If you had a sense of deja vu watching the latest trailer for The Last Jedi, you're not alone. While The Force Awakens was generally well received - especially compared to the prequels - the loudest critique of the film was just how much it resembled the original Star Wars.
Of course, this familiarity was a source of enjoyment and comfort for some. If you fall into the latter camp, then you will love the trailer for The Last Jedi as it immediately brings a certain other sequel to mind. If not, then you'll be screaming that The Last Jedi is just a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back.
And frankly, I'm more than ok with that. If you haven't seen the new trailer yet, then turn in your lightsaber because you are not a true Jedi. Don't worry though we have you covered below. If you have seen it, why not watch it again?
Let me be clear I loved the trailer. Of course, I'm such a Star Wars geek that two minutes of watching Luke Skywalker glare would get me all giddy. But, that's not to say that I can't be critical of it at the same time.
Whether it's intentional or not, director Rian Johnson has evoked The Empire Strikes Back several times during this trailer. Yoda has been replaced by Luke Skywalker and they both share trepidation in training their young wards. Rey sees a confrontation with her own personal Darth Vader in the form of Kylo Ren. It doesn't take too much imagination to connect the dots to see that the First Order is going to use Finn to flush out Rey in much the same way Vader used Han and Leia as bait in The Empire Strikes Back.
The frigid world of Hoth has been replaced by the red dust planet of Crait, complete with slight variations on the iconic AT-ATs. While the scene with Snoke torturing Rey is more akin to the end of Return of the Jedi, the whole dynamic of a puppet master using a sith lord as a means to his ultimate goal is something that is as much Star Wars as C-3PO and R2-D2.
Of course, this could all just be a bit of purposeful misdirection on the part of Johnson. It's impossible to distill an entire movie from two minutes of highlights (usually) and you only have to look back on the last Star Wars installment Rogue One to know that trailers can be deceiving at times.
Speaking of deception, the trailer seems to imply that Kylo Ren will complete his parenticide by killing his mother Leia, but I wouldn't buy too much stock in this assertion. Remember that The Last Jedi had finished shooting before Carrie Fisher passed. While there was speculation that reshoots over the summer would help shape an ending to The Last Jedi that would give some finality to Leia, several sources have indicated that this wasn't the case.
I do think this scene between Kylo Ren and his mom provides a breaking point that leads to the cliffhanger moment in the trailer between Kylo and Rey. While the natural assumption here is that Rey is taking up the path to the Dark Side that Luke repeatedly shunned, that assumes that Kylo Ren is still evil at that moment.
Where as the original trilogy was about the salvation of Anakin Skywalker, I believe this trilogy will echo that story arc except with his grandson Ben Solo. So, if Kylo Ren won't be a big baddie in Episode IX, who will take his place? I present the latest poster for The Last Jedi that potentially hides a big clue.
There have been a few common themes among all of the Star Wars posters. The good guys and bad guys tend to be grouped together and in several posters, the evil presence overshadows everything. The Darth Vader placement in the posters for Revenge of the Sith and The Empire Strikes Back has been reserved for Luke Skywalker.
Now, don't get excited, I'm not saying that I think Luke will suddenly give in to the dark side after all of the trials in his life, but it is an interesting point to ponder. Another interesting placement is Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron. Using Luke and Leia in the middle as the natural border, all of the good guys are on the left side of the poster while all of the baddies are on the right.
Or all but one. Poe Dameron is conspicuously hanging out on the Dark Side. Aside from this ominous exception, the poster is rigidly and spectacularly balanced. Good droids, bad droids. Good lightsaber wielder, bad lightsaber wielder. And then there's Poe smack dab in the middle of the bad side.
In a franchise that prides itself on imagery and with a fanbase that tirelessly inspects every frame of film and image for any clues, I have to believe that Poe's placement is very much intentional. If that's the case, then I think we will all be in for a big shock when Poe reveals himself as a First Order spy. I hope that I'm wrong because I love Poe and the fact that he was originally supposed to die in The Force Awakens, I doubt that this was imagined as the big twist all along.
Still though, that twist would be a massive blow for many in the resistance, especially Finn and Leia. Which is exactly why I think it might happen.