Star Wars has released its new look.
So, what do we know, and what does the new trailer tell us?
Let’s take it frame by frame.
1. “Who are you? I’m no one.”
No one? Or is she someone very, very important? This is Rey (Daisy Ridley) and according to her she’s no one. That’s perhaps why she’s hiding out on the desert planet Jakku. But this little lady is plainly someone. Because when the Empire – or what’s left it, that is, The First Order – comes calling, everyone in the galaxy mobilises to get her to safety, from the dashing X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to the gruff old Corellian freighter pilot Han Solo (Harrison Ford). The film’s director J.J. Abrams has said in interviews her full name had been withheld for a reason, which has fuelled speculation she is the daughter of Solo and Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). And as gambles go, that’s a pretty good bet.
Kylo Ren, nothing will stand in our way. Photo: Supplied
2. “Nothing will stand in our way…”
Our first taste of Kylo Ren’s voice – sort of Darth Vader, lite – takes us to the bridge of what might be the Starkiller Base. This is the headquarters of The First Order and, on the official poster which was released yesterday, appears as a sort of Death Star 2.0, a sphere-shaped space station with what looks to be a devastating weapon built into it. (Oh, no, not another one?) With his black cloak, mask and red lightsaber, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has the cut and jib of a Sith Lord, but he’s apparently not quite that. Rather, he’s one of the so-called Knights of Ren, pseudo-Sith cultists who practice the black magic of the dark side of the Force.
3. “… I will finish what you started.”
Here we have the final piece connecting Kylo Ren to the glimpses we have had of the burned breath mask of the iconic Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. Vader was, of course, killed at the end of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, after killing Emperor Palpatine and saving his son, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) from his clutches. That act redeemed the fallen Vader and he returned to the light side of the Force, and his body was burned, in keeping with Jedi tradition, on a pyre. (He also popped up as a Force ghost, played by Hayden Christensen, in a scene which rattled the Star Wars cognoscenti, but let’s not mention that.) Now we know his mask survives, as a fetish object venerated by Knights of Ren, and the sinister Kylo Ren who appears to lead them.
4. Poe Dameron … under Kylo’s spell?
The dashing X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has, so far, kept himself out of the spooky, Force-Sith sub-plot, but here we see him with a black-gloved hand hovering above his screaming face … a sign he falls under the spell of the Knights of Ren at some point, and in this scene, more directly under the power of Kylo Ren. But whatever the circumstance, the exhumation of Darth Vader’s melted breath (and later death) mask, and the sight of the seemingly heroic Poe Dameron under the spell of the dark side of the Force can only be bad, bad, bad news. Here’s a thought for you: ever noticed how much he looks like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)?
5. “It’s true … all of it, the dark side, the Jedi, they’re real.”
That, from the man who said there was no such thing as the Force? In Star Wars, all the way back in 1977, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) met Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) and his young companion, Luke. And as the old man piffled on about the Force (with a bit of radish-induced indigestion, thank you Mad Magazine) a wide-eyed Luke looked on. “Kid,” Solo declared then, “I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.” Decades later, Solo is plainly a changed man, having seen the rise of the Empire, the terrifying power of Darth Vader and, finally, on the planet Endor, the collapse of the Empire’s designs to subjugate the galaxy.
6. The Knights of Ren
Not just one Knight of Ren, but several Knights of Ren. Though this glimpse is brief, it appears we are seeing a cluster of Knights, all sporting what seems like similar, or identical black armour and masks. Though they clearly fetishise the Sith Lords, they are not quite that; rather, they’re a sort of cult which want to unlock the secrets of the dark side of the Force and re-create its power. That’s the reason the blade of Ren’s lightsaber – the so-called “crossblade lightsaber” – is coarse and jagged where previous lightsabers have been smooth and gleaming. His is, in effect, a little bloke on a planet using a Dick Smith DIY Sith Lord Lightsaber kit. He’s not quite top shelf in spec terms.
7. Indiana Solo and the Temple of the Jedi?
What do we make of this? Han Solo leading Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), BB8 and another unidentified droid into what appears to be the ruins of an old temple. It’s got more than a passing touch of Indiana Jones about it, and perhaps it requires a little speculation. Consider this for a theory: Han and Leia’s daughter Rey is caught on Jakku when The First Order make their move and, after teaming up with Finn, gets rescued by her father. Why they come to this place remains unknown, but as working theories go, it’s a start.
8. Meet Captain Phasma
With a succession of trailers, we we have seen much of Kylo Ren, one of the film’s villains, but very little of the other, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Here she is, in all her gleaming glory. Phasma wears the uniform of a First Order stormtrooper, but it is rendered in chrome. The effect is spectacular, and her tendency to stride into shot means she is perhaps very senior. Though the narrative so far plays Ren as the film’s main villain, like the Empire it’s possible the First Order use the Sith (and the Force) as an antiquated indulgence rather than anything more, and Phasma’s story may be more closely linked to General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) who, you may have noticed, J.J. Abrams is still keeping up his sleeve.
9. Princess Leia weeps
Someone pass the tissues, this is a proper fanboy moment. Leia may well be crying into the chest of her husband, Han Solo, for any number of reasons. (Okay, theory #1. her daughter Rey’s safety, theory #2. her brother Luke’s possible capture (or worse) by the Knights of Ren, or theory #3. a general oh-no-they’re-back/where-is-my-Danish-pastry-wig weepy moment.) But in truth she’s crying at just about the same time in the trailer that the fanboys will be reaching for their hankies, as the Williams score reaches its crescendo and the weaker among us pass out. Few characters are connected to the Star Wars narrative like Princess Leia Organa, the woman who, in 1977 uttered the phrase, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” And though she but passes us by, we shall love her till we die.
10. Lightsaber Duel
It wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without a lightsaber duel. Here we see the film’s main villain, Kylo Ren, with his red crossblade-lightsaber, coming up against Finn (John Boyega) with the blue lightsaber which, in story terms, appears to be the original lightsaber of Luke Skywalker – the one given to him by Obi-Wan (“An elegant weapon, for a more civilised age.”) and which was, ostensibly, his father’s before Luke lost it in Cloud City when Darth Vader cut his hand off. That lightsaber has featured in earlier trailers, seemingly passed back to Princess Leia (whose hand is seen receiving it). It’s connection to Finn, and Finn’s connection to the Skywalkers, remains to be seen, one of the many still unanswered questions.
And to think, we know so little … with just two months to go.
The official trailer is glorious, and with John Williams’ sweeping soundtrack, evokes a lot of emotion from the army of fanboys (and fangirls) who feel like they were there back in 1977 and have stayed loyal through the decades (and, let’s face it, a couple of dodgy prequels.) Don’t even mention the Ewok movies or the Holiday Special.
But like all good mysteries, the trailer leaves us with many more questions than answers. Whose was the voice speaking to Rey? What is the connection between Finn and Rey and the Skywalker family bloodline threaded through all nine movies? (Are they Skywalkers? Calrissians?) Why does Finn have “the Force”? And where did Luke’s blue lightsaber, seemingly lost during the lightsaber duel in Cloud City (“No Luke, I am your father.”) come from?
And of course the biggest question of them all, where is Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), whose omission from the film’s official poster, released yesterday, has sent the internet into coniptions, and fuelled speculation he is not a major part of the story of The Force Awakens?
Is he still a heroic figure in the post-Empire galaxy, a symbol of all that was fought and won? Or is there something darker at play, has he fallen, either to the dark side of the Force, or under the sinister spell of the Knights of Ren? Whatever the truth, the exhumation of Darth Vader’s melted breath (and later death) mask has got to be a bad, bad sign.
The Force Awakens is the first new Star Wars film to be released since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, and the first Star Wars film directly connected to the original “trilogy” since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
It will be released in cinemas on December 18.