A brief clip from the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been afforded a mixed response, but the scene's humor fits with the overall spirit of the sequel trilogy. Next month sees the long-awaited release of the final film in Star Wars' current trilogy and the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga as a whole. With classic characters such as Luke Skywalker, Emperor Palpatine and Lando Calrissian confirmed to return alongside the modern core cast of Rey, Fin, Poe and Kylo Ren, there's a huge sense of anticipation around The Rise of Skywalker's release.
This excitement has been amplified by a series of trailers that have teased a potential return for Darth Vader, an evil version of Rey and an almighty final battle encompassing ships from across the Star Wars canon. Now only weeks until release, unseen footage is a scarce commodity, but a new clip was released yesterday via the official Star Wars Twitter account. The 30-second scene takes place on a desert planet (most likely the previously-confirmed Pasaana) and shows a chase sequence between First Order troopers and some "fugitives" that are revealed to be the Resistance's Rey, Finn, Poe, C-3PO, BB-8 and Chewbacca. While driving, the Stormtroopers bump their back wheels in the air, launching their rear passengers up to the sky where they fire up jetpacks and continue the pursuit. In his usual worried tones, C-3PO cries "they fly now!" to which Finn questions "they FLY now?" and Poe completes the hat-trick, dejectedly accepting "they fly now."
The brief scene doesn't give up too much information regarding how The Rise of Skywalker will progress. The use of the term "fugitives" could suggest the protagonists are captured at some point, and that this sequence is part of their great escape. However, this might also be a catch-all term the First Order use for anyone currently on their "Wanted" list. The addition of jetpacks to a Stormtrooper's arsenal is a fun touch, and while the Empire's infantry has used these devices previously in wider media and the Legends section of canon, their standard-issue rollout will help make these notoriously flimsy villains a little more formidable in The Rise of Skywalker.
Interestingly, the biggest talking point from the clip so far has been the "they fly now" gag, with many on social media criticizing the dialogue and humor for being trite, cringe-worthy or wooden. While The Rise of Skywalker isn't likely to win any comedy awards, the joke is in keeping with the tone and spirit of the past two movies in the current trilogy, and is certainly nothing new in the modern franchise. The dialogue is in a similar vein to Poe's "permission to hop in an X-Wing and blow something up" line from The Last Jedi or "that ship's garbage...the garbage'll do" when the First Order are chasing Rey and Finn in The Force Awakens. It's perhaps also worth noting that these short promotional tie-ins (the post was promoting the Fandango ticket sales site) only ever use reasonably generic footage, and a vehicle chase/fun joke combo fits that bill nicely.
The minor wave of backlash directed at this clip is perhaps symbolic of how feeling towards the modern Star Wars franchise has changed. When the world was gearing up for the release of The Force Awakens in 2015, there was an overwhelming sense of optimism surrounding the future of Star Wars and this positivity continued into a glowing critical reaction for J. J. Abrams' first foray into the galaxy far, far away. In 2019, however, there has certainly been a shift in attitude. After the more divisive The Last Jedi and Solo in 2017 and 2018, respectively, some have soured on the sequel trilogy entirely and that change is perhaps represented in the criticism being aimed at an element of The Rise of Skywalker that is consistent from everything viewers have come to expect from Star Wars.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019