LOS ANGELES, Oct 10, (AFP): Lucasfilm debuted its highly anticipated second trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” on Monday, hinting at dark times ahead for the Resistance and possibly even the end of Leia.
The footage from the eighth installment in the blockbuster space opera, due for release on Dec 15, dropped during ESPN’s Monday Night Football halftime show.
The 154-second clip follows a trailer released in April which teased Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) teaching Rey the ways of the Force.
This time around more plot was unveiled, with Luke telling Rey (Daisy Ridley) he’d only seen power like hers once before — and while it didn’t scare him enough then, it does now.
Fans speculated on social media that he could be talking about his nephew and Rey’s nemesis Kylo Ren, who is seen in a TIE fighter with his mother General Leia Organa in his sights, his eyes welling up as he prepares to open fire.
Carrie Fisher — who has played the character since she was known simply as Princess Leia in the original 1977-83 trilogy — died in December, having already wrapped her scenes for “The Last Jedi.”
Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy has said Fisher will not appear in the as-yet untitled ninth episode, due for release in 2019 — leading some observers to conclude that the new trailer was showing her final moments.
Elsewhere Poe Dameron and Finn are shown battling the evil First Order and then there is a glimpse of Rey, apparently a prisoner of Supreme Leader Snoke, asking Kylo to “show me my place in all this” as — shock, horror — he offers her his hand.
The marketing around the film has been controversial, with director Rian Johnson (“Looper,” “Brick”) recently warning fans via Twitter that those wanting to go into the theater “clean” should “absolutely avoid” watching the new clip.
He appeared to have softened his stance by the time the footage dropped, however, tweeting: “Forget everything I said and watch it watch it watch it.”
It had almost half a million views and more than 21,000 comments on YouTube within two hours of being posted, with #TheLastJedi quickly becoming the top trending hashtag worldwide on Twitter.
The reaction among critics was effusive, with Ryan Parker, a film writer for the The Hollywood Reporter, enthusing that he was “blown away.”
“I don’t think I have ever been so hyped for a ‘Star Wars’ film than I am right now. It was the perfect mix of everything I was hoping it would be,” he said.
“We got more Luke, but not too much, some looks at Leia that really hurt my heart and some more insight into where this all is going.”
For Rolling Stone’s Sean Collins, the “hints at a heel turn from Rey with those grim fourth-wall-breaking shots of Carrie Fisher’s warrior princess on the verge of death, at the hands of her own son no less” presaged a movie strong in the dark side of the Force.
“The Last Jedi” — filmed on the west coast of Ireland and at Pinewood Studios near London — sees the return of the characters introduced in 2015’s seventh installment.
Introducing the cast at a fan event earlier this year Johnson unveiled a new star, Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose, a maintenance worker who is part of the Resistance.
The actress revealed that she had told her family she was doing “an indie movie in Canada” — such has been the secrecy surrounding the film.
Hamill tweeted on Monday that he was racing home to watch the trailer but told fans he was “not sure if I’ll make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs!!!” — a reference to a famous line from the original “Star Wars.”
Footage from within one of Australia’s offshore detention facilities for asylum seekers reached its first international audience this week in London, with one of the filmmakers highlighting the plight of his co-director who remains inside the camp.
“Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time” portrays life within Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island camp, built as part of Australia’s immigration crackdown which has seen asylum seekers who try to reach the country by boat taken to an offshore site.
The footage was shot on a smartphone by Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian who has spent four years in the camp since the boat he was trying to reach Australia on was intercepted by the authorities.
“We build the story with WhatsApp footage, really low-quality video, and it took a long time to transfer,” said co-director Arash Kamali Sarvestani, who originally contacted Boochani through Facebook asking him to film inside the camp.
The outcome includes playful scenes of children on the other side of the fence and a scrawny cat, shot alongside those of men recounting their treatment and of ambulances arriving to treat detainees.
The film’s title is a reference to the camp’s solitary confinement cells, nicknamed “Chauka” after a type of bird native to Manus Island.
“We just talked about the ideas and then he found it in his own way because he’s living there,” Kamali Sarvestani told AFP during the London Film Festival.
Boochani is one of 1,000 people spread between the Manus facility and one on the island of Nauru, many of them from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There has been a push to relocate the detainees to third countries after the country’s Supreme Court ruled last year that holding people on the island was unconstitutional and illegal.
A first group of refugees from the Pacific camps was approved for resettlement in the United States in a deal struck with Washington under former president Barack Obama.
The pact has angered President Donald Trump, who has begrudgingly agreed to accept an unspecified number of people who can fulfil rigorously vetted requirements.
But it remains unclear what will happen to those not taken by the US.
Three men held at Manus have died, and the filmmakers hope that seeing the inside view of the camp’s conditions — widely criticised by refugee advocates and medical professionals — will have an impact on audiences.
“This is the first place that the movie is screening outside Australia, so we can test it if it works or not; if people from other countries become angry or put pressure on Australia,” Kamali Sarvestani said.
Boochani had been invited by the British Film Institute to attend the screening of his film, with the festival hosts praising the documentary as “brave, thoughtful and urgent filmmaking”.
But despite writing to the British High Commissioner to Australia, Menna Rawlings, requesting help in coming to London, Boochani remains on Manus.
Kamali Sarvestani said his co-director is stuck in limbo, unable to go back to Iran but with no third country willing to accept him.
“If he can get out of that camp I think he will have a great life in the future, but I don’t know. I really hope he can leave, but I think it would be difficult,” he said.