The D23 sizzle reel for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has officially landed. Let’s break it down.
A Complete Saga
According to widespread rumors, director JJ Abrams wants to unite the entire saga in this film. I was skeptical. After all, Abrams started his last movie with “This will begin the make things right,” and we all knew what he really meant.
But this sizzle reel gives my prequel-loving heart a new hope.
The reel starts by recapping the entire saga in a quick visual montage. Even the prequels. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the almost entire prequel-shutout during marketing for The Force Awakens.
And almost every clip here ties to something from Rise of Skywalker: the medal ceremony, the star destroyer fleet, Lando piloting the Falcon, the double-bladed lightsaber reveal (yes, we’ll get to that). It’s more than a nostalgia trip, and boy howdy it’s that. This reel confirms the rumors. In some way, this movie wants to embrace the whole saga, trilogy-sized warts and all.
Familiar but Fresh
Which brings us to the new stuff.
Like a good teaser, it’s mostly more of what we’ve already seen. Again we see Pasaana (desert planet number six, for those of you playing along at home), the jungle planet (Endor?), and what looks like Kijimi (the dark, mountainous home of the Thieve’s Quarter, according to Vanity Fair).
But as with Force Awakens, Abrams makes something fresh out of familiar Star Wars building blocks.
Take, for instance, the massive fleet of Star Destroyers in perfect formation. And take note: these aren’t First Order Star Destroyers. These are Imperial Star Destroyers. Also the gorgeous shot of silhouetted Resistance ships exiting hyperspace, somehow making the familiar mechanic new and exciting.
Speaking of which, we get a new voiceover from Sheev himself. It’s obvious that the marketing for this episode will be unabashedly Emperor-centric. And why not? Emperor Palpatine ties the Saga together possibly more than any other element.
And of course, the lightsaber duel. Rey and Kylo face off at last. Daisy Ridley recently told WIRED that lightersaber props in this film allowed for faster battles. That’s on full display here.
Whether you love the prequels or hate them, you can’t deny the beauty of their lightsaber duels. And the duel in this movie, for the glimpse we get, feels more like the prequels than anything else. Even the cinematography brings a sweeping scale to the fight, like the hero’s duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin.
Also, C-3PO is in here. But you probably didn’t recognize him because of the red eyes.
Surprisingly absent: the Sith Troopers (a major marketing focus so far), Zorri Bliss (probably Rey’s mom), and Klaud (probably not Rey’s mom).
Oh, and that
Rey. In black robes. With a double-bladed red lightsaber.
Honestly, they could have forgone the trailers and posters and sold the movie on those words alone.
Okay, so Rey probably isn’t going bad. Disney just wouldn’t do that to all the 12-year-old girls who dream of being Jedi.
Everything about this screams Force vision, down to the glazed stare on Ridley’s face. With the shadowy, metallic interior setting, I wouldn’t be surprised if this took place on the Death Star wreckage—a sort of “guardian spirit” over Palpatine’s remains.
Or perhaps it’s more. Perhaps this gives credence to theories placing Palpatine at Rey’s origin. Maybe she was made for this.
But most importantly, it’s just cool. In my opinion, that’s what the last several Star Wars films have struggled to capture. The first six films had an undeniable “cool factor,” with visually striking villains like Darth Maul and Boba Fett. Maybe Dark Rey is fanservice, but maybe that’s what this trilogy needs.
Force vision or not, I’ll be first in line to buy the Dark Rey action figure.
But for now, I’ll watch this on loop until December 20:
See sizzle reel here, and catch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 20.