Note: Minor spoilers ahead based on footage from the 3 trailers from Star Wars the Force Awakens.
If you’ve been a follower of JERHOW, you’ll know I’ve been very vocal in being anti-trailers for the biggest blockbuster movies I’m the most excited about.
The reason, quite simply, is because of the spoilers.
And as we all know, to sell a movie to an audience, trailers tend to be chock full of them.
This all started back in 1999 when the trailer for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on a relatively newer platform called the “Internet” that required a 56k modem to dial into.
When I eventually saw the movie in theaters, I was dismayed by the fact that all the surprises of the film were already revealed. Everyone has their opinions on The Phantom Menace, but I wonder what the audience reaction would have been like had we not seen the reveal of Darth Maul’s double-edged lightsaber in that trailer.
It’s the same with Bond movies. Back in the Brosnan-era, you could literally see every action scene in the trailer. As a fanboy, I had this muscle-reflex when watching the actual movie where I was literally checking off action scenes in my head that I had already seen in the trailer. When The World is Not Enough came out, I was saying to myself, “Yep, there’s the Q-Boat chase through the Thames, now the ski sequence, and looks like the only thing left is the underwater submarine escape.”
So now we have Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens to contend with.
A close friend, knowing my feelings on trailers, and knowing how important Star Wars is to me, as it is to him, and so many others, pulled a harmless “sneak” so I could watch the first teaser. He knew there weren’t any crazy spoilers that were revealed, he knew it was just a taste, as a teaser is intended to be. Watching that teaser was both exhilarating and a relief. I was glad I could join in on the fun with my friends and share in the anticipation and wonderment of what was to come. And I was thankful that director, J.J. Abrams, Disney, and Lucasfilm, for the first time in as long as I can remember, figured out how to cut a proper teaser that was the epitome of the word “teaser.”
Abrams has learned a lot since his Star Trek years, and it’s showing in the marketing of The Force Awakens.
A fanboy himself, Abrams is always trying to keep his movies “a secret” and preserve the magic and the surprises for the actual moviegoing experience. In the case of Star Trek Into Darkness, it was perhaps to a fault, the backlash stemming from the reveal of so little in the marketing that fans didn’t know whether to get excited for the film or not.
The Force Awakens seems to be getting a very different treatment, and it’s a credit to the evolution of Abrams as a filmmaker, and the brain trust at Disney and Lucasfilm, which seems to simply “get it.”
Cue the second teaser trailer for Star Wars that was released, and here we went again, with the entire Internet watching, and me finding myself reluctant once again. I saw enough from that first teaser. I’m going to be in the theater opening weekend. Why would I possibly want to put it all on “black” on the roulette wheel and risk seeing disastrous spoilers this time around?
For this, my brother was the big influence. There was a reveal in the film. A spoiler of sorts. We see the return of two beloved characters from the original trilogy, and yet, the brief moment lacked any context, any real sense of time and place. In fact, the entire teaser trailer was just that – a collection of a handful of moments shown out of sequence, not intended to deliver a cohesive and linear structure that would reveal all, but rather, stemming from a place of “purity,” of just wanting to give the audience a flavor to keep them fired up.
What ultimately made the decision for me was the fact that this reveal, which we all know by now was Han Solo and Chewbacca, with their weapons drawn, on the Millennium Falcon, was going to be posted all over Facebook, Instagram, everywhere online. There was going to be no avoiding it. My brother posed it to me quite simply: “Do I want to have the moment ruined for me by seeing it first via a Facebook post, or do I want to experience it as intended – a harmless teaser trailer designed to excite, not spoil?”
So I watched the trailer.
20 minutes later I logged into Facebook, and one of my friends had already changed his cover photo to the reveal moment, smack dab right in the middle of my news feed.
My brother gets a big thank you for convincing me to watch.
And now we have what everyone believes to be the final full-length trailer for The Force Awakens.
Once again, I couldn’t help my initial skepticism, programmed into my brain from years of trailer betrayals. I sat on it for a good 24 hours before deciding to watch. I was watching reactions of actors from the film watching the trailer to get my fix.
For this, I took a leap of faith, and put my trust in Abrams, Disney, and Lucasfilm. Twice now they had it figured out – was the whole thing going to derail with this, the final and most important advanced look at the single most anticipated film in recent memory?
It was worth a shot, to join in the camaraderie amongst friends and family, to share in the mutual excitement, to be along for the ride rather than to ride alone.
And you know something…
…it was worth it.
Following the same pattern as the first two, this trailer seems to have its sequences shown in a non-linear way. There are large thematic beats hinted at, but no specifics in terms of plot, character, and story direction.
There are some surprises revealed, to be sure. But I didn’t get the sense that this was “everything” in the film. Either I’m conjuring the Force, or my wishful thinking, but I truly feel like what we saw in this last trailer wasn’t the entire kitchen sink. And I know for certain, based on characters that are confirmed to be in this next installment that weren’t so much as hinted at from this trailer, there are surprises to come when we’re sitting in the theater opening weekend.
Certainly, I suppose one could go frame by frame and pick out enough subtleties to piece together an assumption of what is going to happen in the film, but for me, I’ll be staying away from that level of dissection, and I will stay off of those blog sites that will fill their time with hopeful speculation.
Abrams and company have masterfully delivered a trailer that is probably the trailer Abrams himself would have wanted to see in the theater. There’s just enough magic to blow us away, delivered in such a way that suggests, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
As far as the footage itself…
…what can I say?
It brought tears to my eyes.