Daisy Ridley in a scene from “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

George Lucas imagined a galaxy far, far away where a heroic Rebel Alliance used lightsabers and a power known as The Force to do battle with an evil Galactic Empire.

Along the way – nine episodes now – we’ve met reckless smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), beautiful Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), brash Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Sasquatch-like Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew, Joonas Suotana), those lovable ’droids (Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Jimmy Vee), scary Darth Vader (originally voiced by James Earl Jones), plucky Rey (Daisy Ridley), Resistance leader Poe (Oscar Isaac), defected First Order soldier Finn (John Boyega), Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and lots of Galactic stormtroopers.

During Lucas’s scrambled order of storytelling (the first “Star Wars” movie was actually Episode IV), we have learned that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, Han and Leia are Kylo’s parents, Kylo is Luke’s nephew, and Rey has become the last known Jedi. (Side comment: This may sound confusing, but Star Wars fans do manage to keep it straight.)

To date, this epic space opera’s story has stretched over nine episodes, as well as several anthology films. Somewhere in there Lucas sold the franchise to Disney.

This latest episode is called “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Along with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” it forms a sequel trilogy, the final three films in what has been collectively referred to as the Skywalker Saga. In this ninth film, the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith comes to a definite close.

Does that mean there will be no more Star War movies? Of course not. There’s too much money involved here. After all, Disney paid more than $4 billion for Lucasfilm.

Don’t worry. Already, Disney has announced three new Star Wars movies, scheduled for December 2022, December 2024 and December 2026. This new “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” merely brings a storyline to a close.

“In the flow of titles, this movie had a very weird responsibility,” notes J.J. Abrams (returning to the series after last directing “Episode VII – The Force Awakens”). “It had to be the end of not just three movies, but nine movies. We had to look at, ‘what is the bigger story?’ ”

So how did they manage to tie it up in a bow? “We had conversations amongst ourselves,” he says. “And, also, we met with George Lucas before writing the script.”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is currently waving its lightsabers at AMC Classic Towne Crossing 8, 925 W. Andrew Johnson Highway.

What can you expect to see in this capstone film in the Skywalker Saga? Leia Organa returns to the story (Carrie Fisher, who died in late 2016, will appear through the use of unreleased footage from “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”). Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is gone. And maybe you’ll learn more about the orphan Rey’s origin.

This ninth outing is being produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’s production company Bad Robot Productions. It will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios.

Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina. Contact him at

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