Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise Of Skywalker 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 249, April/May 2020

WSR Score4.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Sci-fi violence and action
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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J.J. Abrams
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker" is the conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come. (Gary Reber)

Special features include "The Skywalker Legacy" documentary (HD 126:11); the featurettes "Pasaana Pursuit: Creating The Speeder Chase" (HD 14:16), "Aliens In The Desert" (HD 05:59), "D-O: Key To The Past" (HD 05:33), "Warwick & Son" (HD 05:37) and "Cast Of Creatures" (HD 07:46) and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed on Kodak Vision3 film stock in anamorphic Panavision® Super 70 using the Arriflex 435 ES, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2 and Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio camera systems and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. Theatrically, the movie was presented in 3D with conversion by Stereo D, but no 3D Blu-ray was provided for review. Throughout, the production design is amazing, though, a bit digital looking. Resolution is fantastic, with an incredible spectrum of nuances in textural renderings. Closeups are finely detailed, including all manner of facial features, costumes, and objects, as in the "Star Wars" tradition of imaginative imaging. The wide color gamut reveals an incredible range of hues and nuanced shadings with perfect saturation. 3PO's golden body is a standout. Fleshtones appear natural. HDR contrast is superb and in constant flux. Black levels are deep and shadow delineation is revealing of effective depth and textural rendering. The star field is effectively pronounced. Illumination of white levels and spotlighting ranges from subtle to intense. In one scene, Kylo Ren, clad in "Dark Vader" black, telepathically communicates with Rey while standing in an intensely bright white room. WOW! segments are from 21:36 to 24:55, 45:32 to 46:24, 59:36 to 01:01:01, 01:13:32 to 01:17:53 and 01:59:11 to 02:00:11. This is a very satisfying but digital-appearing experience that exhibits at times reference picture quality segments. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack requires a level adjustment to achieve true reference levels. Once adjusted, the soundtrack delivers constant dynamic range variations with aggressive directionalization of atmospherics and sound effects. This creates a spatially dimensional holosonic® experience with actively discrete atmospherics and sound effects panning and positioning throughout. Sound effects, such as the sound of Starship Destroyers, are bolstered with sharp bass transients and deep extension, at times deepening to sub-25 Hz, especially via .1 LFE energy, which further intensifies the excitement. Bass provides a powerful foundation to the entire soundtrack. John Williams' trademark orchestral score is dynamic and extremely expansive throughout the soundfield with a wide and deep soundstage, with precisely localized instruments and sections. Dialogue is often effectively integrated spatially but at times forward sounding or unintelligible. One scene has directionalized discrete dialogue positioning.

The Immersive Sound element is comprised of an extension of the orchestral score plus intermittent atmospherics and sound effects such as Star Fighters panned flights, light saber sound effects, Starship rumblings, snake hiss, screeching and explosive sounds during a spacecraft crash, moving ceiling sounds, a light speed blast, waterfall drippings, rumbling reverberations, clanking noises, faint Chubaca mumblings, laser firings, and other instantaneously brief, at times nuanced, indescribable sound effects. Without the music extension, this is a very weak height layer effort, with an incredible amount of opportunity ignored.

This "Star Wars" soundtrack does not disappoint, at least in the holosonic® 7.1 format and delivers a dynamic presence with plenty of nuanced atmospherics and strong sound effects to engage the listener. (Gary Reber)