Upon Further Analysis 'The Force Awakens' Teaser Trailer Still Rules
by Jeremy Kirk
November 30, 2014
Long ago – this past Friday – in a galaxy far, far away, the first footage from J.J. Abrams' maiden voyage to the Star Wars universe, The Force Awakens, was unleashed in 30 theaters across the country and on the web for the world to see. It was short. It was simple. It was to the point, and, through and through, it was utterly captivating. Even those completely underwhelmed by George Lucas' last three entries into the series were silenced by the overwhelming visuals Abrams and crew presented. And now, nearly 48 hours after its release, that teaser continues to stun and amaze from frame one to that final, breathtaking shot.
The backlash began before the trailer even hit, Twitter and Facebook running rampant with critics and film lovers of all kinds growing frustrated and even disgusted by the love begin generated for what essentially amounts to a piece of marketing. Their views were wait and be excited for the movie itself. Why blow your wad of excitement for this first minute and a half (*88 seconds to be exact) of footage when there's a whole feature film to follow? And, to a certain extent, they had a point.
Marketing has become a bigger business than creating the film itself. Not a week goes by that some gigantic piece of footage from some gigantic motion picture is released on the world, sometimes three or four trailers worth coming out before the actual release date. Let's not even talk about the ocean of TV spots that hit before a movie's release. More often than not these bits of marketing either misconstrue elements of a film or give away every high point the film has to offer, months before we can see them in context.
But something happened around 10am Eastern time on Friday morning when the trailer for The Force Awakens hit and was allowed to be analyzed. Some of the more cynical naysayers were silenced by the sheer uproar the trailer drew from its respective crowds. Some who weren't even fully sold before seeing it were finally convinced. Abrams knew what Star Wars fans wanted, and he knew precisely what to give us.
Breakdowns and shot-by-shot analyses of the trailer swept across the internet. So much so, in fact, that it seems almost trivial to go through it a piece at a time at this point. The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin even went a step further, playing the trailer for a packed house that included some dressed in Stormtrooper and Imperial Officer garb, having a panel discuss what they saw, play the trailer again, and discuss further. This exercise was repeated for a full hour, the trailer playing 17 times and the panel – including Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, John Gholson of Movies.com, Britt Hayes of Badass Digest, Master Pancake's Owen Edgerton, Ain't It Cool News' Eric Vespe and Harry Knowles, and uber-Star Wars fanatic Kevin Williams, who won a contest to appear on the panel – deconstructing each and every inch.
"I have an erection the size of the galaxy," exclaimed Owen Edgerton after the trailer's first viewing, and even though it was a crude but funny way of expressing how he felt, he wasn't wrong. Nor was he alone in his excitement the 16 times the trailer played after. That bump in the music that makes you jump in your seat when John Boyega first appears on screen. The chills that came whenever the Sith lord we see brandishes his - or her - broadsword lightsaber with glowing hilt included. The awesome force of John Williams' classic theme kicking in as we follow the Millennium Falcon up, down, and around the skies. All of it hit with as much "Holy shit, that was awesome" power the 17th time as it did the first.
And that's probably why any backlash against The Force Awakens trailer has slinked back to whatever dark planet it originated from in the first place. The trailer is simply that good, and what it boils down to is this. J.J. Abrams went for quality where George Lucas went for quantity. Instead of giving us 20 or 30 single shots of CG shit flying at the screen (here's the teaser for The Phantom Menace for comparison) we're given seven distinct sequences, each of them richly created using both digital imagery and some clear understanding of artistic depth.
Unlike Lucas, Abrams doesn't have to create from scratch. He's able to improve on the blueprint designs Lucas laid down 20 and 30 years ago, and improve he does. Let's not stay too long with what Abrams didn't show us in this trailer but simply say he doesn't resort to shallow fan service. There's no Han, Leia, or Luke in the trailer - that we know. There's no C-3P0 or R2-D2, no Wookiees or Ewoks. Not even space.
All he gives us is Star Wars imagery presented in the most grounded way we've ever seen. It's in the weight felt in the figures he puts in the foreground, whether that be a sweaty Boyega in front of a desert landscape or an X-Wing sliding up from screen left while kicking up water from the lake underneath. It's in the glorious lighting in which he shades the Stormtroopers all lined up in their carrier. That Saving Private Ryan-esque shaky cam does wonders for that tiny sequence as well.
And, ultimately, it's in the way he moves the camera around the Falcon in that final shot, giving us angles and details on the ship we haven't seen in 30 years worth of trying. Every Star Wars fanboy and fangirl, excuse the term, lost their shit when that sequence hit, and you'd be lying if you said you didn't still lose it when you watch the trailer for the 75th time. Everything about that teaser was cool the first time you saw it, and it stayed cool every time after that. That's why the naysayers have kept quiet thus far, because anyone who ever called themselves a Star Wars fan is suddenly excited to see what else Abrams has to show us. And let's not forget, we're sure to have one helluva good story tying all of these wonderful images together.
Stay tuned this week as The Golden Briefcase will return briefly for a Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer breakdown episode with a very special guest. Thank you to Tim League, the Alamo Drafthouse, and everyone at Fons PR for allowing me to be a part of what is sure to go down in cinematic history.
Reader Feedback - 18 Comments
First off I'm a huge Star wars fan and I loved the trailer but this article is hilarious. The teaser for The Phantom Menace was considerably better than this one. I can see how looking back people could be jaded about it since the actual movie was such a mixed bag but let's not forgot how absolutely stoked people were for the movie. This trailer was good but there's a lot to be concerned about. The lightsaber is already the butt of many jokes and memes. The shaky cam footage seems out of place.
VodkaSauce on Nov 30, 2014
Shaky camera footage? There, what...5 or 6 shots that were only a few seconds long? That in itself can give the appearance of shaky camera. The only shaky camera came at the end of the trailer when the cam was following the Falcon. Other than that, I didn't see much shake. The teaser for the PM showed a lot more than this. That's why it appears better, IMHO. And the lightsaber jokes? Who cares. People are going to gather their opinions no matter what, and many of those opinions will be negative.
Quanah on Nov 30, 2014
Facepalm The Stormtroopers in the ship is a shaky cam shot. Who cares about the lightsaber? Clearly the people making the jokes. You're not the brightest are you. Just because YOU like it doesn't mean the people making the jokes are somehow magically wrong. Not everyone likes it..people sure as hell weren't joking about Maul's bad ass double saber. You sound like fanboy to be honest.
VodkaSauce on Nov 30, 2014
It doesn't matter if I sound like a fanboy or not. It doesn't suddenly magically invalidate my questions or my points. My points or questions don't care about my liking or disliking of the Star Wars saga. They are valid regardless of my personal feelings. Furthermore, one 2-3 second clip of "shaky cam" does not constitute an entire trailer or film of shaky cam. I'm personally withholding judgement until I see the finished product. Besides, I don't think the Storm Trooper sequence is shaky cam. I think it's a series of quick cuts and fades that give the appearance. If you want to see an entire film with shaky cam, watch The Borne Supremacy. And my statement about saying "who cares" concerning the lightsaber doesn't make me unintelligent. It means "who cares what people think?" I surely don't. I guess it's more of a plea to the general population; like, let's not judge the film on just the saber sequence...Again, doesn't make me sound unintelligent. You, on the other hand, with your tired, weak, imbecilic response that I can only assume you spent hours conjuring up, needs a lot of work. May I suggest a few books to help you out: Plato's "The Republic" for starters will teach you how to openly discuss. You need work there. Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" will round out your ability to debate. Again, years of study may bring you up to snuff. I wish you luck and good tidings on that. Your bescumber responses only solidifies the obvious issue: microphallus. But I shouldn't expect anything less from a corpulent basement living ninnyhammer like you.
Quanah on Dec 1, 2014
Agreed. It's as good as TPM but not great like everyone is saying. The new lightsabre feels like a gimic, will there be another in the next film simply because some fans like new designs all the time. I can live with the shaky cam footage as long as that was about it in the film coming, but most importantly for a Star Wars teaser there wasn't a single shot of something in space !!
Steven on Nov 30, 2014
When the Alamo played the trailer publicly I'm surprised a phalanx of Federation storm trooper swat teams didnt blast them with copyright nazi beams.
Michael P. Shipley on Nov 30, 2014
A little more scientific way to judge if "everbody" loves the trailer now, is to at least take a poll.
Michael P. Shipley on Nov 30, 2014
I love the trailer and everyone I know both family and friends have loved it as well! It is just sad there are so MANY HATER DOUCHEBAGS that just want to ruin it for others or think they know what everyone wants to placate their own egos without explaining why they hate it. Just to say oh I hate it because I'm a jackass with no creative thinking at all!
silentjay on Nov 30, 2014
very good trailer and jj abrahams nailed it! The phantom menace did suck from every perpective so the force awakens will be always better!
Avi on Dec 1, 2014
Regardless, the teaser did its job. All of us are now hyped as fuck!!!~ We are getting a new bold STAR WARS film!!! Let's just be happy for once.
DAVIDPD on Dec 1, 2014
Finally a potentially great Star Wars film! I have no doubt this will be at least better than those trainwreck prequels.
SkyNet300 on Dec 1, 2014
Badass teaser it was!
Rock n Rollllll on Dec 1, 2014
I really couldn't have wished for a better teaser. Will attempt to avoid all future trailers/plot details/spoilers. Gonna be super tricky this time around.
avconsumer2 on Dec 1, 2014
The amount of trolling regarding this teaser on the net is mindblowing. The net rears its ugly head. People are just stupid. I cannot believe i see complains about skin color of actors or that the lightsaber isn't "SW". Its just all ruins the excitement. Nonsense articles like these here on FS doesn't help either. Why wouldn't the teaser not still rule?
Sascha Dikiciyan on Dec 1, 2014
Haters. They gotta hate.
TheOct8pus on Dec 2, 2014
The teaser did exactly what any good trailer should: Pose more questions than it answers. Something a lot of movies could learn from these days.
fazha on Dec 1, 2014
He's not wrong.
ChristianPasquariello on Dec 2, 2014
SORRY, but the light saber kicks ass. I saw star wars in the theaters in 77,80,83 and every one after. This knit picking is so stupid. You're lucky it's even getting made. You're lucky George Lucas created the damn thing. There was nothing before these movies for geeks. Now you have countless technologies and movies. Shut up and appreciate.
ninyhammer on Dec 2, 2014
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.