‘Star Wars’ analysis: Old-school returns highlight ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ trailer
CHICAGO — That wasn’t a disturbance of the Force you felt Friday. It was millions of fans’ hearts filling up at the first trailer for “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker.”
Disney revealed the first footage from the ninth and concluding chapter of the Skywalker saga (in theaters Dec. 20) at Star Wars Celebration and all across the Internet. And while we still don’t know the plot of the new movie, new heroes Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) once again get the spotlight, as does a certain wannabe Sith lord, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
Yet the trailer also brings back welcome returns from the franchise’s past, and not just the voiceover of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The trailer moments that will fuel fan speculation for the next several months:
Get ready for Rey vs. Kylo, Round 3.
The two previous films showcased important meetings between the young lightsaber-wielding Resistance heroine and her arch enemy, whom we last saw heading up the First Order. It’s safe to assume they’re going to throw down in epic fashion, but the trailer includes one very interesting sequence on a desert planet, where Rey faces off against Kylo in his TIE Fighter, with Rey using the Force to flip over the speeding vehicle.
And Kylo is quite irked, by the way.
The dude formerly known as Ben Solo is, naturally, a hotheaded sort, but after he was bested by his Uncle Luke (see: “The Last Jedi”) he seems testier than usual. He’s seen in the trailer getting physical with some Stormtroopers, and fixing his busted helmet. Because, like his grandfather Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader), he’s got a thing for black headwear.
Hey, Lando’s back in the Falcon!
Billy Dee Williams has been missing from the “Star Wars” galaxy since 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” but his iconic Lando Calrissian is back in the saddle of the Millennium Falcon, the starship Han Solo won from him back in the day (as seen in “Solo: A Star Wars Story”). While we only see a glimpse of Lando with Chewbacca in the trailer, he seems to be having loads of fun.
Everybody choked up seeing Leia again.
At the Celebration panel, Abrams revealed that unused footage from “The Force Awakens” featuring the late Carrie Fisher, who died in December 2016, will bring General Leia Organa into the new film. We get an emotional embrace between Leia and Rey in the “Skywalker” trailer that makes us excited to see how she factors into the movie.
Luke has a voiceover, but what’s up with the Jedi master?
Mark Hamill’s legendary good guy seemingly became one with the Force permanently in “The Last Jedi,” and while he didn’t appear as a ghost (at least not yet) his voiceover intriguingly bookends the trailer: At first he seems to be talking to Rey when he says, “We’ve passed on all we know. … But this is your fight.” And the trailer ends on a more hopeful note when he intones, “We’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone.” (That may not just mean the heroes, as we’ll get to in a minute.)
Wait, is that … the Death Star?
The “Star Wars” movies have a way of returning again and again to gigantic bad-guy battle stations, yet this is at least a variation on a theme: As Luke finishes his voiceover, Rey, Finn and the heroes are on an unknown planet, looking at what appears to be wreckage of a Death Star – most likely the one destroyed at the end of “Return of the Jedi.” For old-school fans, this is the most intriguing shot in the trailer, connecting a new faction of rebels with the remnants of the Empire.
That creepy laugh at the end sure seems familiar.
What brings the most chills isn’t even an image; it’s the knowing, evil chuckle of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) at the end, a malevolent blast from the past from the chief villain of the prequel and original “Star Wars” trilogies. Could he have survived his apparent death at the hands of Vader in “Return of the Jedi” to become the big bad behind the First Order of this current trilogy? McDiarmid showing up at the Celebration panel and saying, in his signature guttural imperial vocals, “Roll it again,” means Palpatine’s surprise return seems very imminent.