Back in my day, jocks and nerds didn’t get along much, but it seems such old distinctions are now gone. Making its debut at halftime during Monday Night Football, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker delighted athletes and asthmatics alike. We are all united when it comes to Jedi, droids and Wookiees.
The Rise of Skywalker is billed as the culmination of the sequel-trilogy, or non-ology, or whatever you call the main Star Wars storyline. There will be more from the galaxy far, far away (The Mandalorian is just around the corner on Disney’s streaming service) but for material directly connected with George Lucas’s 1977 original, this is it. Or at least until it’s Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as the elder statespeople passing the lightsaber to the next generation. (Don’t think that won’t happen.)
As the new trailer launched, there were many questions. Is Rey an everywoman, or is she to the cosmic manor born? Will Kylo Ren revert to the light side? Will Finn and Rose live happily ever after? Can Poe Dameron be any more dreamy?
And how will Luke Skywalker fit in, now he is dead? How exactly will Emperor Palpatine, AKA Darth Sidious, fit in, since he’s been dead since 1983? How smooth will the repurposed footage of General Leia look, since Carrie Fisher died before production of this movie began? And for the hardcore, is that ship in the background really the Ghost from the animated series Star Wars Rebels? (All signs point to yes.)
This is a JJ Abrams film, so zilch of substance was revealed in this latest promo. But here were the five moments where we made noises that most resembled millions of voices crying out in terror (in a good way).
The third film in each Star Wars trilogy has, thus far, involved a reversal of what true nerds call alignment. In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader became good. Yay! In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker turned bad. Boo! Will this new one be the tiebreaker? We hope so. And we hope it involves Rey forgiving Kylo Ren his transgressions and the two of them having a big smooch somewhere with the wind blowing her robes and his wavy hair.
But until that can happen, there’s going to be some fighting, and it looks like some of that will be on the high seas. Adam Driver looks diabolical emerging from the water and holding his red, cruciform lightsaber like some kind of upside-down trident.
The emperor’s new throne
Palpatine is back in this new one. How how how? No one saw it coming, so we should have expected it.
We’ve yet to see Ian McDiarmid in any of the promotional materials – is it really him, or his Force ghost? – but we’ve heard him laugh and now we’ve heard him say spooky things such as “Long have I waited!” (Never keep McDiarmid standing in a queue; he’s terrifying!) It’s unclear exactly what the Darth Formerly Known As Sidious has been waiting for, but we can guess as to the where: a crazy-looking stone throne that would make even Thanos wince!
I thought we had got all the Star Death out of the way with The Last Jedi. Vice-Admiral Holdo sacrificed herself by hyperdriving the Raddus into a fleet of Star Destroyers and Luke Skywalker evaporated after his Force Projection. Then there was Carrie Fisher who actually died. Couldn’t our tear ducts maybe take a movie off?
Well, no. I just didn’t think it would be C-3PO, the protocol droid who along with R2-D2 has been in every Star Wars movie thus far, to be the one to go. A solemn farewell moment in this trailer makes it seem as if that’s the case.
The cavalry is here
When George Lucas (remember him?) was first dreaming up these stories (and giving them tongue-twister titles such as Adventures of the Starkiller as taken from The Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars) his influences were varied. Yes, he was reading Joseph Campbell. Yes, he was watching Akira Kurosawa. But he was always inspired by cheap, dopey film serials from the 1940s and earlier. To that end, this shot of our heroes on a fleet of interplanetary horses (they aren’t tauntauns!) really brings it all home. It’s fun to see new character Jannah (Naomi Ackie) leading the charge, and outstanding to see BB-8 zooming alongside them.
Turn around, bright eyes
Each trilogy is about one person’s journey. The prequels were about Anakin, the original trilogy was about Luke and the sequel trilogy is about Rey. The final shot of this trailer, with the digital sparkle added to her eyes (unless Abrams blinded her on set!), is a gorgeous image of a new icon. And the voice from elsewhere in the room (or maybe from beyond) echoes some memorable lines from the first film: “The Force will be with you,” says Luke. “Always,” adds Leia.
Excuse me, someone must be chopping up space onions in here!