The Force Awakens at 4AM

I know I shouldn’t be excited about the new Star Wars trailer. I shouldn’t even watch it. A colleague of mine said a few months ago that he doesn’t watch trailers anymore because they reveal way too much of the films they’re just supposed to preview, and even though many of them seem to draw mostly from the first five minutes—you can bet that Star Wars 7 is going to open on Tatooine—it still really hurts the experience. I was amped up about Interstellar before I even saw the film, and then when I finally got around to it I kept seeing the trailer even as I was actually watching the film itself.

Knowing this, I still watched the Star Wars trailer, like, five times, in three different formats.

So call me crazy, but I feel like movies changed forever with the release of the Episode 1 trailer a long time ago in a movie theater far, far away—I was maybe twelve?, and I was sitting in the dark, I don’t even remember what movie I was there to see, and then I heard John Williams’ music (maybe the most important element of Star Wars—while making A New Hope Lucas himself said it was the only thing that satisfied him), and I was like, what is this? What’s going on here? I was completely surprised, completely dazzled, totally excited, as I think almost everyone else who saw that trailer was. The consensus seems to be that the Episode 1 trailer was maybe the best ever produced, and that the movie itself was then the greatest disappointment in history.

Star Wars has been pretty traumatized since then. Episode 2’s trailer came out, people prayed for the film not to suck, and it did. Episode 3’s trailer came out, people prayed for the film not to suck, and it did. Awhile back I was watching it with my toddler son, who was far more bored with the prequels than he ever was with the originals (which we watched without the newish special effects, so don’t worry, dads, even little kids hate the prequels), but I was surprised to feel, halfway through the film, that I was actually kind of excited about what was happening, honestly the last thing I expected.

Nonetheless, though it was the best of the prequels, the image of Darth Vader waking up like Frankenstein and shouting Noooooooo! made me wonder if George Lucas was some kind of internet sado-masochist. I mean, does he actually enjoy being maligned by millions of people on the internet? Does he get off on the endless comments which would take centuries to read through, of people complaining about how he has betrayed and murdered their childhoods? I can’t think of any other explanation. It’s really the greatest mystery in cinema. How did the man, who had the genius to combine Kurosawa with World War 2 fighter movies and Richard Wagner and Joseph Campbell, end his cinematic days shitting diarrhea repeatedly all over such beautifully imaginative creations? This is what happens when you’re surrounded by Yes-Men. This is what happens when, like Captain Ahab, you just don’t know when to quit.

My friends joke that George Lucas likes to rape children (“No, Mr. Lucas, no!” “Poonta boonta Solo!”), but I think it’s more realistic to picture him in a leather suit, whipping his own back with a cat-of-nine-tails while scrolling through the utter cesspool that is youtube commentary, and going in his Plinkett voice “oh yeah, come on armchair directors, tell me how I shouldn’t have put Jar-Jar into the movies, give it to me good, baby, oh yeah, you hate midichlorians, that makes me so hot…”

So now we have JJ Abrams, a director who has proven that he can turn things around—probably a little too much—a guy who has, no doubt, been dreaming of making Star Wars since he was a child. Numerous people have said that the last Star Trek film was rushed, doubtless because Abrams wanted to get to Star Wars. I love Star Trek, I don’t love it quite enough to enjoy movies 1, 3, 5, or 10, though the rest were decent enough, and some (2, 4, 7, 8) were good or even great (Generations being the most underrated), still, Into Darkness felt like the Korengal-esque outtakes reel from Star Trek XI. It’s obvious that the filmmakers sat down one day, said hey guys, everyone loved the last movie, let’s just do the same thing again, only in a slightly different order, and that’s what they did. If they hadn’t put Khan into the movie—a rogue spy was exciting enough already (though ripped off from the last James Bond movie)—and if they hadn’t cured death at the end of the film, few people would have hated it.

*cue Blues guitar*

I woke up this mornin’…

…around 4AM, because we have a four-month-old baby who has better things to do than sleep, and after he was done crying I rolled over and was fading back into unconsciousness when I remembered—today (Saturday in South Korea) is the day. A day that will live in infamousy. I have to check if the trailer’s been released yet.

I got up and saw the wrong trailer, which was confusing and deflating, and then finally got around to seeing the real one.

Shot-by-shot, I must join the ranks of the internet: I was surprised by the black stormtrooper (not unlike this ajumma)—the first time we’ve ever seen a stormtrooper worried about anything—and I wondered if the soccer ball robot had escaped from the world cup, and I thought the girl looked a lot like Natalie Portman. The stormtroopers in the dropship with the Ghostbuster-y laser rifles reminded me that, much as I have enjoyed his movies, sometimes Abrams is really just Diet Spielberg (TM). The light-claymore reminded me of Darth Maul revealing his double-lightsaber, but I thought it was kind of lame—lightsabers are cool enough on their own, when used sparingly. The X-Wings were the best part for me, as was the pilot being all like, I haven’t got much but it could be a life form! The Millennium Falcon and the TIE Fighters looked fake, but as the internet has said numerous times, the CG in trailers is a lot less refined than the final product.

Still, it would have been better and riskier for them to act more like Christopher Nolan and only use computer effects when absolutely necessary. I mean, would anyone have complained if the spaceship models were real? People have seen decades of amazing and degrading dehumanizing computer effects, and I think a lot of us want to go back to models, while the rest of the moviegoing public doesn’t give a shit. I mean seriously, is there anyone out there besides Michael Bay who is saying “more computer effects!, more computer effects!”?

The music was pretty vigorous. The desert looked cool. I liked the voiceover (Darth Vader minus Darth Vader). Whoever that dude is, he could read a Korean phone book and sound cool. The first shot had me thinking of There Will Be Blood—long slow shots of barren landscapes with creepy background music, yes please and fucking thank you.

Jurassic World also just released its teaser trailer, and I doubt I wasn’t alone in thinking, been there, done that. The original title was Jurassic Park: Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong With Dinosaurs, Wait, Things Are Going Wrong Again, Damnit, That’s The Fourth Time Now.

I saw it, I didn’t really want to see it again, and I thought the only interesting thing about it was, again, John Williams, played on a piano. Nothing else really got my attention. NuStarWars definitely looks more interesting, more exciting, more fun, and, like the Guardian’s film critic (who has a lot of interesting insight on thirty seconds of film footage), I am definitely onboard, despite all the memories of betrayal this trailer stirs up—for now.