With most of the country under some kind of stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is no better time to check out the last chapter of the Skywalker saga, as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K HD. The digital version of the film has been available since March 17, and even earlier thanks to COVID-19, and now completists can bring home the last chapter for themselves in hardcopy form on their platform of choice.
The film itself was as divisive to fans as the previous two entries in this final trilogy, but that doesn’t take away the fact that this is the end of a story that began 42 years ago, and there is some good in here. I can feel it. The Blu-ray transfer looks great, and the two disc set includes a second disc full of extras, including a fascinating feature-length documentary on the making of The Rise of Skywalker. More on that in a bit. First, let’s talk about the movie itself.
The Feature Film
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker serves as both the end of this new trilogy that began in 2015, and the end of the Skywalker saga, which began in 1977. Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are working to rebuild the resistance and save the galaxy under the watchful guidance of General Leia Solo (Carrie Fisher), with the help of legacy heroes Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).
For reasons not explained, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is back and cutting galaxy-wide podcasts about his new Final Order, with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) doing his bidding as the new Supreme Ruler of the Order. Our heroes are sent on various MacGuffin hunts to find the emperor’s location, allowing director J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Chris Terrio (Justice League) to show audiences some new planets that have callbacks to previous planets in the saga.
The film is full of action and it looks fantastic, as long as you can overlook a script that is the weakest of any Star Wars film to date. The Rise of Skywalker culminates in a kiss that is the most awkward in the nine-film saga, and this is a franchise that once had a brother and sister make out.
Problems aside — and there are myriad problems in this film — Abrams and cast bring the thing to a close and forever end the Skywalker saga on a silly, but upbeat note that honors all that came before it, and half the fanbase ate it up, while the other half scoffed. You know, pretty much the norm for Star Wars films these days.
The Blu-ray transfer is sharp with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. My 4K upscaling may have contributed to the clear picture, but even without it, the colors are vibrant and the lighting effects are clean, especially if you have HDR set on your TV. I may not have been a fan of the film in theaters, but I can say with authority that the Blu-ray version is enjoyable to watch, as long as you don’t pay too much attention to the story.
The audio options for the Blu-ray — and other versions — are listed below.
4K UHD Blu-ray: English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus
Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
DVD: English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio
UHD Digital: English Dolby Atmos (some platforms), English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)
HD Digital: English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)
SD Digital: English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)
The second disc in this two-disc Blu-ray set is nothing but features, highlighted by “The Skywalker Legacy,” a feature-length documentary that highlights the making of the film while tying in footage from the original trilogy as well. This doc shows that the creators had good intentions while making the film, and the love they have for the cast and the universe is evident. Interviews with various producers and co-writer Terrio shed some light on the thought processes behind some of the decisions made in production.
The most fascinating aspects circle around how they brought Carrie Fisher back to life to star in the film. Fisher died suddenly in 2016, shortly after completing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and her death complicated the plans for the last film, as she and Leia were set to feature prominently.
Another highlight of this feature is the journey of Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). Daniels is interviewed about his time filming TROS, and those interviews are cut with previous interviews he has given dating back to the 1970s. It’s interesting to see the development of the character as Daniels completes his own 40-year odyssey playing the iconic droid.
“The Skywalker Legacy” also shows how Abrams and his team created the practical effects in this film, and viewers get a good idea of the size and scope of this production. If you were one of the many fans who were put off by The Rise of Skywalker, I implore you to sit down and watch this doc. While it doesn’t make the feature film any better, it does show that the creators truly cared and were not just setting out to take a dump on your childhood.
The other features, including the doc, are listed below.
- The Skywalker Legacy – The story lives forever in this feature-length documentary that charts the making of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
- Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase – Dive into the making of the movie’s epic landspeeder chase and discover how this spectacular sequence was brought to the screen.
- Aliens in the Desert – See what it took to create the Pasaana desert scenes, from the sheer scale and complexity of the shoot to its colorful details.
- D-O: Key to the Past – Explore the ship that connects Rey to the mystery of her missing parents and get to know the galaxy’s newest, irresistible droid.
- Warwick & Son – Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, dons the Ewok costume once more; this time joined by his son Harrison.
- Cast of Creatures – The team behind the film’s memorable creatures reveal the puppetry, makeup, prosthetics and digital magic that bring them to life!
Each feature offers something of value for longtime fans. I particularly enjoyed “Warwick & Son,” which highlight the almost 30-year relationship between Warwick Davis (Wicket, and many others) and the Star Wars franchise — a relationship that now includes his son, Harrison Davis. This feature got me in the feels and is worth checking out.
Sadly, bloopers and deleted scenes did not make the cut on this Blu-ray package. I’m not sure it is is something that will be added to future versions, but it sure is missing here, if only to help flesh out the holes in the film’s plot or at least bring joy to viewers as they watch the cast cut up with mistakes and flubs.
The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray set also includes a digital version of the movie, which is always nice to have.
No matter where you sit on the fence that is The Rise of Skywalker, it’s nice to complete the collection and have the ninth and final film on my shelf. This is a must-have for fans, new and old, and maybe on a second or third viewing, you will come to appreciate the film more if you were disappointed when it was released.
Also, on March 31, coinciding with the physical release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, eight Star Wars films are being released on 4K UHD for the first time, including Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Now is the time to build your 4K collection and relive the Skywalker saga all over again, especially as most of us are stuck at home anyway thanks to the novel coronavirus.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out now on Blu-ray and 4K UHD.
Images courtesy of Disney.