Release Date(s)2019 (April 20, 2020)
Studio(s)Lucasfilm/Bad Robot (Walt Disney Studios)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B
[This is an ALL REGION UK Blu-ray release. All three discs in the set—the Blu-ray 3D movie disc, the regular Blu-ray movie disc, and the Blu-ray bonus disc—are compatible with players of Regions A, B, and C. Aside from the 3D disc, the A/V specs and extras are identical to the wide release US version.]
A year after the events of The Last Jedi, the remaining Resistance forces have regrouped on the jungle planet Ajan Kloss. While Rey (Daisy Ridley) completes her Jedi training under the tutelage of her new master, General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Finn, Poe, and Chewie (John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Joonas Suotamo) recover intelligence from a First Order mole confirming not only the return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) but the impending galaxy-wide invasion of his vast Final Order fleet. Palpatine’s forces are gathering on the Sith world of Exogol, which Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) spent years attempting to locate. So now Rey and her friends must follow clues in the ancient Jedi texts to find Exogol so the Resistance can strike it before Palpatine launches his attack. But Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) isn’t about to cede his power to Palpatine. And when he learns the true secret of Rey’s origin, he knows it’s the key that could turn her to the dark side forever.
Forty-three years after George Lucas first changed the lives of an entire generation of young filmgoers, director J.J. Abrams has delivered final chapter of the epic 9-film Skywalker saga that’s long been the beating heart of Star Wars. Whatever comes next for this franchise, it’s been a fascinating journey thus far. The good news here is that Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver give by far their best and most confident performances in the sequel trilogy here, saving their best for last. Isaac and Boyega are strong as well, and Anthony Daniels actually has more to do in this film (as C-3PO) than he has in some time. But perhaps the most surprising thing about The Rise of Skywalker is just how much the filmmakers have been able to make the late Carrie Fisher an active part of the story. Using deleted footage shot for the previous installments, they’ve built whole scenes around her that actually work. And with the help of her daughter, Billie Lourd (who not only costars but actually stands in for Carrie in a few scenes), along with outtake footage shot for Return of the Jedi in 1983, they’ve actually given us a peek at young Luke training young Leia in the Force. It brings tears to the eyes, tears that return with Harrison Ford’s brief cameo, when Hamill’s Luke bookends a beat from The Empire Strikes Back (to a direct music cue from that film), and when Chewie gets a couple of much-deserved moments too. Sure, as was true of Abrams’ The Force Awakens, it often feels as if key parts of the story have been left on the cutting room floor. Yes, the ultimate reveal of Rey’s parentage is a little convenient. And yes, Palpatine’s return hasn’t been set up at all in this trilogy (though it does makes sense in the context of the larger 9-film narrative). But whatever—there is so much that’s good in this film, and that feels emotionally honest and earned, that it’s not worth complaining about. The Rise of Skywalker had an almost impossible set of goals to accomplish. The fact that Abrams and company manage to stick the landing on so many of them is worth celebrating.
Disney’s UK Blu-ray 3D release presents the film in the same 2.39:1 “scope” aspect ratio as the US Blu-ray. Image quality is quite good overall, with nice detail and color for a 3D post-conversion on this format (the glasses always reduce both a little, but the impact is minimal). Depth is excellent and natural, with nice object separation. The biggest issue here is that this film is often quite dark, so the brighter your display or projector the better. As such, the Pasaana Festival sequence and especially the following speeder chase are highlights—they’re bright enough (with enough extremes of perspective) to really dazzle. Also thrilling is Rey and Kylo’s saber duel amid the wreckage of the Death Star. And it is undeniably more affecting to see Luke raise his X-Wing in 3D vs 2D. Depending on your display, you’ll get a bit of the usual crosstalk in the extreme distance or extreme foreground, but that’s something 3D aficionados will expect. The most important thing to know is that this is a pleasingly good 3D presentation.
Primary audio on both the 2D and 3D Blu-ray is offered in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio format. The soundstage is large, with clear dialogue and muscular bass. Effects placement is natural and movement in the surround channels is consistently smooth and lively. The mix abounds with atmosphere even in quiet moments, but during setpieces it really scales up dramatically. The soundscape of the festival in the desert on Pasaana is delightful, but then listen as Rey and Kylo have their conversation through the Force—their voices linger in the air all around before the sound decays. Amid the cavernous ruins of Death Star, wind, water, and rattling metal can be heard from seemingly every direction. The mix gets even better during Rey and Kylo’s lightsaber duel amid the towering waves—the buzzing saber blades swing around the listening space as giant walls of water crash in. And during the end battle with Palpatine amid the chanting Sith acolytes, you’ll feel the Force lightning in your chest. John Williams’ score is, of course, the sonic highlight and the fidelity is magnificent. Additional audio options on both movie discs include English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, and French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus. (Note that the Blu-ray movie disc includes 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio as its primary mix.) The Blu-ray 3D disc includes subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired, French, and Dutch. The 2D Blu-ray movie disc has subs in English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
Note that the package is a 3-disc set. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
DISC ONE – BLU-RAY MOVIE 3D
There are no extras on the 3D movie disc.
DISC TWO – BLU-RAY MOVIE 2D
There are no extras on the regular Blu-ray movie disc.
DISC THREE – BLU-RAY EXTRAS
- The Skywalker Legacy (126:11)
- Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase (14:16)
- Aliens in the Desert (5:59)
- D-O: Key to the Past (5:33)
- Warwick & Son (5:37)
- Cast of Creatures (7:46)
Now, that list certainly doesn’t look like a lot of content. But what you do get is terrific. It starts with Debs Paterson’s outstanding and feature-length The Skywalker Legacy documentary. Not only does it offer a thorough look behind the scenes at the making of this film—including key moments like the filming of Leia’s scenes, the return of Billy Dee Williams and Dennis Lawson, and the recording of Williams’ score—but it frequently cuts back to rare behind the scenes material shot during the making of the original trilogy too. The documentary runs over two hours and it’s worth every moment of your viewing time. The additional featurettes touch upon other aspects of the production and also include vintage material. The highlight is Warwick & Son; many of you will know that Warwick Davis was 10 years old when he played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi. This piece offers a look at the now 50-year-old Warwick joined by his son Harrison for their cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. And the icing on the cake is that is you get to see a bit of footage from David Tomblin’s unreleased Return of the Ewok mockumentary. Unfortunately, the US retail and Digital exclusive featurettes (A Final Alliance and The Maestro’s Finale) are not included. Note that the Bonus disc offers subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired, Czech, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Personally, I wouldn’t choose to watch this version over the better 4K UHD presentation, but I think 3D fans will be mostly happy with it. And for those of you who already have Rogue One, Solo, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi in Blu-ray 3D, importing this release too will be a no brainer. You can do so here.
- Bill Hunt