During the live-action film panel at Disney's D23 expo, Lucasfilm showcased a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While the studio attempts to get the young Han Solo spinoff film back on track with Ron Howard taking over for Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Rian Johnson's Episode VIII has been sailing smoothly from the beginning. Fans are excited to see what the Looper director has in store for the galaxy far, far away, especially with the promise that the movie sets new rules for the franchise and is different from its predecessors. Promotion for the film has been characteristically tight-lipped, but fans have seen enough to be teased in tantalizing ways.
With Lucasfilm opting to forgo a Hall H presentation at San Diego Comic-Con this year, D23 marked the last chance for the studio to advertise Star Wars 8 on a large platform this summer before things kick into high gear in the fall. While there is still no second trailer, viewers can get another taste of Johnson's film via a behind-the-scenes featurette, similar to the ones for The Force Awakens and Rogue One that premiered at similar times in their respective years of release. You can watch the video in the space above.
The main focus of the video is Johnson's vision for the story and the exciting new directions he took the property in. Daisy Ridley called the narrative "unexpected, but right," and John Boyega mentioned that the sequel shifts things in an "opposite direction" from what the audience may have thought following the events of Episode VII. Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran was also complimentary of Johnson's handling of the material, stating that the characters are "complex," which is ultimately makes the film as special as it is. From the beginning, word was The Last Jedi was going to be a different kind of beast when compared the the previous episodes, and it seems like there's some truth to that. Boyega claimed Johnson made Star Wars "fresh and new," which is just what the fans want to hear after The Force Awakens drew a little too much inspiration from A New Hope.
Viewers also got a look at some of the new creatures that will make their big screen debut in Episode VIII. Chief among them are the porgs, which are indigenous to Ahch-To. The bird-like animals have been previously seen in fan sketches and a leaked image of a pinball tabletop game. Impressively enough, the ones in the video are practical effects - most likely animatronics. There is also something that resembles a white wolf, and another alien in a stable of some kind. It's possible the latter of those is a prized racing animal found on Canto Bight, rumored to be part of an action sequence. The video also shows off some of the locations - including Ahch-To, the high-rolling casino city Canto Bight, and Crait (where Rey and Finn look to have a reunion).
There's plenty to unpack in these three minutes - arguably more than another trailer. Fans will be analyzing every frame for possible clues about the secretive story. The footage seems to confirm some bits of speculation that have made their way online (see: Finn and Rose dressed as First Order officers undercover) and sets the stage for one of the most emotional Star Wars films yet. As the late, great Carrie Fisher says at the end, "It's about family. And that's what's so powerful about it." If the D23 reel is any indication, audiences will be in for one special treat this holiday season.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019