A Tale of Two Trailers


This is the kind of week we wait for in film. We were treated to not just one, but two of the most anticipated trailers in the history of the Blockbuster. Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens may have only given us a few teasing moments to whet the appetite but they were enough to fuel anticipation levels and get everyone intensely talking and speculating.


The Jurassic World trailer came earlier in the week and because it’s due for a release on 12th June more post production has been completed so we got to see quite a bit of footage. In terms of plot there is a base to work upon here. 22 years after John Hammond’s initial attempt to bring dinosaurs back to life in Jurassic Park and create a park that would showcase these marvels it would seem someone has made this idea into a fully operational and popular attraction. Meanwhile, scientists (including the returning BD Wong as Henry Wu) are treading new genetic ground by creating the first hybrid dinosaur. The exact nature of this super dinosaur are very much under wraps and all we know are that it’s highly intelligent and kills at will, which suggests a velociraptor merged with something bigger, but that still remains a secret.

Being an obsessive follower of the Jurassic Park series it’s so great to actually see this trailer, just because it’s finally come to fruition. After years in development hell with massing uncertainty over who will direct or star or what story will be used it’s finally only six months away. Not only that but it looks great, it’s impossible to judge an entire film from a trailer but Jurassic World really does look the part and director Colin Trevorrow looks to have kept the essence of the original while adding his own style. There are only snippets of the various dinosaurs but there are plenty of them. Introducing new dinosaurs, including the massive sea dwelling Mosasaurus, and adding new dimensions to the old ones including the raptors, who are said to be working with staff member Owen played by Chris Pratt, both the human and dinosaur performances look a lot more layered than the one dimensional Jurassic Park III.

An issue with a lot of the trailers these days is they give away entire plotlines or all the best jokes in an attempt to sell the movie but there is still so much of Jurassic World which is shrouded in mystery. Does the T-Rex, the poster dinosaur for the franchise, return with a bigger role than that of the previous film? Will the raptors work with the humans or will they merely betray them? And what are the intentions of the owners of Jurassic World? Both Vincent D’Onofrio and Irrfan Khan are executives of the Masrani Corporation which own the theme park. Two big actors who we did not see in the trailer suggests that something more is afoot and I really cannot wait to see it on the big screen in a mix of excitement and pure unmitigated nostalgia.

Talking about nostalgia, whilst still getting over the trailer for Jurassic World only a few days later we had out first glimpse at The Force Awakens. I say a glimpse being it was only a minute and a half long. J.J Abrams and co have only just completed principal photography a few weeks ago and there will be still a huge amount to add in post production. Being only 88 seconds long and with a year left to complete, it lacked the flow of a theatrical trailer, but as random assortments of images go it was truly the pinnacle. Never before has an ominous voice over (Is it Serkis, Driver or Cumberbatch?) and a few out of context shots amassed so much excitement from so many.

It doesn’t answer a whole host of questions as to what’s in The Force Awakens except that it has The Millennium Falcon in all its glory, a Sith with a red lightsaber that, when ignited, becomes a crucifix shape and the X-Wings are back with Oscar Isaac at the helm of one. John Boyega’s role is uncertain, is he a Stormtrooper, or like Luke in a New Hope is he just donning the uniform and all we know about Daisy Ridley is she’s on Tatooine at some point of the film. So, lots still to speculate about. It’s been a real enjoyment in itself reading all of the various interpretations of what the various images mean. We still have a long way to go until December but from these few images it look promising.

One thing both Jurassic World and The Force Awakens are that John Williams was the composer for the original films and it is that music that really gives the trailer the extra edge over those of other movies. Interestingly, the same composer was look set to take over him for both movies, however, although Michael Giacchino is doing the score for Jurassic World, Williams is returning to the Star Wars universe once again. One thing that will be certain in both movies is the music will be spectacular.

We have been truly spoiled this week, even though the extent of that spoiling was a cumulative four minutes. At least we know that the films are on there way next year and we can go on speculating about plots and characters until they do.


Happy 30th Birthday Return of the Jedi


2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi. Last of the original Star Wars films, it finalised George Lucas’s trilogy wonderfully with some of the greatest and most memorable scenes of the franchise. Although it’s taken some negative criticism regarding those cuddly, little Ewoks and a few of the Endor scenes dragging, it is still a terrific film thirty years on. It was my favourite of the original three for about a decade until The Empire Strikes Back took that title. However, there is still lots and lots to like in Jedi and here are some of the reasons it’s such a fine movie.

1.)    The Opening scene – The first five minutes after the opening crawl comprise of some great acting as Darth Vader’s ship lands upon the new Death Star. We then get to enjoy some great acting from the commander of newly constructed space station Moff Jejerrod, played exquisitely by English actor Michael Pennington. Every line of dialogue uttered between both Vader and himself is superbly crisp and memorable as they exchange lines in a wonderful back and forth that finishes with the chilling line “The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am”. A key scene of exposition made interesting and watchable by some great acting and sharp writing which builds suspense around The Emperor despite not seeing him first hand yet.


2.)    Jabba’s Palace – For the best part of my adolescence the 45 minutes spent on Tatooine in the presence of Jabba the Hutt and his band of weird aliens was the pinnacle of all film for me. From C-3PO and R2-D2 arriving nervously at the huge gate (which didn’t really need to be made bigger in the blu-ray version) to the destruction of the sail barge it was wall to wall action, adventure and fun. The setting was whimsical, claustrophobic and full of peril and in the Rancor and Sarlacc were two threatening and distinctive movie monsters. Luke is finally coming into his own as a Jedi, Leia is freeing the man she loves and Lando is seeking redemption. Every character has their motive, the tactics are set and this gives life to a great piece of adventure cinema.


3.)    Yoda becomes one with the force – Before the prequels, before the embarrassing Vodafone adverts and before Yoda became a springy, lightsaber wielding, green warrior this is what we knew. Yoda didn’t need to be a big, strong man to be the greatest Jedi Master. He was humble, wise and passed on his knowledge whilst training Luke. We went through his journey as well as Luke’s in Empire and sympathised with his character. Luke was the last hope of the Jedi and Yoda has to train him. Although Luke’s mind wondered to his friends he was the last chance for the Jedi Order and the only way to defeat the Galactic Empire that had all but eradicated the Jedi and all of Yoda’s former friends and colleagues. There was so much at stake with Yoda and that’s why so many people well up at the death a little puppet voiced by Frank Oz. He is believable, he has a story and his passing is tragic. His passing leaves all but two Jedi in the universe, he has done all he can and we hope his legacy can pass on. It is a fine scene and both Mark Hamill and Frank Oz are wonderful.

4.)    The Minor Characters – With the diverse range of aliens and people from a myriad of worlds Return treats us with a number of minor characters that ingrain themselves into our memories and help audiences take a further step into the Star Wars Universe. Lando’s incoherent co-pilot Nien Numb, Jabba’s Gamorrean Guards, Max Rebo, palace “jester” Salacious Crumb and that baby Ewok to name but a few are fantastic examples of Star Wars’ ability to build a world with real characters, which is what makes it so rich. However, the greatest and most memorable of these characters is Mr Admiral Akbar, the Mon Calamari born leader of the rebel fleet in their attempt to blow up the second Death Star. His one liner “It’s a Trap” was enough to secure him a cult following and a place in all true Star Wars’ fans heart. Although he was a strange looking fish general, that sigh of relief he expels as his objective is complete is more real than some human acting.

5.)    The Emperor – The more you watch this film the more you realise how much it revolves around Emperor Palpatine. In fact you realise how much the entire trilogy does. A character that clocked about three minutes of screen time in the saga until now has been behind everything. He’s been the one instructing Vader and now we see the full extent of his manipulation and pure evil. His character is rich with hate and his relentless pursuit of Skywalker at whatever cost is gripping. Ian McDiarmid is truly engaging, even by just sitting in his huge chair, taunting and playing mind games with Luke. He knows he is close to turning Luke to the dark side and his dialogue and actions whilst doing this are wonderful thing to see. This then leads to the best lightsaber duel in the franchise as John Williams produces a wonderful choral score to match the anguish in the fight between father and son. Culminating in the demise of the Emperor as Vader overthrows his master, Palpatine remains defiant and hateful until the end.


Happy 30th Birthday Return of The Jedi