Blu-ray Set Review: ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook’

The Best Buy exclusive Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook

On March 31, Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) and Lucasfilm Ltd. released the Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook three-disc set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker exclusively through Best Buy. This bundle presents director J.J. Abrams’ 2019 film – the conclusion of both the Sequel Trilogy and the nine-film Skywalker Saga – in two Blu-ray formats (ultra-high definition 4K and 1080p high definition) and stores it in a collectible metal container with art by Lucasfilm artists Andrée Wallin and Stephen Tappin.

Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion to the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come. – Promotional blurb on the packaging materials, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook

Like BVHE’s previous steelbook releases (Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi), this edition of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a three-disc set. The 2019 film is presented in two different formats (UHD 4K and HD 1080p), while the Bonus Features disc is in the 1080p format. This is the same multiformat mix found in the 2018 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Steelbook; the earlier (2016) Star Wars: The Force Awakens Steelbook Edition is the only one with a standard definition (SD) DVD rather than a UHD 4K Blu-ray in its mix of discs.

Though it was released simultaneously with BVHE’s other Blu-ray editions (including the two-disc Multi-Screen Edition and the Best Buy exclusive 27-disc Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga), the Steelbook Edition differs from the other bundles in several ways.

The Multi-Screen Edition 2-disc Blu-ray set. (C) 2020 Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

The most obvious is the packaging: a metal Blu-ray case that holds the three discs of this particular bundle of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It’s a standard-sized case, almost identical in size – if not quite the same look – as 20th Century Fox’s 2015 Limited Edition Steelbook releases of the first six Star Wars Episodes.

The cover art by Andrée Wallin and Stephen Tappin is derived from the production painting titled “The Final Confrontation. By necessity, it’s a “wraparound” design that encompasses the entire package, meaning that Kylo Ren (the dark side persona assumed by Ben Solo) is featured on the front cover, while Rey, the last Jedi, is shown on the back cover of the metal container.

When you open the steelbook, you’ll find that the HD Blu-ray (the old school one, shall we say) is stored in the left-hand compartment formed by the inside of the container’s cover. Its label art features a grim Rey on the arid world of Pasaana, as well as the film’s title, running time, and various logos, including Lucasfilm’s.

In the right-hand compartment, you’ll find two Blu-rays. The one on the top is the 4K UHD Blu-ray with the feature film. Its label is bisected; the top half features a conflicted and soaked Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) on the remains of the second Death Star which have come to rest on the seas of Kef Bir. The logos, film title, and the running time (“Approx.142 mins.”) are printed here, while a small section of the label is all in black and bears such indicia as Ultra-HD 4K, the MPAA rating (PG-13), and the Dolby Labs logo, just to name a few.

Behind the 4K UHD disc, there’s the Bonus Features disc, which is a 1080p HD Blu-ray and sports a label with a black-and-white shot of director J.J. Abrams looking up at Joonas Suotamo, the Finnish-born basketball player-turned-actor who played Chewbacca in The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As with the feature film Blu-rays, the label also sports the iconic Star Wars logo, trademark and copyright “small print,” and the Lucasfilm logo.

The Steelbook package also includes an insert with a Movies Anywhere code for the digital copy. Redeeming this code not only allows you to download or stream Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on a digital device (PC, tablet, or smartphone), but it also unlocks an exclusive bonus feature available only with this release.

That bonus feature is The Maestro’s Finale, which is described thusly:

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.

My Take

When I purchased Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s Multi-Screen Edition two-disc set at Best Buy’s online site via pre-order, I also bought the Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook. Not so much because I needed the 4K UHD disc (more on this in a bit), but because I needed to complete my collection of steelbooks with the Star Wars saga that I started almost five years ago.

Promo for the 2015 Limited Edition Steelbooks for the first six Star Wars movies. (C) 2015 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Back in the fall of 2015, while I was still scrambling to cope with my mother’s death and the aftermath, I bought 20th Century Fox’s “Limited Edition Steelbook” reissues of the first six Star Wars films on Blu-ray. It was, I suppose, a purchase decision based more on emotion than logic; I already owned two different versions of what Fox and Lucasfilm then called the Star Wars: The Complete Saga, so I already had the same Blu-rays that came with the steelbooks.

But I’m not just a Star Wars fan, I’m also a collector. And because adding new items to my collection gives me an emotional rush, I overruled my usual instincts to avoid spending money unnecessarily. After all, I was looking at an uncertain future – and possibly a lonely, harsh one at that – and missing my mother. As long as I paid my other bills (which at the time included utilities, food, and homeowners’ association fees, not to mention food), I was entitled to splurge on nice things every so often.

I ordered my first set of Star Wars steelbooks – despite a last moment’s hesitation – from Amazon late in September of 2015. I received them in one shipment in mid-November, and I’ve had them ever since. They are one-disc editions with the George Lucas era and represent 20th Century Fox Home Entertainments last effort to market those iconic films before the distribution rights to five of them – Fox owned the original Star Wars film in perpetuity at the time – passed over to The Walt Disney Company and its home media arm, Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

When I made the life-changing decision to move out of my old house in 2016, I dithered about getting the steelbooks for the Sequel Trilogy, at least for a while. Then, in 2017, the year that Star Wars celebrated its 40th anniversary, I broke down and bought The Force Awakens’ steelbook. Late in 2019, as the premiere date for The Rise of Skywalker approached, I bought the one for The Last Jedi, which marked my first purchase of a UHD 4K Blu-ray.

I have, of course, reviewed the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Multi-Screen Edition Blu-ray and its extras elsewhere. I’ve also reviewed the film itself separately. And since my UHD 4K television set and all of its peripherals are still in their original packaging till the room for which they are intended is refurbished, I can’t review the 4K disc just yet. So, yeah. Basically this review is more about the packaging rather than the content.

For what it’s worth, the 2020 Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is nice. Its design is different from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s 2015 steelbooks; those had portraits of single characters (five villains, one Jedi) on the front cover panel, details from poster art on the back. None of the BVHE/Lucasfilm steelbooks carried this style over, although the one for The Force Awakens came close.

As I mentioned above, the art on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker steelbook is not the same as the one on the other, less expensive and more widely released Multi-Screen Edition. In addition to the movie’s logo (a large rendition of the Star Wars sign, with the film’s subtitle The Rise of Skywalker placed, in smaller letters, betwixt the STAR and the WARS, as is the standard practice in Sequel Trilogy marketing), the front cover shows Kylo Ren’s menacing masked form facing off against the back cover’s unmasked Rey.

As I mentioned in my description of the product, the wraparound art is a detail from a production painting by Lucasfilm Art Department artists Andrée Wallin and Stephen Tappin titled The Final Confrontation. It’s dramatic, exciting, and clearly captures the film’s main focus on the Force dyad formed by Rey and Kylo Ren.

Overall, as both a collector and Star Wars fan, I like BVHE and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook. I don’t have too many other multi-discs sets in metal containers, but of the ones I do own, I am partial toward the Star Wars ones.

I do wish that BVHE had made their design for the art a bit more consistent with the 2015 Fox steelbooks, but the two companies were still separate entities when those were originally released. Even though Disney-owned Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox shared Star Wars at the time, Fox and Disney weren’t even talking about a merger yet, so they were still corporate rivals. So when BVHE released the Sequel Trilogy steelbooks, it was under no obligation to follow Fox’s lead.

Still, the steelbooks sort of all go together, even though just by looking at the spines you can tell that the last three BVHE collectible sets are different from their Fox “cousins.”

I give this release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as a Limited Edition Collectible Steelbook a hearty “must get” for anyone who likes Star Wars or well-designed collectibles. Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm have done well with their Star Wars home media releases so far, and this steelbook is no exception.

Until next time, Dear Reader, I’ll close for now. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And may the Force be with you…always.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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