J.J.Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a somewhat disappointing conclusion to the decades-old franchise, favoring an overload of visual spectacle, pandering to fanservice and feeding our nostalgia itch over an engagingly good story. The final episode arrives on Blu-ray with a reference-quality video presentation, a satisfying DTS-HD MA soundtrack and an exhaustive set of supplements. The overall HD package is Recommended.
You can read our full thoughts on J.J.Abrams' Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker in our review of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment brings Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker to Blu-ray as a two-disc pack with a code for a Digital Copy. A pair of Region Free, BD50 discs sit comfortably on opposing panels with one containing the movie while the other hosts all the bonus features, and both are housed inside a blue, eco-vortex case with a lightly embossed, glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc commences with skippable trailers before switching to a menu screen with the standard options, music playing in the background and full-motion clips.
Episode IX crash lands on Blu-ray with an exceptionally beautiful and impressive 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, boasting outstanding contrast and brightness balance from beginning to end. Every scene is bright and vibrant with squeaky-clean whites in the clothing, the uniforms and in the clouds. Blacks are inky rich and true, providing the 2.39:1 image with excellent dimensionality and strong shadow detailing within the darkest corners.
At the same time, the video is razor-sharp, exposing pores, wrinkles and negligible blemishes. We can plainly make out every dent and smudge on the droids while hairs and whiskers on the humans are distinct, and the individual leaves and blades of grass are discrete. A few mildly softer moments are sprinkled here and there, but they're easily dismissed as inherent to the source and don't diminish from the overall quality. Awash in a very fine layer of natural grain, the HD presentation is ultimately beautiful and very film-like.
The freshly-minted transfer is continuously showered in sumptuous primaries, but blues dominate much of the action, such as in the lightsabers, aboard the First Order's starships and the spectacular climactic battle. Secondary hues are captivating with lots of earthy browns, tans and sepias on the sandy desert planets. The sequence on Pasaana brightens the screen with fiery oranges, magentas, fuschia and yellows in the clothing while again, the battle on Exegol glows with deep marigold oranges in explosions and bursts of purples and electrifying blues illuminating the dark sky. (Video Rating: 96/100)
Rise of Skywalker is yet another Disney release where listeners will have to raise the volume several decibels to fully enjoy what is otherwise an outstanding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. After adjusting the volume to reference level on my system, I quickly noted the higher frequencies are never pushed hard, even at such a high volume, almost as if the design was intentionally filtered.
Thankfully, the end result doesn't appear to suffer or feel as though lacking since the mid-range still exhibits plenty of clarity and strong definition in the score and during the loudest, action-packed segments. More impressive is the background activity convincingly moving into the off-screen space while also flawlessly panning into the surrounds, nicely expanding the soundfield with appreciable effectiveness and a satisfying sense of immersion. Of course, the climactic battle offers the best demo-worthy moment while still maintaining well-prioritized, precise vocals amid the fantastical chaos. Although not quite as demanding as the visuals would imply, the low-end nonetheless provides a palpable, weighty presence to the action and the music, making for a highly-enjoyable lossless mix. (Audio Rating: 92/100)
Rather than delivering a continuation of its predecessor, J.J.Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker strains to retcon the storyline by pandering to fanservice and expectations with absurd plot details that are of little consequence. With a vast ensemble cast and plenty of visually mesmerizing spectacle, the rose-tinted ninth episode in the series favors nostalgia over an engagingly good story, bringing the decades-old franchise to a somewhat disappointing finish. The final episode of the decades-old series crash lands on Blu-ray with a gorgeous, reference-quality video presentation and a satisfying DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Featuring an exhaustive set of supplements, the overall HD package makes a recommended addition for fans and completists of the Skywalker saga.