Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)


Introduction

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) is a 2019 American epic space opera film produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams.

It is the third instalment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga.”

The film’s ensemble cast includes Carrie Fisher,[b] Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams.

Outline

Following a threat of revenge by the revived Emperor Palpatine, Kylo Ren obtains a Sith wayfinder, leading him to the uncharted planet Exegol. There, he finds Palpatine, who reveals that he created Snoke as a puppet to control the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils the Final Order – a secret armada of Star Destroyers – and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training under Resistance leader Leia Organa. Finn and Poe Dameron deliver intelligence from a spy that Palpatine is on Exegol; Rey has learned from Luke Skywalker’s notes that a Sith wayfinder can lead them there. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO depart in the Millennium Falcon to Pasaana, where a clue to a wayfinder is hidden.

Kylo initiates a Force bond with Rey to discover her location; he travels to Pasaana with his warrior subordinates, the Knights of Ren. With the help of Lando Calrissian, Rey and her friends find the clue – a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO’s programming forbids him from interpreting – and the remains of a Jedi hunter named Ochi and his ship. Sensing that Kylo is nearby, Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger; attempting to save Chewbacca, Rey accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. Believing Chewbacca to be dead, the group escapes on Ochi’s ship. Kylo Ren reveals to Rey that she is the grand daughter of Emperor Palpatine, who wants her dead due to her immense power. Palpatine got Rey’s parents killed. They had sacrificed themselves for Rey from Palpatine. A brief flashback depicts this.

The group travels to Kijimi, where a droidsmith extracts the Sith text from C-3PO’s memory, revealing coordinates to a wayfinder. Rey senses Chewbacca is alive, and the group mounts a rescue mission to Kylo’s Star Destroyer. Rey recovers the dagger and has visions of Ochi killing her parents with it. Kylo informs her that she is Palpatine’s granddaughter; the Sith Lord had ordered Ochi to recover Rey as a child, but her parents hid her on Jakku to protect her. General Hux saves Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca from execution, revealing himself as the spy. He permits the group to escape on the Falcon, but is discovered and killed by Allegiant General Pryde. The group flies the Falcon to the wayfinder’s coordinates on a moon in the Endor system.

Rey retrieves the wayfinder from the remains of the second Death Star, but she is met by Kylo, who destroys the wayfinder and duels her. In a dying act, Leia calls to Kylo through the Force, distracting him as Rey impales him. Sensing Leia’s death, Rey heals Kylo and takes his ship to exile herself on Ahch-To. There, Luke’s Force spirit encourages Rey to face Palpatine and gives her Leia’s lightsaber. Rey leaves for Exegol in Luke’s X-wing fighter, using the wayfinder from Kylo’s ship. Meanwhile, Kylo converses with a memory of his father, Han Solo; he throws away his lightsaber and reclaims his identity as Ben Solo. Sensing Leia’s death and Ben’s return, Palpatine sends one of his superlaser-equipped Star Destroyers to obliterate Kijimi as a show of force. The Resistance, led by Poe and Finn, prepare to attack the Final Order fleet.

Rey transmits her coordinates to R2-D2, allowing the Resistance to follow her to Exegol. There, she confronts Palpatine; he demands that she kill him for his spirit to pass into her. Lando brings reinforcements from across the galaxy to join the battle. Ben overpowers the Knights of Ren and joins Rey, but Palpatine drains their power to rejuvenate himself. He attacks the Resistance fleet with Force lightning and incapacitates Ben. Weakened, Rey hears the voices of past Jedi, who lend her their strength. Palpatine attacks her with lightning, but Rey deflects it using Luke and Leia’s lightsabers,[c] killing Palpatine and herself. Ben uses the Force to revive her at the cost of his own life; Rey kisses Ben before he dies. The Resistance defeats Palpatine’s armada, while people across the galaxy rise up against the First Order. The Resistance returns to their base to celebrate.

After the celebration, Rey visits Luke’s abandoned childhood home on Tatooine and buries his and Leia’s lightsabers, having built her own. A passerby asks her name; as the spirits of Luke and Leia watch, she replies, “Rey Skywalker.”

Cast

  • Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa:
    • The Force-sensitive leading general of the Resistance, widow of Han Solo, mother to Ben Solo, Luke Skywalker’s twin sister and Darth Vader’s daughter.
    • Fisher, who died in late 2016, appears through the use of repurposed unreleased footage from The Force Awakens.
    • As a result of her death, Fisher was not present in most of the film’s marketing materials or merchandise.
  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker:
    • The last Jedi Master and maternal uncle of Kylo Ren, who became one with the Force in The Last Jedi.
  • Adam Driver as Kylo Ren:
    • The Supreme Leader of the First Order. He is the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, the nephew of Luke Skywalker and grandson of Darth Vader.
  • Daisy Ridley as Rey:
    • A former scavenger from Jakku, member of the Resistance, the last Jedi, apprentice of the Skywalkers, and granddaughter of Palpatine.
    • Cailey Fleming and Josefine Irrera Jackson as Young Rey.
  • John Boyega as Finn:
    • A member of the Resistance and a former stormtrooper (FN-2187) who defected from the First Order.
  • Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron:
    • A high-ranking X-wing fighter pilot and commander of the Resistance who later inherits the rank of General from Leia.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO:
    • A humanoid protocol droid in the service of General Leia Organa.
    • Daniels is the only actor to have appeared in all of the episodic films in the series.
  • Naomi Ackie as Jannah:
    • A former Stormtrooper of the First Order (TZ-1719) living on the planet Kef Bir, who aids the Resistance.
  • Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux:
    • The First Order’s second-in-command.
  • Richard E. Grant as Allegiant General Pryde:
    • A high-ranking general in the First Order, who previously served in the Galactic Empire.
  • Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata:
    • A former space pirate and ally of the Resistance.
  • Keri Russell as Zorii Bliss:
    • An old acquaintance of Poe’s from Kijimi.
  • Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca:
    • A Wookiee and first mate of the Millennium Falcon and longtime friend of Han Solo.
    • The original actor Peter Mayhew died of a heart attack during post-production, and the film is dedicated to his memory.
  • Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico:
    • A mechanic in the Resistance and friend of Finn.
  • Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine:
    • The resurrected Dark Lord of the Sith and Rey’s paternal grandfather.
  • Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian:
    • A veteran of the Rebel Alliance, a former owner of the Millennium Falcon and an old friend of Chewbacca, Leia, Luke and Han.
    • Williams returns to the Star Wars franchise onscreen for the first time since Return of the Jedi (1983).

Billie Lourd, Greg Grunberg, and Harrison Ford reprise their roles as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, Temmin “Snap” Wexley, and Han Solo, respectively; Ford was uncredited for his role. Additionally, Dominic Monaghan portrays Resistance trooper Beaumont Kin, and Shirley Henderson voices Babu Frik in multiple languages. Hassan Taj and Lee Towersey perform the role of R2-D2 replacing Jimmy Vee, who had played the role in the previous two films. Dave Chapman and Brian Herring return as the puppeteers of BB-8. Director J. J. Abrams also provides the voice for D-O. Nick Kellington returns as the creature performance of Klaud. Martin Wilde, Anton Simpson-Tidy, Lukaz Leong, Tom Rodgers, Joe Kennard, and Ashley Beck appear as the Knights of Ren. Amanda Lawrence reprises her role as Commander Larma D’Acy, while Vinette Robinson plays her wife, Pilot Wrobie Tyce. Amir El-Masry appears as Commander Trach.

Jodie Comer and Billy Howle briefly appear as Rey’s mother and father, respectively. Mike Quinn and Kipsang Rotich return as the performer and voice of Nien Nunb, respectively. Denis Lawson and Warwick Davis briefly reprise their roles as Wedge Antilles, a veteran of the Rebel Alliance; and Wicket W. Warrick, the leader of the Ewoks, respectively. Tom Wilton and screenwriter Chris Terrio briefly appear as the performer and voice for Aftab Ackbar, the son of Admiral Ackbar, respectively. Composer John Williams cameos as Oma Tres, a Kijimi bartender, Kevin Smith cameos as a Kijimi inhabitant, and Abrams’ frequent composer collaborator Michael Giacchino cameos as a Death Trooper, while Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeff Garlin both cameo as human and alien Resistance troopers, respectively. Actors making reprisal vocal cameos include: James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, Andy Serkis as Snoke, and the voices of several past Jedi, including Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi (the latter via digitally altered archive audio), Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus, Olivia d’Abo as Luminara Unduli, Frank Oz as Yoda, Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, and Angelique Perrin as Adi Gallia. Singer-musician Ed Sheeran, Dhani Harrison, Nigel Godrich, J. D. Dillard, and Dave Hearn all cameo as stormtroopers.

Filming

Principal photography began on 01 August 2018, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. Filming also took place in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Oscar Isaac stated that Abrams was allowing more improvised acting than in the previous two films. Due to the tight schedule, some editing took place on set. Principal photography wrapped on 15 February 2019. Footage from the film was shown at The Walt Disney Company’s annual shareholders meeting on 07 March 2019. Reshoots took place at Bad Robot Productions between late September and mid-October.

The film finished post-production on 25 November 2019.

Trivia

  • Following initial reports that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson would write the script for Episode IX, in August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was hired to direct and to write a script with his collaborator Derek Connolly; both ultimately retain story credit with Abrams and Chris Terrio.
  • In September 2017, Trevorrow left the project following creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Abrams returned as director.
  • Principal photography began in August 2018 at Pinewood Studios in England and wrapped in February 2019.
  • After Boyega accidentally left a copy of the script in his hotel room, it was listed on eBay for around £65.
    • A Disney employee identified the script as authentic and purchased it from the seller for an undisclosed sum.
  • Lucasfilm honoured Riley Howell, a student and Star Wars fan who heroically died at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shooting in April 2019, by naming a Jedi after him in its book Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary.
    • The book credits “Ri-Lee Howell” with collecting “many of the earliest accounts of exploration and codifications of The Force.”
  • With an estimated budget of $275 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made.
  • It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the acting, action sequences, musical score, and visual effects, but criticised the story, pacing, and perceived departures from the plot and themes of The Last Jedi.
  • It grossed over $1.074 billion worldwide, becoming the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2019, and although it was the lowest-grossing instalment of the trilogy, it still turned a profit of $300 million.
  • The film received three nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards (Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Editing) as well as three at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards (also Best Special Visual Effects, Best Original Music, and Best Sound).

Star Wars Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): J.J. Abrams.
  • Producer(s): Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan.
  • Writer(s): Derek Connolly (story), Chris Terrio (screenplay and story), J.J. Arbams (screenplay and story), Colin Trevorrow (story).
  • Music: John Williams.
  • Cinematography: Dan Mindel.
  • Editor(s): Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube.
  • Production: Lucasfilm Ltd and Bad Robot Productions.
  • Distributor(s): Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
  • Release Date: 16 December 2019 (Hollywood, Los Angeles) and 20 December 2019 (US general release).
  • Running time: 142 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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