Secrets will be revealed, conflicts resolved and the Emperor will return, when STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER opens! The new STAR WARS movie is also the last movie — or, at least, the last chapter in the Skywalker story that began in 1977, with the release of A NEW HOPE.
Of course, the tale of Luke Skywalker seemingly came to a conclusion in THE LAST JEDI, in 2017. But there are still huge questions about characters like Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Osar Isaac), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and even Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher. Let's dive into what we know about the new STAR WARS movie, and see how many THE RISE OF SKYWALKER questions we can answer, based on what we already know.
The first teaser trailer for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER arrived this past April, at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago. It is short but sweet, with just enough new details to have us feverishly piecing together the possible story. Then, we expected the first full RISE OF SKYWALKER trailer to arrive during Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, in late August. Instead, Lucasfilm and Disney released a brief sizzle reel, with barely a dozen new shots from the movie. In the end, however, it's a terrific new tease of the movie, with a few arresting images that rais far more questions than they answer.
Now, we've got the final trailer for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, which debuted on October 21, just as tickets for the film went on sale. This trailer is packed with new glimpses of the action that has teased and tantalized us over the last few months.
It's been almost two years since the release of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI — which doesn't seem that long to wait, given how significant the gaps were between films like RETURN OF THE JEDI and THE PHANTOM MENACE. STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER opens in theaters on December 20, 2019, which means barely more than a two-year wait since we last saw Rey, Finn, Poe, and Luke (Mark Hamill).
This is a very good question. There are several schools of thought, from the idea that Luke's apparent death in THE LAST JEDI isn't quite the end for him, to the idea that Rey's parentage could still be revealed as having ties to the Skywalker line. Then there's the idea that the Skywalker name could come to stand in for the Jedi line itself, especially if Force powers are manifesting in young people across the galaxy, as suggested at the end of the last movie.
The biggest surprise of the D23 Sizzle Reel is in the last few shots, which seemingly show our heroine, Rey, having fallen to the dark side of the Force. She wears black Sith robes, and holds a red-bladed lightsaber, which traditionally indicates a dark side disposition. That saber, too, is a strange folding dual-blade weapon, which reminds us of Darth Maul's epic blade, from STAR WARS - EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE.
While we don't know the answer to this question, it's hardly a spoiler to say that a "yes" is far more likely than Rey turning bad. In broad strokes, the STAR WARS saga is one in which people fall to temptation but can still be redeemed. Anakin Skywalker is the most obvious example — there was a whole Prequel trilogy about his fall, with the Original Trilogy telling the story of his redemption.
So will Kylo Ren turn to the light side of the force? We can envision the Emperor's influence not having the intended effect, which could push Kylo towards Leia and Rey, rather than away from them. And since there seems to be a heavy influence on this film from RETURN OF THE JEDI, in which Darth Vader was redeemed, anything is possible.
Well, we don’t know for certain that Emperor Palpatine, who was thrown into a deep shaft on the second Death Star at the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI, is actually alive. But that is absolutely his laugh heard in the first teaser trailer. And actor Ian McDiarmid, who played the character in both RETURN OF THE JEDI and the Prequels, took the stage at Star Wars Celebration back in April, suggesting that his character is still with us — somehow.
Palpatine's voice is heard in the final trailer, as well, which also shows two different thrones for the dark ruler. Palpatine's influence seems to hang over Rey and Kylo, which might have something to do with their conflict.
Trailers have slowly teased the wreckage of one Death Star as a major location in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. Now, thanks to the final trailer, we know that, yes, it's a Death Star, and more importantly, that it is the second one, blown up in RETURN OF THE JEDI. We know this because of the Emperor's throne room, seen in the latest trailer, which was also an important location in JEDI. So that place, in turn, could have something to do with the Emperor’s return — we’d bet our lightsaber on it.
The location is clearly key spot for the RISE OF SKYWALKER story. Both the D23 Sizzle Reel and the final trailer feature shots of Rey and Kylo fighting atop some of that sea-bound wreckage. The latest trailer also shows one shot of a craft racing across a stormy sea to the wreckage. Several years ago, story ideas for THE FORCE AWAKENS involved Rey diving into submerged ruins in search of a powerful object; that idea could have been put back to work in this movie.
Beyond that, we don’t know a lot about the RISE OF SKYWALKER story. We know that Rey and Kylo will have one last face-off, and there’s a chance we’ll learn more about Rey’s background — and certainly about her connection to the Force.
For months, there has been speculation that the ruins of the Death Star landed back on the forest moon Endor, where the Ewoks live, and which acted as an important battleground between Rebels and the Empire in RETURN OF THE JEDI. The trailers feature footage set in heavily forested environments, suggesting that the characters end up back on Endor.
Now we know that the choppy water around the Death Star wreckage is not on Endor — but that doesn't mean that the wreckage isn't in the same system. The wrecked Death Star in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is on "the ocean moon Kef Bir," according to a Disney press release announcing the addition of Kef Bir to the Star Tours attraction at several Disney parks. The specific wording of the press release suggests that this moon could be part of the same orbital system as Endor. ("The ocean moon" wording complements "the forest moon" that we usually see used for the RETURN OF THE JEDI location.) Furthermore, depending on what research you do and/or which stories you read, there's some question as to whether the forest moon is called Endor, or if that was the name for the planet it orbits — or both. At least this new orb has a new name!
By the way, the book "Ultimate Star Wars" also says that Kef Bir is the home of Naomi Ackie's new character, Jannah.
Sure, the Emperor seems to be back, but on the upside, we’ll also see Carrie Fisher one last time. Fisher died before the release of THE LAST JEDI, but THE RISE OF SKYWALKER director J.J. Abrams had footage of her left over from when he shot THE FORCE AWAKENS. Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, gave her blessing for the production to use that footage so that Leia might be seen on screen one last time.
Some STAR WARS veterans have signed on to this movie, too. Mark Hamill will likely be seen, and Billy Dee Williams reprises the role of Lando Calrissian, originally introduced in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Anthony Daniels will be inside C-3PO’s suit one more time, too.
There are some new cast members, too. Naomi Ackie plays the mysterious Jannah, about whom little is known. Keri Russell and Richard E. Grant also have parts in the film, but they have been kept fairly secret so far. And, of course, the primary cast from the last two movies is back as well: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac return, as do Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd.
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All images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney.