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Countdown to ‘Star Wars’: The ‘Force’ is unleashed

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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Yes, those were the words spoken at the beginning of the first teaser for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by an unseen narrator. Released almost a year ago, the roughly 90-second collection of images showed us very little — save for new faces and the glorious soaring of the iconic ship the Millennium Falcon.

This week, with about two months until the movie’s Dec. 18 release date, a third — and likely final — trailer for the movie was unleashed, awakening what is sure to be an all-out, nonstop blitz of all things “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” to get the world primed for the return of “Star Wars” to theaters.

And Wow. Based on what we’ve just seen, his movie should be something.

Welcome to Countdown to “Star Wars,” a semi-regular, not-quite weekly series leading up to the release of the seventh episode in the “Star Wars” saga.

Now, when I say this movie should be something, you might be wise to take it with a grain of salt — maybe even a boulder of salt. I love the “Star Wars” movies (well, mainly the originals) and I think this movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, is making the most entertaining popcorn flicks these days. I unapologetically love what he did with 2009’s “Star Trek” and its 2013 sequel, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and was smitten with 2011’s “Super 8.” A huge fan of the original films, Abrams, I believe, is the ideal person to take over the reins of this franchise and pump some serious force into it.

OK, so you’ve watched the new trailer but you don’t really know what you’ve seen. Let’s do a little breakdown with what I consider at worst light spoilers — the kind of facts producers of the movie have not hidden — and only mild speculative teases. In a future piece closer to the movie’s release, I will go into heavier spoilers and speculations (with plenty of warning before hand). But that can wait.

The new trailer begins with a female, Rey (Daisy Ridley), rapelling into what I believe to be the crashed Star Destroyer we saw in the second teaser in April. She is a scavenger who lives on the planet Jakku. But she is clearly more than that in a grand cosmic scheme.

“Who are you?” she is asked by an unseen being I believe to be Maz Kanata, a motion-capture-and-computer-generated character played by Lupita Nyong’o of “12 Years a Slave.”

“I’m no one,” Rey answers.

Yeah, don’t bet on that.

We next meet Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper with the nefarious First Order, which more or less is the current incarnation of the Galactic Empire. It is believed an experience early in “The Force Awakens” will have Finn rethinking his career choice and put him on a more heroic path.

“I was raised to do one thing,” he says in the trailer, “but I’ve got nothing to fight for.”

Want a true villain? Let me introduce you to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Likely the big baddie of the movie, Kylo is not a Sith Lord but instead a member of the mysterious Knights of Ren. And the trailer appears to confirm longstanding rumors that he is obsessed with the late Darth Vader.

“Nothing will stand in our way,” Kylo says, gazing upon Vader’s old, melted-and-mangled helmet. “I will finish what you started.”

So the first part of the trailer is to give us the broadest of sketches of three new main characters, whom you would expect to be around for episodes eight and nine. (Or will they be? We’ll get to that in the future speculative piece.)

Disappointedly, we don’t get much of another main new character, hotshot X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) of the Resistance. Probably this new trilogy’s equivalent to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) — brash, cocky and not Force-sensitive. Isaac (“Ex Machina”) is a great actor, so I’m excited for that character.

Speaking of Han, we soon get a dose of him, telling Rey and company the stories she’s heard of the Jedi and the Dark side are true.

Expect to see a good bit of Han in “The Force Awakens,” a fair amount of Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and possibly none of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker — until the movie’s final act, that is.

From there, the trailer is an onslaught of images and sounds, from a soaring Falcon and X-Wings fighting Tie Fighters over a planet’s surface to laser blasts and the emotions-stirring music of John Williams.

There are two images near the end of note. The first is a visibly distraught Leia being comforted by Han. What is happening or has happened? And we see Finn, lightsaber in hand, about to battle Kylo, who from behind appears not to be wearing his mask. The big, final confrontation of the movie? I don’t think so.

Ultimately, I believe, “The Force Awakens” — and this new trilogy — is Rey’s story.

“The Force — it’s calling to you,” says the voice from the beginning, presumably to Rey, at the trailer’s end. “Just let it in.”

Note: This is the first in a series of pieces leading up to the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

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