Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker) is the ninth episode of the Star Wars franchise as well as the final installment of the sequel trilogy and the Skywalker saga.
It's the twelfth theatrically released film in the Star Wars franchise, and was directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams also served as a writer alongside Chris Terrio and George Lucas, who provided a treatment for the film.
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, altogether bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end.
One year after the Battle of Crait, the war between the Resistance and the First Order has continued across the galaxy. Kylo Ren, the Supreme Leader of the First Order, obtains a Sith wayfinder on the planet Mustafar, in which he slaughters an entire group of Sith cultists to get the artifact. The device leads him to planet Exegol, in which he finds an undead clone body of Emperor Palpatine, who reveals that he has brought himself back to life after his death at the hands of Darth Vader, thanks to his powers of the dark side of the Force. Palpatine also reveals that he is the creator of Snoke, which founded the First Order and lured Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine offers Kylo the Final Order, a massive armada of Xyston-class Star Destroyers designed by the Sith Eternal, and Kylo the opportunity for him to become the ruler of a new Sith Empire to take ultimate control of the galaxy in exchange of him finding and killing Rey, whom the Emperor states is "not who you think she is".
At the Resistance base, Rey continues her Jedi training under Leia Organa's guidance, though she struggles with using the Force to hear the Jedi of the past. Finn, Chewbacca, Poe Dameron, R2-D2, and Klaud retrieve information on Kylo's discovery originating from a First Order spy and gets pursued by several squadrons of TIE/sf fighters and TIE whisper fighters. After learning that Emperor Palpatine has returned and is hiding on Exegol, Rey discovers Luke Skywalker's notes on a Sith artifact in the Jedi texts that she took from the tree library on Ahch-To. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO leave for Passanna to seek a contact Luke knew, while R2-D2 and Rose Tico stay with Leia and the Resistance. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren holds a meeting with members of the First Order Supreme Council, including General Hux and Allegiant General Enric Pryde, and they discuss their latest plans, along with Palpatine's resurrection and the fact that there's a hidden spy in the First Order.
On Pasaana, the group encounters Lando Calrissian, who leads them to the artifact's last known location in the desert. Kylo talks with Rey through their still-intact Force connection, and warns her that the Emperor wants her dead. Rey accuses him of serving another master, but Kylo denies and claims to have other plans. He asks her why he was rejected in Snoke's throne room and tries to convince her that she will eventually turn to the dark side and accept his hand. He then steals the necklace Rey gained during the festival at Pasaana, allowing him to figure out her location, so he travels to the planet along with the Knights of Ren.
After escaping from stormtroopers that were chasing them, Rey and the others discover the remains of a Sith assassin, his ship, and a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO's programming forbids him from interpreting. Sensing that Kylo is nearby, Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger. Rey, attempting to save Chewbacca, accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. The group escapes on the assassin's ship, presuming Chewbacca was killed in the explosion, though he was actually on another ship and is held captive by the First Order. TIE/fo fighters delivers the Falcon to the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Steadfast.
Poe suggests that they head to Kijimi to have the Sith text extracted from C-3PO's memory. Upon arriving at the planet, they meet one of Poe's old acquaintances, masked criminal Zorii Bliss, and Zorii is persuaded to help the group after Rey beats her in a brief skirmish. Zorii helps the group find a way to successfully extract the Sith text from C-3PO's memory, which reveals the location of Sidious' wayfinder, though in the process, C-3PO loses his memory.
Rey senses that Chewbacca is alive, and the group begin a rescue mission. While Kylo searches for Rey at the streets of Kijimi, the group infiltrate the Steadfast and rescue Chewbacca. During this, Rey splits up from the group and enters Kylo's private quarters, where she sees Darth Vader's burned helmet. Finding the dagger, and she has visions of the assassin killing her parents with it. Through their Force connection, Kylo confronts Rey and engages in a lightsaber duel with her across two different locations, Rey on the Steadfast and Kylo at the streets of Kijimi. During the duel, Kylo tells Rey that there is more to her story than he had originally thought, and they accidentally hit Vader's helmet which makes Kylo realize that Rey is inside his private room. He promises to tell her the rest of the story in person before the Force connection ends and he then leaves to meet Rey aboard the Steadfast.
Upon saving Chewbacca, Finn and Poe are captured by stormtroopers, but are unexpectedly helped to escape by General Hux, who reveals that he is the spy, but only with the intention to undermine Kylo Ren and see him lose out of spite, not to help the Resistance. Kylo confronts Rey in person and reveals the ultimate truth: that she is Palpatine's granddaughter, the Emperor had ordered her death as a child, fearing her power, but her parents placed Rey on Jakku to keep her safe, before the assassin killed her parents. Kylo also tells her that their Force connection is actually a Force dyad, where two Force-sensitive people share a strong bond with each other and are one in the Force. He holds out his hand and asks Rey to join him again to kill the Emperor and take his throne together. But Rey refuses again and escapes with the group on the Falcon. Allegiant General Pryde discovers Hux's treason and executes him, taking command of the First Order military.
Using the information from C-3PO's translation of the dagger's writing, the group follows the coordinates to Kef Bir, the ocean moon of Endor, where the wayfinder device revealing Sidious' location is hidden. There, they meet a woman named Jannah, who leads them to the remains of the second Death Star in Endor. During this, Finn and Jannah begin to form a bond as Jannah reveals that she was once a First Order stormtrooper who also deserted after refusing to kill civilians. Rey uses the dagger to locate the wayfinder herself and finds it inside the ruins of the Death Star, and envisions herself as a Sith upon contacting it.
Kylo, having tracked the group to Kef Bir, destroys the wayfinder, and a final lightsaber duel between Rey and Kylo ensues through the Death Star ruins in the middle of raging waters. Kylo dominates their fight, until Leia uses the Force to call to Kylo, dying in the process. Kylo is distracted upon sensing his mother's death, and Rey quickly gets back up and impales him. In this moment, Rey also senses Leia's death, which allows her to let go of the hatred she was losing herself into and realize what she had just done. She uses the Force to heal Kylo, and confesses her romantic feelings for him by admitting that she wanted to take Ben Solo's hand during their confrontation in Snoke's throne room. Then, she leaves the planet on Kylo's TIE whisper. Kylo soon converses with a vision of his father, Han Solo, and eventually makes the decision to throw away his lightsaber, reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo and turning back to the light side. Meanwhile, Allegiant General Pryde pledges himself to Emperor Palpatine, who ordered him to send a Sith Star Destroyer, the Derriphan, to destroy Kijimi as a show of force.
Rey exiles herself to Ahch-To, shaken by her Sith lineage and her attempt to kill Kylo. She destroys Kylo's ship to prevent herself from leaving and is about to throw away Anakin's lightsaber into the flames, but it is suddenly caught by the Force spirit of Luke Skywalker. Luke finally admits to Rey that he was wrong in exiling himself and not helping the Resistance, and reveals that he and Leia knew that Rey was Palpatine's granddaughter, but still trained her because Rey had something that Sidious doesn't: a heart and spirit. Luke encourages Rey to face her grandfather as he faced Darth Vader, giving her his old T-65B X-wing Red Five and Leia's old lightsaber when she trained as a Jedi. Rey then begins heading for Exegol, transmitting her coordinates to the Resistance.
Back at the Resistance base, the group mourns Leia's death. Poe is made the acting general in the Resistance and also promotes Finn to a general, but he shows fear of his new role. Lando returns and encourages him, telling him that he, Luke, Han and Leia managed to win against the Empire because of their reliance on each other. R2-D2 restores C-3PO's memory, and they reveal Rey is heading to Exegol to confront Palpatine. With the Sith Eternal forces about to seize control of the galaxy with Allegiant General Pryde now in full command of the Sith fleet, the Resistance, with Poe as the new general and Finn as co-general, decides to take their final stand against the enemy in order to save the galaxy once and for all, with the hope that good people in the galaxy will join the fight if the Resistance leads them.
Rey arrives on Exegol and enters the Sith Citadel, where she finds the Emperor, who demands that she kill him to transfer his spirit into Rey. At the same time, the Resistance, including Poe, Finn, Jannah, BB-8, R2-D2, and Rose, engages in a huge battle with the Sith Eternal at Exegol's skylines, with Finn and Jannah leading a ground assault on the Steadfast, and Poe leading an air strike and entering a dogfight against swarms of Sith TIE fighters. They begin to lose the battle, however, and start to suffer heavy losses, until Lando and Chewbacca, riding the Falcon, arrive with an entire galaxy fleet of starships, among them Zorii Bliss and Wedge Antilles, and they begin to turn the tide of the battle against the Sith Eternal forces, much to Pryde's shock, due to the fact that the new army they're facing is "just people".
Meanwhile, just as Rey is about to reluctantly kill Palpatine in order to save her friends from doom, the newly-redeemed Ben Solo arrives on Exegol to assist Rey. Rey senses his presence and becomes determined to fight. She passes the Skywalker lightsaber to him through their bond. Wielding his grandfather's lightsaber, Ben defeats the Knights of Ren and joins Rey in facing the Sith Lord. However, Palpatine quickly discovers the duo's Force dyad, and uses the Force to absorb the life energy of their bond, restoring his full strength completely. He then proceeds to destructively attack the Resistance by blasting Force lightning to the sky and attacks Ben using the Force, causing him to fall into an abyss, nearly killing him.
A weakened Rey suddenly hears the voices of past Jedi, including Luke, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Kanan Jarrus, and others, all of whom lend their power into her. She rises against the Emperor, who attacks her with lightning in a final attempt to kill her, but Rey uses the two Skywalker lightsabers to deflect it back at him, and completely destroys his body, finally ending the reign of the Sith Emperor forever. At the same time, the Resistance wins the battle and destroys the remaining forces of the Sith Eternal, killing Pryde in the process. After finally killing Palpatine, Rey dies from the sheer power shortly after. A heavily injured Ben climbs back up the abyss and crawls towards Rey's lifeless body, gathering her into his arms and hugging her. Shaken by her death, he decides to sacrifice himself in order to resurrect her. He puts a hand on Rey's abdomen and uses Force healing to transfer his own life-force to her. Rey then wakes up, and covers his hand with hers. She smiles upon seeing Ben and calls him by his name. The two smile at each other before finally giving in to their romantic feelings by sharing a passionate kiss. Still in her arms, Ben vanishes into the Force while holding Rey's hand.
Inspired by the Resistance's victory at Exegol, dozens of people rise up against the First Order across the galaxy, ultimately saving the galaxy from evil for good. The Resistance returns to their base and celebrates their victory and the dawn of long-awaited peace in the galaxy. Maz Kanata gives Chewbacca a medal which belonged to Han Solo, Poe and Zorii share a look of respect, Lando offers to help Jannah discover her true identity, and Rey, Finn and Poe each share an emotional embrace. Later, Rey visits the Lars homestead on Tatooine, where she buries the Skywalker lightsabers, having built her own yellow-bladed lightsaber. A local asks her name, as the spirits of Luke and Leia look on, she replies: "Rey Skywalker".
- Daisy Ridley as Rey
- Adam Driver as Ben Solo/Kylo Ren
- John Boyega as Finn
- Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
- Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
- Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
- Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
- Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa (unreleased footage)
- Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
- Harrison Ford as Han Solo (uncredited)
- Naomi Ackie as Jannah
- Keri Russell as Zorii Bliss
- Richard E. Grant as Allegiant General Pryde
- Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
- Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata
- Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
- Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix
- Dominic Monaghan as Beaumont Kin
- Greg Grunberg as Snap Wexley
- Shirley Henderson as Babu Frik (voice)
- Brian Herring as BB-8 (puppeteer)
- Jimmy Vee as R2-D2 (puppeteer)
- J.J. Abrams as D-O (voice)
- Nick Kellington as Klad
- Jodie Comer as Rey's mother
- Billy Howle as Rey's father
- Cailey Fleming and Josefine Irrera Jackson as Young Rey
- Tom Wilton as Aftab Ackbar (puppeteer)
- Chris Terrio as Aftab Ackbar (voice)
- Mike Quinn as Nien Nunb (puppeteer, cameo)
- Kipsang Rotich as Nien Numb (voice cameo)
- Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles (cameo)
- Warwick Davis as Wicket W. Warrick (cameo)
- John Williams as Kijimi bartender (cameo)
- Kevin Smith as Kijimi inhabitant (cameo)
- Lin-Manuel Miranda as Resistance trooper (cameo)
- Jeff Garlin as Alien Resistance trooper (cameo)
- Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (voice cameo)
- Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi (archive footage, voice cameo)
- Frank Oz as Yoda (voice cameo)
- Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker (voice cameo)
- Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn (voice cameo)
- Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu (voice cameo)
- Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus (voice cameo)
- Olivia d'Abo as Luminara Unduli (voice cameo)
- Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano (voice cameo)
- Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura (voice cameo)
- Angelique Perrin as Adi Galia (voice cameo)
- Andy Serkis as Snoke (voice cameo)
- James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (voice cameo)
Unofficial reports claimed in November 2012 that Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the screenplays for both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and co-writer Simon Kinberg would divide writing responsibilities for The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, and both would co-produce all three films of the upcoming sequel trilogy, alongside Kathleen Kennedy.
However, in February 2013, Disney confirmed that Kasdan and Kinberg were working on standalone films, not Sequel Trilogy episodes.
During a concert with the Young Musician's Foundation Debut Orchestra on February 9, composer John Williams stated that he was hoping to get the chance to write the musical scores for the entire new trilogy. His involvement was made official when Star Wars Insider 144 stated he would score the "new Star Wars trilogy". Later in 2018, it was revealed that this will be the last Star Wars film Williams will be composing the score.
On September 12, 2017, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would return to direct the film, replacing Colin Trevorrow, with Chris Terrio announced to be writing the script with Abrams. It was further announced later in the day that the film had been delayed to December 20, 2019.
The first trailer for the film was released in April 2019 during Star Wars Celebration Chicago, revealing the film's title and the return of Emperor Palpatine.
Before Colin Trevorrow was fired and replaced by J.J. Abrams, he had already written a draft of the script of the ninth film. Colin's version was titled Star Wars: Duel of the Fates as a reference to the title of the main track from The Phantom Menace. The script of Duel of the Fates describes a completely different storyline from the episode IX that was released. The script leaked online shortly after the film was released, with Trevorrow himself confirming that it is real. Some of the differences compared with The Rise of Skywalker are listed below:
- Duel of the Fates is set 10 years after The Last Jedi.
- Rose has a more prominent role in this version, while in the film released she is relegated to less than two minutes of screentime in response to backlash towards her character in the previous film. Furthermore, nearly all of her scenes from Abrams' script were cut in the theatrical release.
- Most of the plot takes place on Coruscant, starting with Finn and Rose stealing a First Order Star Destroyer's worth of supplies and igniting a beacon at the Jedi Temple to rally the galaxy to rise up against the First Order.
- Kylo is first seen on Mustafar, as in the beginning of the The Rise of Skywalker, but in this version he fights an illusion of Darth Vader like Luke did in The Empire Strikes Back.
- Kylo Ren meets with Luke's Force spirit in this version.
- Rey's outfit is nearly identical to Luke's from Return of the Jedi, featuring an all-black Jedi robe with a white piece peeling off to represent the light.
- Rey does not repair Anakin's lightsaber, instead she replaces it with a double-bladed one.
- Palpatine does not return in this version, despite Kathleen Kennedy claiming that he was always planned to return in episode IX.
- Rey's parents remain as nobodies, and it is revealed that they were killed by Kylo on Snoke's orders.
- Kylo does not repair his old mask, instead he acquires a new one.
- Kylo redeems himself much later, being the main villain in this version.
- The final battle between Rey and Kylo takes place on Mortis, the home of the Force itself, introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and further explored in Star Wars Rebels.
- Obi-Wan, Luke, and Yoda's Force spirits attempt to help Rey redeem Kylo on Mortis, but he refuses to be redeemed. He attempts to drain Rey's life-force, but at the last moment he is convinced by the voice of his mother to turn back to the light side and he drains himself to restore Rey's life.
- After redeeming himself at the last minute, Ben dies in Rey's arms just before revealing that her family name is "Solana".
- Despite Kylo and Rey's relationship being perceived as romantic by both J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson and the development between them in The Last Jedi, through most of this version, the two characters are much more antagonistic and less sympathetic towards each other than they were previously and in The Rise of Skywalker, although Rey still wishes to redeem him and Kylo still wants her to join his side.
- Rey also has a romance subplot with Poe Dameron in this version. Despite this, the final scene between her and Ben Solo reveals that the former dark warrior indeed has romantic feelings for her, as Ben dies gazing at her with a look that is described as being perceived as love.
- After the First Order is defeated, Hux realizes that "he lost the Star Wars", and then commits suicide by stabbing himself in the chest with Kylo's lightsaber.
- Leia does not die in this version.
- Rey begins to train the next generation of Jedi, including the "broom boy" from the end of The Last Jedi.
Unlike the previous two installments, which were mostly well received, The Rise of Skywalker was panned by critics.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 51% based on 486 reviews, with an average rating of 6.15/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker suffers from a frustrating lack of imagination, but concludes this beloved saga with fan-focused devotion." Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 53 out of 100 based on 61 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
This makes The Rise of Skywalker the worst reviewed Star Wars film, beating the previous record, 1999's The Phantom Menace at 53%.
- December 16, 2019 (Premiere - Los Angeles, CA, United States)
- December 18, 2019 (Festival do Rio - Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil)
- December 18, 2019 (Switzerland (French, German and Italian speaking regions))
- December 18, 2019 (Austria, Belgium, China (limited release), Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Croatia, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine)
- December 19, 2019 (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Spain, Georgia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Uruguay)
- December 20, 2019 (Bulgaria, China, Estonia, India, Japan, Lebanon, Latvia, Philippines (limited release), Romania, Turkey)
- January 3, 2020 (Vietnam)
- January 8, 2020 (Philippines, South Korea)
Trailers and Behind the Scenes
- This is the first Disney-distributed film to use the 2019 MPAA logo in the end credits. It is also the first Star Wars (and Lucasfilm) film to do so.
- The entire plot of the film was leaked by Reddit user JediPaxis more than two months before the movie's release.
- This was the only film in the sequel trilogy to not become the "Highest-Grossing film of the year", due to it getting beat out by Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Frozen II, The Lion King (2019), and Avengers: Endgame.
- It is not clear in the film how Palpatine was resurrected, but in the novelization, it is explained that he actually was able to revive himself by transferring his soul to a cloned body. This body is not enough to contain his soul and is decaying, so he needs a new vessel to replace his imperfect one. Therefore, the Sith cultists tried to create more clones of him, one of them being Rey's father, and this is also the reason why he searched for Rey, seeing her as a perfect candidate to be a vessel for his soul.
- This episode reveals that Palpatine was once again behind the corruption of a Skywalker, Ben Solo, targeting him since his childhood for being the heir of the family. Palpatine is thus once again responsible for the mistrust within the family and their separation. Futhermore, this time Palpatine manages to mess up the family and obtain a result that is even beyond than the one in the end of Revenge of the Sith, as his actions during the many years since he returned until the end of this episode culminated in the elimination of the entire Skywalker bloodline. Thus, despite not accomplishing his goal of reviving the Sith and ruling the galaxy, he succeeds in his other main goal: taking revenge on the Skywalkers for his first defeat.
- After the family is extinguished by the end of this film, Rey adopts the Skywalker surname, carrying their family legacy and making sure their actions will always be remembered in the galaxy. Rey rechristening herself as a Skywalker also symbolizes how much the members of the family mean to her and how she considers the Skywalkers to be her true family.
- Similar to the critical response, this film received negative audience reactions, with many criticizing how it attempts to undo plot points from the previous episode instead of continuing them to develop the characters to a satisfying ending, and also for being heavily based on nostalgia instead of having its original ideas and direction.
- J. J. Abrams returning to Star Wars Episode IX
- "Star Wars: Episode IX Moves To Dec. 2019, Disney’s Christopher Robin Project Opens Next August". Deadline (September 12, 2017).
- "No, J.J. Abrams Was Not Saying Kylo And Rey's Dynamic Is Just A Brother-Sister Thing". Cinema Blend (December 25, 2019).
- Ren, Kaila (December 23, 2019). "Since it’s already out there, this video is being written about on big websites without full context because someone reposted it w/out my permission. I asked JJ if he thought of Rey and Kylo romantically since TFA, in his answer he is talking about TFA Reylo not TROS." (tweet). Twitter.
- "Q&A: Rian Johnson on the evolution of the Force in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ and more spoilers". Los Angeles Times (December 18, 2017).
- "Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson Weighs In On Rey And Kylo Ren’s Romance". Cinema Blend (February 17, 2021).
- Michael Kogge (April 21, 2020). Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: A Junior Novel. Disney–Lucasfilm Press.
- Rae Carson (March 18, 2020). The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition. Del Rey Books.
- "Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious". StarWars.com.
- "Supreme Leader Snoke Biography Gallery". StarWars.com.
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