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The new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, released Monday evening, offered clues about the shape of director J.J. Abrams‘ revival of the beloved franchise, even as it steadfastly refused to deliver specific plot points — or reveal the whereabouts of one of the series’ most important characters.
That the movie will return to the original’s theme of characters defying expectation to become heroes was obvious from hearing Daisy Ridley‘s Rey describe herself as “no one.” (Rey, we already know you fly the Millennium Falcon — that’s not something that a “no one” gets to do.) Similarly, John Boyega‘s Finn says that he was “raised to do one thing, … but I’ve got nothing to fight for,” as we see his TIE Fighter fall toward galactic junkyard planet Jakku, little knowing how wrong he is.
Of course, the villains have much more of a sense of purpose than the good guys: “Nothing will stand in our way,” Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) says, voice modulated with a breathing apparatus that suggests that he shares more in common with Darth Vader than just a penchant for wearing black. “I will finish what you started,” he continues, as the screen shows the deformed remains of Vader’s helmet, suggesting that the villain might be one of the “Acolytes of the Beyond” that first showed up in the prose novel Star Wars: Aftermath.
The reason for that imbalance in confidence might be that the Rebellion that played out through the first three Star Wars movies seems to have become something resembling urban myth, requiring Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to show up and reassure our new heroes that it really happened. “The Dark Side — the Jedi — they’re real,” he says. So much for that happy ending in Return of the Jedi, even if it remains unclear exactly why no one seems to remember it.
The trailer offered hints at new characters and new locations — could that be a Jedi temple at 1:39, with a new droid keeping watch? — and a framework for the new movie (Solo and Chewbacca leading Finn and Rey to their new destinies at the center of a greater intergalactic struggle, just as Obi-Wan did Luke in the original movie), but it was impressively vague on the details of what lies ahead. Those hoping for specifics or answers would be disappointed, even as the teases (and John Williams‘ stirring, classic score) felt just right to longtime fans.
Indeed, arguably the biggest takeaway from the trailer was a question first raised by yesterday’s poster release: Where is Luke Skywalker in all of this? Carrie Fisher shows up by the trailer’s end, but Mark Hamill remains entirely absent … as perhaps befits a galaxy that no longer believes Jedi existed.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens Dec. 18. Expect the next two months to be filled with lots of speculation about what happened to Skywalker in the meantime.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins