong with it but nothing really stood out, and much of it has already slid out of my memory, just a few hours later. It sets a tone, though, and even if it’s clearly preying on nostalgia, it’s still a pretty solid teaser. Job done, right?
…except there’s one other thing. The one truly unique symbol of Star Wars. The one thing that never fails to put a childish grin on my face. And they screwed it up. They screwed it up so badly. It shouldn’t even be possible to make a lightsaber uncool but, damn, they found a way. It looks completely stupid, like a parody of a lightsaber – with an ugly crossguard, flames at the tips, and lightning on the blade. The classic lightsaber is so simple, so elegant, that it became instantly iconic. This thing is the opposite, too messy and busy. It’s trying so hard to be awesome – to be totally badass and extreme, dude – and it just sucks.
Is this a dumb thing to get hung up on? I’m not sure – maybe. But the lightsaber, in all its minimalistic beauty, is such a core part of what Star Wars is and why we love it. If JJ Abrams can somehow get that wrong – the one thing it never even occurred to me that he might – then how can we possibly trust him with the rest?
Star Wars makes up a large part of my life. I first saw the Original Trilogy one after the other with my dad and older brother during a special three-day long screening and I loved it. While watching Return of the Jedi, I cried when Darth Vader died. Fast-forward several years, and I was watching Revenge of the Sith at a special midnight screening in New Zealand (one of the first places in the world to get midnight , I might add), and I cried when Anakin Skywalker died. I cry at a lot of movies. Fast-forward several more years, and I’m sitting at my computer, and I’ve just found out they’ve announced a new Star Wars Trilogy, and I’m literally shaking with excitement. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love Star Wars . I love the Originals and I love the Prequels. They are all great films, every single one of them.
And that it why it pains me so much to say that the trailer for The Force Awakens , which exploded onto the internet and was immediately described as “the best thing ever!” (or words to that effect), didn’t do anything to stir the Star Wars fan in me at all.
A lot of criticism has been dumped on the (exquisitely dumb) new lightsaber, but I honestly think that’s the least of the trailer’s problems. It’s a trailer steeped with Star Wars references – Stormtroopers, Tatooine, X-wings, (dumb) lightsabers, Rebel pilots, TIE Fighters, the Millennium freaking Falcon, John Williams – but it didn’t feel like Star Wars to me. Star Wars , and for a franchise as instantly recognisable as Star Wars is, that worries me.
Ever since the new Trilogy was announced, with every leaked plot point and on-set footage, my excitement has been slowly replaced by a gut clenching dread that Episode VII , would be in danger of just be a rehashing of the Original Trilogy, a desperate attempt to reuse what worked last time, to tread familiar, popular ground and appease the fans still pissed off about Jar Jar Binks (seriously, guys, get over it already), and for me, this trailer seemed to confirm all those fears.
The Prequel Trilogy worked so well because it was so different. It told an entirely new story in an entirely new way and showed us the galaxy in an entirely different way. But it still felt like Star Wars . This new trailer seems to be showing us basically the same story in basically the same way and is showing us the galaxy in basically the same way. And it doesn’t feel like Star Wars . The trailer suggests to me that they’re focusing on all the wrong parts of the franchise – the same ascetics, the same actors and the same Millennium freaking Falcon doesn’t make a Star Wars film. George Lucas knew that when he made the prequels, and it worries me that J.J. Abrams doesn’t seem to.
I’ll still go and see this film, and Episode VIII and Episode IX , because, hey, it’s Star Wars , but it worries me that the sprawling and incredible universe that George Lucas created and nurtured for so many years might be in danger of being undone and cheapened by a misguided and zealous adoration for the Original Trilogy. Sometimes, to quote Tom Hardy, you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling, but this trailer makes me worried that they are simply sticking to what they know works. And for a canvas as vast as Star Wars , that seems like such as waste.
Well, what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.