On Friday, the long awaited trailer for Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens hit the internet like a bomb, and ever since it’s felt like you can’t go anywhere online without seeing breakdowns, analysis and either orgasmic glee or white-hot rage, because to some people, a lightsaber with a crossguard is literally as bad as Jar-Jar Binks.
And like most of the internet right now, I have an opinion. Well, not so much an opinion as an observation, which I’m bringing to you in the form of a cheeky little FTB mini-column.
Without being too succinct about it….It looks good. We don’t get much in the way of plot or character, so there isn’t much to comment on there. But the effects look shiny, and damn if that shot of the Falcon didn’t get me a little misty-eyed. But what struck me right away is that it looks different. Not in terms of art design, I mean in basic film form ways.
When you really look at things like the way shots are composed, the way the camera moves, lighting, editing, etc, it feels massively apparent that someone other than George Lucas (or someone aping his style) is at the helm.
Take the brief shots of the Stormtroopers on the dropship or whatever. The lighting is moody, it does that flickery thing, lots of quick cuts to insert shots. It does NOT look like a George Lucas-shot scene. It looks more…modern? Maybe. But different, in any case.
George Lucas, love him or hate him, has his way of doing things, and JJ Abrams has his own. The one real exception I’d point out is the shot of Oscar Isaac piloting an X-Wing, looking straight into the camera. That felt more like a George Lucas kind of shot than anything else in the teaser.
And to see Star Wars with such a different set of formal qualities is….odd. it feels like when a comic has the same artist for a long time, then the artist suddenly changes. You’re seeing the same things, but with a different style.
Is this a bad thing? NO. In fact, it might be a great thing. Star Wars needs new energy. New perspectives. If what we see in the trailer looked exactly like it would have had Georgie-boy himself been at the wheel, sure it would have gotten the fans especially giddy. But what I’ve maintained from the start of this whole thing is that the Star Wars franchise needs to move forward, and try and avoid playing purely on nostalgia. And the thing I glean most from the trailer is that while Abrams’Star Wars will definitely be playing a lot of familiar notes, it will have a style of its own to some degree.
But still, seeing something so unmistakably Star Wars with a different set of formal qualities is going to take some getting used to on my part. Change always does. In this case, let’s hope it turns out to be a change for the better.