Trailer Watch – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

After April’s teaser, the first and only The Last Jedi trailer is finally here, and you bet we’re gonna analyse the hell out of it. But for those who want to avoid specifics, rest assured that the film promises to be dark, weird, and beautiful.

SPOILER WARNING: No specific plot details are fully disclosed, but watching the last ten seconds of the trailer might send you into fan-theorising overdrive.

The trailer opens with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, sans-mask, overlooking a desolate hanger, before Snoke’s sinister voiceover takes centre stage as a group of Imperial walkers march, Empire Strikes Back-esque, across an icy landscape.

Thankfully this appears to be the only visible comparison between Episode 8 and 5 in the trailer, but we could have never guessed from The Force Awakens’ original promotions just how heavily it would echo the first part of the original trilogy.

But visual comparisons aside, the trailer suggests TLJ will take Star Wars in a new direction.

“When I first saw you I saw raw, untamed power, and beyond that – something truly special” Snoke says, Andy Serkis owning the clunky dialogue – but is this directed toward Ren or Rey? A following shot of Rey lighting Luke’s lightsabre teases the latter – indeed, even the veteran Jedi himself fears her “raw strength”, Mark Hamill capturing the look of a haggard Jedi Knight perfectly. If this film does follow Luke closely, the more the better, it seems.

Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi.

Rian Johnson also offers a slice of his unique direction which will make TLJ stand out from a trilogy otherwise directed by JJ Abrams. Rey is seen swinging her lightsaber from Tarantino’s famous trunk-view perspective, making her seem imposing and grand; the slow-motion close-perspective of shards of stone floating in the air visually emphasises the mysteriousness of the force in a way not yet done in the live-action movies, and there is even a sequence straight out of a horror movie. And you thought Revenge of the Sith was dark…

Then comes the emotional crux of the trailer, as Kylo Ren struggles to decide to blow up a ship which his mother, General Leia Organa, seems to be on. “You must destroy the past…” but what does this mean? Either way, if this is Disney’s attempt to justify the late Carrie Fisher’s absence from Episode 9 after her unfortunate passing, the jury will be out on whether this will be a sensitive decision.

Going back to Ren, he’s now sporting a sinister black streak across his face, echoing his grandfather’s scarred appearance in Revenge of the Sith, right before Anakin went full Vader.

While Poe Dameron’s trailer cutting is confined to more of the same inspirational trite he spouted in The Force Awakens, plus a couple of standard-issue barrel roles, a newly-rejuvenated Finn (no longer confined to the med-suit he was seen wearing in April’s teaser) is finally given a chance to shine, in an apparently climactic – and visually stunning – battle against the previously underused Captain Phasma.

Finn takes on Phasma in the new trailer for The Last Jedi.

The blue sparks of his weapon reflecting off Phasma’s chrome helmet might be the most gorgeous part of the trailer (and arguably the most beautiful moment of any Star Wars film to date), but everywhere the film looks absolutely stunning, with the same high-contrast colours that made The Force Awakens so easy on the eye, some incredibly striking moments (Rey in genuine agony as she is Force-lifted into the air), and a whole host of new creatures.

While the already-famous Porgs looks a little too CGI-Ewok here, the wolf-like creatures which seem to be made of icy glass seem to be a fantastic addition to the Star Wars universe, an elegantly-designed animal which could potentially suggest an expanded exploration of the universe’s fauna.

And while those hoping to find out more about Rose Tico, Kelly Marie Tran’s character, will have to wait for the movie, so will, thankfully, those eager to catch a bit of the plot. While themes can be constructed from the trailer – Kylo, Rey and even Luke seem to struggle with their allegiances – no specific plot details are disclosed.

Except for that ambiguous moment at the end of the trailer.

A porg in the new trailer – with the same expression as most people seeing the end of said trailer.

I’m not going to talk about that here, but as Luke’s line “This is not going to go the way you think” seem to be talking as much to the audience as acting as in-film dialogue, it seems that any expectations of plot or even what a Star Wars movie can be could be shattered. While it has already been suggested that TLJ is going to be a weird film, this trailer only reinforces that Johnson wants our experience to be unpredictable.

Whatever happens, and whatever the plot, the trailer has definitely served its purpose – I’m excited for this movie, even after the over-saturation of Star Wars in the pop culture market today. I know there will be no more trailers, but it’s needless to say I’ll watch this a fair few more times before December comes around.

Matteo Everett

Featured image and article images courtesy of Lucasfilm via IMDb

Image use licence here.

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