The Force Awakens: 88 Seconds of Star Wars Nostalgia

Almost a year ago, I shared my thoughts on the whole “originals vs prequels” debate. (I would highly suggest reading that article before reading this one. One, because I’m actually quite proud of that article, and two, because some things in this article won’t make sense unless you read that one first.) Now, finally, I have an opportunity to see whether the sequels have learned from the mistakes that the prequels made. What were some of those mistakes? Well, let’s look back to the “originals vs prequels” article again for the general rules of a good Star Wars movie:

  • Rule 1: The setting is the frontier
  • Rule 2: The future is old
  • Rule 3: The force is mysterious
  • Rule 4: Star Wars isn’t cute
  • Rule 5: The characters are the story

Let’s take a look at the trailer below and see if any of these rules were followed.

Rule 1: The setting is the frontier

Opening shot: Tatooine. Second shot: still Tatooine. Third: stormtroopers landing from outer space somewhere. Fourth: Tatooine again. Fifth: X-wings flying across the surface of a watery, mountainous, cloudy planet. Sixth: a cloaked, hooded figure walking through a snowy, frozen, wooded area. Seventh: Tatooine again. That’s it. Seven clips, four of which show Tatooine, which is most definitely the frontier. Moreover, the other three clips also do not take place in urban areas, such as Coruscant. Based on this first rule alone, I’m already incredibly excited for this movie.

Rule 2: The future is old

Let’s take another look at the Tatooine images. The soccer ball droid? Very cool, and yet, very dirty from rolling about in the sand all day—not polished clean, which we saw all too often in the prequels. The next clip features Daisy Ridley (potentially playing Han and Leia’s daughter) taking off on a very dingy speeder. Finally, we see an upgraded Millennium Falcon kicking up dust on the surface of Tatooine. Everything from this trailer just looks more real than anything ever did in the prequels. The X-wing clip? So beautiful because it looks so realistic.

There has been some debate online about the “new” lightsaber in the trailer: some love it, some hate it. One question that has been raised about it is whether this lightsaber is a newer or an older model, or simply a crude, handmade one. I personally would guess that it’s an older model, 1) because it looks like a medieval sword with its cross hilt (otherwise known as a claymore), 2) because the light emitting from it seems to be made from a more rudimentary flickering “fire” rather than a seemingly more advanced solid light, and 3) because the title and narration suggests that something (perhaps old or ancient) has awakened due to this “reawakening” in the force.

Rule 3: The force is mysterious

Let’s think about this reawakening in the force. There’s no mention of a reawakening of the midichlorians, and that, my dear friends, has me very hopeful for this film. This idea of the force reawakening is mysterious and magical. Why was it dormant? What caused it to reawaken?

Rule 4: Star Wars isn’t cute

Okay. I must admit that the soccer ball droid is pretty darn cute, but apart from that, there is nothing cute in this trailer. Instead of cute, we have gritty and intense. Instead of adorable, we have scared and sweaty. Instead of Han shot back, we have Han shot first. (Okay, we don’t see Han at all in the trailer, but I’m hoping for a scene in the new movie where Han has an opportunity to shoot first at someone, anyone, to redeem himself from A New Hope.) My favorite part of the whole trailer? The total absence of Disney’s name on any of it. My other favorite part of the trailer? John Williams’s Main Theme thundering over the Millennium Falcon’s nausea-inducing flight over Tatooine.

Rule 5: The characters are the story

This is the only “rule” that worries me a little.

In the originals, we have three main characters: Luke, Leia and Han. In the prequels, we have Anakin, Padme and Obi-Wan, but we also have a parade of minor characters, many more than what we see in the originals.

Now, we have many of the original cast members returning: Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2). However, we also have a whole host of newcomers to the Star Wars franchise: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver (from HBO’s Girls), Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis (probably best known as Gollum from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), Domhnall Gleeson (probably best known as Bill Weasley from Harry Potter), Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong’o (who won an Oscar last year for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave) and Gwendoline Christie (from HBO’s Game of Thrones).

I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of characters. But, maybe that’s a good thing. Ensemble casts have worked well in the past. Take The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and even Hunger Games and Harry Potter for example. You may have to focus on a few major characters for most of the movie to make it work, but nonetheless, the minor characters make their necessary appearances throughout.

Five Rules for Instant Star Wars Nostalgia

If J.J. Abrams follows these rules, as he has proven that he can in this trailer, then we may have a potential “best Star Wars movie since 1983″ on our hands. So much in this trailer brought about instantaneous nostalgia for me: Tatooine again and again, the droid, the speeder, the X-wings (especially how the pilot was filmed in close-up as George Lucas did so often in the original trilogy and not at all in the prequels), the Millennium Falcon, the John Williams classic Star Wars Main Theme—it all brought back so much nostalgia for the way Star Wars movies used to be, regret for what the prequels could have been, and a new hope for the Star Wars movies to come.

It’s just too bad that we have to wait until December 18, 2015 to see it.

Which parts of the trailer made you beep, meep, squeak and whee? Share in the comments below!