The final film in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is currently available digitally and comes to Blu-Ray, DVD, and 4K on March 31st. This review covers the Blu-Ray/Digital Multi-Screen Edition, which gives fans access to the film in high-definition on disc and digital, along with all of the bonus features. Fans looking to collect the entire series on 4K should note that a 9-film Skywalker Saga box set is coming as a Best Buy exclusive.
The galaxy far, far away is in chaos with the return of Palpatine, a hidden puppet master who has manipulated Kylo Ren for years without his knowledge. Defeating Rey is essential for the balance of the force to be overthrown and the First Order to start a new Empire, but she and the Resistance aren’t going down without a fight. The mysterious bond between Rey and Kylo Ren grows stronger as they begin to work towards a similar goal amidst an incredible war.
Advertised as the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, the last Skywalker (pun intended) is Leia, whose role was crafted from unused footage of Carrie Fisher fromThe Force Awakens. Through digital trickery and clever writing, she appears here in her final film and plays an important part in Rey’s final journey. For fans of the original trilogy, there are some Leia character reveals in this film that give goosebumps and answer a question that has been unanswered since the end of Return of the Jedi.
A controversial and divisive conclusion to the sequel trilogy for many diehard fans, I enjoyed the film in theaters for the feelings it evokes and the way it closed out this chapter. To me, it nails the emotions right and creates a touching finale for Rey that forever connects her to Luke and Leia. I agree with many of the criticisms that have been raised, particularly that elements of the final installment feel like they should have been spread across the trilogy to make this last chapter feel less frenzied. But overall, I’m pleased with the way it closes this era.
The digital release includes all of the bonus features from the upcoming disc release, including a few exclusives. With he final installment now available, fans can pause and rewind to find all of the Easter Eggs and follow along in the Visual Dictionary to learn all about the tertiary characters introduced in this episode. And if you find yourself with too much time on your hands these days, rewatching the entire saga from start to finish is now possible from the comfort and safety of your own home.
- The Skywalker Legacy (2:06:11) – This feature-length documentary chronicles the behind-the-scenes process of bringing the Skywalker saga to a close. You’ll get to see the painstaking process to make as much of the film as possible with practical, in-camera effects juxtaposed against footage of George Lucas making the original trilogy. Key talking points including making Episode IX Leia’s film without Carrie Fisher, coordinating the stunts, the character progression of Rey and Kylo Ren, the return of Palpatine, Anthony Daniels playing C-3P0 in all nine films, creating the animatronic and puppet creatures, set design and construction (including a few Easter Eggs), John Williams’ score and cameo, and writing the ending to a legendary saga.
- Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase (14:16) – Every aspect of the speeder chase sequence is explored, from vehicle design to rig testing to filming and visual effects.
- Aliens in the Desert (5:59) – The newest desert planet, Pasaana, is the home of a Coachella-esque festival with new alien creatures. Go behind the scenes of what it took to bring this scene to life, which focuses on other aspects of the shoot than what’s included of it in “The Skywalker Legacy.”
- D-O: Key to the Past (5:34) – The newest droid in the saga, voiced by director J. J. Abrams, is explored in this short featurette about his importance to Rey.
- Warwick & Son (5:37) – Warwick Davis returns to Star Wars as Wicket along with his son Harrison, making this film even more of a family affair.
- Cast of Creatures (7:45) – Get an up-close look at the new creatures created for the film, including prosthetic costumes, puppets, live animals, and animatronics.
- The Maestro’s Finale (11:04) – John Williams completes his Star Wars symphony by scoring the final film in the Skywalker saga. Go behind the scenes of his final themes for the franchise and watch as he is paid a visit by Steven Spielberg on the scoring stage.
- Galleries (Apple TV) – Explore stills from categories that include Production Photography, Posters, and Concept Art.
The film uses a wide color palette and this release handles them with care. The darkest blacks look inky, while the brightest lightsaber blade is so vibrant it pops off the screen. Muted and mid-range colors also feel accurate to the theatrical experience with details feeling crisp and sharp when intended to be so.
The standard audio track is a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Mix. It’s an enveloping mix, even during quiet scenes. For example, if the camera pans from outside to inside, you hear ambient noises travel from the front channels gradually towards the rear at the same pace. Obviously the bigger, action-heavy sequences give every speaker the subwoofer a good workout with this mix. Other audio options include a 2.0 descriptive audio track, plus French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes.
Packaging & Design
The Blu-Ray release comes with two discs, one for the film and the other for bonus features. Each disc has disc art and is housed on either side of the Blu-Ray case. The only insert is a digital copy code through Movies Anywhere. A slipcover is included with the initial pressing, which features holographic and embossed accents.
The menu on both discs takes the poster artwork and adds a window to the right of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber where clips from the film play, set to score by John Williams. The clips and score are different between the feature and bonus feature discs.
With over two-and-a-half hours of bonus features, including a feature-length making-of documentary, fans will feel like they made a visit to the set with this Blu-Ray release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Whether it’s your first time seeing it or your one hundredth, there’s always a detail that you missed and the bonus features will help point you in the right direction to finding some really fun Easter Eggs.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.