Adam Rogers, writing at Wired about the new trailer for The Force Awakens:
The most important shot, though, didn’t involve any spaceships or special effects at all. It was an older, greyer Han Solo, standing next to Chewbacca, bowcaster drawn. “Chewie,” Han says. “We’re home.”
It’s a classic Abrams button-push, the director working in full-on heartstring-tugging Spielberg mode. But those kind of gestures make sense here. Star Wars is home. It’s memories of first trips to the movies, handed down from parents to kids, fairy tales about magic swords and heroes who put to right a universe gone wrong. Abrams puts those moments on film for a simple reason: They work.
And push my buttons it did. As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I will admit to that moment in the trailer making me a bit misty-eyed, and that there may or may not have been a lump in my throat. I have re-watched the trailer a bunch of times in the last 24ish hours, always to the same effect.
It is basically impossible for me to form a reasoned opinion of the original Star Wars trilogy. I grew up with those movies, and they form an inseparable part of my childhood. I saw all of them in the theater, played with my Star Wars figures all the time, played Star Wars with my friends every day at recess. I have watched and re-watched them on basically every home-video format (yes, even CED videodisc!) more times than I can count. I have no idea what I would think of the original trilogy if I saw them for the first time now, as an adult.
I do, however, know that the second trilogy was utter crap. But, come the protests, like the original trilogy, The Phantom Menace and its sequels were intended to be "for kids." Fine, but that is not a defense. They were poorly written, poorly acted, visually incoherent, and soulless. Like every other Star Wars fan, I got my hopes up for the second trilogy, and as a result, I have been highly reluctant to get too invested in this new trilogy. I am, howeve, very slowly and very cautiously easing myself into the possibility that the new movies might not be terrible.
Which brings me back around to the new teaser trailer.
If nothing else, it is incredibly well-crafted, and hits basically every note it needs to in order to speak directly to a disaffected fanbase. Luke's voice-over, pulled from Return Of the Jedi, is not speaking to anyone in the film–it is speaking to the viewer. "You are my family," he is saying to us, "You have the power." The music, the imagery, its subtle mixture of old and new–it is all meant to pull us back into this world we loved and thought we would never see again.
And then there is that last sequence of iconic images: the Millenium Falcon battling TIE fighters; the TIE fighter pilot in the cockpit; the chase through the super-structure. Each is a callback to the original trilogy, and they all build up to the last scene of Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Falcon (which even mirrors one of the classic publicity stills). It's not just Han and Chewie who are home, the trailer is reassuring us–it's all of us.
And goddamn if it isn't effective. Listen to the audience at the trailer premier yesteday in Anaheim:
They cheer at all the expected beats (even the Lucasfilm logo), and it gradually escalates to the appearance of the Millenium Falcon and the cut-to-black, where they think it's over. Then there is the sudden silence when Han Solo says "Chewie," and the place goes bonkers at the reveal.
This is just a teaser trailer, a medium which is a notoriously unreliable indicator of the quality of the final product it is intended to promote. Perhaps the new film and its sequels will be terrible. Perhaps they will be mediocre and forgettable. I hope they are not. I am fairly certain that no film, no matter how good it is, could live up to my feelings for the original trilogy, tied up as they are with my memories of childhood. That said, I appreciate the care that has seems to be going into the new trilogy, and I am cautiously (very cautiously) optimistic that they might just do an okay job with it.