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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Space Opera > Fantasy > Comedy > Drama > Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker 4K (2019/LucasFilm/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker 4K (2019/LucasFilm/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A 1080p HD Picture: B+ Sound: A- Extras: B Film: B+

The ninth chapter in the Star Wars Saga has finally come to a close with Director J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (aka Episode 9, 2019). While the film ticks off many of the boxes and questions that fans had after the last two installments of the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens, there still feels like there are many questions that need answering after viewing this 'final' installment.

It is clear upon watching this that the overall story arc of the trilogy was (in the words of Han Solo) 'made up as they went along', especially in the wake of some of the controversial choices that Director Rian Johnson made with The Last Jedi, a film that infuriated many diehard fans of the series. In hindsight, they probably should have just (ahem) forced J.J. Abrams to write/direct all three movies as they likely would have come together a bit more coherent.

However. it seems that Abrams struggled a bit with this final Star Wars installment with some behind the scenes drama rumored and some big plot holes left in his cut. There is, much like Zach Snyder's Justice League, a longer Director's Cut of the film that supposedly exists with a half hour or more added to it. Hopefully us fans will get to see that cut down the line, but for now all we have is this theatrical version, which is still the appropriate length for a Star Wars film and feels 'mostly' complete.

The creator of the First Order and the rise of the evil Snoke, it is revealed was simply a puppet all along by the once thought dead Emperor Palpatine (who has survived by way of Sith rituals and cloning and played by the original actor Ian McDiarmid).

Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her training to become a Jedi Master and is well on her way, when she and her Resistance comrades Poe (Oscar Issac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (played by the actor Joonas Suotamo who inherited the role from the late Peter Mayhew), and droids C3PO (once again played by Anthony Daniels), BB-8, D-0, and R2-D2 get whisked away on another adventure.

The sinister Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) seeks out Rey to inform her of her true heritage and makes a final attempt at getting her to change sides, while the galaxy is threatened by the newly resurrected Emperor. Han and Luke are now deceased, which just leaves General Leia (the last performance by Carrie Fisher, created using old footage) who is barely holding on herself remaining from the original trilogy. At this critical time will Rey be able to channel the past Jedi to help overcome the never-ending threat of the First Order? Or will she succumb and join the Emperor and face her ultimate destiny?

Along with the main cast mentioned above, the film also brings back Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Keri Russell as a new mysterious character named Zorii Bliss, Kelly Marie Tran (as Rose Tico), Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Billie Lourd, Naomi Ackie, and other familiar faces (and voices) from the Star Wars franchise. The film was produced by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, who was a veteran producer of many Spielberg/Lucas films of the past.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is presented in HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on 4K UHD disc in 2160p Ultra High Definition with HDR (High Dynamic Range, though it was in theaters in 12-bit Dolby Vision, held back from this release for some reason; all shot on Kodak Vision 3 35mm color camera negative) and its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 with several great audio options in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) for older systems) and other mixes. This is a great series of films to finally get the 4K UHD treatment as they are all so detailed in terms of special effects and atmosphere. The film looks simply stunning on disc in 2160p, with texture and detail throughout in an image that translates well from theater to home.

Also included is a lesser quality 1080p Blu-ray version of the film with similar sound specs with a less detailed image. A digital HD copy is included as well with an additional supplement listed below. This is the first time that this film has been made available on the 4K UHD format with an ultimate edition with all 9 films in 4K UHD also being released simultaneously for those lucky enough to find/afford it.

Special Features (per the press release) include:

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!

and Digital Exclusive:

The Maestro's Finale - Composer John Williams reflects on his body of work for the Star Wars saga and shares insights on scoring Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Noticeably missing from this release is a Commentary by J.J. Abrams and other cast/crew members and extended/deleted scenes? Score only track? Lucasfilm is holding out on us!

Speaking of the score, nobody can argue that John Williams has done an incredible job yet again with this trilogy of Star Wars soundtracks, with this being his (supposed) last score for the franchise. The Oscar-nominated score comes across beautifully here on 4K UHD disc and I recommend that it be listened to on its own independent of the film. (I've listened to it plenty of times!) You can even catch a quick cameo in the film by the maestro himself as an extra!

The future of Star Wars at this time is mainly going to be focused on programs on the Disney+ streaming format with more feature films planned a few years down the line. At least now Lucasfilm has the weight of the Skywalker Saga off their shoulders now to focus on other storylines (like the superb series The Mandalorian which will hopefully see a 4K UHD release in the near future) that help expand the brand in new and interesting ways.

It's just a shame that J.J. wasn't able to deliver the 'home run' film that could have been after years of fan speculation and waiting. At the end of the day, however, I guess all of us have our own thoughts on this film should have been executed and J.J. simply brought us his interpretation, which mostly works. That being said from the perspective here from a diehard Star Wars fan, I think this film is pretty good.

- James Lockhart



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