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‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ Panel; Plus 13 New Images
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(Left to right: Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), BB-8, D-O, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the epic conclusion to a 40-plus year story arc that first started in 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope. Fans who have stuck with the franchise since the very beginning have seen the rise and fall of the Skywalker family, and though things may have seemed bleak towards the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Jedi and Skywalker legacy will continue to live on.

But what sort of menacing threat awaits our heroes like Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac).

The tone of the film seems wildly different than before. During the Star Wars Celebration inaugural panel this weekend, director J.J. Abrams said that The Rise of Skywalker wouldn’t take place immediately after the events of The Last Jedi. Instead, some time has passed. And judging by the recently released teaser trailer, it looks like the Resistance isn’t as organized as they first started out.

However, it looks like Finn has accepted the fact that he is now a resistance fighter. For the first two films, he has displayed acts of both courageousness and cowardice, but his heart was always in the right place, and he followed through on the mission.

Speaking about Poe, Isaac said that even though the ace pilot doesn’t have any special powers, his greatest talent, in addition to piloting the X-Wing, is finding the irony and humor in the craziest and darkest moments. And it looks like we will see plenty of that humor, as Finn, Poe, and C-3PO go on a dangerous mission.

Meanwhile, we cannot forget how both Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) left their battle unsettled. Though their clash ended with the both of them splitting Luke’s lightsaber, Ridley says the lightsaber she inherited from Luke will live on. And The Last Jedi was the first time that we got to see new Jedi powers, which included a Force Projection. So will we see anything new in The Rise of Skywalker? Abrams played rather coy, but says that some of the “extraordinary stuff” that happens in the film was made possible because of their great stunt coordinator. “There are some other things, and you’ll see them soon,” Abrams said.

Ridley couldn’t give any details on what the relationship status is between Rey and Kylo. But it stands to reason that they would want to end their feud.

Star Wars has always prided itself in having a large redemption arc for its villains. Well, mostly Darth Vader. So the same could be said for Kylo Ren. The once Jedi in training was a force – pun intended – to be reckoned with. So much so that Luke saw him as a dangerous threat that needed to be extinguished. And though he stopped himself from following through, Kylo saw this as an act of betrayal, by the one person that was closest to him, his uncle. So, there is that familial connection. Maybe these redemptive arcs are a family thing. Kylo’s mom is Leia after all, and his actual name is Ben Solo.

So will there be an epic fight between Rey and Kylo? That obviously remains to be seen. It wouldn’t be much of a Star Wars or Skywalker saga film without a lightsaber clash.

Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico, who got the loudest and longest standing ovation of any of the members of the panel, said she couldn’t talk much about where her character goes in The Rise of Skywalker, but audiences did get to see a photo of Rose and Rey together standing in front of computer screens. It’s not clear if they are discussing a battle strategy or something else entirely, but this photo is the first time that we would see the two together in the same room.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says that they were shooting in Jordan for three weeks. Abrams said that they had 100s of people dressed in “unbelievable costumes” designed by Michael Kaplan, along with “unbelievable creatures” that we designed by longtime Star Wars creature designer Neil Scanlan.

“So to be there with literally hundreds of people, in the heat of it, and having to take food breaks and bathroom breaks, it was a rare thing,” Abrams said. Isaac chimed in about how they had to stop production during sandstorm breaks, where the cast and crew had to take cover in tents to wait for the sandstorms to blow over.

Among some of the new creatures that will appear in the film is Klade, who is “a friend of the Resistance.”

“When we did Episode VII, I felt there was no way to top what had been created in terms of creatures,” Abrams said. “When you see this movie, what Neil and his creature team did, it’s an incredible thing. And the actors who puppeteered them and performed them were pretty remarkable.”

Abrams also introduced Dio, who you can see in the images below. He is best described as a single wheel mobile droid with a cone for a head. It’s simple looking, yet so undeniably cute and adorable. I can’t wait to see how many people try to replicate it and if a toy version of it will be available. “This is Dio,” Abrams said. “This is yet another incredible collaboration and creation of Neil Scanlon and the creature and robotics team on the movie.”

Abrams said they never had Dio “exist in quite this way.” He then showed off some of the concept designs for Dio. Based on them, it looks like they took a lot of its inspiration from bathtub rubber duckies. “It’s amazing what [Star Wars] Celebration makes them [the creation team] do,” Abrams said.

Of course, one of the bigger questions is: Why choose a title like The Rise of Skywalker? One of the biggest themes the film looks like it will be addressing is legends and generations. Skywalker has been a part of the Star Wars pantheon since the very beginning. And even though Luke has passed on, we clearly see – or should I say hear – Luke teaching Rey. I don’t even want to address whether or not Rey is a Skywalker, because The Last Jedi made it pretty obvious that her parents were nobody. So we will leave it at that unless it is addressed.

But the use of Rise seems to indicate that there has been a fall from grace. But Luke already redeemed himself by coming through to give surviving members of the Resistance the time they needed to escape The First Order. So this rolls back to Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo: Will The Rise of Skywalker be his film where he experiences a change of heart? We will just have to wait and see.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20, 2019.

Photo Gallery

Video: Star Wars Celebration Panel

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