Some very exciting new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker footage was dropped into our laps on Monday, allowing fans far and wide to analyze every frame for clues about the next Star Wars installment. The footage was first shown at Disney’s D23 Expo over the weekend of August 23. Among those on hand to present the footage were Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams, and Skywalker saga sequel trilogy stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac.
The new sizzle reel runs through some of the most important and iconic shots from the previous eight films in the Skywalker saga (which includes all Star Wars films released since 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope except Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story). Once we’ve gotten through this trip down memory lane, the real show begins.
The new footage opens with shots of Rey (Ridley), Finn (Boyega), Poe (Isaac), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and Chewbacca (Joona Suotamo). Combined with the immediate subsequent shot revealing the planet Pasaana and their inhabitants, the colorfully-dressed Aki-Aki, it looks like there’s something on this new desert planet our heroic trio needs. This is the first time Pasaana has popped up in the Skywalker saga and will likely be one of many new locations introduced in this ninth and final installment. The real question here is: what do the Aki-Aki have that would be of interest to Finn, Rey, and Poe? Are they on Resistance forces business? Or are they looking for something in particular in their fight against the Empire? Or is there something on the planet they are looking for?
General Leia Organa (portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher via previously shot and unused footage from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) makes an appearance in this new sizzle reel, too. She doesn’t speak but she’s looking very pleased to see someone. The setting here is of particular interest because it very closely matches what looks like another sizzle reel shot of Rey training with a lightsaber in what could be the same forest.
The similar setting suggests Leia picks up where her brother, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), left off in Star Wars: The Last Jedi when it comes to helping Rey realize her true potential. Unlike her brother and very bad dad, Darth Vader, Leia hasn’t had many occasions to show off her fighting skills. It wasn’t until The Last Jedi we even got the visual proof she was Force-sensitive when she propelled herself back onto a Resistance ship after being blasted into the cold vacuum of space.
Leia may see fit to pass along all that she knows to Rey, who has is Luke-approved, shows potential to be a powerful Jedi, and could be the savior the Resistance needs. It may not be as earth-shattering a revelation on the sizzle reel as Dark Rey (more on that later), but seeing this quieter moment with Leia in this forest setting suggests she and Rey will have some meaningful one-on-one time in The Rise of Skywalker means there will be more nostalgic and sentimental moments fans to enjoy.
The Resistance faced crippling blows to their numbers in The Last Jedi. Poe’s headstrong and foolish insistence on wiping out the Imperial dreadnought fleet may have worked, but it cost the Resistance a lot of ships and manpower. We’re reminded once again of just how diminished their forces are in a shot of all of the Resistance ships arriving after traveling through hyperspace.
The image becomes all the more menacing when we’re facing with the shot of the Imperial forces, who now count General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant) among their leaders. The Resistance is going to have the fight of their life ahead of them and the clearly uneven playing field shown in these shots of each side’s ships indicates tensions will be high and the need for someone to rise up in order to defeat the Empire is necessary. What will be interesting to see is where these shots are taken from the same battle sequence or if they happen at different moments in Rise of Skywalker. If they’re from the same battle, then you better start praying for the Resistance right now.
Among the most curious shots from the sizzle reel footage involves C-3PO. We see he has red eyes and seems to be powered down; he likes to fret and move around a lot, so it’s highly unlikely he’s conscious during this scene where he appears to be held down. The red eyes are a new look for C-3PO and, at first glance, they seem ominous. Has our favorite golden droid been hacked? If so, there’s a chance someone (Kylo Ren?) is infiltrating his system to search for big clues about the Resistance’s movements and whereabouts. This is unusual behavior for C-3PO regardless, so it could indicate he’s a bit of a wildcard in Rise of Skywalker.
Speaking of ominous, we’ve arrived at the moment everyone is talking about: Dark Rey. That’s what fans seem to be calling this very different version of Rey who is holding a lightsaber with two red beams. She’s all in black, wearing a hood, and seems to be standing in a not-so-fun location. When the camera cuts, we see her lightsaber is folded up and she can snap it into one long baton. The image gives off big Darth Maul vibes, which isn’t exactly the kind of connection we expected to make with Rey.
It’s unclear if this is a vision of the future, part of a dream sequence, a warning of what Rey could turn into if she embraces the Dark Side of the Force, or an actual event in The Rise of Skywalker. Both Rey and her antagonist, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), have been feeling the push and pull of both sides of the Force as they’ve encountered one another. Both seem poised to embrace either side heading into this final installment because they are so easily influenced. In Rey’s case, entertaining any outcome where she becomes a villain and embraces the Dark Side is a shocking outcome — but it could be fun to see where her story goes if Dark Rey actually happens.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives December 20, 2019. Check out the full sizzle reel, complete with new footage, below: