New New Star Wars takes Comic Con by storm(trooper)
Kevin Winter/ Albert L. Ortega/ Michael Buckner/ Jesse Grant/ Getty Images
On Friday at Comic-Con, JJ Abrams took the stage along with LucasFilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and proceeded to blow the doors off the place. As promised, they did not show new footage, not exactly. Instead Abrams had a sizzle reel that had 6,500 hundred nerds weeping and screaming. (Lainey: I almost wept, from my bedroom. And I don’t think I’m a nerd.) He brought the cast on stage, old and new, and then he ended the panel by having a fleet of stormtroopers escort the entire audience to a private concert of Star Wars music. John Boyega was the most into it, and Harrison Ford seemed the most overwhelmed, and everywhere there was a palpable sense of relief that they just might have got this right and New New Star Wars won’t let us down.
Certainly, Abrams has MADE it right. The sizzle reel emphasizes the practical sets, the practical effects, and the labor-intense process of making Episode VII. Miniatures! Animatronics! Puppets! Real film in the cameras! Computer effects have gotten so good they’ve sucked the magic out of movie magic, leaving audiences numb to spectacle. We seem to be swinging back the other way, though, with a renewed desire to see “old fashioned” filmmaking in use. Certainly there is a place for green screen and digital effects in film, but they’re just tools, and like any tool, if you use it too much it becomes dull. Episode VII looks like a nice balance between the real and virtual worlds of modern cinema.
The reel does show a little more of the characters, with a clearer look at Oscar Isaac as X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron and we get our first look at Domhnall Gleeson, wearing black Empire robes as he’s playing an Empire general. There’s also a bit of John Boyega, who is instantly charming, and newcomer Daisy Ridley in her brief appearance pops right off the screen. She reminds me a little of Keira Knightley. And then there are the originals, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford—the shot of Ford in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, I won’t lie, made me a little teary. But you know who’s missing? Adam Driver. We’re still not really seeing Adam Driver. What is going on with his character that they’re keeping it so tightly under wraps? It’s almost like they want us to think he’s special.