This is the one with Maclunkey.
For decades, Star Wars fans have been collecting new versions of Star Wars trilogies on all physical media formats. VHS, laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, THX editions, Special Editions, Complete Sagas—you name it and fans have bought it. There are probably a dozen different versions of Star Wars out there on physical media but, in a way, they’ve all been leading to this one.
Tuesday, March 31 marks the home video release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Lucasfilm has taken the occasion to also release a $250, Best Buy-exclusive box set called Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. It’s a 27-disc set that features all nine saga movies getting three discs each (Blu-ray, 4K, and bonus features).
Here’s the good news. The set is gorgeous. Like truly beautiful. Here are some photos of the packaging:
Inside, each movie is given a two-page spread complete with beautiful concept art. And, of course, there’s THAT first page...
And then, for the bonus features, the discs are put together with black and white set photos.
Outside of the aesthetic, obviously you want to know: If you have other Star Wars Blu-rays, do you need this one? The answer really depends. The 4K releases of the movies, all together, is the biggest selling point here. I don’t have a 4K Blu-ray player or solid music system, so I can’t really speak too much to the audio or picture quality. I do know that when I watched a certain scene on both the 2019 release as well as the 2011 release, the 2019 Blu-rays absolutely looked clearer and better defined.
While I’m not much for digging into the sound or picture, I can dig into the more superficial stuff, like the menus and the special features. The first eight movies all have new menus that make them look uniform and pretty. The Rise of Skywalker menu more or less fits in with that scheme but I wouldn’t call it “new” considering this is the first time it’s been released.
In terms of special features, the Sequel Trilogy films have the exact same special features that have previously been released, with the one asterisk being that J.J. Abrams’ Director’s Commentary that was not on the original Force Awakens disc is on this version. So that’s a plus.
The prequel and sequel trilogies have the same (very, very good) special features previously released on the 2011 “Complete Saga” release, with the addition of two to three new featurettes each, which vary depending on each film. Each new featurette ranges around three to 10 minutes each, so every movie has roughly 10-15 minutes of new material on each disc, most of which relates to design. Do you need to see any of it? Not really, but if you’re a completist it’s nice that there’s at least something new.
One other interesting thing to note is that The Beginning, the excellent feature-length documentary on the making of The Phantom Menace, which was not on the 2011 release, is on this one. However, the 2011 set came with a whole other disc of longer documentaries that don’t seem to be here. So don’t get rid of that set just yet.
You also get digital codes for all the movies—which is welcome—and this lovely little letter from Mark Hamill.
Overall, I’m calling The Skywalker Saga a mixed bag. Yes, it’s beautifully presented with 4K versions of the movies, but most of the bells and whistles have been out there for years. If you’ve been buying previous versions of these films or have Disney+ for 4K, you don’t need this. It’s nice. But unessential. On the other hand, if you didn’t buy 2011 Blu-rays in the hopes something like this would come along, I do think the collected features overall make it worth it.
The set is available at this link.
Update: Reader Roderick Long emailed me to point out that the deleted scenes for the prequels were different on the previous DVD and Blu-ray sets and wanted to know if this set, finally, included the full collection of deleted scenes from both releases.
The answer to that question is no, but also, kind of.
For all three prequel films, the deleted scenes from the Blu-ray are there, as well as most of the ones from the DVD...but not all. For example, Phantom Menace is missing “Dawn Before the Race” and “Farewell to Jira” while Revenge of the Sith is missing the first and last part of the Rebel Alliance subplot, but has the middle one. Very weird indeed.
Keep your old sets.
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