Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailers are brilliant, but JJ Abrams shouldn’t get cocky

When JJ Abrams released his second Star Wars The Force Awakens teaser trailer a few days ago, the internet went into predicable meltdown.

For me, that meant getting a hint that something was up as I checked my twitter feed once the plane I was on from Morocco landed at Manchester, then suffering the 25-minute battle to get anywhere with a decent phone signal.

The most encouraging thing about the glimpses we have seen so far to me is how successfully the director and his team have recreated the look and feel of the original universe while updating it for a new audience.

“If there’s a bright centre to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from”

In both teaser trailers so far, Abrams has used familiar imagery to establish a direct link between the original films and now.

Of course we have the familiar – and squee-inducing – site of Han Solo and Chewbacca, or Artoo Detoo and (it seems) Luke Skywalker.

But beyond that, a great deal of the visual cues we have seen so far are recognisable to us – the harsh desert landscape for instance of the Star Wars frontier (although not Tatooine it seems).

They also establish an immediate and clear difference between the two sides of the film – on the one side we have the rugged and used aesthetic of the desert world the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) comes from and John Boyega‘s forever panting and lost Stormtrooper Finn is plunged into.

Rugged individuality vs totalitarian conformity

Rugged individuality vs totalitarian conformity

That is set up in opposition to the totalitarian control and crisp, metallic environments of the Empire, personified by the mysterious chrome stormtrooper Captain Phasma, supposedly played by Brienne of Tarth herself Gwendoline Christie.

Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them

For me, the more impressive work in the teasers has been the soundscapes they have utilised.

So far we have had the distinctive roar of the Falcon’s engines,Tie Fighters and X-Wings which all produce a nostalgic and familiar thrill.

Then there are subtler links such as the probe droid’s transmissions, laser blasts, lightsabers – all underlined by John Williams’ majestic score.

All in all it adds up to doing a lot with very little in terms of scenes and action, while establishing a universe people can easily understand and feel comfortable with.

Who’s scruffy lookin?

I have also been encouraged by the focus on the new characters in the teasers.

The money shot for Star Wars fans will be to see the original stars back in action, but Abrams has shows remarkable restraint so far, keeping his powder dry bar Han and Chewie.

By directing the audience’s attention to Boyega, Ridley et al he has made us think about who they are and what they will bring, rather then just cheer for our favourites, It is a nice touch.

Yoosa should follow me now, okeyday?

Reassuringly, the footage we have seen so far is also a world away from the demented toy advert fireworks of the trailer for The Phantom Menace.

You can watch it below if you don’t mind your eyes bleeding but believe me when I say familiar vissuals and audio links are largely lost in a bewildering hotch-potch of  special effects .

Already, I care more about the people I have seen in TFA than anyone here – especially Jar Jar Binks.

Great kid, don’t get cocky

Of course, Abrams is no stranger to updating classics as his work on Star Trek proved.

In Star Trek, he successfully presented a familiar and yet evolved universe to house beloved characters in a new way, satisfying long-standing fans and new audiences alike.

But then we had Into Darkness.

This was a terrible film in any case, but one that was much too reliant on making thematic links to its source material in lieu of original story-telling and narrative drive.

Star Trek Into Darkness had more problems than just a missing colon in the title

It included so many nods to the past that it ultimately became a bad Star Trek cover band, rehashing the greatest hits to an insulting degree as IO9 brilliantly ripped into here.

With The Force Awakens, Abrams has already shown his skills at universe building and whetting the appetite of Star Wars fans.

From now on as more scenes are revealed and plot details emerge, he must live up to his chosen one status and bring balance to the Force between the new and the old.

If he cannot, the good feeling we have at the moment will become a bad one real quick.

Tell me what you think