Saturday, November 29, 2014

complaints about the new "Star Wars" trailers

Two new trailers for the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" are out. The US trailer can be found here; the international trailer (which features the somewhat faded voice of Harrison Ford shouting a painfully corny line: "Is there room in this battle for an old warhorse?") is here.

The trailers give us our first taste of JJ Abrams's labor of love. We've all been assuming, of course, that Abrams truly is the Star Wars fanboy he's long claimed to be (by implication, his heart hasn't been in the making of the Star Trek movies), which means we all hope the franchise has been placed in the right hands.

Reaction to and dissection of the trailers has been swift on Twitter. William Shatner has already, apparently, laid out the things he doesn't like about the new movie: (1) it seems to steal an idea or two from "The Matrix"; (2) the landspeeders featured in the previews look like large, boxy fuses; (3) the red lightsaber with the laser guards is a bad concept (one hilarious parody shows the dark Jedi facing off against Jesus, who is brandishing a cross-shaped green lightsaber); (4) the new "ball" droid may replace Jar-Jar Binks as the worst character ever; (5) the new-edition stormtroopers' helmet designs look strangely "happier."

The movie is set for release at the tail-end of 2015, which gives Abrams time to make changes, based on fan reaction, while he's still in post-production. For myself, I noticed that Abrams still hasn't conquered his addiction to obnoxious lens flares, which are visible in the international trailer, creating an unwanted aesthetic connection between this new film and Abrams's earlier work on the Star Trek franchise. I also thought there were scenes that looked more like something from a "Star Wars" fan film than from a big-time Hollywood production. And I admit it was weird, very weird, to see the Bad Robot logo appear just a few seconds apart from the venerable Lucasfilm logo.

But there's much that Abrams seems to have gotten right. He's got X-wings and TIE fighters and the Millennium Falcon zooming through the sky, and the way his camera tracks these vehicles is consistent with George Lucas's lifelong love affair with speed. I hope the new movie gives us plenty of exciting dogfights. The chilling "What is thy bidding, my master?" makes it into the international trailer, and in both previews, the voiceover narration hints at an aged character who could be along the lines of a Yoda.

I admit I'm troubled by the notion that the movie seems to be following the Expanded Universe notion that the New Republic is still fighting the dregs of the Empire. The Empire itself apparently didn't last long: Luke Skywalker was a mere baby when it formed, and he was in his twenties when it fell. Before that, the Old Republic held sway, and was served "for a thousand generations" (i.e., twenty to thirty thousand years) by the Jedi Order. The Empire is just a blip—a mere hiccup in history. Can it really provide us with a serious antagonist? We'll find out in 2015, I suppose.

UPDATE: Duped! The above-linked "international" trailer is apparently a well-edited fake. This explains why I thought there were scenes that looked as if they'd come from fan films: they probably did come from fan films. The trickery likely also explains the poor sound quality when characters are speaking.


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