The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker sizzle reel that screened at D23 won't be officially online until Monday, but we have a description of the footage shown. This December, the Skywalker saga reaches its epic conclusion with the release of Star Wars 9, and Lucasfilm is being very secretive about the project (even by their typical standards). The film's title wasn't revealed until the teaser trailer premiered at Celebration Chicago back in April, and since then very few official plot details have been confirmed. The big ones to date, of course, are Emperor Palpatine's return and the introduction of Sith Troopers.
Lucasfilm bypassed Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con this year, as they planned on giving Star Wars 9 a big showcase during the 2019 D23 Expo. It was around this time in the marketing campaigns for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi fans were treated to a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel, so the expectation going into D23 was there would be footage from The Rise of Skywalker as well. Attendees did indeed get to see a sizzle reel, but the general public needs to wait a couple of days before they get to watch it.
During the Walt Disney Studios movie panel at D23, Lucasfilm screened their latest Star Wars sizzle reel. Rather than focusing solely on The Rise of Skywalker, this served as a retrospective of the saga at large, featuring clips from the previous movies to highlight some of the franchise's most iconic moments. Of course, there were new bits from Star Wars 9. These include a shot of an army of First Order star destroyers flying through space, a glimpse of Rey and Kylo Ren's rain-drenched lightsaber duel (which was featured in the Vanity Fair spread this spring), C-3PO with red eyes, Darth Vader's helmet, Finn with Naomi Ackie's Jannah, and a new shot of General Leia. The big reveal was Rey wielding a red, double-bladed lightsaber. The Emperor said, "Now your journey nears its end" during this part, raising questions about where Rey's allegiances lie. According to EW, the sizzle reel will be released online on Monday, August 26.
At the end of The Last Jedi, Rey seemed to have chosen the light side of the Force, accepting her place in the Resistance alongside Finn, Poe, and Leia. But if she has a new red lightsaber (and wearing black robes to boot), it implies some sort of turn is in order for the sequel trilogy protagonist. That would be a truly surprising turn of events, but could be a welcome one (considering it's executed properly). After J.J. Abrams was criticized for playing things too safe in The Force Awakens, there was concern Star Wars 9 wouldn't take many risks as it looked to serve up a satisfying finale to the story. But, between Palpatine's return and Rey's red lightsaber, Abrams has shown he has some twists up his sleeve. It'll be interesting to learn more as the promotional campaign rolls on and try to figure out the context of the Rey shot.
The rest of the sizzle reel is arguably tame by comparison, but still intriguing. A plethora of star destroyers lends credence to the rumor Palpatine has a secret fleet hiding in the Unknown Regions, and C-3PO with red eyes will raise a few eyebrows. It's been said the fussy protocol droid has a bigger role in The Rise of Skywalker when compared to the other sequel trilogy films, so it'll be fascinating to see what his storyline entails. There's still much to learn about the film, but it's clear Abrams and company didn't hold anything back when putting this one together. Perhaps the final shot really will blow fans' minds.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019