Firstly, despite this being very close to the Making Star Wars description, this thing hits you right between the eyes.
There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?
There has been a good deal of speculation regarding this voice. Is it Benedict Cumberbatch? Is it Andy Serkis? My bet is that it’s Serkis’ blue alien character—a new Yoda-type character, perhaps, that we see here:
Either way, the film’s title has been justified. (Edit: Multiple sites have confirmed that it is indeed Serkis saying the line, but the role is still unclear.)
And surely that’s Tatooine we’re seeing, right? This first shot immediately recalls Star Wars: A New Hope, which is a very good sign indeed.
Here’s John Boyega’s character, and he’s clearly a stormtrooper in trouble. Is he an Imperial on the run? Listen closely: an Imperial probe droid can be heard in the background.
Most likely, his TIE fighter has crashed… or been shot down:
Now we see Kira’s droid companion:
What’s that in the top left corner?
This is most likely Kira’s vehicle, a “Pod Junker” that lives in her makeshift AT-AT home.
The droid itself can be seen here, with Kira, Boyega’s character and the blue alien companion:
Next up, we see a group of stormtroopers about to go into battle:
It’s not entirely clear where they’re landing, however.
Next: Daisy Ridley as Kira…
This immediately recalls this concept art:
Here’s a high-resolution image of Kira on the speeder:
Next up… X-wings!
Here we see Oscar Isaac as an X-wing pilot, apparent wearing a life-jacket:
To me, this definitely looks like the same planet that Skellig Michael was doubling for, which we see in this concept art:
Now we get to the new baddie in the long-rumoured snowy forest planet:
The dark side… and the light…
I love this shot so, so much. This lightsaber has to be a Sith relic: it’s rough, it’s primitive, it’s rudimentary. And the forest looks as mythic as Dagobah. Wow.
This is the same planet featured here:
Finally, the shot everyone was waiting for…
Clearly this is a CGI sequence. But is the background plate an IMAX shot?
As you can see, they’re shooting the dunes as if it’s miniature work, and my guess is that they’ve shot real footage and overlaid the CG Falcon, etc. on top,of it, a la the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi.
And that’s it!
This is a new Star Wars for a new era. We’ve seen the three new leads (Boyega, Ridley and Isaac), we’ve seen the three primary locales and we’ve gotten a glimpse of the new evil. The Empire exists and the Rebellion exists, though maybe their roles and names are different. And the best part is that so much is still unseen.
When we see Luke, Leia and Han, all the threads will start coming together. But that’s for later. Right now, savour what we have… and enjoy.