Star Wars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Breaking Down The New Trailer Shot-By-Shot

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

Following what felt like an eternity, Disney and Lucasfilm has finally released the first official trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I say first because the preview they put out back in April was really just a teaser, whereas this new one is a full-on trailer, with some pretty significant story details revealed over its two-and-a-half minute runtime. There’s quite a lot to unpack here, so here’s a shot-by-shot breakdown of the trailer that dives into what all of this means for the full movie, which hits theaters on December 15.

Let’s take a look!

Kylo Ren (0:01 – 0:04)

Kicking things off, we see Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) standing watch over something being built by the First Order. It’s hard to make out exactly what’s being built, but it looks like it may be those new First Order Walkers we see in the very next shot. We also hear Supreme Leader Snoke’s voice over top of the scene saying, “When I found you …” in reference to his protege.

New Walkers (0:05 – 0:08)

“… I saw raw …” continues Snoke’s voiceover, as we see those aforementioned Walkers on the march. They look like redesigned AT-ATs (evidently, the First Order is out to copy every one of the Galactic Empire’s terrible design decisions), now called AT-M6s. That stands for “All Terrain MegaCaliber Six,” and we also see Kylo Ren’s shuttle flying overhead, suggesting that this is a pretty significant attack. The planet they’re marching on is Crait, which is reportedly a mineral planet that was once home to a Rebel Alliance base during the Galactic Civil War. The Last Jedi really isn’t helping divert any Empire Strikes Back comparisons with shots like this but there are worse things than sharing similarities with the best Star Wars movie to date.

Untamed Power (0:10 – 0:13)

“…untamed power,” Snoke continues as we see an overhead shot of Kylo Ren leading a continent of stormtroopers. It’s hard to say for sure where this scene is taking place, but I’d wager a guess that we’re still on Crait here given the red in the environment.

Something Truly Special (0:14 – 0:21)

Snoke concludes his little monologue with “and beyond that, something truly special,” as Kylo Ren picks his lightsaber off the ground. We can tell by the red Praetorian Guard that this scene is set in Snoke’s throne room, but why is Kylo’s lightsaber on the ground? Is Snoke making his apprentice pick it up as part of some sort of punishment for his failure at Starkiller Base? Whatever the case, I’m loving the use of color in this movie (particularly red) and it already looks like the cinematography has taken several steps forward since The Force Awakens.

It’s Rey! (0:22 – 0:27)

Love the juxtaposition of having Snoke say “something truly special” and immediately cutting to Rey wielding Luke’s lightsaber. This is the first of many instances throughout the trailer that explore the binary between Rey and Kylo Ren, two young, powerful Force users on opposite ends of the Light/Dark Side spectrum (although, as we’ll see later in the trailer, the pair’s allegiances may not be as clear-cut as we think).

Lightsaber Hand-Off (0:30 – 0:37)

Here we see more of Luke and Rey’s first meeting on Ach-To, picking up right from where The Force Awakens left off. Rey also speaks over the scene, telling Luke “Something inside me has always been there,” no doubt referencing her connection to the Force and her hope that Luke will be able to show her how to use her powers. “But now it’s awake and I need help.”

We then get some quick cuts to Rey exploring some misty, desolate-looking ruins:

Examining Luke’s reading material:

And swinging that lightsaber around:

Rey’s Power (0:47 – 0:51)

Speaking of raw power, it’s clear that Kylo Ren isn’t the only Force-wielder with potentially terrifying abilities, as Rey seems to shock Luke with her displays of power, which include splitting a crack in the earth and making objects around her levitate. The look on Luke’s face pretty much says it all.

Luke Is Worried (0:52 – 1:03)

It looks like Rey might not have as easy a time convincing Luke to train her in the ways of the Force as she thought, as her power causes the elder Jedi to have a post-traumatic flashback to the time his nephew Ben Solo a.k.a. Kylo Ren destroyed his newly-formed Jedi academy and left him in a pile of rubble.

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before,” Luke explains. “It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” Someone in Luke’s position would naturally be hesitant to train any new Jedi after what happened last time, but he seems to be insinuating that Rey is like Kylo Ren when it comes to ability and he doesn’t want to risk letting that power become unleashed again. Still, something tells me that Rey will find a way to convince him otherwise.

“Let The Past Die” (1:04 – 1:25)

In case it wasn’t clear who Luke was referring to, we next cut back to Kylo Ren (who has a new scar) and the same old anger issues, this time taking his mask and smashing it against a wall. Not too sure what the significance of this moment is yet but I think it might have to do with Kylo feeling like he hasn’t lived up to Darth Vader’s legacy, so he’s unworthy of wearing a mask that associates him with the Dark Lord of the Sith. Or perhaps Kylo is just trying to step out from his grandfather’s shadow and is feeling like he doesn’t need to latch on to Vader’s identity anymore, now that he’s killed his father Han Solo.

“Kill it if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.” The big tease of this new trailer deals with Kylo Ren leading a First Order attack on the Resistance fleet and even though it could just a clever bit of editing trickery, it looks like the former Ben Solo will hold his mother Leia’s life in his hands and hesitate to pull the trigger. We didn’t get to see mother and son interact at all during The Force Awakens, so hopefully this sequence is an indication that this relationship will be explored more throughout The Last Jedi.

Of course, “kill the past” may not even be in reference to Kylo’s own past at all, but someone else’s. Perhaps Kylo is telling Rey how to realize her true potential by killing her new master Luke Skywalker? We know these two will have a rematch at some point in the film and you have to believe that Kylo will still try to sway Rey to the Dark Side, especially since Snoke seems to have more interest in her than in him.

Millennium Falcon In Flight (1:28 – 1:31)

It looks like the Millennium Falcon — and by extension, Chewie — won’t be docked on Ach-To for the entire movie, as we see the Falcon in familiar territory here: being hunted by TIE Fighters. Judging by the return of red scenery, it looks like this battle is happening on Crait, suggesting that Chewie comes to the aid of the Resistance at some point.

Porgs!  (1:32 – 1:33)

Say hello to Star Wars‘ newest adorable/potentially annoying creatures, the Porgs. Disney will probably sell a bazillion Porg plushies over the holidays, as these things look like they could be as popular as BB-8 with the kids, but it’s just nice to see Chewie making friends, you know? Having the Porgs around also suggests that The Last Jedi isn’t all doom and gloom, and that director Rian Johnson is still making time for the more adorable side of the galaxy far, far away.

Poe Dameron! (1:35 – 1:39)

“We are the spark that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down.” Here comes X-Wing pilot and all-around cool guy Poe Dameron with a nice inspirational quote to help offset all the shots of the First Order blowing up Resistance ships that this trailer seems to be littered with. We don’t get to see much of Oscar Isaac in this trailer (boo!) but from the sounds of it, his role has been beefed up for this movie and he’ll be spending a lot more time with General Leia Organa helping to lead the Resistance (yay!).

Finn vs. Captain Phasma (1:40 – 1:44)

And here’s Poe’s BFF Finn taking on his old nemesis Captain Phasma. This is sure to be a pretty heated confrontation considering that the last time they met, Finn had Phasma thrown down a trash compactor. Phasma looks to be wielding some sort of cool-looking rapier, while Finn is channeling his limited time using a lightsaber with what looks to be one of those First Order melee weapons we saw a stormtrooper use in The Force Awakens.

Luke Down In The Dumps (1:46)

Whoa, this looks like a pivotal scene! We see Luke lying on the ground, as if he’s been knocked down, telling someone, “This is not going to go the way you think,” his voice tinged with anger. It’s hard to tell whether Luke is speaking to Rey or Kylo Ren here, but it looks like this scene is still set on Ach-To. Does this mean that Kylo finds where Luke has been hiding and attacks him? Whatever the case, things don’t look good for Luke here.

Ice Dog Thing! (1:47)

In addition to Porgs, we catch a glimpse of another new creature: a majectic-looking ice dog … thing. I don’t know what these are, but they look incredible and seem to be native to Criat. They also look like they are friendly to the Resistance, as they appear to be running into a Resistance base here, where we also see …

Leia Again (1:48 – 1:49)

It looks like Leia ends up on Crait as well. Not much to read into this scene other than she looks upset about something. The big problem is that we really don’t know whether the scenes on Crait take place before or after that fleet attack from earlier in the trailer, so we still can’t say whether Leia survives Kylo’s attack or not.

Cave Sequence (1:50 – 1:52)

This shot looks like it comes from the same scene mentioned above with Luke. It definitely takes place on Ach-To, as Rey is still in her Force Awakens outfit, but what exactly is going on here? It looks like a part of Rey’s training and calls to mind Luke’s own Jedi training with Yoda on Dagobah during The Empire Strikes Back. It’s also possible that by this point in the movie, Kylo Ren has found Luke’s hideout and is chasing the pair down.

Finn Captured (1:53)

Things aren’t looking good for Finn here, as it looks like he’s been captured by the First Order and is being escorted by some stormtroopers. But where are they taking him? Will he be taken to Captain Phasma or does this scene take place after their epic clash? Perhaps Snoke is looking to take advantage of Finn’s capture in helping lure Rey to him? So many questions …

Crait Battle (1:55 – 1:57)

More shots from the epic battle on Crait, which looks like the most visually-striking set piece in the movie. I really do wonder if this battle takes place at the beginning of The Last Jedi and is the movie’s version of the Hoth battle from Empire. It’s clear that the First Order is going to be on the counteroffensive after their humiliating defeat at Starkiller Base, so striking a blow against a Resistance stronghold early in the movie would put the good guys on the run. However, if that’s the case, I do worry that The Last Jedi is adhering too closely to The Force Awakens model in essentially copying the plot of an earlier Star Wars movie but given the criticism that film received for this, I have faith that Rian Johnson’s film will be much more than just The Empire Strikes Back 2.0.

Snoke (1:58)

The trailer saves one of its biggest reveals for last, as this is the first shot we’ve seen of Supreme Leader Snoke’s true form, as he only appeared in hologram form in The Force Awakens. Judging by Snoke’s golden outfit and the bit of red in the background, it’s a safe that this takes place in Snoke’s throne room, which leads us to perhaps the trailer’s most shocking moment …

Rey’s Torture (1:59 – 2:00)

We not only get to see a bit of Snoke’s Force powers on display but the person he’s using them on turns out to be none other than Rey, who appears to fall into the Supreme Commander’s clutches at some point in the film. “Fulfull your destiny,” Snoke says as Rey shakes and cries out in pain, trapped in his telekinetic hold. This scene echoes Luke’s own torture at the hands of Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, an act that would have killed the young Jedi had it not been for the intervention of Darth Vader. Could we see a similar sacrifice from Luke or even Kylo Ren as they step in to save Rey’s life? Or will Snoke succeed in turning Rey to the Dark Side?

Rey’s Last Words (2:04 – 2:13)

After a brief fade to black, we hear Rey’s voice as she says “I need someone to show me my place in all this.” We then cut to Kylo Ren holding out his hand, implying that Rey turns to him at some point for guidance. While I think these are actually two different scenes spliced together to make it look like they are happening at the same time, there is significance in the trailer ending off in this way. As already mentioned, the binary relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren seems to be the driving narrative force of The Last Jedi: both characters are confused about their place in the galaxy and both seek guidance from powerful mentor figures.

There has been some speculation that the pair will actually switch allegiances by the end of The Last Jedi, with Kylo being swayed back to the Light side by his mother and Luke, while Rey will be ensnared by Snoke, who desires her power for his own purposes. Whatever happens, it looks like The Last Jedi is setting up a complex Light Side vs. Dark Side conflict and just because a character starts on one end of the spectrum, doesn’t mean they won’t end up fighting for the other side by the end.

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)