Star Wars: The Last Jedi
All they ever needed to do was give a title and a release date for me to already commit to watching this in theaters three to five times. Star Wars is the crux of pop culture phenomenons and will go down in history as such; every new Star Wars film is an event (especially the Episodes). And it helps that the iconography is so ingrained in the minds of audiences and superfans alike that new scenarios to place these icons in feel like something worth getting invested into. That’s why the trailers of the most recent Star Wars films have been so awesome, and The Last Jedi is no exception. Rian Johnson is already impressing with visual work that looks fresh yet retains the ostensible Star Wars feeling. The feelings of haste and hope already shine through but Johnson also sprinkles some new flavors around that evoke a particular grim that this point of the new trilogy could use. We left off of The Force Awakens with Rey encountering an old disillusioned Luke Skywalker, and it’s great to hear his voice here, maybe shedding some light as to the meaning of the title. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Luke threw himself into exile after failing to restore the Jedi Order; perhaps he spent all this time meditating on the Jedi’s weaknesses as well as their strengths. Perhaps he teaches Rey not to follow in his footsteps but to learn from his mistakes. Perhaps a more reflective, centrist Force philosophy can even bring the Knights of Ren back on our side, led by what narrative convention assures us will be a redemptive arc for Kylo Ren. Who knows? For there to be Jedi, there must be sith to balance it out – and that shit just ain’t a good time. The Force has awakened, so now let’s do something about it. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really digging this whole Jedi-have-to-end thing. It seems to cover the vagaries and subtleties of life far more comprehensively than the Jedi/Sith duality. People don’t exist as pure good or evil; they’re complex creatures, with helpings of good and bad attributes. Such an approach would represent a radical departure for Star Wars, which has traded on the black and white good/evil binary since its opening frames in 1977. But these are new Star Wars movies for a new age, in which audiences demand shades of grey in entertainment, and in which polarized opinions and dogmatic groups have led to societal near-disaster in reality. Maybe it relates to Fukuyama’s End Of History political theory. Maybe even a stretch analogy of our current diametric political system. Either way, it somehow gives the chance for Luke to say: “Man, I’m sick and tired of all these Star Wars…”
Is it wrong that my reaction to this was just, “…eh?” Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like in this trailer. But there wasn’t that one moment that made me jump out of my seat while watching it. With The Force Awakens’ teaser, that shot of the Millennium Falcon flying with the theme swelling in the background was pitch perfect. The only moment that really comes close in this trailer is Luke’s “It’s time for the Jedi to end” and then the title reveal, but that was more of a moment of foreboding than a real crowd pleaser. Other than that, it just sort of seems like this trailer was ticking boxes. Rey training with Luke? Check. Shots of all of our favorite characters from the last film? Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren all get a brief moment of screen time. Vague voiceover about the Force? Pretty much the entire trailer. Maybe I’m just being too cynical. I love the combination of the Force theme and Rey’s theme, and Kylo Ren’s theme echoing over shot of his (or Vader’s?) destroyed helmet. The shots in the salt flats with the skimmers (not sure how to refer to the vehicles with the red trails) looks gorgeous enough, although the AT-AT’s on the horizon are an indication that the new trilogy will continue the pattern of paralleling the original trilogy as much as possible. The final line of the trailer does give me hope that these new films are going to provide a significant change for how people in the Star Wars universe view the Force. I’m not any more or less excited about this movie than I was before the trailer, so in that sense, this trailer was both underwhelming, but adequate. But then again, this trailer could be two minutes of Jar Jar Binks saying “How rude” on a loop and I’d still see The Last Jedi on opening night.
I’m almost to excited to write a reaction to this trailer. The title of the next episode does scare me a little bit — “The Last Jedi” implies that the beloved tradition of Jedi training and philosophy will come to an end, which my inner diehard Star Wars fan cannot handle. In addition, Luke Skywalker eerily claims: “It is time… for the Jedi to end,” which only confirms my worry. The idea of the last Jedi is very intriguing. It seems to stem from the popular Game Of Thrones trend of thought in recent television and movies: no life is safe from the writers. As we saw in The Force Awakens, the writers snatched away the character of Hans Solo. Personally, I believe that this was to evoke emotion from the audience — almost like a gut punch — to remind us of our love for the original trilogy and cast. One part of the trailer focuses on the back of one character before a table- perhaps this is Princess Leia? I’m very curious as to how the movie series will go on without Carrie Fisher. The Last Jedi will be judged in the giant shadow cast by The Force Awakens, which in my opinion is one of the best Star Wars Episodes to date. The trailer however is quite promising — the short bursts of beautiful cinematography together with the stunning music of John Williams as the long awaited scenes of Rey’s Jedi training play out on the screen is already enough for me to buy a ticket to the midnight premiere.
That teaser trailer is already the best Marvel movie to date. I already knew everything about this movie leading up to this teaser, but apparently not because my eyes are begging me to watch it again and again. There’s a lot to unpack story-wise: first, there’s Cate Blanchett’s Hela (man, she looks fierce af) wreaking havoc on Asgard and bringing on Ragnarok (Norse armageddon). This is how you utilize the strengths of intertextuality: we know the mythology of Mjolnir and that practically no one can even so much as pick the hammer up, but Hela catches it mid-air with a smirk and crushes it to pieces! Instantly, we know how powerful, badass, and ruthless she is. Meanwhile, Thor is exiled to a gladiator planet for a long-need adaptation of Planet Hulk, which opens up the opportunity for a whole lot of color and bombastic world-building. This trailer is filled with a lot of imagery evoking the best of Guardians of the Galaxy and even the best of Zack Snyder style action fare. The poetic slow motion and whatnot takes the best of Snyderian influence in what looks like a flashback of Hela destroying the Valkyries. And can we just talk about the visuals here? Almost every still from this trailer looks like it could be the cover of an 80s hard rock album, which is partially why the war cries of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” work so well here (and it just injects a whole lot of fun as well). I LOVE the style of the onscreen text too — so old school sci-fi fantasy. Furthermore, Chris Hemsworth’s strengths have always been the comedic sides of Thor, and no Marvel filmmaker has understood that and capitalized on it except for Joss Whedon… well, until now. His reaction to seeing the Hulk in this is my reaction to watching this trailer. I was already in, but now I’m in. Ready to Ragnarok and roll.
It took Marvel that long to use “Immigrant Song” in a Thor trailer? I’m shocked. Anyhow, this trailer has me very optimistic about Thor: Ragnarok. Considering the fact that I have seen both Thor movies and cannot remember a thing about them, I’m excited to see this one try to shake things up a bit. Also, Cate Blanchett makes everything better, and Jeff Goldblum needs to be in more superhero movies. With that being said, though, I’m still hesitant to get totally excited for this one. I’ve never found Thor to be a particularly compelling character, and I’ve always enjoyed his standalone films the least. The goofy, over-the-top tone makes it seem like the movie might be trying to ape Guardians’ style too much, and with both of these movies getting released in the same year, it just might end up feeling unoriginal. The thing I love about Guardians is that it didn’t have the same assembly-line-like feeling to it as all of Marvel’s other films have. This is a problem I have with all of Marvel’s films, not just this Thor: Ragnarok. I’m sure it won’t be bad, but I don’t have a lot of hope that it will be anything more than entertaining and entirely forgettable. But Thor’s reaction when he sees the Hulk charging into the arena is priceless, and is a good sign that the film isn’t trying to be too serious and understands that it has to take some risks to be memorable. Here’s hoping that Thor: Ragnarok will be the Gladiator sequel we deserve.
To be honest, the only part of this trailer that made me gasp was when they showed Thor with short hair… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Every Marvel trailer and movie of the past has been filled with suspense and consequence. Recently, Marvel has not been too lucky with the profit of its recent superheros — both Dr. Strange and Ant Man were flops compared to past successes. So perhaps the comedic and brightly colored trailer for Ragnarok is hinging on the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. It copies the comedic one liners and slapstick physical violence. Moreover the background music of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” echoes throughout each scene, reminiscent of the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol I soundtrack. The trailer did make me laugh — but maybe not for the right reasons. So lets into it. The first 15 seconds of the trailer perhaps accidentally takes the form of the viral meme: record scratch, freeze frame, “Yep thats me — You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.” The short scene grabs in the trailer seem to evoke a pseudo Hunger Games plot — somewhat lacking in originality. Most importantly, Jeff Goldblum’s blue eyeliner steals the show. Only two promising things came out of the trailer: 1. The addition of Cate Blanchett in the Marvel villain universe 2. The return of Loki.
On a side note: The whole sequence of this trailer contradicts the title Ragnarok — I think the writers googled Norse mythology, saw the name Ragnarok, and stuck it into the title. Do they know that name means the apocalypse and the promise of the death of several major gods?
Kathryn Bigelow has recently been delving into films that examine the wars abroad but now she’s looking at the wars at home with Detroit. I like Zero Dark Thirty. The Hurt Locker is alright but crazy overrated. One thing Bigelow really knows how to do is make you feel like you’re in these situations and feel what the characters feel, especially if it’s suspense. But she’s particularly great at extracting these feelings from genre fare, like in Strange Days or in, one of the greatest freakin’ raddest movies ever (you’re not allowed to have a different opinion), Point Break. Applying her strengths and sensibilities to the ‘67 Detroit riots will be tough, especially with an inevitable onslaught of criticism for a non-black directing/writing team to be taking on this topic. I am, however, super happy to see John Boyega here, and it looks like he’s doing some great work. Who’s ready for the Boyega era?
That’s certainly a change of pace from the previous two trailers. Bigelow’s style is perfectly suited for a movie like this. I love the way she uses the camera to enhance the realism for the audience. She’s one of the only directors I trust with using shaky-cam. Obviously this movie and its release will be rife with racial controversy, so I’ll stay away from commenting on that. From a pure storytelling perspective, I’m pretty intrigued because of how few depictions the Detroit riots get. Plus, the cast is solid. I am very happy to see that John Boyega is in pretty much everything nowadays. I hadn’t heard of this film prior to seeing the trailer, so I’m hopeful that it won’t get too buried and that Bigelow recaptures the tense, involving filmmaking that make Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker spectacular.
Anna: Honestly, I don’t know much about the riots in Detroit in the 1960s however this trailer is piquing my interest. From the brief scene grabs you can already tell what this movie will be about. Mainly, of course it will delve into the history of the riots in Detroit in the 1960s (duh). Secondly, some great performances will from up-and-coming actors including the studly Star Wars star John Boyega (so now I have to see it). Finally and most importantly, a screenplay will attempt to capture the tense and violent moments during these riots. Director Kathryn Bigelow surely undertook a hefty project with the premise of this film and if her past work and this well-done trailer say anything — it will definitely be a must-see film.
Image Credits: IMDb