So, a week ago (Friday, April 14th, 2017, for those of you perusing the archives), Lucasfilm released the first look at the middle film of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. The Force Awakens ended on a cliff hangar, and ever since there’s been lots of speculation about where things will go moving forward. This teaser doesn’t give much of the plot away, which is good, but it does give some hints of what movie we’ll be seeing this December.
I’ll start off by saying that I’ve been very impressed so far by the look of the Disney Star Wars films. The Original Trilogy doesn’t look bad, necessarily, but the cinematography is pretty straightforward, and lots of landscape shots are matte paintings which haven’t aged great. The Prequels had some better visuals, certainly, but many locations were super-alien, entirely CGI environments which, while impressive, lacked verisimilitude.
Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One combined CGI with real, on-location shooting in places like Cumbria, England (Maz’s Castle on Takodana) and the Maldives (the Imperial comm station on Scarif). Here, we get lots of shots of Skellig Michael, which is…portraying, for lack of a better term, the ancient Jedi world of Ahch-To.
There’s a very nice aerial shot of who appears to be Rey (hard to tell for sure at that distance) practicing lightsaber form.
Another striking location from the trailer is a new planet, which director Rian Johnson has identified as Crait, scenes on which were apparently shot in the high deserts of Bolivia. This scene, at least what we see of it, seems very reminiscent of the opening scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, with what look like Resistance fighters of some sort (honestly, they look like stripped down B-Wings) flying across a wide, white field toward what look like AT-AT walkers (they might not be, but all I can go on is hazy silhouettes on the horizon).
These ships are…strange, to say the least. They have spikes on their hulls that are shown kicking up red sand from the salt flats. I don’t know if there will be some reason for this, or if this is just for the visual.
We see a space battle, featuring some sort of mid-sized ships which I initially thought were EF76 Nebulon-B frigates, until I noticed that they were only something resembling the front of an EF76, but smaller.
I also spot A-Wings in this sequence. I’m really glad to see them, considering that The Force Awakens pretty much only featured X-Wings and TIE Fighters. There were some cool craft in Return of the Jedi that didn’t really get to shine, due to issues with models, and I hope to see more of them going forward.
Speaking of TIE Fighters, here’s some chasing the Millennium Falcon. Considering that The Force Awakens already had a pretty exciting sequence involving the Falcon being chased in atmosphere by a pair of TIEs, I’m curious how big a scene this will be.
Most characters from the Force Awakens are, of course, returning in the sequel. Han Solo isn’t, of course. Maz Kanata and Snoke are also absent, at least from this teaser.
But otherwise, they all seem to be here, including the late Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa Solo.
Luke Skywalker will actually be in this one, though, even still, this teaser doesn’t give a clear look at him.
Poe Dameron and BB-8 are back, though sadly it seems we’ll see the end of Poe’s black and orange X-Wing.
Finn, it seems, will be spending at least some of the film in a coma, presumably still recovering from his fight with Kylo Ren. I’m sure he won’t spend the entire film laying down; that would be a terrible waste of John Boyega. Finn was my favorite of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens, and I hope they keep giving him things to do.
Notably absent are announced new actors Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, and Benicio del Toro. Tran has been announced as a character named Rose, who I’ve heard is a skilled mechanic. Dern may be playing Rey’s mother, or she may be playing anything else.
Del Toro, being the biggest new name, has the most speculation about his role. Leading rumors include:
- Grand Admiral Thrawn — A fan-favorite character first introduced in a trilogy of novels by Timothy Zahn, Thrawn has been introduced to the new canon in the Rebels animated television show, with a new, canon novel from Zahn having just been released. (I haven’t read it yet, but I hope to soon.)
Thrawn was my initial thought when I heard of del Toro’s casting, but as the character has since been introduced on television looking and sounding nothing like del Toro, I’m less than convinced, especially as Thrawn would be pretty old by the time of the film (assuming that Chiss age at the same rate as Humans).
- Ezra Bridger — another character from Rebels who would be more del Toro’s age by the Sequel era. Bridger was a street urchin taken in by a Rebel cell in the years leading up to the events of A New Hope, a group including former Padawan and Order 66 survivor Kanan Jarrus, who trained him as a Jedi. Bridger has also been influenced by Darth Maul, which might be foreshadowing del Toro’s “like the villain” character.
- “Vikrum Fett” — this name appeared on wikiwand.com (a re-skin of Wikipedia) a while back. This would likely be a descendant of Jango Fett, either by Boba Fett or by a deserting clone trooper.
The only source on this is Wikipedia, which is, needless to say, far from official.
- Rey’s father — Rey is, herself, a big mystery so far, so why not. It should be noted that this rumor is not mutually exclusive with some of those above.
Hopes and Predictions
The biggest critique I have of The Force Awakens is that it was a very easy movie; both the heroes and the villains were able to achieve their goals, in due turn, without much hardship, especially as contrasted with the more recent Rogue One. I’m not saying that we need a lot of death in The Last Jedi, but I would like to see some real struggles for both Rey and Kylo Ren.
Also, I’m hoping that The Last Jedi is not as much like The Empire Strikes Back as The Force Awakens was like A New Hope. I’m fairly sure it won’t be tonally the same, as director Rian Johnson has stated that he means the film to be “funny” and “a ride”, which is more the description for Return of the Jedi. I just don’t think that there need to be quite so many plot parallels. Once is proof that you know and respect the franchise; twice is creative bankruptcy.
As for any proper predictions I may have:
- The big line of the trailer, Luke’s statement that “it’s time for the Jedi to end”, is not to be taken too literally. I think Luke’s vision for the order will be more monastic and contemplative than the Clone Wars era warrior-knights. The Jedi, in both the Prequels and the Clone Wars television series were clearly shown as, if not quite villainous, not nearly as heroic as they thought they were. I think it is likely that, after his failure to keep his nephew from the Dark Side, Luke will be wanting to establish a new philosophy on the Force, and probably has been on Ahch-To in his years there. I do not think it likely that he has truly fallen to the Dark Side or taken up Palpatine’s view of the Jedi in any real way.
- Rey’s identity will be established. I don’t think they will keep Rey’s heritage a secret through this movie like they did in the last one. We might not learn everything, but I think we’ll get at least a last name. Or first name. Whichever’s missing.
- Snoke’s identity will not be established. We’ll see him, I’m sure, but I don’t think we’ll learn where he came from. Focus on the villains will center on Kylo Ren and Phasma, who’s supposed to get more to do in this film.
I don’t have any inside knowledge about any of this, of course, but this is what I’m guessing will happen. We’ll see if I get it right in December.