It’s not “The Last Jedi,” but we’ll take it.
Daisy Ridley’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” heroine Rey returns but all-too-briefly in the first of a series of animated shorts debuting on Disney’s YouTube channel, the first time we’ve seen the character since she broke out two years ago. The shorts, two to three minutes in length, are a part of the “Forces of Destiny” campaign, announced earlier this year at Star Wars Celebration, which is composed of short-form animation, children’s books, apparel and toys featuring the sci-fi franchise’s female characters, not just from the movies but also from the animated TV shows.
The campaign, from its toy tie-ins to the length of the videos associated, is aimed at young kids, but for adult fans excited at the prospect of any glimpse into the universe — or who want to share it with their own children — it’s a sweet summer diversion.
The first short, which debuted Monday on Mashable, is called “Sands of Jakku” and fills in a blank from “The Force Awakens,” explaining a creature who popped up momentarily in a shot with Rey and the droid BB-8.
The video is as short as promised, delivering a brief story and action sequence in just two minutes and 48 seconds. But the starpower behind it is probably far beyond what you see in your average YouTube clip, with Ridley voicing the character and Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Maz Kanata via motion capture in “Force Awakens,” narrating. It manages to capture what made Rey great in the film: She is smart and strong, but also patient and kind, in that short time, and also lets her show off some new moves.
Although the first short is a lot of fun, what’s almost more exciting is the preview for future shorts, which exhibits the skills of the franchise’s bold and powerful women, including film favorites Leia, Padme Amidala, Jyn Erso (voiced by “Rogue One” star Felicity Jones) and some lesser-known characters from TV shows “Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” former Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano and warrior Sabine Wren.
Whether you wait for each to come out or binge-watch them all later, they’re an enjoyable way to truly appreciate the female characters who have made their mark on the long-running franchise. You may not be familiar with every bit of Ahsoka’s history, but you know she can kick butt.
Subsequent “Forces of Destiny” shorts will roll out this month. And even if each is just a few minutes, it will always nice to add some “Star Wars” to your day.
Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY