A new behind the scenes video released at the D23 Expo this weekend gave us an in-depth, albeit fleeting, glimpse into the next installment of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi, and boy oh boy is it stunning.
I’m always thrilled with these videos, for not only do they give a closer look at the film itself, but they provide an insight into the minds of those creating it. The ongoing belief about The Last Jedi has been that it provides some surprisingly unexpected turns for the characters and plot. I welcome this. As much as I look forward to the commonalities and tropes that have tied the saga together, it’s always refreshing to throw a wrench into the works and deviate from expected outcomes. This trailer lends a lot of weight to that thought, that we’re headed into fresh, new territory.
Indeed, one gets the sense that this movie will stand on its own.
The cast of The Last Jedi also confirm this observation, as many of the key players mention that in some way or another how Episode 8 has its own voice that distinguishes itself from the larger chorus of the Star Wars story. “Even though I think I knew it all, they throw things at me story-wise I never could have imagined,” says Mark Hamill, who the whole world is just chomping at the bit to see play Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. It’s now well known, Hamill’s surprised and somewhat hesitant initial reaction to the movie’s direction concerning his character initiated some groans of discomfort; but that hesitance has since subsided as he’s seemingly grown more at ease with what’s in store. Perhaps Hamill’s reaction mirrors those to come, as all of us, the fans, discover some shocking turns in Episode 8. Change can be difficult, but eventually our familiarity of these changes settles into acceptance. As much fun as it is, viewing a new installment into the saga can be a shock to the system (but a welcome one, of course!).
Daisy Ridley explains: “Rian has written a story that’s unexpected but right. And even though everybody knows it’s the second in a trilogy, it feels like its own thing.”
Kellie Marie Tran, who plays newcomer Rose Tico, mentions, “The characters are so complex,” which gives weight to the notion that The Last Jedi delves deeper under the skin of its main players than its predecessor, The Force Awakens.
Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma, says, “It has a spiritual depth to it. We’re really getting to know these new characters; also with the characters we know and love, we’re seeing their lives change.”
Carrie Fisher simply says it’s about family, and that’s what makes it so powerful…
These comments underscore the belief that The Last Jedi will not only further the story but also have greater emotional depth than The Force Awakens. The numerous allusions to this and its “shocking” choices foretell of quite a ride come this holiday season. The Last Jedi may well be as much a visceral journey as it is an entertaining one.
Director Rian Johnson says, “I hope it’ll be a little shocking, but feel real and honest.” Many folks bemoan a movie who’s creation is overseen by “the suits.” I often share this sentiment, but everything we’re hearing so far is that initially this film was conjured from Rian Johnson’s own imagination almost exclusively (with a little script help from the goddess herself, Carrie Fisher). The surprised reaction to the story elements of all involved point to this. And how wonderful that would be, that a creative and talented individual’s unique perspective is the driving force behind the film, thus giving The Last Jedi a signature style, something akin to an independent film or a film by an auteur director. It’s looking like this is the case, but of course, we shall see…
And then there’s Leia.
Man, every time I get a glimpse of Carrie Fisher I tear up. Her death is still stings like an open wound. If my reaction to seeing her in this trailer was any indication of how I’ll react to seeing her this December, than pass the tissues. Life has a way of moving on, of running quickly by, but it also has a way of reaching up, grabbing our heart and reminding us of what was lost along the way. We are at once blessed to be looking forward to Carrie’s last appearance in Star Wars, and also a little bit saddened, as every moment of her appearance will remind us that she no longer walks among us, though beside us her spirit ever soars…
Visually, the movie looks nothing short of exquisite. The behind the scenes trailer reveals a bevy of shots from expected and unexpected locales. Ach-To is front and center as we see Luke’s sanctuary island from a variety of angles. Simply put, it’s beautiful. The surrounding waters provide a feeling of isolation as well as providing a tranquil beauty. Hints of epic battle are on display as we witness a number of action sequences and explosions (gotta have ‘splosions!).
The interior sets look fantastic. Though the trailer whizzes by, it manages to display all sorts of sleek and highly technological settings, interspersed with the exotic locations. The Last Jedi will certainly stand apart from its predecessor in look and tone, and looks to stand apart from all the movies. We also got a quick peek at the wonderful Laura Dern, and the brooding Benecio del Toro, two veteran actors, but new blood in the Star Wars universe.
If your anticipation was already through the roof, well, prepare to have it blasted into orbit upon viewing the trailer. There’s a lot to sink our teeth into, a lot to ponder, and if anything, the trailer succeeds in that by showing us more, it has merely raised even more questions. We get a sense of the tone, of the look; we see a lot of the characters in brief moments of action, but thankfully, I get the sense we really haven’t seen much, like the best moments are yet to be discovered.
Buckle up, oh, fellow fans! We’re comining down the homestretch, and I have a feeling that we’re in for a singularly wonderful and unique ride. Whereas The Force Awakens was criticized for robbing too many elements from Star Wars movies of yore, I think all signs point to The Last Jedi standing on its own as what we may the most unique of all the Star wars movies.
Stay safe, friends, be well, and as always: May the force be with you.