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PHOTOGRAPHY

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  136 minutes, making-of documentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, digital HD copy, bonus digital only deleted scene, DVD

VIDEO: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition

AUDIO: English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (blu-ray), English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 Dolby Digital (DVD)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

 

STUDIO: Lucasfilm/ Disney/ Bad Robot

Theatrical RELEASE DATE: 12-27-2015

Blu-ray/ DVD RELEASE DATE: 4-5-2016

The replacement of the Empire, the First Order, hunts for the missing Luke Skywalker and they capture a pilot who has a vital clue to where Luke has disappeared to.  The pilot’s droid, BB-8, befriends Rey (Daisy Ridley) who was left stranded as a child and waits for her parents to return to Jakku one day.  One of the First Order’s Stormtroopers has a change of heart and plans his escape along with breaking out the captured pilot.  The ex-Stormtrooper is named Finn (John Bogeya) and he teams up with Rey as they race to get the important data that the BB-8 has while they avoid the pursuing forces of the First Order led by the dark warrior Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).  They meet some familiar faces along the way as the stage may be set for a new battle between the dark and light sides of the Force while the First Order looks to crush the Resistance (funded by the Republic) once and for all.

 

The new STAR WARS movie which continues about thirty years after RETURN OF THE JEDI is a mixed bag since it does as many things right as it does wrong.   It nails the original trilogy characters spot on in terms of how they speak and react in this movie.  Harrison Ford is really having fun as Han Solo in THE FORCE AWAKENS as his long term friendship/ partnership with Chewbacca really is a great thing to see.  Daisy Ridley is one of the stand outs as one of the new characters as you wonder who her parents are as the latest movie never really answers that (to probably be revealed in a future movie by a certain character).   John Bogeya is underwhelming as Finn while Adam Driver is more impressive as Kylo Ren with the mask on than without it.   Snook is the mysterious power behind the first Order which they are going to reveal more in the next two chapters of this new trilogy.  Some characters you don’t get enough like Poe Dameron where other characters like Captain Phasma seem like glorified cameo lip service along with other actor cameos you will recognize.

 

Then you have a story that is a mix of a greatest hits package of the STAR WARS saga along with being a repeat of past films.   It does set the stage for some new myth building along with borrowing from other myth building you have seen in the other six STAR WARS movies (which George Lucas borrowed from other sources anyway).   You also have the big giant weapon that happens to have vegetation and snow on it which makes you wonder if this Nazi-like evil empire called the First Order even bothered to learn from the mistakes of the empire when they had their two Death Stars blown up.   THE FORCE AWAKENS is impressive with its nostalgia and small details along with bringing back many of the old characters.   Hopefully, Rian Johnson will bring many new things to say to Episode VIII along with a story that doesn’t have so many plot holes that the Sarlaac can’t digest them all. No matter what I say in this review, I do think people will highly regard Episode VII despite its narrative flaws.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

All of the physical extras on the blu-ray bonus disc and yet there is a large amount of extras not included on this blu-ray edition which makes me think they are saving it for a double dip to be released in time for STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE or STAR WARS EPISODE VIII.  The extras not in this edition include the theatrical trailers, the TV spots, up to possibly additional deleted scenes (including the one which is digital only when you enter your digital movie code), the Force For Change spots, the online featurettes, audio commentaries, and art galleries. The previous STAR WARS DVDs and blu-rays released under 20th Century Fox deliver better in the extras department and I hope Disney/ Lucasfilm abandon this double dip nonsense and go all out special edition with future blu-rays of STAR WARS movies since fans really appreciate not having to buy the thing all over again of movies that will keep on selling anyway.

 

SECRETS OF THE FORCE AWAKENS: A CINEMATIC JOURNEY (69 minutes)- a four chapter making-of documentary

THE STORY AWAKENS: THE TABLE READ-

BUILDING BB-8- a behind-the-scenes look at how they built the BB-8 prop which is sometimes moved by people and sometimes just by radio control

BLUEPRINT OF A BATTLE: THE SNOW FIGHT- a behind-the-scenes look at the lightsaber fight which they built a set for

JOHN WILLIAMS: THE SEVENTH SYMPHONY- John Williams talks about various themes he created for various scenes in THE FORCE AWAKENS

ILM: THE VISUAL MAGIC OF THE FORCE- interviews with the artists of ILM, the director of the movie, and producer Kathleen Kennedy; and behind-the-scenes footage showing the various elements that go into the various special effects sequences.  This isn’t quite the in-depth special effects piece which it could have been.

 

Six deleted scenes (about five minutes total) which I hope they remove the time code in time for the special edition double dip and there is the before mentioned additional deleted scene which is a digital only extra (I hope Disney doesn’t split up the deleted scenes like this for future STAR WARS blu-rays).

 

FORCE FOR CHANGE featurette about the Force For Change charity initiative which talks about the campaign while showing clips from the Force For Change spots not included on the blu-ray and the impact the charity campaign had for various charities

 

A code to download a digital HD copy of the movie and access the digital only deleted scene

 

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS movie on DVD in standard definition

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is a better STAR WARS movie in some aspects than the prequels, but in other ways it doesn’t have a solid plot follow through like the prequels and original trilogy did, but the emotional storylines for the characters are as good as the original trilogy.  I think I like the movie better on my second viewing (I saw it once in the movie theater).  The extras are incomplete which means Lucasfilm/ Disney have a special edition double dip planned for the future.

 

This review is 3-29-2016 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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