Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker probably left you with many unanswered questions, like, why? Huh? What the…? Unfortunately, director and co-writer J.J. Abrams can’t give a satisfying answer to any of those, but he can tell you about Finn’s big secret.
While on the planet Pasaana, Rey, Poe, Finn, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO find themselves stuck in quicksand — thinking they’re about to die, Finn starts to tell Rey something he’s been keeping from her. They sink into the ground where they meet a Force-healed serpent before he can get it out, but when Rey asks him about it, he brushes her off; he later does the same with Poe. So, what’s the secret? Was he going to say that he’s deeply in love with Rey or Poe? Or that she still owes him $20 from that time he paid for lunch on Jakku? Nope, it has to do with the Force, because Star Wars:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held a screening of The Rise of Skywalker that included a Q&A session with Abrams. While Abrams didn’t officially confirm Finn’s secret during the Q&A, Twitter user kaila ren heard Abrams answer a fan’s questions after the session. He revealed that Finn wanted to tell Rey that he is Force-sensitive.
“JJ said it meant to him that he wanted to tell Rey he was force sensitive, but purposely left it open ended which is even worse,” Twitter user kaila ren added. “If he’s the director and that’s how he feels, why not do it.” Yet another question we’ll never get an answer to. Anyway, welcome to the Force-sensitive club, Finn. Here’s your lightsaber that definitely didn’t belong to a youngling that Anakin slaughtered. That’s not blood, it’s, uh, Midi-chlorians…
I had the privilege of attending the Academy screening of #TheRiseOfSkywalker today and J.J. confirmed that what Finn wanted to tell Rey was that he’s force sensitive! pic.twitter.com/hxuDHhwL6N
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...