Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens 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.
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.
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.
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.
Video: The Force Awakens looks incredible on Blu-ray. This is about as good as a live action film can look on the format.
Audio: Again, the audio was incredible.
Deleted Scenes (3:41): Six scenes in total are included on the Blu-ray and although all Star Wars is good Star Wars, none of these are going to answer any questions you might think the film brought up.
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey (1:09:13): This is an excellent and exhaustive four part documentary that covers everything you want to know about the making of the film, from how and why they chose certain settings to how they came to the decision to end the film the way they did. For those that can’t get enough of The Force Awakens, this is a nice addition to your third, fourth or twentieth time watching the film.
The Story Awakens (4:01): That black and white pic from the first table read was studied in detail when it first came out. This is a brief recap of the event.
Building BB-8 (6:02): The most famous new character gets his own 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.
Bluprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight (7:01): The climactic lightsaber duel gets its own featurette.
ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force (7:54): A brief look at some of the more complicated effects in the movie.
John Williams: The Seventh Symphony (6:50): A conversation with the iconic composer, who talks about the classic score and the new material he added for the film.
Force for Change (3:21): This featurette looks at some of the charity work the film inspired.`