Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens 3D Blu-ray Review

When I first saw STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS in December, an epic battle brewed between the jaded critic and excited fanboy embedded in my brain.  The jaded critic couldn’t get past the striking similarities to A New Hope or Rey’s overnight mastering of the Force that took Luke years to master or the fact Kylo Ren acted like a spoiled, emo teenager that needed to be slapped around.  But the fanboy in me loved how much The Force Awakens brought back my love of Star Wars and how great it was to see Han, Chewy and Leia back in action.  In December, the jaded critic won out and I spent the subsequent months unable to appreciate what Abrams had accomplished.  But upon seeing the film again on Blu-ray, the excited fanboy made a Rocky II sized comeback and won out to where I can now say that even with some problems, The Force Awakens is a blast and exactly what the Star Wars universe needed.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

If there is a weakness with The Force Awakens, it’s with the fact it plays out like a direct replication of A New Hope.  From the Cantina scene to the dreaded wannabe Death Star, this feels like something we’ve seen before.  Although that’s bothersome from an originality standpoint, it’s not that big of a deal in the overall scope of the Star Wars universe.  Now, if Episode VIII and IX play out like V and VI respectively, then maybe history will judge The Force Awakens more harshly.  But for now, it was a perfect way to bring new audiences into the world of Star Wars while still appeasing the fans that made Star Wars the most successful franchise of all time.  That said, I can’t defend the “Starkiller Base” or what’s essentially a giant Death Star.  Is that the only weapon bad guys in the Star Wars universe know how to build?  Because that’s the third such device in the past 4 sequential Star Wars movies our heroes have had to battle.  I feel they could have found a different weapon that still allowed for the third act to play out.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

As great as it was seeing the old gang in action again, the highlight was seeing the new characters Abrams introduced us to.  I don’t know how Rey was able to master the force a couple of days after thinking it was a myth, but I’m guessing/hoping that will be explained in later films.  But Daisy Ridley did a good job with her role and I’m excited to see what Rey and Luke have in store for us.  And I disliked Kylo Ren because he was a weak villain compared to other dark Jedi’s we’ve met, but I did like Adam Driver’s performance.  Everyone else did a fine job as well and it’s clear the Star Wars universe is headed in the right direction, with or without the characters that made the original trilogy so great.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

It’s easy to find things to dislike about The Force Awakens if you dig deep enough and apply an overly critical eye to the film.  But the joy to be found in the film far outweighs any nitpicky problems.  This is the movie fans have been waiting over 30 years for and it easily washed away any leftover negative feelings hardcore Star Wars fans had from the prequels.  Star Wars is back and is headed in the right direction and that’s all we can ask for.

3D BLU-RAY REVIEW

I’m a huge fan of 3D and before writing this section of the review, I had to pause and go through every 3D title I’ve ever seen to make sure what I’m about to say is true.  After searching for something better, I’ve determined that this is the greatest 3D presentation I’ve ever seen on Blu-ray.  I think the closest challengers are from Pixar and maybe PACIFIC RIM, but the sharpness and efficiency of this 3D Blu-ray is just amazing.  It’s going to be hard to watch The Force Awakens any other way after this.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

This is labeled a Collector’s Edition and contains a slew of new features, all of which are included on the extra bonus disc (except the commentary, of course).  This set has all of the special features from the prior release, but I’m only covering the new features:

Commentary with J.J. Abrams: This is the track everyone wanted on the initial release and Abrams does not disappoint.  He gives a great commentary that all fans should give a listen to.

Deleted Scenes (5:48): Nine scenes in total are included here, which includes the three from the initial release and three new ones.  I was hoping for a major new scene, but the three new ones don’t add much.

Foley: A Sonic Tale (4:03): Some of the sound designers talk about crafting the many sound effects for a Star Wars film.

Sounds of the Resistance (7:15):  Not sure why this wasn’t wrapped into the above featurette, but a new group (including Abrams) talk about the sounds of Star Wars.

Dressing the Galaxy (6:27): The costumes get a closer focus in this featurette.

Crafting Creatures (9:33): One of the best parts of The Force Awakens was Abrams’ shunning of CGI in favor of more practical effects.  This featurette looks at some of the creatures in the film and the humans responsible for bringing them to life.

OVERALL 4.5
    MOVIE REVIEW
    BLU-RAY REVIEW

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