With the arrival of the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, we’re sure you have some questions, questions like, "Why is this so short?" and "Who are these people?" Well, here are some answers to those questions.
1) Wait. This is only 90 seconds long?!
Yep. It’s a teaser trailer, which means that it’s just a quick taste of what’s coming. We’ll likely get a much longer trailer — perhaps several of them — next year, in the buildup to the film’s December 18, 2015, release. But this far out, all the teaser aims to do is get you to realize that the film is coming and that you will probably want to see it.
On that level, this teaser succeeds, but, then, it has a much lower bar to clear. The number of people who will see a Star Wars film simply because they know it exists is huge, and despite the problems with the prequels, this is still one of the biggest film franchises on Earth.
Plus, from a sheer practical point-of-view, it was perhaps impossible to do much more than a handful of shots here, since Star Wars tends to be a special effects-heavy franchise, and special effects shots take weeks, if not months, of work. (That’s why some of the shots in the Jurassic World trailer looked so shoddy but will probably look okay when the film is released. For more information on this, see here.)
Finally, as Indiewire’s Eric Kohn points out, the film industry, increasingly besieged by television and video games as ways for people to spend their entertainment dollars, spends more time selling itself as a series of experiences than as a series of stories nowadays. That’s definitely true here, as all we’re getting is a very tantalizing taste of what a new Star Wars movie might be like. And for a lot of people, that’s going to be hugely exciting.
2) Who are all of these new actors?
We’ll caution that we don’t yet know exactly who these actors are playing, but the younger cast of The Force Awakens (who will join series’ stalwarts like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford) is filled with terrific young actors who should give this series a jolt of vitality. (Then again, the same could have been said of Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman in 1999 for The Phantom Menace, and look how that turned out.)
The new faces here are, in order:
—John Boyega: The British actor has racked up an impressive series of credits in a relatively short career. He was the lead of the riotously fun alien invasion film Attack the Block, in which he played a petty criminal living in a British housing project who suddenly realized he had far larger problems than being apprehended by the police. American audiences might know him best for his work in the limited series revival of 24 that aired over the summer. It looks like he’s playing a Stormtrooper who ends up stranded on Tattooine here.
—Daisy Ridley: J.J. Abrams, who is directing Episode VII, loves to find women who are completely unknown to star in his projects. He turned Keri Russell, Jennifer Garner, and Evangeline Lilly into stars off of Felicity, Alias, and Lost, respectively, and now he’s bringing that talent to one of Earth’s biggest film franchises. Ridley has been in some British TV series and short films, but that’s about as close to unknown as you can get. Her character is dressed in Tusken Raider garb. Interesting.
—Oscar Isaac: The most "known" actor featured in this trailer is one Oscar Isaac, who plays that Rebel Alliance pilot we see in his X-Wing for a few moments. Isaac is probably best known for his work in last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis, but he’s putting together a terrific career and beginning to bounce between big franchise films and smaller indie dramas. Of anyone in this cast, he might get the big boost into superstardom.
One other thing to consider here: the big "star" shot is given not to any actors from the original trilogy but to a spaceship. What we’re meant to be excited about here is the return of the Millennium Falcon. It’s just another example of how this is meant to get us in the mood for Star Wars, more than anything else.
3) Who is that person speaking early in this trailer?
This is something we just don’t know yet! Some have speculated that it could be the character played by baritone-blessed Girls actor Adam Driver, but the voice seems off to us. However, given the sinister whisper the speaker employs, we’re going to guess he’s not a good guy.
Update: Hitfix's Drew McWeeny says the speaker is Andy Serkis, the acclaimed character actor best known for his motion-capture work as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films and Caesar in the current Planet of the Apes films. No one from Lucasfilm has confirmed this officially.
4) What's the biggest Easter egg?
The trailer is still very young, and right now people are rigorously dissecting the trailer, shot by shot, frame by frame. One of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Easter eggs, happens during Isaac's close-up. As io9 reports, "the symbol on Oscar's cheek kind of resembles the signage on Biggs Darklighter and Jek Tono Porkins' past uniforms":
There's also what appears to be a continuity error and jump cut in Ridley's scene:
5) What are fans saying?
For fans, it all ends and begins with that lightsaber. From Dooku's curved saber to Darth Maul's dual-bladed contraption, we've seen villains brandish several different types of lightsabers. This cross-like broadsword is no exception.
Some fans, like these die-hards at Reddit, think the design looks menacing and gives the new bad guy some evil oomph:
But the new lightsaber doesn't seem that functional. It seems that if the saber ever got into the hands of a less-than-dextrous Jedi, we could see some unintentional self harm:
Wielding a cruciform lightsaber I'd worry about my wrists but otoh I can barely eat w/o biting my own tongue so I'm not the target market— Dan Kois (@dankois) November 28, 2014
I bet Sith Lords spend a fortune on new shirts just because the sleeves get burned off by their laser sword guards so much. #sohardtobeevil— Claire Rousseau (@ClaireRousseau) November 28, 2014
The other big moment of the trailer was the reveal of the upgraded Millenium Falcon:
Yes, it's under 2 minutes. Yes, it stays secretive. Yes, my heart soared with the Millennium Falcon. And no, I am not ashamed. #StarWars— Tom Mison (@TomMison) November 28, 2014
The falcon zooms, accompanied by a John Williams score that makes your heart soar: