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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Teaser Trailer: A-Shot-by-Shot Analysis

Warning: This breakdown will contain spoilers for the Star Wars films The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. You have been warned!

Want to watch the trailer before you read the breakdown? Check it out here.

During the Stars Wars Celebration, we finally got a glimpse of Star Wars episode nine as well as the official title of the film: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The title alone is interesting enough to cause fan speculation but the teaser also left me with some burning questions as to how to Skywalker saga is going to end. The Last Jedi ended with only a few rebel soldiers standing, Rey, Finn, and Poe included. Rey’s Jedi powers have now entirely manifested so it is seemingly up to her alone as the last Jedi (seemingly) to use her powers to rally the rebels and defeat the First Order. The Rise of Skywalker is sure to be an epic outing, not only as the last episode in the main saga but also as what could be our last big-screen adventure in a galaxy far away. There will be television shows and other forms of media, such as Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian which will debut on the Disney Plus streaming service, but Disney announced that the movies will be “taking a break” after episode nine. Whilst it is likely the films will be back, who knows how long we could go without another Star Wars film. It seems likely that J.J Abrams will want The Rise of Skywalker to go out on a high note.

So without further ado, let’s start the breakdown!

Last Jedi Standing

The opening shot of the trailer shows Rey with a similar look to her Force Awakens outfit in a desert landscape. It could be that she has returned to Jakku or it could be a new planet entirely. We hear narration from Luke Skywalker, who seemed to die in the last film. The Last Jedi was a very polarising film for Star Wars fans. Director Rian Johnson apparently took the film “in a different direction” that Force Awakens director J.J Abram’s had wanted episode eight to go and Luke’s death was one of the (several) issues that fans had with The Last Jedi. If Abrams had not planned for this, Luke may well be able to return to the series now that Abrams is directing episode nine. Even if it is just in force ghost form, a better send-off for such an iconic character wouldn’t go amiss. Luke’s narration explains that Rey has been given all the tools and knowledge that she will need, “a thousand generations live in you now”, he says. He goes on to tell her that this is her fight. The trailer then says that “Every Generation Has a Legend.” Will ours be Rey? Or are they throwing us off the scent of someone else who will emerge as a legend?

Rey vs TIE Fighter

We see a TIE fighter approaching Rey in the distance as she retrieves Luke’s lightsaber from her belt. She begins to run away and just as it looks like she is going to get hit by the speeding ship, she does some fancy Jedi style acrobatics to avoid it. Rey has clearly improved with her skills and it will be interesting to see how much time has passed and how well versed she now is in the ways of the Force.  We don’t see who is piloting the TIE fighter but we get a glimpse at a pair of hands with black gloves. Could this be Kylo Ren? It’s possible. The two shared a connection in The Last Jedi, almost a love/hate relationship of sorts, so they will no doubt have some interesting interactions.

Kylo Wrecks

Kylo Ren returns briefly in a shot where we see his body slamming someone alongside a Stormtrooper. They are in a wooded area in what seems to be a fight scene. We can see that some of the area is on fire as smoke billows through the trees. There is also a rather menacing red hue which permeates the shot, suggesting a fierce battle is raging. But is Kylo the bad guy here? Is the receiver of said body slam an innocent?  It’s hard to tell. He had moments in both episode seven and eight where he is clearly torn between the light and the dark side but in both films his loyalty to the dark side remains. In regards to the Stormtrooper in the shot, it is difficult to tell if this is a new variant of a trooper as the scene is brief.  Each movie tends to bring in a new style of Stormtrooper though, so this is a possibility.

The Dark Side

We see Kylo Ren’s helmet from The Force Awakens being repaired in the next shot. His fondness for his grandfather Darth Vader must still be strong for him to want to emulate him yet again.

Space Bros

The next shot we get is of Finn and Poe in the desert. I really loved the relationship between the two of them after their near-death experience in The Force Awakens.  Poe handing over his jacket to Finn was a sweet moment which symbolized Finn’s journey from the dark side to the light as he left behind his Stormtrooper beginnings and became a fully fledged rebel in the Resistance. It was also the first act of human kindness that Finn really experienced. Not only did Poe give Finn his jacket, he also gave him his name after being known only as FN-2187 when he was a Stormtrooper. Their friendship led Finn to his true calling and gave him his humanity. Poe is also giving off some serious Nathan Drake vibes here too. That scarf is everything.

Robo Buddies

Our beloved BB-8 returns in the next shot, this time alongside a new friend. During the panel at the Star War Celebration, the droid was introduced as D-o (pronounced as deo). Not much is known about him other than that he is a new companion for BB-8 but I love the retro robot look he has. His most significant feature is his megaphone looking head. D-o’s style is very put together, like he was created by throwing a box of metal scraps together and hoping for the best. I love him and I would die for him. That is all.

Lando and Chewie

The death of Han Solo was one of the most upsetting parts of the new films. His death at the hands of his own son was not only heart-breaking, but it also meant that his Wookie companion Chewbacca was left all alone and that was not okay. He didn’t even get a hug from Leia at the end of The Force Awakens. But the following shot in the trailer brings back a familiar face and a companion for Chewie. Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian and he is seen piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside Chewbacca.  If anyone was going to take over from Han, it seems right that it would be Lando. Despite their often frosty relationship, (yes I do remember when Lando sold out Han and Leia to Darth Vader but he was in a no-win situation) Lando and Han were companions and as close to best friends as you could get in the world of space smuggling. Whether Lando knows about Han’s death is yet to be seen, it could be an emotional moment if not. Seeing Chewbacca with a new co-pilot and old friend is a great moment that is sure to be a burst of nostalgia.

Desert Chase

As the trailer proclaims that “The Saga Comes to an End” we see a chase through the desert landscape. One of the aircraft involved in the chase has old favourite C-3PO as well as Finn and Poe on board. They appear to be fleeing as they are being shot at. I was reminded briefly of the assault on Jabba the Hutt’s barge here from Return of the Jedi. Whether the group are being pursued or in the middle of a rescue or whatever they could be doing, it looks like the rebels are still a bit light on the ground in terms of numbers and vehicles. Their vehicle looks a little rickety and it seems like Poe would be in an X-Wing if he could, so it might be that their resources are dwindling. Of course, a subtle rescue or infiltration mission would call for something more discreet, but at this point, I am just blindly speculating so let’s move on!

A Heroes Medal

The next shot shows someone holding a pendant which looks incredibly similar to the design of the medals which were given to Han and Luke by Leia at the end of A New Hope. If so, this is a symbol of what the rebellion once was as well as representing the heroics and bravery of those who are now gone.

Our Princess

My favourite part of this trailer is the choice of music: Princess Leia’s theme. Composed by John Williams for the very first film, the piece has acted as Leia’s theme music ever since. The theme is beautiful and now carries a somber tone due to the passing of Carrie Fisher back in 2016. It makes the next shot of Leia all the more moving. We see Leia embracing Rey, as Rey cries on her shoulder.  We hear some more narration from Luke saying, “We’ll always be with you”. Seeing Leia in this trailer was a bit of an emotional blow after I watched it the first time. Her legacy will live on in the final installment. Rather than your Snow White’s and Cinderella’s, Leia was the kind of princess that I wanted to be growing up. The kind who could fight, lead and inspire. Little girls now are able to see women in the role of the hero, like Rey, because of characters like Leia who showed how strong we could be. Even when forced into a metallic bikini, she still fought back and won. No matter what her role is in The Rise of Skywalker, it is sure to be an emotional one.

Holy Trinity

The next shot is of our three heroes, Rey, Finn, and Poe, together with Chewbacca, C-3PO, BB-8, and my new adopted child D-o. They stand on a grassy hill overlooking the sea, staring off into the distance. Rey, Finn, and Poe were intended to be the new Luke, Han, and Leia but so far they haven’t spent any time together as the three of them except for a few moments at the end of The Last Jedi. Rey and Poe didn’t even really meet until the very end of that film. It will be interesting to see the three of them together and see how they work as a team. In my opinion, it is too little, too late. If these three were truly meant to carry the new trilogy of films in the same vein as Luke, Leia, and Han, then they should have had far more time together. Bringing them together in the final film doesn’t really make up for their lack of interaction as a group for the other two movies. We know that Rey and Finn together and Finn and Poe together make for good teamwork and are convincing in their relationships. Here’s hoping that the three of them together can pull off the same chemistry that we got from the original trio.

Death Star

We see what the group are looking at in the next shot. What looks like part of a gigantic space station in the sea.  Not just any space station though. Due to the sheer scale and the familiar rounded shape, it looks like part of the Death Star II from Return of the Jedi. The planet the group are on looks to be Endor due to its lush greenery.  Seeing as the Death Star II exploded above Endor, it would make sense for part of it to have crashed back onto the Ewok homeland. Luke gives us one last bit of narration. Following on from his “We’ll always be with you”, he goes on to say that “No one’s ever really gone.” I immediately thought this was a hint to Luke’s return. That is, until the last moment of the trailer which gives us a surprising reveal. We hear a deep, menacing and awfully familiar evil laugh. The laugh of Emperor Palpatine, the big bad of the Star Wars universe. It is unclear as to how Palpatine will be returning. His survival for years within the Death Star II ruins after being thrown into a reactor seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened in Star Wars.  Ian McDiarmid’s appearance at the Star Wars Celebration after the trailer was screened confirmed that he is going to be a part of the film. McDiarmid played Palpatine throughout the series so it is intriguing to see him return and what kind of effect he will have on the new characters.

The Rise of Skywalker

This title reveal was another surprise at the end of the trailer. The Skywalkers are a dying bloodline, or so it would seem. Luke is gone. Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, does idolize his grandfather who is a Skywalker. Perhaps this could be referring to him, but his devotion to the dark side and his despicable actions make him a difficult contender for a hero.  Leia is also a Skywalker, but her character can only do so much due to Carrie Fisher’s passing. Is there a Skywalker that we are unaware of? The Last Jedi claimed that Rey’s parents were nothing more than junkers (this was a plot point that received the most criticism in TLJ) but it is possible that J.J Abrams could change this and make her a Skywalker. However, as much as I wanted Rey to be a Skywalker or a Kenobi, her lack of interesting parentage does make her all the more endearing. She comes from a harsh background but has done amazing things with her gifts. These are the heroes that inspire me the most. Part of me wants her to stay that way. The title suggests that a Skywalker of some kind will come to the fore and I’m excited to see who that might be.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in December 2019. For more on The Rise of Skywalker, stay posted with us.

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