DIGITAL HD REVIEW: Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Due to the Conronavirus, Disney has released the digital HD copy of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker just a little bit early so that people could have more entertainment at home.
The story takes place a few years after the events of The Last Jedi. Our heroes - Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) - are now established members of the Resistance who go to investigate a "phantom menace" (if you will) that threatens the group.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker represents the 9th and final film in the Skywalker Saga. Sadly, while the film is fun, it was a disappointing end to a story that has spanned over 43 years in the making.
Before I go into this review, I wanted to warn that there will be SPOILERS. So, if you still have not seen the film, you might want to come back later.
Part of the problem was that the filmmakers tried to incorporate too much of the supposed fan feedback. Fan service is often a nice thing, but I felt JJ Abrams and company ultimately did not get to tell the story they ultimately wanted to tell. There were storylines that lead to nowhere while others seemingly came out of nowhere.
For example, Rey's parentage. She ends up being the granddaughter of Palpatine which seemed odd to me for a variety of reasons. It just seems to come out of nowhere. Palpatine had not had a presence in the first two episodes of the sequel trilogy, yet here he was having secretly amassed an armada of Star Destroyers capable of Death Star power. Where? How? Why? You mean not even Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Supreme Leader of the First Order, knew about this? Weird.
Another storyline that seemed extraneous was Jannah (Naomi Ackie) and the exiled Stormtroopers living on the ocean planet Kef Bir. This was an interesting storyline, but it ultimately went nowhere. We learned very little about this group other than being people that Finn related to. I would have loved to have seen more of it.
Another big disappointment for me was that they seemingly dropped the character of Rose (Kellie Marie Tran) who I thought was a great addition to The Last Jedi. I'm assuming this was because of all the complaints about that movie, but I would have much rather seen more about how she grew as a character than adding extraneous ones like Zorri Bliss (Kerry Russell) who served very little purpose aside from having cool armor.
That said, the movie wasn't a complete disappointment. There were parts of the movie that I thought were quite nice, including making the movie about Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) despite the fact that the actress who played her passed away a couple years ago. Through older film footage and movie magic, they were able to conclude her storyline that I thought was meaningful and powerful.
I also enjoyed C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) in this film. With him missing for the majority of the sequel trilogy, it was nice seeing him have a greater role in a wonderfully fun way. I thought this was one of Daniels's finest performances.
And, frankly, Babu Frik is freaking adorable!
Sadly, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker moved at such a frenetic pace, akin to the pacing of the prequel trilogy, where Abrams tried to fit so much in the film. Perhaps it was the pressure of this being the last film in the saga that caused this. But, I would have much rather they slowed it down and logically concluded all the storylines opened by the trilogy on the whole.
Bonus Feature Review:
While there are surprisingly few bonus features included, what they did include were great, staring with the two hour making of documentary "The Skywalker Saga." If you are a fan of the bonus features on Star Wars films, this documentary falls very much in line with the likes of "The Beginning," "Empire of Dreams" and "The Director and The Jedi." There's a lot of great footage here and it's so fun to watch despite its run time.
"Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase" and "Aliens in the Desert" dealt with filming in Jordan of the Pasaana sequences of the movie. There is some fun footage in these two featurettes. And "D-O: Key to the Past" is serviceable with some cute anecdotes involving the newest droid.
Being a fan of Ewoks and Warwick Davis, I really enjoyed the featurette "Warwick & Son" which saw us get to see the famous actor working with his son in the scene at the end of the movie.
"Cast of Creatures" was a cool featurette. In this day where we are so used to creatures such as this being computer animated, it was fun to see how many practical effects were used. Even Maz Kanata and Babu Frik were practical characters!
Finally, as a digital exclusive, we have "The Maestro's Finale" which reflects on John Williams's storied career scoring the Skywalker Saga. It was a really loving tribute to the legend and well worth the watch.
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!
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.