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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Blu-ray Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Want exciting?  Want unique?  Look elsewhere, friends. This movie is an utter disappointment.

If one of the final moments of director J. J. Abrams Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker - two lightsabers sinking into the sands of Tattooine - hits you rather hollow, there is a damn good reason for it.  It has been completely unearned.  The Skywalker Saga is over with this film, but what’s really shocking is that this mess of a movie is merely feigning emotions when those twin suns are back blazing on the screen.  Wherefore are thou, Broom Boy?

"The Skywalker Saga deserved better than this sloppy finale"


With Abrams back in the driver's seat of the Star Wars saga, he gives The Last Jedi haters a film that basically erases everything that Rian Johnson put into place.  That's right, you can now successfully watch The Force Awakens and follow it with the Big Mac-sized MacGuffin that is this flick and never bother with The Last Jedi.   Damn you, Disney. 

Speaking of Abrams' overlord, I wish that company had had the balls to give us the true follow-up to The Last Jedi, instead of this messy mishap.  The Skywalker Saga deserved much better than this sloppy finale and now that the leaked script of Colin Trevorrow's Duel of the Fates is making the rounds on the internet, I think we can all agree that his film would have given fans a much better reason for this trilogy to exist at all.  I mean, Tor Valum, the Sith Lord who trained Palpatine?  Yes, please!  Finn leading a Stormtrooper uprising?  DAMN.  There are many wonderful and exciting things to be found there.

But not here.  Not in Disney's "safe" galaxy.

Instead we have the Abrams' directed and Disney-approved course correction that is The Rise of Skywalker. It's a film that some people - specifically, the fanboys who went to the internet to crap on The Last Jedi - will give a solid "thumbs up" to.  Why?  Because Rose is in it for all of 2 seconds.  Sadly, this is a disappointing film that, while full of familiar heroes, doesn’t give us much of a reason to care about them.  That's why we can't have nice things, Internet.

Abrams has the humor down and gives us plenty to chuckle at, he just clams up when it comes to allowing us to feel the real heart of the story concerning these characters.  And that might be because, if you pay attention to what we have in this final released version, we aren't getting the full story.  This film has been chopped up by someone in the editing booth.  Some of the edits don't make sense.  Or maybe the characters just weren't allowed enough time to develop . . . too much running around as they go from location to location. 

When there is emotion - especially upon the passing of Leia (Carrie Fisher), who has helped the beloved Rey become even stronger with The Force - the camera doesn’t dwell on Chewbacca’s raw reaction.  It’s a great moment for the character and shows just how sick and tired he is of all the death of his friends.  But Abrams lets the moment go by too soon . . . and it is like that for a lot of the scenes that deal with emotion.  Maybe Abrams doesn't want to let go either. I know I don't, but it is time.  So, please, let Chewie howl with sadness.  Good moments like that one are few and far between here. 

What we do get, unfortunately, are far too many NEW characters that aren't dealt with properly and one completely misguided kiss.Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Perhaps the reactions stirred up by Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi are still way too raw.  I know my friends are still talking about the genre subversions that Johnson put into his film.  But here’s the thing, The Rise of Skywalker suffers as a result of Disney's meddling.  Fearing the darkness of Trevorrow's script and not wanting to piss off any more "fans" with cool and unseen things (like Rey embracing both sides of the force and teaching Broom Boy in her Jedi Academy), they called Abrams back in to "fix" the finale, rewrite the sroty, and play it safe.  Big mistake. 

The "good" stuff here is buried in the background: Rey (Daisy Ridley) is (sorta) born from nobodies (by choice, I’ll let the film explain), Luke didn’t take his X-Wing from Anch-To for a reason explained here, the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey is strong and that is explained, Luke tossing his lightsaber over his shoulder is commented on here, and so on.  Most of your serious questions go unanswered.  As a result, The Last Jedi remains standing tall as The Rise of Skywalker can only pave the way for a lot more Force Sensitives out in the galaxy like Finn, who has something to tell Rey throughout this entire movie.  Puhleeze.

Opening with a series of scattershot of action scenes that gives us only a vague reason for Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and The Knights of Ren to be traversing the galaxy in search of something that has to do with assisting the Sith, Episode IX doesn’t calm down and develop its story until it hits what feels like the 50-minute mark.  That's how much revamping Abrams has to do for Disney.  That’s about the time that Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) - wearing something VERY, VERY familiar that Star Wars fans will appreciate - saves Rey, Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) from the mess they are in.

What follows is the last stand as the remnants of the Resistance face down the First Order one more time.  This time, though, the First Order has some extra help from an old nemesis.  You’ve heard his laughter in the trailer and, with this film, you finally get to see why his voice is still echoing throughout the galaxy.  And, no, he is definitely not a ghost . . . but he has an army ready to fight for the Sith to return.  They just need a worthy vessel with which to do his dirty work.  Is it Kylo?  Is it Rey?  Is it someone else? Do we even care?

There are lightsaber duels - although nothing quite like what we saw in Snope’s demise - but at least the set pieces in this serious misstep are grand.

The BIG thing is that Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio unnecessarily retcon the direction of the series by inserting a "resurrected" Palpatine (or is he just a clone?).  Once again played by Ian McDiarmid, this version of the emperor is threatening, but pointless. Instead of giving us something new, we have a shoveled-in Return of the Jedi connection that serves as our ending.  Hey, it worked in the original trilogy!  Let's do it again!  But, as is his way, Abrams, unfortunately, tries to one-up that film with a congested space battle finale that is twice as big as the one that took place while Vader saved Luke from Palpatine.  Is it necessary?  Nope.  But, when you are making a movie with the single hope not to piss off the fans, what else are you going to do?

The answer then is to play it safe and make everyone feel hollowed-out and confused by an ending that brings back all the main characters from the middle/classic trilogy, gives Rey a "meaningful" past, steep it in nostalgia, and let it cool a bit.  That’s what The Rise of Skywalker does.  It’s not bold.  It is a play it safe ending that makes no sense.  Disney should have let things alone.Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Secrets are revealed, scars are healed, lots of Force voices are heard, and everyone gets a love interest (ugh).  I'd invite you to just sit back and enjoy the "light speed skipping" that is invented here, but there is a nagging Force voice of my own that I hear.  And it tells me there is a better version of this conclusion out there.  The Rise of Skywalker is serviceable, but  - in a saga that has had its fair share of ups and downs - fans deserve better than this Return of the Jedi redux. 

Be one with Abram's Disneyfied version of The Force and accept The Rise of Skywalker as it is: a hollow finale that no one should even care about. The conclusion is now on blu-ray.

2/5 stars

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Blu-ray + Digital HD

Home Video Distributor: Disney/Buena Vista
Available on Blu-ray
- March 31, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; Digital code
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The force is strong with Disney's 1080p handling of its blu-ray + Digital two-disc edition of Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker. Disc one includes only the movie, but disc two is packed with loads of extras including a feature-length documentary, and a handful of making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Video

There are few faults to be seen in Disney's 1080p handling of the movie which was shot on film and encoded flawlessly to blu-ray. Always sharp and colorful, the exterior shots are most memorable as digital CGI and practical effects blend seamlessly into a world that always feels real. Much of the interior footage is dark and bland, but even those scenes hold up nicely when a light saber suddenly comes to life in all its raging brightness. Skin tones are correct and darks are always thick and rich.

Audio

Speaking of light sabers, when those puppies come to life during Rey and Kylo Ren's saber duel, the victor will be your home theater system and the loser your house as the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround rattles your walls and shakes the sheet rock. And you've not ridden in an imperial TIE fighter until you experience the ear-piercing slash of its engines shoot across the room. Dialogue is always audible and it's a pure joy to hear the din of creature conversations coming at you from all directions. Also included are Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 and French: Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

As mentioned previously, the two-disc pack includes the movie on disc one and the bonus material on the second disc. There is no DVD in the set. The best feature of the bunch is the two-hour long The Skywalker Legacy documentary, while the other five shorts provide interesting looks at some of the film's characters, shooting locations, creatures, and action sequences.

  • The Skywalker Legacy (2:06:11)
  • Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase (14:16)
  • Aliens in the Desert ((05:59)
  • D-O: Key to the Past (05:33)
  • Warwick & Son (05:37)
  • Cast of Creatures (07:46)

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 2/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.
Runtime:
141 mins
Director
: J.J. Abrams
Writer:
J.J. Abrams; Chris Terrio
Cast:
Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Billie Lourd
Genre
: Action | Sci-fi
Tagline:
The saga concludes.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny."
Theatrical Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site: https://www.starwars.com/films/star-wars-episode-ix-the-rise-of-skywalker
Release Date:
December 20, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

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