I avoided seeing The Rise of Skywalker in theaters because a) I’m poor and movies are expensive and b) I wasn’t hearing many good things about it, and I decided not to spend the money. However, I jumped at the opportunity to review the Blu-ray because I still hadn’t seen the movie, and as a huge Star Wars nerd, that simply cannot stand. And I will say that The Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray is well worth the price tag just for the special features alone.
*I was provided with a free copy of The Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
I saw all the disappointment after The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, and it made me sad. I stayed away from seeing the film because of it, which makes it the first Star Wars movie I haven’t seen in theaters since the re-release of Return of the Jedi. Perhaps there’s a bit of poetry in that, considering that TRoS mirrors RotJ a lot.
Anyway, my copy of the Blu-ray arrived late last week, and I finally sat down to watch the movie. I didn’t hate it. I can definitely see why people were disappointed. I echo a lot of the things Tara mentioned in her review – namely, the red herring regarding Rey’s parentage, the reveal that Palpatine was behind the whole thing despite no setup and no explanation, and the lack of acknowledgment of Finn’s Force sensitivity. My main issue with TRoS was that it wasn’t bad, per se, but it was a lot of “…WHAT?” moments – moments that had no buildup or payoff and came out of nowhere for no reason.
There’s a spy in the First Order and it’s Hux! …WHAT? Poe was actually a spice runner despite no mention of his shady past until this film! …WHAT? No, seriously, Palpatine somehow survived being thrown down a shaft in a space station that blew up and his followers somehow not only recovered his body but secreted it to a remote location no one else has ever found and there’s no indication of this at all in the first two movies. …SERIOUSLY, WHAT? Basically every death that happens seems to come out of nowhere. People are just dead.
The only “where did that come from” moment I appreciated was the flashback of Leia Force-training with Luke, because that’s an element of the original trilogy that wasn’t really explored until Leia “died” in The Last Jedi, and I was very happy to see that she had, in fact, trained to be a Jedi, and she abandoned it because she foresaw she would have to kill her own son.
But I’m not here to review the film, we’ve already done that. I’m here to review the Blu-ray. And let me tell you, The Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray is amazing.
By far the best bonus feature is “The Skywalker Legacy”, a feature-length documentary about the making of TRoS that is almost as long as the movie itself. “The Skywalker Legacy” is a must-watch for Star Wars fans; it intercuts file footage and interviews from the filming of the first trilogy with behind-the-scenes and interviews from the current trilogy. It is really fascinating to see how interviews from the 1980s from Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Billy Dee Williams, among others, still manage to apply to the films now.
The documentary basically goes in chronological order of the movie, focusing on different aspects and moments of filming, and there is an entire segment on Carrie and how they could best honor her. Carrie, sadly, died before principal photography on TRoS began, and the film was meant to be Leia’s story, so they had the challenge of trying to figure out how to craft a story about Leia without Leia. It was really interesting to see how they utilized unused footage from The Force Awakens and re-built her scenes around it.
“The Skywalker Legacy” also gives some insight into some of the more controversial decisions from the film, such as the return of Palpatine. Listening to the reasoning behind it, I can sort of understand why they brought him back, but I wish they had dropped more hints (or any hints) in the first two films that foreshadowed him being behind it.
The other featurettes average about seven minutes in length. “Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase” is a very interesting look at the iconic land speeder chase and everything that went into it. While fascinating, this was my least favorite of the featurettes, probably because there is already a lot about this scene in “The Skywalker Legacy”.
“Aliens in the Desert” is a behind-the-scenes look at everything that went into filming the Pasaana scenes, which were filmed on location in Jordan. The sheer scale and engineering marvel that it took to create those scenes is extraordinary. They had to make roads, and to prevent people from getting lost, they color-coded them. They brought in the Jordanian army to help build structures. There are even interviews with the royal family of Jordan.
I cheered at the end of TRoS when I saw the Ewoks, but the scene was so quick that I didn’t even realize I was looking at Wicket until I watched the “Warwick & Son” featurette, which is all about Warwick Davis returning to the role that launched his career, this time with his son, Harrison, in tow. In it, Warwick talks about how he’s basically begged to be a part of every film since, calling up the producers and going, “If you have a short character, I’m interested.” This featurette also includes some footage from the filming of RotJ, when Warwick was about the age his son is now.
“D-O: Key to the Past” is a look at Ochi’s ship, the ship on which Rey’s parents were killed. This was a nice little throwback to TFA, which was the first time we saw this particular ship. This featurette is all about what went into crafting a new ship but still giving it a definitive Star Wars look, as well as explaining what went into the creation of BB-8’s new best friend, D-O.
My favorite of the featurettes was “Cast of Creatures”, and honestly I felt this one could have been much longer than its approximate 8-minute run time. Obviously, there is talk of the creature-building in “The Skywalker Legacy”, but this is one of my most favorite aspects of filmmaking, and I would have loved to see more of the design, makeup, and costuming process than we were given.
Honestly, buying The Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray is worth it for “The Skywalker Legacy” documentary alone, but the other featurettes are nice little bonuses. The movie wasn’t everything I hoped it would be, but that documentary was nothing short of spectacular.
The Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray will be available on March 31, 2020, but The Rise of Skywalker is currently available digitally on Apple TV and iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNow and Movies Anywhere.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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