The Last Jedi Teaser and Panel Impressions (SWCO 2017)

“I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Luke finally speaks in Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s first trailer and they are words no-one expected him to say (and they sent chills up my spine) and has gotten the theory wagon running wild on what will take place in the upcoming installment of the Skywalker Saga. Likewise, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, Kelly Marie Tran, and of course Mark Hamill all divulged a few new hints about the film, which ranged from exciting to haunting, much like the trailer. So go ahead, enjoy the trailer a few more hundred times and then read ahead for my impressions of the panel at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 (which I finally wrote after I was done rewatching the trailer and stopped staring at the teaser poster we received for being at the show…both hard to stop doing).

The trailer seems to showcase we’re going to be taking quite the dive into the Force and its mythology, as Luke sounds very reluctant to train Rey. It seems they might even essentially end up training one another, as Luke will impart skills and wisdom to Rey while she can help him remember what it means to have hope, something I gather he’s missing thanks to those eerie final words about the Jedi needing to end. Or maybe he just means the Jedi as as they are now need to end and he plans on making her into a ‘new’ Force user, maybe along the lines of what Snoke feels Kylo can be? Either way, I’m curious if their time together on Ach-to might end up rivaling Luke’s time on Dagobah with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back…or even surpassing it. As for how their time together starts, the always excited and enjoyable Daisy Ridley teased that Rey meeting Luke might be difficult for her because sometimes one’s heroes aren’t what one expects (which drew oohhs from myself and the crowd). And for Rey, expect to learn more about her story her, naturally enough.

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose in The Last JediRian Johnson talked about how despite the loss of Starkiller Base, the First Order’s destruction of the main New Republic hub emboldens them to strike out at the chaos ruling the galaxy following said events, and we got our first hint of that in the giant space battle shots in the trailer between the Resistance and First Order. In that epic struggle between the two galactic forces, Poe will once again lose an X-wing (this time being his black one) and brand new character Rose (in the least Star Wars name ever, though I’m not complaining), played by Kelly Marie Tran, will end up on an adventure with John Boyega’s Finn. Rose is a Resistance maintenance worker and is another in a long line of seemingly no-bodies in the background rising up and becoming heroes, as director Johnson was excited to reveal. So while the trailer shows Finn in a coma still, the fact that he is going on an adventure (and many more with Poe, Boyega teased), we also saw behind-the-scenes images of Finn up and about and both of those things took a little away from the shot of him still being under. Unfortunately Rose wasn’t featured in the trailer, but I’m sure the next one will have a scene or two with her, while her presence on stage hopefully translates into the film because she seems to be really fun and potentially very funny/charismatic (like the entire cast, no?).

While the cast spent a lot of time throwing compliments back and forth at one another, they all felt genuine and heartfelt instead of being said just to give fans confidence in the film and the process of it. And going along with that, echoing earlier statements already stated over the Celebration Orlando weekend (and that gorgeous tribute video from Thursday’s panel), Kathleen and mainly Rian spoke reverently about Carrie Fischer’s return as Leia in the film, including some BTS photos of her on the set, from the aw-inducing look of her seemingly preparing for war to her casually sitting back with a Coke in her hand, goofing off on the set. There’s no doubt her role will be crucial and I can’t wait to see how her portion of TLJ plays out and I hope it’s a fitting end to Carrie’s run as Leia. And if Leia ends up passing away in the film I’ll be balling much like I was Thursday morning when John William’s shocked us all and played Leia’s Theme, while knowing her fate at this movie’s end will help make sense of the back and forth between whether she’ll be in Ep. IX or not; The latest, from Kathleen Kennedy, is Carrie won’t be and they had to restart everything after her passing. I had hoped they would recast Leia (I know that’s not a popular opinion and look, I don’t think anyone else can ever be Leia, but someone can honor her performance if they had to) so that they wouldn’t have to compromise the character’s story in the latest trilogy though we’ll probably never learn the intended use for her post-TLJ versus what we’ll get in Ep. IX. No matter what happens, I look forward to celebrating her last appearance in the role in December…even if I cry the whole damn time!

Here are a few other things:

  • Luke’s little collection of books are something I’m eagerly looking forward to learning more about, though their presence does make one wonder when Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin’s Force Ghosts stopped visiting him to give advice…or when he stopped listening to them/turned them away, either of which probably forced him to find more knowledge on his own.
  • One of my favorite things about the trailer is how it somewhat mirrors the very first The Force Awaken‘s teaser, as that one started with Finn popping suddenly into view and this one has Rey falling suddenly into view. It’s a minor thing, but I’m curious if this was on purpose or not. And is it a scene involving her experiencing another Force vision?
  • The shot of Luke dropping to his knees as what was probably his Jedi Order burns is a striking and haunting one, making me wonder if we’re getting another Force-back with Rey or just a literal flashback.
  • The bigger Resistance ships seem to be ones actually already introduced to canon in the Aftermath Trilogy and they are called Starhawks.
  • The planet where the Resistance speeders are digging into the dirt and producing the striking red dust as they rush towards First Order’s AT-ATs (or something very similar to those) is officially named Crait (though the planet was already mentioned in last year’s Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide), according to Johnson.
  • Rian Johnson says The Last Jedi is singular in his mind, though he says he didn’t even think of it that way when he first thought of the title. Plus, with Luke looking to “end” the Jedi, I would say it means the Jedi as we know it so they can become something better for the galaxy, so Jedi would be regarding the way of life, neither singular or plural. Or not. We’ll see in 8 months!
  • The shot of Rey’s back as she looks out at the ocean mirrors a shot of Anakin in the prequels and Luke in the original trilogy….
  • The official site’s highlights from the teaser include hi-res screencaps of the trailer so get them while they’re hot! And their list of things we learned from the panel includes some of the BTS shots shown during the panel; I love knowing that Rian Johnson himself shot many of those pictures while filming. UPDATE; here are all the pictures he personally took!
  • io9 has a nice shot-for-shot breakdown of the trailer.
  • My favorite line from the panel was Josh Gad’s joke about Rey being the “Madonna of Jakku” due to her not having a last name yet.

All in all, The Last Jedi has quite the different tone from TFA, while the wealth of new questions is an exciting prospect again so I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing it/learning more about it in the next 8 months.

And here’s the full panel (jump to the 10 minute mark and the shows starts shortly afterwards):

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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