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Examining the First Star Wars: Episode IX Trailer!

April 15th, 2019
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On Friday we got our first peek at footage from Star Wars: Episode IX!  It’s a great trailer but a terrible title.  Let’s take a look:

Wow!

I love the trailer but hate the title.

“Rise of” anything is just a terrible way to start a title.  It’s way overplayed (Terminator: Rise of the Machines, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Rise of the Planet of the Apes… shall I go on?) and it’s generic and meaningless.

Furthermore, The Rise Of Skywalker feels very awkward to me.  Maybe (hopefully) this will make more sense when we see the movie, but Skywalker isn’t a thing or a single person who can “Rise,” it’s a family name.  So this feels clumsy to me.  (Is “Skywalker” going to be the name of the resistance or rebellion or whatever moving forward?  Perhaps this will be the uprising of the Force-wielding kids spreading the Skywalker legend, as glimpsed at the end of The Last Jedi?)

Also, the title increases my fear of a reversal of one of my favorite unexpected choices in The Last Jedi: the revelation that, despite the mystery raised in The Force Awakens, Rey’s parents weren’t actually anyone significant.  With J.J. Abrams returning to the director’s seat, I’d been worried this would be reversed in Episode IX, because clearly Abrams’ original intention in The Force Awakens WAS for Rey’s parents to be someone we knew (why else create such a mystery around their identities?), and because this is pretty easy to reverse (by just saying that Kylo Ren lied to Rey).  The presence of Skywalker in the title strongly suggests the Skywalker family won’t end with Luke’s death in the last movie.  Are we going to find out Rey is a Skywalker after all?  (I hope not.)

But while I hate the title, I love the trailer!  It’s gorgeous and tantalizing, just as a teaser should be.

I love the callbacks to the first trailer for The Force Awakens (which began with a shot of Finn, alone, panting, on a desert world), and also the first trailer for Episode I (which had the title cards “Every generation has a legend” and “Every Saga has a beginning,” here paralleled by the repetition of the former and the “the saga comes to an end” text).

My favorite shot in the trailer is the joyous yell of Lando Calrissian, back in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.  I feel just like Lando in that moment!  I’ve been very disappointed that Billy Dee Williams wasn’t brought back for the previous two Star Wars films, so I am so thankful and happy to see him here.

I’m very happy to hear new dialogue from Mark Hamill in the trailer.  Despite Luke’s vanishing at the end of The Last Jedi, I do hope that Luke is involved in a meaningful way in this final film of the new trilogy.

The shot of someone, presumably Leia, holding one of the medals from the end of the original Star Wars, followed by a shot of the late Carrie Fisher embracing Rey, is intriguing.  I am very curious to see how this film handles the character of Leia.  I hope they will find a way to give her a satisfying end.  This is going to be tricky, since they have vowed not to recreate her digitally.  Apparently some deleted footage from The Force Awakens will be used.  Will this be effective?  We’ll see.  (I can imagine that a scene of Leia looking at Han’s medal was intended in The Force Awakens to be her missing him/worrying about him, now recontextualized to be her missing him after his death.  Was that hug originally filmed for The Force Awakens?  Did they reshoot Daisy Ridley’s side and combine her digitally??)

The shot of Rey’s desert duel with Kylo Ren’s tie fighter is cool.  I love the slow-mo shot of her leaping up above it.  (Though I wonder, why does J.J. Abrams keep setting up scenes in which Star Wars space-ships fly over land, inside a planet’s atmosphere, rather than out in space??  He did this a TON in The Force Awakens!!)

It’s interesting to see that Rey seems to have repaired the Anakin-Luke lightsaber (that was ripped in half in The Last Jedi).

I am not excited by the shot of someone putting Kylo Ren’s helmet back together.  I loved that they ditched the helmet in The Last Jedi, but this is looking like another ret-con of the events in that movie to me…

That last shot of the Death Star wreckage is intriguing!!  Is this wreckage of the first Death Star crashed on Yavin, or is it the second Death Star, crashed on Endor?  The inclusion of the Emperor’s laugh at the end (more on that in a second) makes me guess that this is second Death Star wreckage, so that leads me to guess we’re on Endor in that shot.  (Remember that in The Force Awakens we saw that Kylo Rea had recovered Vader’s helmet from Endor.)  But it doesn’t really look like EITHER planet in that shot to me, so maybe this is on some other planet somehow?

Then there is that laugh at the very end… I am not crazy about the idea of bringing back Palpatine.  I want Star Wars to go FORWARD, telling new stories with new characters, rather than retreading the same old ground.  (There was a lot to love about The Force Awakens, but this was its biggest weakness.)  I don’t want to see any more Death Stars!  Emperor Palpatine was the overarching villain of six previous Star Wars films.  I want the new-to-this-trilogy character of Kylo Ren to step up as the big bad villain of this new film.  I really am not eager to see Palpatine again.

So… there is a lot that is awesome and exciting about this trailer… and some things that have me worried.  But, for now, I am focusing on the positive.  I love the fun of thinking and guessing and wondering about these snippets of new footage.  It’s exciting that a brand new Star Wars film lies ahead!  We have a while to wait before we get to see this film, but I’ll be counting the days.  I want this movie to blow me away.

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