Uncertainty. That’s the word to describe how most Star Wars fans are feeling about the latest and final instalment in the sequel trilogy, the finale to the ‘Skywalker Saga’ that consists of all nine films in the primary canon. It hasn’t been a smooth road towards release. Colin Trevorrow, the director of Jurassic World, was initially at the helm before leaving the project due to the all-too-familiar reason of ‘creative differences’. In came J.J. Abrams as a pair of safe hands, ready to steer this uneasy ship into shore. The script has been rewritten numerous times, with the final product credited officially to Abrams and Chris Terrio. Add in the mixed reception of The Last Jedi amongst die-hard fans and the poor box office of Solo, Star Wars as a franchise may just be in a precarious position heading into The Rise of Skywalker.
As part of the contingent that enjoyed The Last Jedi, and the daring nature in which Rian Johnson shook things up, I did still feel that the film tied up all the loose threads which The Force Awakens had left hanging – there didn’t seem to be anywhere else the story could go. Yes, the state of The Resistance is still up in the air, with the shackles now off for Kylo Ren after the unexpected death of Supreme Leader Snoke, but my appetite for Episode IX went cold after mulling on The Last Jedi‘s conclusive tone for a while.
As usual, the finer details of the plot are carefully under wraps. The first two teaser trailers, premiering at Star Wars Celebration and D23, raised some big questions. There doesn’t appear to be the impression of an ending here, rather a whole new beginning (the title fits with the idea of rebirth). The decision to reintegrate the Emperor – last seen falling into the Death Star II’s reactor core – is all kinds of mystifying. How? Why? We’ll soon find out. Still, there were plenty of other things to be excited about. The inevitable final showdown between Rey and Ren, Lando Calrissian piloting the Millennium Falcon once more, and the promise of an epic space battle all produce that sense of nervous expectation.
It was the stunning final trailer, dropped in mid-October, that really ramped up excitement. On the dark side, we see Kylo Ren walking through a huge wave to confront Rey, an ominous shot of an imposing throne, with Palpatine sneering “long have I waited…”, and a ginormous Imperial Star Destroyer rising from the ground. On the light, the emotional final appearance of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and a bittersweet moment as C3PO remarks how he is “taking one last look…at my friends.” All of these teases gave me goosebumps. Most importantly, this final trailer actually creates the feeling that this is the end of an era. Some fans have been there since the very beginning, others have had the Skywalker story passed down from generation to generation. For me, it all started when I borrowed my brother’s copy of Lego Star Wars II for Nintendo DS at the age of eight. With Disney+’s The Mandalorian series now available in the States, and other film projects in the pipeline, the mythical setting of the Star Wars universe isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Hopefully, though, The Rise of Skywalker will be able to close the chapter on George Lucas’ original trilogy with a fitting climax.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, directed by J.J. Abrams, will be released in the UK via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on the 19th December. Watch the trailer below: