Much like Darth Vader after his fateful fight against Obi Wan on Mustafar, Star Wars fans have been burnt before. The last time new live-action Star Wars films came back to theaters, they brought with them a legion of unlikeable characters and a plot full of Sorkin-esque walks down corridors explaining trade policy. With the J.J. Abrams-directed Episode VII: The Force Awakens set to debut this December, fan expectations and fears have been running equally high. Yesterday, at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, a new trailer seemed to put many of those fears to rest. It opens with a crashed Star Destroyer:
Recorded by DAPS Magic YouTube channel, the Star Wars faithful in attendance at the Anaheim Convention Center were enthusiastic throughout the trailer, but it’s the cheers, hollers, and gasps at the appearance of Chewbacca and Han Solo around 1:41 that are a real testament to their joy:
Over at Vox, Todd VanDerWerff noted just how essential the soundtrack is to the franchise, saying “this series is made by John Williams’s majestic, famous score. Without it, things fall flat. Yes, that’s true of nearly any movie with sound, but Williams’s music is so much a part of the Star Wars landscape that those musical cues instantly let you know just what you’re watching.”
A war among the stars provokes questions about galactic politics and star cruiser physics. At the Verge, my former Popular Science colleague Colin Lecher has a frame-by-frame breakdown of the new teaser trailer. In the middle of an explosion-filled battle scene, he asks the important geopolitical questions: “Why are what appear to be TIE Fighters attacking Stormtroopers? Is there a new player in the Empire game?” On Twitter, people (myself included) immediately began to debate the physics of Star Destroyer atmospheric reentry. Imperial-class Star Destroyers are supposed to be almost a mile long; unless it had the gentlest landing in galactic history, that ship at the beginning of the trailer should be a burn mark and a crater.
But the science isn’t all fiction. One of the six big takeaways from the trailer, according to the Washington Post‘s Michael Cavna, is that the rolling ball droid BB-8 is a real physical object, and not just computer-generated fiction. Sphere bots (like the aptly named Sphero) have existed for a while, but that doesn’t account for BB-8’s moving head on top of the sphere. One theory is that it’s controlled by magnets, while another has the head as a separate robot tasked with balancing on top of a moving sphere. Perhaps BB-8 is a droid all the way down. There are other theories too.
Joe Neumaier, writing for the New York Daily News, ends his review of the trailer quoting the new line from Han Solo and, echoing the first first film in the franchise: “Talk about a new hope. This trailer delivered it.”
Still, beneath all that excitement is the fear that, like the poorly received Star Wars prequels, it will still somehow be a cinematic disaster despite how promising it looks. Writer Theresa Couchman captured it best in a tweet: