STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is almost here, and we're combing every trailer for clues to the film's twists and turns. The sequel opens on December 20, but Disney and Lucasfilm have only released three brief trailers. The best of those three is a brief reel that features some of the most eye-popping shots we've seen from the movie, and which teases big character moments and an epic duel. Let's ponder all the goodies within.
First up, have a look at the trailer:
This edit is incredibly restrained. It's more of a RISE OF SKYWALKER teaser than anything else, but it features everything we really need. In this reel, after you look past the montage of footage from all the other STAR WARS films, there are only 16 new shots. But there's a lot to think about in that brief flash of new footage. Let's break it all down.
First up, yes, there's a dash through clips from the last eight Episodes of the STAR WARS saga. The Original Trilogy films (A NEW HOPE, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI) get the most attention, but there are some snippets from the Prequels (THE PHANTOM MENACE, ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH) and the two most recent movies, THE FORCE AWAKENS and THE LAST JEDI. There's a reason we're lingering on the image of Darth Maul, the short-lived Sith character from EPISODE I. We'll get to the reason in a moment.
The first new shot in this trailer features Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels), as they pause to look at a huge settlement, or perhaps a festival, spread out beneath them on a desert planet. We believe this is on the planet Pasaana, though we don't know precisely what the group seeks there.
The second look at new footage features a shot of the late Carrie Fisher, as General Leia Organa. Like everything in this trailer, the shot of Leia is chosen for a specific reason. In this case, have a much better sense of why we see this particular character.
"The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story," director J.J. Abrams said at Disney's D23 Expo on August 24, where this footage was first revealed. "When we were talking about this story we realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia." The footage of Carrie Fisher comes from the shoot for THE FORCE AWAKENS, as Abrams captured footage of her that was unused for that movie. After Fisher's death in December 2016, the filmmakers realized this footage could be used, in a respectful way, to feature Leia in the final film.
In a couple shots set in a dense forest, Rey works on her lightsaber skills. It's difficult to see without stepping through the footage frame by frame, but Rey is actually using the same sort of training drone Obi-Wan Kenobi used in his first training session with Luke Skywalker, aboard the Millennium Falcon, way back in the original STAR WARS.
The Resistance forces spent THE LAST JEDI on the run from the First Order, but they can't hide forever. Now, it looks like THE RISE OF SKYWALKER will feature an epic showdown between the two fleets. We see Resistance forces entering a space from light speed. We don't know if that's when they face off against the overwhelming collection of First Order destroyers seen above, but the expression on Finn's face suggests he knows there's some big trouble ahead.
Note that this is also the first official shot of Naomi Ackie, as Jannah.
The RISE OF SKYWALKER teaser trailer showed the film's heroes approaching the wreck of one of the Death Stars from the Original Trilogy. Here, we see Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) landing his TIE Fighter, and dueling with Rey atop part of that wreckage.
This RISE OF SKYWALKER sizzle reel builds to a serious climax. It begins with the voice of Emperor Palpatine, and the breathing of Darth Vader. Then we see a very different Rey, clad in Sith robes and wielding a red lightsaber. That weapon, in fact, turns out to be a strange dual-bladed one, which folds open into a saber very much like the one used by Darth Maul. We told you that Maul image was selected for a reason!
We have big questions about Rey's story in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, especially after seeing these shots. Does Rey actually fall to the dark side of the Force? Probably not. Is this a vision, or a threat from the Emperor? Possibly. It could be her own fear, as she draws closer to Kylo Ren, and whatever confrontation builds between them. Whatever the truth is, we know that Lucasfilm and J.J. Abrams have been wildly secretive about this new movie. So Rey probably doesn't actually fall to the dark side, since that would be a huge plot twist to reveal so early. We can't wait to discover the truth about this scene.
All images courtesy of Lucasfilm / Disney.