The newest trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released Monday, and it looks like director Rian Johnson (who also wrote the screenplay) and cinematographer Steve Yedlin have crafted some of the most striking images in the Star Wars universe since the AT-AT walkers attacked Hoth. Every Star Wars sequel has tried to be visually iconic, but usually they’ve done it with cooler-looking starships, bigger explosions, more elaborate costumes: more stuff. And there’s plenty of Star Wars stuff in this trailer, including a redesigned AT-AT walker. But there are also shots that strip everything down to primary colors in a way that seems new for the series. One image of Kylo Ren’s shiny black mask against a glowing red background wouldn’t be out of place in Tokyo Drifter; an overhead shot of stormtroopers marching into a red and black cave adds white to the palette; and even a multicolor shot of Rey (Daisy Ridley) turning on her lightsaber has been composed with mathematical precision. The space battles, too, traditionally the place to throw the entire budget at the screen, look less complicated than, say, the manic dogfights of the prequels, and more visually interesting for it. One shot in particular, in which the camera flies toward three capital ships—one of which is exploding—as it is overtaken by three TIE fighters, has a simple and elegant visual geometry. Never fear, though: There are also Ewok-style cute animals and what looks like a visually overstuffed battle between Finn (John Boyega) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). It’s still a Star Wars movie, in other words.
And then there’s Carrie Fisher, whose untimely death last year would make Star Wars: The Last Jedi a tough watch even if Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) doesn’t murder her character (the trailer strongly suggests he does). Pitted against Fisher in her last role, Driver could basically sleepwalk through his part and still have the audience hate him, but in the trailer, he manages an impressive moment of anger and sadness, and he does it in a TIE fighter cockpit. As a trailer, too, it’s an exceptionally detailed piece of craftsmanship, with score, sound effects, and editing working in harmony. As just one example, listen to the way the score hands off percussion duties to Rey’s lightsaber, joins her to punch up her final swing of the blade, then hands off to an image of a crack opening in the ground in perfect time with the next drumbeat. Dialogue, too, is chopped up in service of the visual rhythms, most notably when Mark Hamil growls, “This is not going to go … the way you think,” over images of Fisher sadly watching what looks like a gigantic blast door close (not for the first time). And on a plot level, the trailer ends with a surprising reveal. All of which is to say that this looks like it could be very, very good, so let’s all do our best not to destroy the world before Christmas, OK?