Such is the string of major releases on Disney’s calendar this year, the regular cinema-goer could’ve forgotten the small case of the final film in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: Episode IX. With no word on a title or even hints for the trailer – Disney’s only major release to go without any marketing up to this point – at the Star Wars Celebration yesterday, avid fans all over the world (myself included), were finally treated to a trailer and the title combined.
The title, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is ambiguous, as much of the sequel trilogy has been, instantly spawning an array of fan theories questioning who the Skywalker in question may be. Is it Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, son of Leia and nephew to Luke? He seems the obvious answer – or is it Rey, whose parentage was revealed in The Last Jedi of being of little importance, a pair of non-Force sensitives who simply abandoned her on Jakku all those years ago? Undoubtedly, come December all these questions will be finally put to rest.
With regards to the trailer, however, this is undeniably the biggest source of hype for this end-of-an-era film. Opening with what is surely a homage to North by Northwest, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is seen on-foot taking on a rapidly approaching TIE fighter, with her now-enhanced force abilities allowing her to leap in irresistible slow-motion over the craft, to presumably destroy it with Luke’s lightsaber that has seemingly been rebuilt in the time between this film and the last.
Another equally gorgeous slo-mo shot, this time of Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren taking down an enemy, surely promises that the two force-sensitives on the light side and the dark, will inevitably duel it out once more to decide the fate of the Galaxy.
The film is promised to be the first time all of the trilogy’s new heroes – Rey, Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) – are adventuring as a group, and the various sequences we see the characters in together promise explorations of the beautiful and bleak worlds that Star Wars fans have come to expect from the franchise. Clearly, The Rise of Skywalker is following the sequel trilogy’s technical brilliance in amalgamating VFX and practical effects, as well as continuing to give their films rich, lush visuals to elevate them above the typical blockbuster.
We see the return of C-3PO, BB-8 and a new droid D-0, who will undoubtedly be adored by fans. As well as their return, we see footage of the late, great Carrie Fisher in her final moments as Princess Leia, embracing Rey, and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), rejoins Chewbacca in the Millenium Falcon in a shot that will get any Star Wars fan’s nostalgia senses tingling. Finally, and crucially, is that sinister laugh right at the very end of the trailer before the title is revealed: The Emperor returns. Seemingly killed by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, director J.J. Abrams has confirmed that actor Ian McDiarmid will reprise his role as Emperor Palpatine in the film, though to what extent is still unclear.
Whilst it’s only a teaser that offers little with regards to the plot, as usual there’s a huge number of talking points that will be a source of great discussion for months to come, but the best news is this: the Skywalker Saga of the Star Wars universe is back for one last outing, and it’s definitely going to end with a bang.
Words by Elliott Jones