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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Teaser Trailer: A-Shot-by-Shot Analysis

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Warning: This breakdown will contain spoilers for the Star Wars films The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. You have been warned!

Want to watch the trailer before you read the breakdown? Check it out here.

During the Stars Wars Celebration, we finally got a glimpse of Star Wars episode nine as well as the official title of the film: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The title alone is interesting enough to cause fan speculation but the teaser also left me with some burning questions as to how to Skywalker saga is going to end. The Last Jedi ended with only a few rebel soldiers standing, Rey, Finn, and Poe included. Rey’s Jedi powers have now entirely manifested so it is seemingly up to her alone as the last Jedi (seemingly) to use her powers to rally the rebels and defeat the First Order. The Rise of Skywalker is sure to be an epic outing, not only as the last episode in the main saga but also as what could be our last big-screen adventure in a galaxy far away. There will be television shows and other forms of media, such as Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian which will debut on the Disney Plus streaming service, but Disney announced that the movies will be “taking a break” after episode nine. Whilst it is likely the films will be back, who knows how long we could go without another Star Wars film. It seems likely that J.J Abrams will want The Rise of Skywalker to go out on a high note.

So without further ado, let’s start the breakdown!

Last Jedi Standing

The opening shot of the trailer shows Rey with a similar look to her Force Awakens outfit in a desert landscape. It could be that she has returned to Jakku or it could be a new planet entirely. We hear narration from Luke Skywalker, who seemed to die in the last film. The Last Jedi was a very polarising film for Star Wars fans. Director Rian Johnson apparently took the film “in a different direction” that Force Awakens director J.J Abram’s had wanted episode eight to go and Luke’s death was one of the (several) issues that fans had with The Last Jedi. If Abrams had not planned for this, Luke may well be able to return to the series now that Abrams is directing episode nine. Even if it is just in force ghost form, a better send-off for such an iconic character wouldn’t go amiss. Luke’s narration explains that Rey has been given all the tools and knowledge that she will need, “a thousand generations live in you now”, he says. He goes on to tell her that this is her fight. The trailer then says that “Every Generation Has a Legend.” Will ours be Rey? Or are they throwing us off the scent of someone else who will emerge as a legend?

Rey vs TIE Fighter

We see a TIE fighter approaching Rey in the distance as she retrieves Luke’s lightsaber from her belt. She begins to run away and just as it looks like she is going to get hit by the speeding ship, she does some fancy Jedi style acrobatics to avoid it. Rey has clearly improved with her skills and it will be interesting to see how much time has passed and how well versed she now is in the ways of the Force.  We don’t see who is piloting the TIE fighter but we get a glimpse at a pair of hands with black gloves. Could this be Kylo Ren? It’s possible. The two shared a connection in The Last Jedi, almost a love/hate relationship of sorts, so they will no doubt have some interesting interactions.

Kylo Wrecks

Kylo Ren returns briefly in a shot where we see his body slamming someone alongside a Stormtrooper. They are in a wooded area in what seems to be a fight scene. We can see that some of the area is on fire as smoke billows through the trees. There is also a rather menacing red hue which permeates the shot, suggesting a fierce battle is raging. But is Kylo the bad guy here? Is the receiver of said body slam an innocent?  It’s hard to tell. He had moments in both episode seven and eight where he is clearly torn between the light and the dark side but in both films his loyalty to the dark side remains. In regards to the Stormtrooper in the shot, it is difficult to tell if this is a new variant of a trooper as the scene is brief.  Each movie tends to bring in a new style of Stormtrooper though, so this is a possibility.

The Dark Side

We see Kylo Ren’s helmet from The Force Awakens being repaired in the next shot. His fondness for his grandfather Darth Vader must still be strong for him to want to emulate him yet again.

Space Bros

The next shot we get is of Finn and Poe in the desert. I really loved the relationship between the two of them after their near-death experience in The Force Awakens.  Poe handing over his jacket to Finn was a sweet moment which symbolized Finn’s journey from the dark side to the light as he left behind his Stormtrooper beginnings and became a fully fledged rebel in the Resistance. It was also the first act of human kindness that Finn really experienced. Not only did Poe give Finn his jacket, he also gave him his name after being known only as FN-2187 when he was a Stormtrooper. Their friendship led Finn to his true calling and gave him his humanity. Poe is also giving off some serious Nathan Drake vibes here too. That scarf is everything.

Robo Buddies

Our beloved BB-8 returns in the next shot, this time alongside a new friend. During the panel at the Star War Celebration, the droid was introduced as D-o (pronounced as deo). Not much is known about him other than that he is a new companion for BB-8 but I love the retro robot look he has. His most significant feature is his megaphone looking head. D-o’s style is very put together, like he was created by throwing a box of metal scraps together and hoping for the best. I love him and I would die for him. That is all.

Lando and Chewie

The death of Han Solo was one of the most upsetting parts of the new films. His death at the hands of his own son was not only heart-breaking, but it also meant that his Wookie companion Chewbacca was left all alone and that was not okay. He didn’t even get a hug from Leia at the end of The Force Awakens. But the following shot in the trailer brings back a familiar face and a companion for Chewie. Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian and he is seen piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside Chewbacca.  If anyone was going to take over from Han, it seems right that it would be Lando. Despite their often frosty relationship, (yes I do remember when Lando sold out Han and Leia to Darth Vader but he was in a no-win situation) Lando and Han were companions and as close to best friends as you could get in the world of space smuggling. Whether Lando knows about Han’s death is yet to be seen, it could be an emotional moment if not. Seeing Chewbacca with a new co-pilot and old friend is a great moment that is sure to be a burst of nostalgia.

Desert Chase

As the trailer proclaims that “The Saga Comes to an End” we see a chase through the desert landscape. One of the aircraft involved in the chase has old favourite C-3PO as well as Finn and Poe on board. They appear to be fleeing as they are being shot at. I was reminded briefly of the assault on Jabba the Hutt’s barge here from Return of the Jedi. Whether the group are being pursued or in the middle of a rescue or whatever they could be doing, it looks like the rebels are still a bit light on the ground in terms of numbers and vehicles. Their vehicle looks a little rickety and it seems like Poe would be in an X-Wing if he could, so it might be that their resources are dwindling. Of course, a subtle rescue or infiltration mission would call for something more discreet, but at this point, I am just blindly speculating so let’s move on!

A Heroes Medal

The next shot shows someone holding a pendant which looks incredibly similar to the design of the medals which were given to Han and Luke by Leia at the end of A New Hope. If so, this is a symbol of what the rebellion once was as well as representing the heroics and bravery of those who are now gone.

Our Princess

My favourite part of this trailer is the choice of music: Princess Leia’s theme. Composed by John Williams for the very first film, the piece has acted as Leia’s theme music ever since. The theme is beautiful and now carries a somber tone due to the passing of Carrie Fisher back in 2016. It makes the next shot of Leia all the more moving. We see Leia embracing Rey, as Rey cries on her shoulder.  We hear some more narration from Luke saying, “We’ll always be with you”. Seeing Leia in this trailer was a bit of an emotional blow after I watched it the first time. Her legacy will live on in the final installment. Rather than your Snow White’s and Cinderella’s, Leia was the kind of princess that I wanted to be growing up. The kind who could fight, lead and inspire. Little girls now are able to see women in the role of the hero, like Rey, because of characters like Leia who showed how strong we could be. Even when forced into a metallic bikini, she still fought back and won. No matter what her role is in The Rise of Skywalker, it is sure to be an emotional one.

Holy Trinity

The next shot is of our three heroes, Rey, Finn, and Poe, together with Chewbacca, C-3PO, BB-8, and my new adopted child D-o. They stand on a grassy hill overlooking the sea, staring off into the distance. Rey, Finn, and Poe were intended to be the new Luke, Han, and Leia but so far they haven’t spent any time together as the three of them except for a few moments at the end of The Last Jedi. Rey and Poe didn’t even really meet until the very end of that film. It will be interesting to see the three of them together and see how they work as a team. In my opinion, it is too little, too late. If these three were truly meant to carry the new trilogy of films in the same vein as Luke, Leia, and Han, then they should have had far more time together. Bringing them together in the final film doesn’t really make up for their lack of interaction as a group for the other two movies. We know that Rey and Finn together and Finn and Poe together make for good teamwork and are convincing in their relationships. Here’s hoping that the three of them together can pull off the same chemistry that we got from the original trio.

Death Star

We see what the group are looking at in the next shot. What looks like part of a gigantic space station in the sea.  Not just any space station though. Due to the sheer scale and the familiar rounded shape, it looks like part of the Death Star II from Return of the Jedi. The planet the group are on looks to be Endor due to its lush greenery.  Seeing as the Death Star II exploded above Endor, it would make sense for part of it to have crashed back onto the Ewok homeland. Luke gives us one last bit of narration. Following on from his “We’ll always be with you”, he goes on to say that “No one’s ever really gone.” I immediately thought this was a hint to Luke’s return. That is, until the last moment of the trailer which gives us a surprising reveal. We hear a deep, menacing and awfully familiar evil laugh. The laugh of Emperor Palpatine, the big bad of the Star Wars universe. It is unclear as to how Palpatine will be returning. His survival for years within the Death Star II ruins after being thrown into a reactor seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened in Star Wars.  Ian McDiarmid’s appearance at the Star Wars Celebration after the trailer was screened confirmed that he is going to be a part of the film. McDiarmid played Palpatine throughout the series so it is intriguing to see him return and what kind of effect he will have on the new characters.

The Rise of Skywalker

This title reveal was another surprise at the end of the trailer. The Skywalkers are a dying bloodline, or so it would seem. Luke is gone. Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, does idolize his grandfather who is a Skywalker. Perhaps this could be referring to him, but his devotion to the dark side and his despicable actions make him a difficult contender for a hero.  Leia is also a Skywalker, but her character can only do so much due to Carrie Fisher’s passing. Is there a Skywalker that we are unaware of? The Last Jedi claimed that Rey’s parents were nothing more than junkers (this was a plot point that received the most criticism in TLJ) but it is possible that J.J Abrams could change this and make her a Skywalker. However, as much as I wanted Rey to be a Skywalker or a Kenobi, her lack of interesting parentage does make her all the more endearing. She comes from a harsh background but has done amazing things with her gifts. These are the heroes that inspire me the most. Part of me wants her to stay that way. The title suggests that a Skywalker of some kind will come to the fore and I’m excited to see who that might be.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in December 2019. For more on The Rise of Skywalker, stay posted with us.

Antonia Haynes resides in a small seaside town in England where she has lived her whole life. She's a simple girl with a passion for zombies, writing, film, television, drawing, superheroes, Disney and, of course, video games. Her ideal day would consist of junk food, fluffy pyjamas and video games because quite frankly going outside is overrated. Follow her on Twitter on @RainbowMachete

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. JohnH

    September 7, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Minor correction – Endor is a gas giant planet (hard canon from RotJ), while the Ewoks live on one of its moons, so presumably they’re looking at debris on the forest moon from RotJ or one of the other moons.

    Given how much the Disney crew has been mining both of the previous Expanded Universe continuities for story ideas (or perhaps more than two previous continuities – the continuity starting with works that were released following Episode 1 is relatively self-consistent, since Lucasfilm/LucasArts began its Holocron continuity tracking system at that time, while the previous consistency efforts were a bit more haphazard, and the early EU arguably has two or more continuities e.g. Bria Tharen’s team or Jan Ors and Kyle Katarn stealing the Death Star plans, retcons aside), I wouldn’t be surprised to see a version of the Exar Kun/Kyp Durron story from Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy applied to Palpatine and Kylo Ren (especially since Kylo’s story borrows some plot points from Kyp Durron’s story, including a sound-alike name and his falling out with Luke, though Jacen Solo’s fall to the dark side is probably a stronger influence), or Palpatine’s own cloning/resurrection scheme (which I always found a bit ridiculous even for a comic book format in a technology-is-magic-plus-there’s-actual-magic space-fantasy setting, so I suspect it won’t go that direction, while Force ghosts are well established).

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Let’s Discuss the Revamped Sonic the Hedgehog Design

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The internet has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog movie. Some leaks a few weeks back that turned out to be correct showed the design that we see but the trailer shows a lot more of the new redesign of the world renowned video game character. The movie has been the subject of much attention-mostly negative- after the initial trailer was released six months ago. The first trailer (which initially announced a release date of November 2019) was incredibly poorly received due to the odd design choice for the titular character. With small eyes, a tiny snout and human teeth, the original design was weirdly realistic and resembled an odd humanoid rather than the blue cartoon hedgehog that we all know and love.

The first design for Sonic looked a bit like a child in a Sonic the Hedgehog suit. Creepy to say the least.

The new trailer shows off a brand new look for Sonic which is far more in sync with what we already know for the character. He is definitely an animated character, with the exaggerated features that he has always had in every other iteration. The movie itself still looks cheesy as hell but it looks like a tolerable, even kind of enjoyable sort of cheesy.  The controversy surrounding the terribly received first Sonic design has been so prolific that some even argued that the whole thing has been a marketing ploy and that the character was never meant to look as bad as he originally did. Whatever the case may be in terms of what went down behind the scenes of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it is clear that even if the film is terrible it will attract a substantial audience of people just curious as to how the whole thing is going to turn out. As a fan of Sonic since the 90’s when I was little, I’m probably going to be one of those people.

Sonic is now appropriately cute, fluffy and more in line with his usual style.

I’m still kind of hoping it can break the curse of the video game movie-like Detective Pikachu did- but alongside the aforementioned cheesiness, it looks like a pretty generic movie aimed at kids rather than diehard fans of the Sonic franchise. Flop or not, at least Sonic is looking far more adorable and less like he might murder you in your sleep. It also shows how the filmmakers were willing to listen to their audience and implement changes following feedback. Incredibly vocal feedback at that.

The comparison between the two designs shows just how much the animators have worked to create a brand new Sonic. Their hard work has certainly paid off.

Sonic the Hedgehog is due for theatrical release on February 14th, 2020.

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Anamanaguchi – [USA] (Album Review)

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Few acts boast such renown amongst uber-nerdy video game enthusiasts as Anamanaguchi. Unveiling their debut EP ‘Power Supply’ in 2009, the Chiptune pioneers have pushed their unique brand of 8-bit powered Rock and Pop across various releases, including 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack, and 2013’s Kickstarter funded 22 track LP ‘Endless Fantasy’. And with ‘Endless Fantasy’ being their last LP (excluding their stuffed to the brim ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ compilations), to say fans have anticipated ‘[USA]’ is an almighty understatement.

Six years is a while, so has Anamanaguchi’s latest batch of tracks been worth the wait? Seasoned fans Harry and Kyle are on the scene to offer their takes, from how ‘[USA]’ stacks up against the band’s other offerings, to its effectiveness as an artistic whole.

Background With Anamanaguchi

I first heard Anamanaguchi around 2010. At the time I was neck deep in my Slipknot phase (a phase I’ve yet to grow out of judging by how much I replayed ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ this year), so their goofy electronic schtick didn’t tick my boxes. But as time passed I developed a stronger fondness of them, so much so that I enthusiastically backed their 2013 LP ‘Endless Fantasy’ on Kickstarter. Now I’ve seen them live twice, followed their progress over the years, and can proudly proclaim my superfan status. – Harry

The late 2000s saw a shift in pop culture: suddenly, geek chic was all the rage. G4 was at the height of its popularity, pixel art infested countless pieces of media, and video games were undeniably cool. Few other pieces of media encapsulate this cultural zeitgeist more than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Based on the popular comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim game featured Anamanaguchi’s crunchy pixelated Rock sound, which melded perfectly with the colorful 16-bit beat-em’-up gameplay. Older Anamanaguchi albums are more than just music: they’re a trip back in time to a brighter, more innocent era of pop culture and gaming. – Kyle

Introducing [USA]

I was excited for ‘[USA]’, but that’s stating the obvious based on my prior words. The LP kicks off with its titular track, introducing affairs with an amalgamation of predictably glitchy bleeps ‘n’ bloops. It’s straight up Anamanaguchi, their Chiptune flair intact. This is good, as Anamanaguchi sans Chiptune is like spaghetti sans sauce (still awesome, but lacking a key ingredient). “USA” is chanted as instrumentation morphs stylistically, crescendoing in dynamics and tempo, and setting the stage for the lead single.

“Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is an LP highlight. Stepping out the gate with Vocaloid-y singing, an aesthetic of grandiose gorgeousness is speedily cemented. This later juxtaposes with the rapid-fire rhythms of Luke’s drumming and manic synthesizer arpeggios that run around like an 8-bit-ified (Sega Master System) Sonic the Hedgehog. This mental meld of melody, Drum and bass, and all manner of other musical magic finally sinks into a sea of atmospheric spookiness, concluding in an out of left field (yet utterly engaging) way. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” avoids predictability through each and every beat of its journey, but nails catchy accessibility to a tee. A masterclass in creative songwriting, it sets ‘[USA]’s’ bar sky high. – Harry

The weeks to ‘[USA]’ releasing were positive ones, marked by enticing singles like “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” and “Air On Line”. Anamanaguchi’s distinct Rock-flavored Chiptune style had undergone a stylistic shift in the band’s 2013 release ‘Endless Fantasy’, where the band shed off some of its punk flair in favor of dreamier synth tones. In the six years between LP releases, Anamanaguchi experimented with singles and EPs featuring sonic palettes characteristic of modern J-Pop (“Pop It”, “Miku”). While the band stretched its legs with poppier beats, it did mark a further departure from the traditional Rock-oriented sound that had defined much of their earlier work.

‘[USA]’ in many respects displays a return to Anamanaguchi’s roots. Tracks like “On My Own (feat. HANA)” and “Air On Line” boast driving guitar riffs, thumping drums, and fluidly complex intricacies. Yet, it’s more than clear that Anamanaguchi has evolved beyond their geeky beginnings to cultivate an airy soundscape of bright pastel colors and crystal clear tones. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the highs that ‘[USA]’ can reach prove that the guys have still got it. – Kyle

Negative Bits

Unfortunately, said sky high bar is scarcely met again throughout the rest of ‘[USA]’. Plenty of tracks, like “The C R T Woods” and “Overwriting Incorporate”, are serviceable, but fall short of the laser focused compositional direction and melodic magnificence that Anamanaguchi are so super slick at. ‘[USA]’ suffers from banality, with tracks like “Tear” and “We Die” meandering noisily without focus, and big chunks (particularly the interlude-like tracks “Speak To You [Memory Messengers]” and “Apophenia Light [Name Eaters]”) feeling akin to ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ cuts (i.e. decent demos, but not kickass LP standouts). – Harry

Much like Harry, I found a large chunk of the album rather dull to get through. Admittedly, Anamanaguchi has an undeniable talent for their synth instrumentation. However, what pushes their work beyond generic electronic music is their ability to anchor that instrumentation to a melodic through line built on catchy hooks and unexpected turns. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is one of the few tracks that manages to pull off this floaty, ethereal sound because it moves forward with purpose and constantly engages your curiosity. The same can’t be said for several of the other synth-heavy tracks, too lost in their own sound to offer anything truly engaging. – Kyle

Positive Bits

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance here. “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)” is Anamanaguchi firing on all cylinders, delivering energetic poppy bombast in spades. Porter Robinson’s co production is evident in “Air On Line”, resulting in a smooth stomper of happy hooks. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” incorporates choppily glitched-out singing from the iconic Vocaloid, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the 2016 single “Miku”. “On My Own (feat. HANA)” sees Anamanaguchi’s Chiptune/Pop/Rock melting pot bubbling away again. And speaking of Chiptune, it’s wonderful to hear mountains of 8-bit eccentricity throughout ‘[USA]’, proving even as their sound matures, Anamanaguchi still celebrate where they came from with beaming pixelated smiles. – Harry

As a whole, ‘[USA]’ still deserves a place worthy of praise in Anamanaguchi’s discography. Porter Robinson only collaborated with the band for “Air On Line”, but his style bleeds wonderfully into tracks like “Up to You (feat. meesh)” and “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)”. The kawaii-infused J-Pop rhythms and hooks are infectiously catchy, but don’t let that fool you: Anamanaguchi haven’t lost their edge. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” and “On My Own (feat. HANA)” show that the band can reach back into their deep musical pockets and bring out their signature hard Chiptune Rock to surprise you with something intimately familiar. – Kyle

Final Thoughts

In typical Anamanaguchi fashion, ‘[USA]’ is ambitious from start to finish. ‘Endless Fantasy’ is bloated, but stylistically spot on, whereas ‘[USA]’ trims the fat, but gets a little lost in its journey. Glistening gold sits alongside stale pies, and that description is a fitting metaphor for elements of ‘[USA]’: it’s odd, and doesn’t make much sense (and perhaps that in itself is a metaphor for the real life USA?).

Still, when Anamanaguchi’s latest is good, it’s really good, and there’s bundles of genius in the 8-bit boys yet!

Check out, stream, buy or consume ‘[USA]’ in your preferred capacity by clicking HERE!

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Star Wars Fan Films Embrace the Essence of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

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There is no doubt that dedicated fans are capable of creating brilliant, fan-made content, but the Star Wars fan base has a habit of going above and beyond in making incredible works of art that often surpass official entries in the franchise. Two relatively recent short fan films — one released last week, the other released in March of this year — are great examples of this.

The first is a 1970s/80s-style cartoon from YouTuber Wilkins Animation called Dark Empire Episode One: The Destiny of a Jedi. This animated short is incredibly reminiscent of classic cartoons — so much so that it is difficult not to feel a pang of nostalgia upon watching it. The style gives off a He-Man vibe due to the quirky animation, stellar voice work, and vibrant colour scheme. The story is set after The Return of The Jedi as Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO embark on a mission to save Luke and Lando, who are stranded on war-torn Coruscant. I won’t spoil anything in case you want to check it out for yourself, but the story is engaging, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to see more when it came to an end.

Have a watch below if you want to see more, and to check out Wilkins Animation’s Patreon to support their work, click here.

The second fan made film is a slightly older (from March 2019) one called Battle of the Dreadnoughts, by YouTuber EckhartsLadder. The film is significantly shorter than the 12-minute Dark Empire cartoon, clocking in at about three and a half minutes. It depicts a space battle between the New Republic’s Viscount Class Star Defender and the Empire’s most dangerous of all its weapons, the Eclipse Super Star Destroyer. Battle of the Dreadnoughts may be short, but it is astounding in quality. Upon my first viewing, I was certain I had accidentally clicked on a scene from the movies rather than a fan-made project. The accuracy, attention to detail, and sheer scale blew my mind and — as with the Dark Empire animation — left me wanting more from the content creators involved.

Check out EckhartsLadder’s Patreon here and their Twitch account here.

There is no doubting the talent of the Star Wars fan base, but these two films in particular are incredible works of art both in their own right and as Star Wars fan projects.

For more Star Wars, have a read of our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer breakdown.

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