But is it any good? Do we learn any secrets? Does it rekindle the hype machine that fuels so many ticket sales? Let's take a look...
Episode VIII, on the other hand, is surprisingly restrained. Instead of building toward a crescendo of lightsaber duels (a la Phantom Menace and Darth Maul's double saber action), or warfare (see Attack of the Clones, or Rogue One), or even nostalgia (TFA when we see the reveals of Solo and Chewie and the long Millennium Falcon loop-de-loop) the new trailer climaxes with Luke Skywalker's long awaited first dialogue since the new trilogy and hangs us on that unexpected thematic hook.
There have been hints for a while now that the franchise is finally ready to move past the simplistic duality of the Jedi vs the Sith. Both Force Awakens and Rogue One laid the seeds for a version of the Force that goes beyond such archaic allegiances. The "balance" between the two that the franchise has been so long been framed around could in fact turn out to be the elimination of both "religions" rather than the success or failure of either. This could really free up the mythology which has sorta gotten bogged down of late. Back in the Eighties, anyone could quote Yoda's little Eastern-mysticism-inspired lines about the inter-connectivity of the universe and all it's parts. And anyone could relate to it, no matter their spiritual background. There was something beautifully vague and universally relevant about it all before the prequels cluttered the Jedi and the Sith with rules and institutionalization. It stopped being about whether or not to hold onto your anger and hate, something innate to human-nature, but rather started to focus on allegiances and politicking.
In credit to George Lucas, that was no accident. He turned the whole mythology into a socio-political commentary on organized religion and the dangerously hypocritical overlap of church and state. What read well on paper and in theory, ended up mortally undercut by distracting special effects, bad jokes, on-the-nose dialogue and poor casting. In pursuing his vision of a more complex and morally gray fantasy world, he lost the magic of it all. Something JJ Abrams is renowned for holding onto. Abrams openly admits to appreciating a mystery for its own sake, more so than the ultimate reveal. You can see it in his work, from the controversial ending to Lost, the lack of explanation in his Cloverfield or Super8 films, as well as The Force Awakens in which he stops short of answering a single one of the mysteries he sets up.
Could Rian Johnson, on the other hand, be finally building upon that foundation? To reset the sandbox, so to speak, in order to expand future story possibilities? By cutting the fat from the prequels he could be setting a new stage for future films to go in any number of directions not limited to past continuity. If Disney really plans to keep the franchise going indefinitely, (and why wouldn't they?) then moving past the forty-year old Jedi vs Sith conflict and taking it off the board is not only necessary, it's inevitable. Either way, I like what I see. The open-ended nature of the tease implies that truly anything can happen and there's no way to guess it.
When the trailer ends with Luke's, "I only know one truth. It's time for the Jedi to end," you know this film will be about some heavy stuff. To hear those words come out of Luke's mouth, I get the feeling of someone cleaning up a mess. Redemption through self-destruction. Wiping a slate clean. Someone who needs to make some hard decisions that come at a cost, but finally solve a deeper sin or fatal flaw that the Jedi have long been turning a blind eye to. Whatever Lucas' intentions with the prequels, the Jedi are no longer the superhero-samurai-wizards they were depicted to be in the original trilogy. Fans have long noticed that despite being the "good guys" the Jedi are often portrayed as controlling, manipulative, and arrogant as they indoctrinate children, lie, and break their own rules when it suits them. Worse, they turn out to be incompetent and fail miserably at the one thing they should have been best at, defeating the fascist Sith and preserving peace and justice across the galaxy. Though never much more than subtext, it looks like Rian Johnson plans to explode these ideas into full scale drama and tackle them head on. It could get quite dark and ominous and I wouldn't be surprised at all if Luke Skywalker ultimately pays the final price for the Jedi and follows the path of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo before him (ie. to die sacrificially in order to propel the storyline forward).
So what say you? Are you just as excited as ever to see the next Star Wars? Or are you still moping about the conceptual redundancy of Episode VII and the blatant nostalgia-bait of Rogue One? I for one, loved both of films in spite of any flaws and I can't wait to dress up and get in line for The Last Jedi to see where the adventure takes me! Maybe I'll see you there!