Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Review

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If you have an internet connection you’ve probably seen the new teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that debuted on Friday morning.  As expected it took off like a rocket on social media, and before long there were tons of conversations going on about every single little detail.  Some people complained about the updated lightsaber, and lots of idiots whined about there being a black guy in a stormtrooper outfit.  I’ve seen the trailer myself an embarrassing number of times.  These are my thoughts, but before you read them, watch the teaser.

Firstly, this teaser does exactly what a good teaser should.  It gives you very little information, and excites you anyway.  There was only a few shots combined with a voiceover, and it still got me grinning ear to ear, gave me chills, etc.  So from a job-to-do standpoint…mission accomplished.

Secondly, the look of the teaser.  They nailed the look of the old films.  It was shot on film, has healthy contrast and saturation, but isn’t pushed hard or graded to death.  It just looks nice and natural and detailed, but retains that pleasing softness.  The jump scare at the start instantly recalls the feel of the old films and John Williams music seals the deal.  A lot of people have made a fuss about the “soccer ball droid” in the next shot.  It honestly didn’t bother me.  It’s a goofy design, but if you consider the terrain, that sort of thing is perfect.  There were all sorts of goofy droids in Star Wars (as in Episode 4), especially at the beginning, far worse than this thing.  Next comes the stormtrooper helmets, weaponry, and landing shot, all of which feels gritty and energetic.  After the sterile nature of the prequels, it’s so great to see the “used future” again and something other than a pristine digital image that lacks an organic touch.  At least these suits on camera actually exist and aren’t CG. :)

The shot of the woman on the vehicle is nice, and the bottom 3rd framing and whip pan also feels like old Star Wars to me.  I love the shot of the X-Wings that we get.  The CG is especially well done.  There is realistic camera shake, haze, a slight flare, lens aberrations, etc. that all sell it.  Next comes the shot that’s generated the most controversy, that hilted lightsaber.  I would like to point out that the lightsaber glow itself is new.  This thing has a lightning feel to it instead of the solid beam we’ve previously seen.  Regarding the hilt itself I don’t know what to think.  It seems a bit odd sure, given what’s come before, but I’m willing to see where they take it.  It seems a little nutty to assume too much about the implications of that right now, but it is the only thing in the trailer that’s a massive change so I understand why some called foul.

Then comes the money shot…THE MILLENNIUM FALCON.  I gotta admit I nearly lost my mind when that shot showed up.  It’s gorgeous, and reveals the Tie Fighters perfectly.  The camera movement feels so real as well.  It’s messy and organic, like another craft was trying to bank and follow the Falcon as it swooped around.  A perfect ending shot to give the fans an infusion of nostalgia, me included.

Today was a special day since I watched Star Wars (Episode 4) with my 3 year old son for the first time.  It was awesome to hear him comment during the whole thing.  Afterwards I played the teaser for The Force Awakens, and after it ended, his first response was: “Can you play the trailer again?”  That’s my boy! :) The smile he cracked during the second play through when the Falcon showed up is something I’ll never forget. #ParentingWin

In all seriousness though, this teaser was solid and did what it was supposed to do, calm our fears (at least for most of us) that JJ Abrams has things in control.  Abrams was always a great choice despite being overrated at times, since he has an old school eye for things, and can communicate nostalgia like a champ.  Even with so few shots, you can feel it in this teaser.  Just as Super 8 was a nostalgic visual love letter to 70s and 80s Spielberg, so will The Force Awakens but with Star Wars in mind.  Even where the teaser feels like classic Abrams, his style being more old school does help.  The look and feel they’re going to nail, but did they nail it on the story and character side of things?  The jury’s still out on that one.  If they can combine the two strengths and make something truly great, then Star Wars fans will finally have the franchise future they were always hoping for.  Is it December 2015 yet?