Film, Review, Star Wars

Now That’s How You Make A Trailer

13 Aug , 2016  

The internet exploded again on Thursday, as sure as if a planet-killing space station on the edge of the solar system had spit a green light of death straight into the guts of every fanboy’s computer.

I’m speaking, of course, of the worldwide premiere of the second trailer for “Star Wars: Rogue One.”  It’s a glorious and dramatic thing, as a Star Wars trailer should be.  But through that music, it becomes so much more.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Forest Whitaker) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL

Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera

The trailer establishes a sense of foreboding, bleak and dark from the beginning.  The haunting cues of the Imperial March play forlornly on a lonely piano as a raspy-voiced Saw Gerrera lays it on the line: “The world … is coming undone.”  Plot and premise are revealed, as is a promise:  This will be a tale long-remembered.

New characters are given a voice.  An armored warrior spits defiance at the enemy as his blaster rifle fells foe after foe.  A blind swordsman drops a platoon of Stormtroopers with nothing but a staff and his faith in The Force.

There’s familiarity:  A battered starship with some freighter-like qualities, the dreaded sounds of attacking TIE Fighters, the looming shape of the Death Star orbiting a world.


Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe.

Dramatic battle scenes saturate the screen with laser blasts and explosions.  Those AT-ACT Walkers are back, indomitable, shrugging off blaster bolts and rocket launchers alike.  The Imperial theme continues to swell, wrapping the footage in a promise of doom.  The Death Star literally eclipses the life-giving light of a world’s sun.

And then, lest we forget that this is a Star Wars movie, a droid rattles off the precise odds that our heroes are going to fail.

But suddenly, subtly, those musical tones announce a change.  A sustained note of dread leads to a heroic chord progression — a perceptible shift from minor to major — and the dominance of the Empire is replaced by the defiant notes of the Rebel anthem.  Doom gives way to hope.  Certainty of failure falls to the promise of heroism.  “This is our chance,” promises Urso, “to make a real difference.”  A fanfare of trumpets joins the crescendoing Rebel theme as Urso strides down a gantry, face-to-face with a TIE Fighter armed only with a blaster pistol.

“Are you with me?” she asks.

And Cassian Andor says exactly what we’re all thinking:

“All the way.”


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When he was a child, Terry Smith's mother bought him a toy castle, a mountain of Legos, and a book about wizards. His father dragged him to movies like Star Wars, Excalibur, and Tron. In the face of such blatant indoctrination, he never stood a chance. Since those days, he has traveled the world (mostly via the internet) in search of a broader understanding of geek culture, in hopes that such an understanding will result in an unprecedented worldwide unity.

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