Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver
Release Date: March 31, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 9.5/10
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once more to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Experience the riveting conclusion of the landmark Skywalker saga, in which new legends will be born—and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.
‘Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker’ rejoins the Resistance and our new band of heroes as their fight against the deadly First Order nears its end. As Rey (Ridley) continues her training under the tutelage of Leia (Fisher), Finn (Boyega) and Poe (Isaac) desperately attempt to recruit allies for their dwindling cause and seek out any inside information from the First Order attainable after a mysterious transmission from the long-believed deceased Emperor Palpatine is broadcast throughout the Galaxy. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren’s (Driver) path of destruction throughout the galaxy hunting down a means of locating Palpatine has finally led him to his location where he finds himself resisting the opportunity to destroy him only to plot a more desirable final outcome of his creation.
Directed once again by J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Super 8) from a screenplay that he also co-wrote with Chris Terrio (Argo), Abrams does a pretty solid job back at the helm for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ guiding along the action-packed fun with heart and style. The final installment also features an impressive cast of new and returning individuals including Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Keri Russell, Lupita Nyong’o and Ian McDiarmid along with more, the majority of which each offer quite capable performances for the most part in their respective roles.
The reported final installment in what’s now been dubbed ‘The Skywalker Saga’ which began in 1977 with the original Star Wars (these days also known as Episode IV – A New Hope) and culminates in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker’. The film manages to serve up an exciting and often quite touching conclusion with more than enough action-packed fun to keep you glued to the screen from start to finish. Unfortunately, the excess of activity and action (as well as characters populating it) thrown at viewers throughout its duration also results in it feeling a bit overstuffed and jumbled, occasionally jumping around so frequently it’s liable to leave anyone but the diehard fans confused and lost on many occasions. While some aspects such as the logic behind how Palpatine magically survived after Return of the Jedi and did certain things without any knowledge of it throughout the galaxy all of these years may seem baffling or not entirely planned out, but if you can let the few problematic elements within go, you should at the very least have a great deal of fun with this one, and it also only seems to get better with each subsequent viewing.
I would strongly encourage fellow ‘Star Wars’ fans to ignore the bad word of mouth from many and give ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ a fair chance in order to decide for yourself if you haven’t yet had the opportunity. It admittedly has some issues and some elements might not thrill everyone (or even if they do, may seem illogical), but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting ride that serves as a fairly solid conclusion to the long-running saga. After all, let’s be fair; there was never any way that they were going to please everybody. It’s by no means one of the greatest entries in the series, but it’s definitely not the worst either, and I personally liked it a great deal more than The Force Awakens which may technically be a better film but I nonetheless found far more disappointing and far less original than The Rise of Skywalker in many ways.
Overall, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ is a wildly entertaining and frequently touching conclusion to the long running saga that’s loaded with visually spectacular action and excitement. It definitely has its issues and can be a bit overstuffed, but still offers a relatively rewarding final chapter than only gets better with each additional viewing. ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ is definitely recommended for fans of the Star Wars universe that have followed the saga over these many years. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, it should at the very least prove more than worthy of the cost of a rental, and those fans who haven’t yet seen it but own the other eight films shouldn’t be disappointed if dropping the money on a blind purchase of this impressive and bonus-packed Blu-ray release.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks outstanding as a whole and delivers a sharply detailed and vividly colored presentation from start to finish with no troubles or issues to be uncovered along the way. It holds up impressively even during the countless darkly lit, fast moving and heavily populated scenes throughout and never allows anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation that shouldn’t have any problem at all thoroughly pleasing the fans and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack perfectly complements the onscreen fun and action-packed excitement, providing a crisp, clean and quite aggressive audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send the score, plus spacecraft, action and weather effects, along with a great deal more consistently zipping throughout the various speakers, and never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to be distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a fantastic 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that may require turning up the volume on your audio system a tad, but delivers beautifully after you do and never disappoints.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ includes a noteworthy collection of supplements, the entirety of which can be found on the second Blu-ray disc dedicated solely to extras. The release includes the Feature Length Documentary ‘The Skywalker Legacy’ (running approximately 2 hours, 6 minutes in length) which explores the saga of Star Wars and features tons of interviews/comments with the cast and crew of the various films and behind the scenes footage from over the decades, along with more. We are also treated to a few Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore different aspects of bringing the new film to life including ‘Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase’ (running approximately 14 minutes), ‘Aliens in the Desert’ (approximately 6 minutes), ‘D-0: Key to the Past’ (5 minutes), ‘Warwick and Son’ (5 minutes) and ‘Cast of Creatures’ (8 minutes).