The forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens has energized and excited fans. But it’s also aroused some trepidation. After all, we’ve been here before. George Lucas promised us joy and awesomeness and then, for lack of a better term, sh*t in our hands. But we already know that The Force Awakens, while it may not be good, will be better.
Why? Well, let’s look at the trailer for Episode I:
Let’s say you’ve never seen Star Wars. Think hard about this trailer. What do we know about the characters? We know Anakin’s name. We know he puts the fear of God into some puppet. We know there’s some punk kid named Obi-Wan who doesn’t like him.
And really, that’s about it. It’s telling that the first human we see is in the distance, after 30 seconds of effects shots that could literally be from anything, and the trailer never ever explains who she is or why she might be important. Seriously, go back and look again. That’s the mother of Luke and Leia. She drives the entire plot, and the trailer can’t even be bothered to tell viewers her name. The whole thing coasts on John Williams’ score.
There’s a reason for that. I’ve spent far too much of my life analyzing The Phantom Menace, and the trailer really is the movie; vapid and entirely concerned with technological achievement and special effects to the detriment of everything else.
Now let’s watch The Force Awakens trailer again. In fact, let’s just watch the first 30 seconds, and again, let’s pretend we know nothing about Star Wars.
You may not know her name… but you know exactly what Rey does for a living and that she’s unhappy with her life. In fact, in just a few seconds over one minute, the trailer has established who our heroes are, who our bad guys are, and their basic motivations.
True, Disney is probably better at cutting trailers than Lucas, although Lucas had excellent reason to demand control over how his movies were marketed. And I’m not saying we’re going to see a movie that even tops Return of the Jedi. What I am saying is that this time, there’s reason to be excited.