EITHER THE next Star Wars film is as blueprint-simple as the new “Last Jedi” trailer suggests, or this latest teaser is an exercise in deftly edited misdirection.
On the face of it, this footage points to a plan similar to that of “The Force Awakens” — namely, just as J.J. Abrams’s 2015 film took narrative cues from 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope,” this next film appears to be following plot points from the original trilogy’s second film, “The Empire Strikes Back.” This leads the viewer to believe that the young, Force-aware Rey (Daisy Ridley) will become the new Jedi knight, as was Luke (Mark Hamill).
This trailer (which landed Monday night) for Rian Johnson’s film certainly opens with those echoes, as Rey tracks down the older, reclusive and haunted-looking Luke on his rocky island of Ahch-To exile, with lightsaber in her hand and eagerness to fight in her eye. The student could now be the master, in scenes that feel like a direct callback to Luke finding Jedi master Yoda in that swamp in the original triptych.
If we’re following the “Empire” path, then Luke will train Rey. But if this is all narrative misdirection, then perhaps Master Skywalker, scarred by the tragedy after training his murderous nephew, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), will refuse to train Rey, and the feeling of destined heroic union here is all empty trumpet peals and wasted hope.
And if the trailer is engaging in that degree of intercut misdirection, then other would-be connections are similar narrative feints, too.
For instance, we see Kylo Ren take to the cockpit while his mother, the Resistance-leading Gen. Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher), offers a look of grave concern. So is Kylo now bent on matricide, having already killed Daddy (Harrison Ford) in “Force Awakens” and saying here that he’s willing to kill the past?
We also see Rey apparently being tempted toward the Dark Side by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). If Luke refused to train Rey, perhaps Snoke saw an opening and is guiding her as she seeks to level up and find her “place.”
So are the trailer’s editors giving it to us straight, or is this a jigsaw of misleading pieces?
Until we get more clues ahead of the film’s Dec. 15 release, we only know two things for fairly certain: The space-puffin Porgs will be a huge commercial hit. And that emo-black face bandage, sported by the ever-scarred Kylo, should show up on doorsteps come Halloween.