We’re in full Oscar season now and the new Hunger Games movie opened to a huge box office. But this weekend, everyone was obsessed with one 88 second trailer.
Specifically, this 88 second trailer:
It’s already been remade in Lego, which represents some sort of success.
I didn’t want to write about this immediately, because I didn’t want to get caught up in the hype that everyone seems to be caught in. The new Star Wars trailer has been described in ways that describe the deities of most major religions. Obviously, there needs to be some sort of middle ground. Also, I was out of town and didn’t have access to my trusty computer.
But now I do, so I want to remind everyone that we need to remain guarded. But, I was quite excited when I saw the trailer. It demonstrates that the filmmakers are addressing the problems of past Star Wars films.
I can remember when the prequels were first announced and the fanfare that greeted that first trailer. YouTube wasn’t around then, so it was attached to a movie no one wanted to see. (I believe it was Wing Commander, which .) People would walk in, see the trailer, and then walk out and ask for their money back. Theaters had to quickly create policies to deter the practice. Magazines examined the trailer frame by frame to guess what was happening and how it would all tie in to the legendary Star Wars trilogy.
Luckily, you no longer have to spend money to see it for yourself:
The point is to get you to go see an upcoming movie. An editor has to find the best moments that work and see how they can attract an audience.
That Phantom Menace trailer was no different. The editor worked like Pavlov with a bell to get audiences to react in a certain way. We were teased with the classic Star Wars score. We saw new characters and settings that looked exciting. We even saw glimpses of the new technology that was bringing the story to life. Digital characters like Jar Jar Binks had never been done on that scale. It was amazing to witness that character in the trailer for the first time, in the same way it was amazing to see the huge technological leap that the first Star Wars film had.
But there was a problem with the trailer that no one recognized when it was first released.
One of the biggest weaknesses with the prequels was the performances. I don’t blame the actors – they were probably just as confused with the direction as the audience was. But it still made the films difficult to watch. It would have been very easy for the trailer to hide this with its images and the whole idea that we were finally getting a new film in the franchise.
But the trailer includes dialogue that would have been meaningless to anyone who doesn’t know the Star Wars mythos. And it’s all delivered in a stilted manner to give plot points that, ultimately, the saga didn’t need. Had the trailer eliminated those moments, it would have been perfect. The fact it didn’t demonstrates George Lucas’ overconfidence in the film he had just made.
But now that time has passed, a good filmmaker would need to examine what works about the franchise and what didn’t. And that trailer demonstrates that J.J. Abrams is at least willing to take a look and actually improve on some things that went wrong.
Yes, the trailer does not include much about the plot. I have seen websites that reportedly leak details about the story and how it will end. But I honestly have not been following them. I remember when that happened the last go around and how most of those spoilers were wrong. Besides, the trailer is smart in not revealing too much.
Its strengths are in create those images to tease us. There is no dialogue outside of Andy Serkis’ narration. The villain teases us with a lightsaber we have never seen. The trailer shows us things we’ve seen and with new characters that we haven’t. It’s a very effective 88 seconds that piqued my interest in a franchise I had thought dead. I will reserve my judgement for the film, but I at least what to see it now.
I remain guarded because I know that Star Wars does not automatically equal “good.” The franchise has been wildly inconsistent. I am hoping that J.J. Abrams can revive a franchise. Despite my attitude, I don’t like seeing films fail. And this is a film that will be seen by everyone and become a cultural milestone. I can only hope that it’s worthwhile.