At long last, the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga from director J.J. Abrams arrives in theaters on December 20. Two new TV spots for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” offer more of a glimpse at the battle for the Resistance, and the fates of Kylo Ren Adam Driver and Rey Daisy Ridley as they prepare to go head to head.
In the spot titled “Voices,” the Emperor announces, “This will be the final word in the story of Skywalker!” following a montage of battle-driven footage that portends a satisfying conclusion to the story. In “Secret,” Kylo Ren and Rey appear to share a dark simpatico — as hinted at in Rian Johnson’s 2017 “The Last Jedi.”
The new film boasts all your favorite “Star Wars” players: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and Ian McDiarmid, and yes, Carrie Fisher in a posthumous role. The upcoming film is set a year after the events of “Last Jedi,” as the remnants of the Resistance once again face the First Order and the long conflict between the Jedi and the Sith comes to a head.
Director Abrams recently revealed that the groundwork which was divisive among fans laid by Johnson in “Last Jedi” was instrumental for the setup for the finale. “When [Johnson] came to work on the next film, and we were just starting to shoot 'The Force Awakens,' I was really excited to see where he would go and what he would do,” Abrams said. “And it's funny because one of the things I was thinking at first was, 'Oh, I really want to see all the friends together.' And in his story, they really weren't. Rey doesn't really meet Poe until the end. Rey and Finn are not really together in the movie.”
In the Yahoo! interview, Abrams also added, “In a way the story that he told in a lot of ways helped set up what we're doing in 9. But it also allowed Episode 9 to have the group together and out on an adventure in a way that weirdly, even though it's the third film, it's the first time they are all together. There's a lot of details Rian set up that we run with in this movie. I don't think this movie would've been nearly what it is without the choices Rian made, so I'm nothing but grateful.”
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...
Okay, I guess we can all safely assume The New Mutants is finally coming out. The long-delayed X-Men spin-off has a rating, a release date, and now, a new TV spot. The spot below plays up the action and throws in a few groan-worthy quips. But it also features some neat elements, too – like Anya Taylor-Joy‘s Magik brandishing a giant glowing sword. Watch The New Mutants TV spot below.
The New Mutants TV Spot
After a long and bumpy road, The New Mutants will finally have their day on the big screen unless the coronavirus delays the release for some reason. The film was originally set for an April 13, 2018 opening, but release date moved to February 22, 2019, then to August 2, 2019. Finally, it ended up with an April 3, 2020 release. Why the delay? Reshoots were initially reported, but we’ve since learned that wasn’t the case at all, and the version finally being released was the original version delivered by director Josh Boone.
Of course, none of this really explains why the movie was delayed so many times. But that’s in the past, and The New Mutants are set to arrive next month. This TV spot gives us some new footage, including a very corny joke where Maisie Williams warns Anya Taylor-Joy against fighting a foe because that foe is “magic,” to which point Taylor-Joy replies, “So am I.” Get it? Because her character’s name is Magik? Do you get it, folks? Should I get a whiteboard out to better explain the joke?
In all seriousness, I’m hoping for the best here. I dig the movie’s A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors vibe, and I like that overall, this looks different – and not just another retread of the same X-Men-style movie we’ve seen countless times before. Fingers crossed that in the end it’s all worth the wait.
The New Mutants, starring Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga, is described as “an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.”