On Friday the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiered and reactions were decidedly mixed. Here are the Psycho Drive-In All Stars with their takes on the next chapter in the Star Wars saga! I’ll cop to being a fanboy upfront, because I think it bears relevance. The trailers for the last two Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, both gave me chills and tapped deeply into my love of all things Star Wars. There was a sense of scope and newness in each that was positively inspiring and breathtaking. While the films varied as to how fully they were able to deliver on the promise of their trailers, I can’t deny a feeling of genuine and nearly tearful excitement at the first look provided via the trailers. I sincerely felt nothing even close upon watching The Last Jedi trailer. Up front, it was the lack of anything new that’s driving my first impressions. It’s a checklist of the utterly expected. I recognize every face/character and short of seeing Finn in what may be medical stasis, I wasn’t emotionally drawn in at all. Am I happy to see Phasma? Sure, but only because she was so criminally underutilized the last film, and the setting in which we encounter her doesn’t feel particularly fresh. The couple of twinges of true excitement I felt were in the larger-scale battle scenes; the ships streaming red smoke approaching Imperial Walkers and the dogfight in space. Even these moments didn’t really provide the glimpse of larger worlds and worldbuilding that feel so essential to Star Wars and the sense of awe these films are capable of eliciting. But maybe I’m not accounting for how fresh and new The Force Awakens was when it brought the story back to life, failing to keep present in my mind the fact that this is a direct sequel, and of course, there will be familiar faces. Perhaps the level of darkness, nuance, and the contemplative approach of Rogue One have spoiled me on yet another action-heavy space opera. Am I about to have the “It’s not you, it’s me” break-up speech with the Star Wars franchise? Of course not. I’m still excited for the next chapter, I still love Rey and Finn and Poe and all the energy they bring to this story. But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I’d trade every scrap of this The Last Jedi trailer for even a few seconds that struck as deep a chord with me as the wide angle shot in The Force Awakens trailer where we first see Rey’s speeder zooming past the crashed hulk of the Star Destroyer buried in the Jakku sands. Or the thrill of seeing the Rogue One team battling Walkers on the beaches of Scarif in that film’s trailer. For now, I’m left without that sense of wonder. — Adam Barraclough Luke Skywalker just spoke his first words in over thirty years. His muttering of “Breathe, just breathe” is directed, we suppose at Rey, but it might as well be written and spoken for all of us. Rian Johnson is why I am excited for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He is a director that I have been a big fan of since his 2006 directorial debut Brick. Johnson is a director that is firmly rooted in the sleek antiquity that the Star Wars universe plays in. The trailer is something of a head-scratcher. There are indeed some fantastic moments, but there is almost nothing in the trailer. It is almost identical to the Force Awakens trailer. But, what made that trailer so great was that it was a sincere trip down memory lane. This trailer left me in complete befuddlement though. Everything about it seemed to be calibrated incorrectly. The first shot, of what I presume is Rey training, seems miscalculated to show that The Last Jedi will be a Star Wars film driven by the physical world. I would certainly be excited about that, particularly since that was something I really appreciated about Rogue One. However, that was a misstep in conveying the tone of the film. We hear Luke, but we don’t really seem him that much. He is shadowed or obscured most of the time. They are playing Luke very close to the chest when it comes to revealing what these last thirty years have done to him. As for the rest of our heroes and villains, there isn’t much we glean from their arcs at all. Finn seems to be in some kind of sleeping pod, while Poe and BB8 seem to be getting attacked on a flight deck. Kylo Ren is back with his hilted lightsaber and I’m pretty sure we see the back of General Leia. I still have great hope for this film, but this trailer makes me a little timid. I would be excited about any new Star Wars film because that is just how I am wired. But, this trailer did nothing to make me feel like this movie is in the right hands. Something about the tone of the trailer seemed to be off kilter. I hope I am wrong, I really hope I am wrong. — Peterson Hill I only know one thing: I don’t know why Kylo killed Han. I hope we find out more of what made him such a jerk in this film, as his obvious gifts in the force only drew him closer to his Grandfather’s dark legacy. I’m sure the corruption of the First Order helped, but that mumbo jumbo was my least favorite part of Force Awakens. My second question is more important: will there be a lot of Poe Dameron and BB-8 running around energetically trying to save things? Signs point to yes. Also, Rey gets trained and Finn is in trouble. Is there a way all the main characters can ever have more than one syllable names? No? Thanks, Star Wars! — Shawn Hill I have to admit that this trailer bored me to tears. Everything about it was familiar. Now I know why. — Paul Brian McCoy The STAR WARS universe has always been about speculation. I was in middle school, just an awkward, squirrely kid speculating about the female species when I first started buying up any issue of Starlog and Fantastic Films with even the merest mention of my beloved franchise. As with every other aspect of my own life, that galaxy long ago and far away was still rife with more possibilities than could ever actually come true. My heroes had gone from the furthest point from the bright center of the galaxy to faraway planets made of snow, swamp water, and clouds, learning that the reach of the Empire and the powers of the Force were far bigger than they had ever imagined. Princess Leia had told the heroic teenager Han Solo that she loved him just before he was scorched into carbonite, while Darth Vader had cut off Luke Skywalker’s hand – his freaking hand, man! – just before telling him that Father’s Day would forever suck. This was really heavy stuff for a thirteen-year-old who was trying to figure out his own place in the sand-swept universe right here, and all of my magazines pointed toward there being even heavier possibilities on the horizon. They were talking about Vader being a liar, that the only reason Boba Fett took a shot at Luke and missed on Bespin was that he was actually the scarred-but-still-good Anakin (or, better yet, Luke’s mother), and that the plural form of the word Jesus would be Jesi – which is really close to Jedi! – meaning, among other things, that no one would ever really die. There was one particular bit of conjecture which stated, “when Leia resists Luke’s romantic advances, out of loyalty to her absent Han, Luke agonizes that he could make her love him by planting the suggestion in her mind and she would never know. Thus, Luke discovers his own Dark Side.” How could a gawky boy, raised without religion and generally dismissed by every budding young woman in the galaxy, not read something like this and feel every bit of potential darkness and light coming together, right here in some deceptively stupid fantasy film? Well, even though Luke and Leia shared yet another sketchy kiss in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, it turned out that they were actually brother and sister, and there was nothing quite so lofty and spiritual as dueling Jesi in THE RETURN OF THE JEDI, unless you want to count the ultimate (and ultimately kind of disappointing) redemption of the biggest badass in the galaxy in those final ten minutes. But still, the first time I saw the trailer for what was still being called REVENGE OF THE JEDI . . . nothing could ever have been as good as that movie was in my mind. When I think of the overall story of STAR WARS now, I sometimes still prefer to see that third (and now sixth) film the way that it was in my head. George Lucas had spoken about the massive saga he once imagined, something so sprawling that he eventually chopped it up into six parts, and then into nine. The next trilogy he was going to make would precede the events of the first movie, now retitled A NEW HOPE, and would focus on a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and the tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. For someone who had seen the movies more times than anyone should probably ever see a movie, having read every book, comic, or inspiration that formed them all, the first trilogy didn’t hold that much mystery. Folks like me already had Clone Wars and scarred combatants climbing from lava pits played out in our minds. But sure, it would be cool to see how George played it all out in his mind, and then we could finally get on with the trilogy that still could go damn-near anywhere in the not-so-faraway galaxy of imagination. I mean, here was Luke as we last saw him, dressed in black like his father, sporting the beginning of his own mechanized conversion to the Dark Side in the hand that Pops had sliced off in Cloud City. Would he have become the new Emperor when the words crawled across the screen at the beginning of the seventh episode? Could he have produced his own offspring – possibly twins – who would have to ban together to redeem their own evil father by the last ten minutes of the ninth installment? Or would Leia eventually pick up a lightsaber and begin her own fateful training, being the other hope for the galaxy that Yoda and Obi-Wan spoke of so long ago? Well, George Lucas suffered a massive blow to the head, or something, and decided to give his cinematic baby a rest while he spent some time with his real children. In the decades that passed before he finally picked it up again, I had begun to unlock the mysteries of the female species, learning enough from my own training that I was able to produce two children. The dark and light sides played out differently in life than they did in the movies, and there were words never spoken in that other universe, words like separation and divorce. As my son got older, however, he fell in love with the same basic faraway galaxy that I had loved, though his was more about General Grievous, Darth Maul, and the creation of clone armies. Lucas claimed now that his films were really intended for children, and – despite going on and on about trade agreements, crooked government employees, and a bunch of other really boring shit that no child would ever care about in THE PHANTOM MENACE – he gave us Jar Jar Binks, a Sith Lord called Annie, and the most poorly conceived love story since . . . well, since Luke and Leia. But he also gave us a pretty kick-ass pod race and Darth Maul, so I forgave him. Despite ATTACK OF THE CLONES being what I consider the weakest link in the entire STAR WARS chain, I was nonetheless lured into all the speculation that surrounded the final film. The married life seemed as long ago as that first Death Star now. I was shacking up with a clever young thing ten years my junior, a girl with her own inner dark-and-light battle, who nonetheless knew the Lucas universe even better than I did. Her enthusiasm – and the fact that she played one of the five STAR WARS movies every night as we drifted off to sleep – reignited my own passion for the old galaxy of my childhood. The internet was a daily thing now, and I was connecting with forums and discussion boards and rumors from all over the world. Suddenly, in my thirties, I was a total fanboy again. There wasn’t really much guesswork to be done for REVENGE OF THE SITH, as we all knew that Palpatine was going to be the evil Emperor and that, however it played out, Anakin was going to be a crispy critter by the end of the movie. But those Imperial guards, man – the dudes in red who stood so silent and still outside the Emperor’s quarters in RETURN OF THE JEDI – were they actually brainwashed, enslaved former Jedi who had fallen in the Clone Wars? As it turned out, no. They were just more hired Nazis working for the Empire. Then it happened again. My clever STAR WARS geek was gone, making her own family somewhere on the other side of the state. My children were over there as well, with their mother, creeping ever closer to adulthood, when my forty-five-year-old ass was caught up in all things Lucas once more. This time, though, the old man had sold his babies away to the empire of Disney. They would be given new life by the man who had made one of my favorite TV shows, FRINGE, and who had tried to remake STAR TREK in the image of STAR WARS. Some people were not hopeful about this, but I totally thought that it was going to work. Especially when most of the original characters I had known and loved for so long would be making an appearance in this new-ish galaxy. Yeah, it was Return of the Fanboy all over again, and I couldn’t help but comb through every spoiler site I could find. I didn’t really want to ruin it for myself – and I knew too well, after at least three consecutive disappointments, that nothing is ever as good as we think it’s going to be – but I was powerless against the Dark Side. THE FORCE AWAKENS was, of course, the first film all over again. Except that one of the old heroes, the rebellious teenager who never really figured out how to adult, died in this one. It wasn’t surprising that it was getting married and having children that eventually killed him. But we got to meet a host of new characters that were all very different, yet somehow strangely familiar. Then, at the very end, we got to see the character that started everything for us of a certain age. So today I watched another trailer. It is called THE LAST JEDI. We see what looks like a field of stars, which is where every episode has begun. But then we see that it’s the ground and Rey is there, maybe on her knees. Mark Hamill’s voice is over everything, and I suddenly realize that we haven’t heard from Luke Skywalker in almost thirty-five years. He looks old like Harrison Ford did in the last film like I do now whenever I look in the mirror. Luke tells Rey to breathe. She uses the Force to peer into the unknown, and, while we see various intriguing images of fire, water, and the Force, she speaks about the darkness and the light. And the balance. There are skimmer ships trailing clouds of red across the cracked desert of an unknown planet. A line of AT-ATs loom in the distance, reminding us of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Chunks of debris on the ground around Rey begin to rise up in a way reminiscent of Rian Johnson’s LOOPER. There’s a small row of ancient books in heavenly light. Finn looks to have survived his scuffle with Rylo. Poe and the beachball droid are racing down a fiery hall to a waiting X-Wing when things start to explode. We see Captain Phasma and a flank of stormtroopers. There’s fire, lots of fire, in the docking bay and burning down a building. Luke kneels beside R2-D2, as he did so fleetingly in the previous film, watching what is probably a Jedi training facility as it’s consumed by flames. We see Leia, alone now. We see Kylo Ren’s mask, destroyed, and his scarred face in the light of his cross-blade lightsaber. We hear Darth Vader breathing and the subtle echoes of words from the other films. Then Luke says, “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi . . . to end.” And I’m thirteen again. The books could be the Journal of the Whills, an ancient Jedi text that only the geekiest of STAR WARS geeks knows about. It was part of the very earliest story sketches that George Lucas ever put down about his future space opera. There was no Skywalker yet, only Starkiller (which became the Death Star-esque military base in the last installment). A passage from these manuscripts appears in the FORCE AWAKENS novelization. It speaks about not choosing between the darkness and the light, that the true path is that of balance. Like the balance Rey speaks of before we see her with her saber ignited, fiercely racing toward something in the trailer. It implies that what the Jedi have been taught all of these centuries might have been wrong, such as Anakin being forbidden to marry Amidala (which, if you think about it, led to him becoming Darth Vader). It also implies that those of us who have wondered if Luke might go Darkside could at least be partially right. I refrain from earlier speculation that Rey might be Luke’s daughter, but I’m not yet convinced that she might not be Kylo’s sister. There are only so many ways that it can all go down. Rey turns her brother back toward the light (or the half-light) and they face Snopes together, or maybe they battle a powerfully dark Uncle Luke, and then take on Snopes. Or Rey and Luke square off against Kylo in the final act of the new film. Luke dies, but it only sets Rey on the more determined path of Jedi (un)vengeance in the final film of the trilogy. Or maybe Luke survives since Leia won’t be appearing in episode nine now, and I can’t imagine closing out this phase of the series without one of the originals. In the last few minutes, with Snopes and the First Order defeated – possibly with a redeemed Kylo beside them, or an ever growing bunch of ghosts lining up – they face a brand new day in a galaxy where the Force belongs to everyone, not just the Jedi and the Sith. But, of course, it’s all just speculation, because that’s what we all do with STAR WARS. That’s what I’ve done since they ended THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in limbo, imparting my eleven-year-old heart’s first lesson: sometimes bad things even happen to the good guys. It might have been George Lucas who started all of this, but it truly belongs to everyone now. That’s probably because, like padawans still learning to master the Force, we can all find whatever we need to find in these movies. It’s thirty years later and the lessons keep coming. The fictional character of Han Solo was dispatched by his son, while the real actress who played Leia was taken down by something less dramatic. Luke Skywalker is no longer a restless farm boy yearning for adventure, and Rey has found a new family after being left by the one who gave birth to her. Sometimes the family you expected to have is not the one you end up with. Things change, they stay the same. You will have to fight, sometimes against the last people you would want to fight. You will feel great anticipation, and also, sometimes, disappointment. But you will keep coming back, no matter what happens, because it’s all a great and wonderful adventure . . . and it still gives you hope. — John E. Meredith Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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