Final Star Wars Saga arrives in theaters: The Rise of Skywalker

Daisy Ridley stars as Rey (center), with John Boyega as Finn (at left) and Oscar Isaac as Poe (on right), in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with Chewbacca and C-3P0 in background.

It is literally the end of an era for fans of the Star Wars franchise. I first became aware of Star Wars in 1976, and read a Marvel Comics adaptation of the first Star Wars film before it was released in 1977.  That film, now known as Episode IV: A New Hope, or, to many, just Star Wars. After it and two sequels changed the landscape for science-fiction and fantasy films forever, with 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, the 20th Century Fox corporation developed a new prequel trilogy, consisting of 1989’s The Phantom Menace along with 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. Along with these films, massive merchandising, gaming and book and television projects kept the multi-billion dollar franchise flying high, until Disney bought it out in 2012 and re-tooled for another run at a film trilogy cash grab.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) is an epic space-opera film produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams. It is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and is the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga.” It was produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’s production company Bad Robot Productions, and is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The new film takes place a year after the events of The Last Jedi, as the remnants of the Resistance face the First Order once again—while reckoning with the past and their own inner turmoil. Meanwhile, the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its climax, bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end. Anything else would be massive spoilers, and we don’t play that.

The Cast of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker consists of a lot of returning favorites and a few newcomers. Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, the Force-sensitive leading general of the Resistance, widow of Han Solo, mother to Ben Solo, and Luke Skywalker’s twin sister. Fisher, who died in late 2016, appears through the use of unreleased footage shot for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master, who became one with the Force in The Last Jedi. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, the Supreme Leader of the First Order; born as Ben Solo, he is the son of Leia Organa and the nephew of Luke Skywalker. Daisy Ridley as Rey, an orphan from Jakku and a member of the Resistance; she is the last Jedi and apprentice of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. John Boyega as Finn, a member of the Resistance and a former storm trooper who defected from the First Order. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, a high-ranking X-wing fighter pilot and commander of the Resistance. 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 nine of the episodic films in the series. Naomi Ackie as Jannah, an ally of 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. Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, a former space pirate and ally of the Resistance. Keri Russell as Zorri Bliss, a criminal and old friend of Poe’s. Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, a Wookiee and first mate of the Millennium Falcon and longtime friend of Han Solo. Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, a mechanic in the Resistance who befriended Finn and joined him and his allies in The Last Jedi. Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine / Darth Sidious, the dark lord of the Sith and former emperor of the galaxy, who was apparently killed by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, a veteran of the Rebel Alliance and an old friend of the now deceased Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker. Williams returns to the Star Wars franchise onscreen for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Dominic Monaghan portrays Beaumont Kin, a Resistance trooper; Brian Herring returns as the puppeteer of BB-8; and Billie Lourd, Jimmy Vee, and Greg Grunberg reprise their roles as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, R2-D2, and Temmin “Snap” Wexley, respectively. Nick Kellington returns as the creature performance of Klaud; Jeff Garlin and Kevin Smith also have roles in the film. Andy Serkis and James Earl Jones make vocal cameos as Supreme Leader Snoke and Darth Vader respectively.

The Rise of Skywalker had its world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday, December 16, 2019, and is being released theatrically, officially on Friday, December 20 in the United States, with many early screenings held nationwide on Thursday, December 19. The film was originally planned to be released on May 24, 2019 in the United States before being pushed back to December 20. Reliable rumors abound that the first version was ‘trash’ and they had to call in George Lucas to ‘save’ it by spending another $20 million on top of it’s $300 million budget. Disney did not hold test screenings or traditional local media screenings for The Rise of Skywalker, instead only showing it to Abrams’ friends and family, as well as a terminally ill fan, so let’s hope they got it right. Find out now at a cinema in galaxy not-too-far-away.