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The Fan Carpet’s Amanda Dal’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens analysis


10 January 2015

The official teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been out for a month now and speculations, comments and memes have followed at a rapid pace.

Even though the teaser shows us many things that were expected to be featured in the film, such as X-Wings, Tatooine and The Millennium Falcon, the excitement of actually seeing them is overwhelming.

It is a tough challenge, to say the least, for J. J. Abrams to make an addition to the franchise that not only stays true to the originals, but also brings something new. Whether George Lucas managed to do this with the prequel trilogy is still debated among fans. It’s therefore going to be very exciting to find out how fans and critics react to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

 

The teaser trailer introduces several new characters and locations which don’t give us any hint of the plot, but is an excellent way for the audience to get used to the new leads while still receiving confirmation that they will get something familiar as well. Like any other fan, I have high hopes and speculations about the film, so here are a few of them below;

 

 

In the teaser we get our first glimpse of the new Stormtroopers. Apart from the updated design, there is no mistaking that Abrams’ Stormtroopers have a completely different guise compared to the ones in the original trilogy. Whereas the original ones were less than sufficient (although slightly better than the battle droids of Episode I), they were by no means portrayed as any real threat and became famed for their poor aiming and general clumsiness. The Expanded Universe has often portrayed them as more professional and this seems to be the direction Abrams is taking them. The prequel trilogy does depict the clone troopers (the Storms’ predecessors) as ‘perfect soldiers’, which has been criticised due to its paradoxical nature. It would be interesting to see Stormtroopers that are a mix of the almost perfect clones in the CG-heavy prequels and the realistic, but utterly incompetent army of the original trilogy.

The character with the cross guard lightsaber appears to be either Sith or a dark Jedi and definitely looks like a quintessential bad guy. His name has been revealed as Kylo Ren and rumour has it that he is played by Adam Driver. Another actor that has been said to play one of the bad guys is Max von Sydow. It’s possible the cloaked character could be him, after all, Star Wars has a history of letting older actors handle lightsabers, let’s not forget. For his role as Count Dooku in Episode II and III, Christopher Lee, who was in his 80s at the time, did the majority of lightsaber fighting himself. Lee, however, is famous for his extensive amount of sword fighting during his acting career; something von Sydow is not known for. Another possibility is that Ren will be played by several actors, as he has been rumoured to wear a helmet and mask covering his face. Perhaps one actor will supply the voice and someone else will do the physical acting, similar to Darth Vader in the original trilogy? James Earl Jones supplied the voice for Vader and David Prowse wore the suit; the exception being the lightsaber duels in Episode V and VI which were performed by Bob Anderson, who also choreographed them. We don’t know which character the voice in the teaser trailer belongs to, all we know is that it’s read by Andy Serkis, but this could potentially be Ren speaking.

 

 

My first speculation for Serkis’ involvement was that he could play Onimi from the Expanded Universe (a Gollum kind of character), but as the EU has been announced as non-canon, this now seems unlikely. Even though the EU is non-canon, it would be great to see some elements of the Force that are explored in the books and comics used in the film. I would love to see a darker, more realistic version of a galaxy at war whereby there’s more than just an absolute dark and absolute light side. Even though I love bad guys and epic monologues of destruction, it would be a welcomed change to have more nuances of the Force. By now we have a fairly good idea of the dark and the light and it would be nice to experience something new that can add depth and make the story more interesting.

 

 

Another characters introduced in the teaser is the X-wing pilot Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac. The model of the starfighter and the rebel crest on Dameron’s helmet suggests that he is one of to the good guys. Daisy Ridley’s character has been revealed as Rey, whether the surname has been omitted on purpose and will be revealed later remains to be seen. One of the top speculations about who Ridley’s character is prior to the release of the name was that she’d play Jaina Solo, the eldest child of Han and Leia. In the EU, Jaina and her twin brother Jacen and younger brother Anakin (named after his grandfather) are all Jedi fighting various evils. Jaina is also a pilot and eventually becomes a Jedi Master on the Jedi High Council. Despite the EU being non-canon, there’s still a possibility some elements will be re-used in Episode VII, so Rey could potentially still be related to the Solo’s. The trailer shows no indication of her being Jedi, but it does seem as though she belongs to the good guys.

The droid that looks like a spinning ball is BB-8, and to many people’s surprise this is a practical effect and not the work of CGI. It’s unknown how much of BB-8 will be featured in the film or if it will have an important part of the plot (like R2-D2 had in the previous films).

 

 

John Boyega’s character is Finn and we’ve also been given the information that he’s on the run. From where, we don’t know, but he might be a deserting Stormtrooper or perhaps managed to pull off a Han/Luke steal-Stormtrooper-suits-stunt. Both Rey and Finn are on Tatooine and it looks as though Rey might be on her way to save him. It would be great to see a female lead take a more active part of the plot than before. I’d love to see female heroes and villains portrayed in the same way male heroes and villains usually are, without having to be someone else’s love interest or have a compulsory sex appeal. The female lead in previous Star Wars outings, apart from Leia Organa, obviously, has been Padmé Amidala. Even though they both have their important moments, the plots have mainly revolved around the actions of the male characters. We still don’t know what roles Lupita Nyong’o or Gwendoline Christie will play, but I hope they will be significant and badass.

In both the original and prequel trilogies we’ve had a love story, so can probably expect to get one here as well. The obvious couple would be Rey and Finn, as they seem to be the main characters and the Star Wars universe has always been a rather heteronormative place; the exceptions being a few EU characters such as Juhani from the Knights of the Old Republic video game and the Mandalorians Medrit Vasur and Goran Beviin.

 

 

I would welcome more lightsaber duels and dogfights instead of love scenes, but if we do get a love story, I hope it will be more creative than the one between Anakin and Padmé.

A big question about Episode VII is how much of it will feature Han (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke (Mark Hamill). There have been different opinions whether casting them in the first place was a good or bad decision. Some fans will be thrilled to see their favourite characters from the original trilogy again, but others are dreading the moment, with high expectations almost impossible to live up to. I just can’t wait to see what they have been up to during these 30 years since the Battle of Endor! If they re-use any of the material from the EU, we would see a Leia who continued her political career, serving as Chief of State, and trained to become a Jedi Knight. I would love to see Leia as a Jedi engaged in lightsaber duels, but doubt this will happen. It’s more likely they’ll let the younger cast do most of it and maybe we’ll get to see Luke do some Jedi stuff too, since most fans will expect it. I can, however, see how they might portray him as more of a Yoda type; a wise, powerful teacher who stays in the background. I would imagine that they will keep the story of him re-building the Jedi Order and serving as the Grand Master, but probably tone down his involvement in the plot and let it revolve around the youngsters.

 

 

There are questions over whether the original cast will even survive Episode VII at all. It would probably be too controversial for Disney to have them all killed off in the first movie. After *spoiler* Chewbacca died in the novel Vector Prime (Salvatore, 1999) fans went ballistic, and by doing something similar Disney would put a lot at risk. Nonetheless, the fact remains that they will have to replace the original cast eventually. It’s widely known that Ford wanted Solo killed off in Episode VI and perhaps this will finally happen. Even though many fans would like their childhood hero to stay with them, it’d be convenient to let him suffer a heroic death, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi did, so that the mantle can officially be passed on to the younger generation. That being said, if they choose to sacrifice someone for this purpose, it really could be anyone from the original cast.

What we do know about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, apart from the footage in the teaser trailer, is that Abrams has attempted to move away from the heavy use of CGI that bogged down the prequels. Instead, he has tried to make it look more like the original trilogy; a less perfect, lived-in universe that has flaws.

Whether you are as excited as me or just have a bad feeling about this, we are, like it or not, on our way to find out how the saga continues. It is less than a year to wait now, so let the countdown begin...

 

 

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