By George Bate
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker landed on Digital HD earlier than expected, with Disney releasing the final film in the Skywalker Saga a few days prior to it’s previously set Tuesday March 17th date. Along with the film, the release includes a variety of special features, including a full length documentary titled The Skywalker Legacy.
While the film itself was met with extremely divisive reviews, we at Star Wars Holocron enjoyed the film to varying degrees. One of us loved the movie, putting it in his top three Star Wars films, while I myself loved elements of the film, but found it slightly underwhelming. The digital release is great, however, in that it allows us to revisit and, therefore, reevaluate the film months after its theatrical release. Just the ability to pause the movie and rewind it to replay scenes is amazing for a film like The Rise of Skywalker as it has so many memorable, powerful scenes. From Ben’s conversation with his father to Lando’s arrival on Exegol to Rey adopting the Skywalker name on Tatooine, The Rise of Skywalker is full of rewatchable, emotionally resonant scenes that tie the trilogy together nicely.
Moving to the special features, the main attraction is the aforementioned documentary entitled “The Skywalker Legacy.” Most of the recent Star Wars releases have made a tradition of well edited, powerful documentaries detailing the making of the film more intricately and the broader themes of the film and the saga. In particular, the documentary accompanying The Last Jedi’s digital release was really interesting. “The Skywalker Legacy” follows its predecessor’s pattern by delivering another entertaining, insightful documentary. Little reveals in the documentary like Alec Guinness’ granddaughter making a cameo appearance, the black beans used for the quick sand on Pasaana, and Kurosawa’s influence on Kijimi, add so much to the enjoyment of the movie and really cements, regardless of one’s opinion of the film, how much thought and effort when into its creation.
As with other Star Wars home video releases, The Rise of Skywalker includes other special features dedicated to the creation of all the different creatures and aliens seen in the film. Interesting species have been a highlight of Star Wars since 1977 and it’s great to see this tradition continue with the sequel trilogy, emphasizing novel aliens and creatures primarily achieved with practical effects. The special features “Cast of Creatures” and “Aliens in the Desert” demonstrates this creativity in creature creation and offers new looks at characters only briefly seen in the background of the film.
Other special features included in this release are entertaining, albeit brief and more surface level. “Warwick and Son,” highlighting Warwick and Harrison Davis portraying Wicket and his son respectively in the film is a nice little tribute to Davis’ legacy in the franchise and worth a watch for die hard Star Wars fans. For those who particularly enjoy the mechanics behind the making of movies, the “Pasaana Pursuit” special feature offers unique insights into how the scene was filmed and the intricate planning it required to come off so smoothly. The John Williams special feature that is a digital exclusive is an Academy Awards-esque tribute to the composer’s eternal legacy with the franchise. It’s entertaining and moving, although quite short.
Lacking on the home release of The Rise of Skywalker are deleted scenes and a director’s commentary. I’m personally not a big fan of deleted scenes as they’re often hard to situate within a film and appear unfinished or unrefined, but it would’ve been nice to see some of the scenes left on the cutting board. We know from leaks, concept art, and the novelization that there are scenes that were filmed that did not appear in the final cut, such as Kylo speaking to an oracle on Mustafar, so it’s a shame that some of these scenes aren’t available for viewing (for the time being), especially given how relentlessly fast paced the film is overall. Moreover, hopefully a director’s commentary for the film is released at some point, similar to how The Force Awakens’ 3D release included a director’s commentary that the original Blu-Ray release did not. JJ Abrams’ and Rian Johnson’s commentaries of the previous sequel trilogy films were great as they gave a chance for the directors / writers to explain the reasoning behind some of the choices in their films and add little tidbits regarding the making of the film. Let’s hope that, at some point, deleted scenes and commentaries become available.
Overall, The Rise of Skywalker digital release is worth a look for even moderate fans of the film. Divisive films like this are ripe for revisiting as it provides the opportunity to reevaluate your initial opinion and notice things you previously missed. Most of the special features, in particular the commentary, are well worth viewing for even casual fans of Star Wars and hopefully add to one’s appreciation of the care taken to make these movies. As noted, the home release is distinctly lacking deleted scenes and a commentary, but, other than that, the special features are entertaining and interesting. Moving forward, it’ll be intriguing to see how The Rise of Skywalker is re-evaluated, as The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens were, now that people have access to the final installment in the Skywalker saga at home.