Trailer Preview: Star Wars VII

imageI went to the theatre this morning to see the 88 second trailer for Disney’s first Star Wars movie, J.J. Abrams’ shrouded-in-secrecy Episode VII: The Force Awakens and am happy to report the beloved franchise appears to be in the good hands of a pioneering filmmaker who is also not tone deaf to the visual and audio cues fans crave to know it’s a legitimate entry into the franchise. Granted, the original Phantom Menace teaser brought promise to this fanboy’s heart, with Darth Maul’s first appearance and all, but I should have been more wary that Jar Jar, Jake Lloyd and George Lucas were creating a prequel trilogy of awful. Today, the sound of John Williams’ familiar compositions brought, well, a new hope. John Boyega (in maskless Stormtrooper uniform) and Daisy Ridley (aboard a desert speeder) get prominent screen time in the trailer, surprisingly not Hamill, Ford and Fisher, whose roles may be saved as one of the few actual surprises ahead. Nostalgia is conjured instead through a lovingly prolonged sequence of the Millennium Falcon twisting about, even upside-down, in broad daylight over desert plains, with a hint of a TIE Fighter battle on its majestic, junky tail. We see an alpine snowy planet with a cloaked figure, the illumination of a lightsaber with fiery perpendicular beams, fighters both good and bad aboard spacecraft (Oscar Isaac piloting an X-Wing over smoky waters) and an odd frantic soccer ball shaped R2 robot unit scurrying through a city. The trailer dispenses with company logos at the beginning and takes us right into action with Boyega’s face indicating a sequence of disorientation and distress. Tellingly, the segment begins with a jump scare instead of CGI! It all goes by really quickly and is ostensibly exactly what it needed to be – a “teaser” with characters mobilizing toward an epic battle in which the balance of good and evil is at stake.  The voice-over’s promise of an awakening is meta and justified. It’s spectacular to see new footage that looks like it occupies real organic space — with too obviously polished CGI notes kept to a minimum – and maybe just one lens flair for good measure. Overall, it looks amazing and makes me want to see the other 119 or someodd minutes.

I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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