Release Date: Available on Blu-ray & DVD April 5, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10 Disc Rating: 9/10
Lucasfilm and visionary director J.J. Abrams join forces to take you back again to a galaxy far, far away as Star Wars returns to the big screen with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Picking up approximately thirty years after the events which occurred in ‘Return of the Jedi’, it is a dark time once again in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ as while the Empire along with its leaders may have been eradicated, a new evil has arisen known as the First Order. Commanded by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (Serkis) with a savage masked warrior named Kylo Ren (Driver) trained in the dark side at the front and center of its vicious and continuing attacks. Desperate to stop the threat before it’s too late General Leia Organa (Fisher) and the Resistance have sent their best pilot Poe Dameron (Isaac) on a secret mission for a map which supposedly leads to the location of the infamous Luke Skywalker (Hamill) who vanished some time ago and may now be their final hope. Captured by the First Order and rescued by a storm trooper named Finn (Boyega) who has begun to question the First Order and their sadistic ways, Finn is forced to continue the fight when Poe vanishes. As Finn finds himself stranded on the Desert world of Jakku, he meets a young scavenger named Rey (Ridley) who happens to be in possession of Poe’s droid and may also be far more than she seems, the two setting off on a quest to get the droid containing the map with Skywalker’s location to the resistance and coincidentally enlisting the legendary Han Solo (Ford) and Chewbacca (Mayhew) to assist.
Directed by J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek 2009) who also co-wrote the script along with Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back)and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), Abrams does an impressive job at the helm of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ perfectly capturing the tone and operatic scope of this galaxy that continues to enthrall us. The seventh installment in the saga is also perfectly complimented by the talented collection of new and returning cast members including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie and Max von Sydow among others, all of who deliver more than competent performances in each of their respective roles, while some returning cast members such as Ford fall back into their roles so effectively it’s hard to imagine it’s been a year, let alone more than three decades since they last portrayed them.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is a solid addition to the saga and Abrams has delivered a film that exudes the atmosphere and context of a true addition to the series in every possible way, perfectly capturing the tone, wonder and sense of adventure that is Star Wars. Introducing new and old fans alike to a collection of wonderfully unique and interesting new characters who play off of each other and the returning cast beautifully, with such classic returning stars as Harrison Ford falling back into their infamous shoes so flawlessly it’s as if they never left them, effortlessly bridging the notable time gap between episodes VI and VII. The only real issue the film suffers is its tendency to fall back on many elements of episode IV (or the original Star Wars) which begins to surpass a typical nod to another entry and occasionally comes off a bit lazy and uninspired, yet it’s largely forgivable when compared to just how much the film got spot on. The fantastic balance of practical and digital effects in addition to the enormous and detailed sets utilized also help to really set this entry apart as a unique and heartfelt addition in the world of Star Wars which could only be capable from a director such as Abrams who is a large fan themselves.
Star Wars fans will almost certainly want to make sure to pick up a copy of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on Blu-ray to add to their collections. The Blu-ray release delivers outstanding high definition video and audio presentations in addition to an entire disc dedicated to bonus content including a Feature length behind the scenes look at the film in ‘Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey’, along with a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film and more, likely to make this a definite must own, at least for the fellow Star Wars fanatics. Those who enjoy the world of Star Wars in general and didn’t have the opportunity to catch this one in theaters will likely want to pick up a copy as well, if not at the very least dish out the cash for a rental, it’s more than worth it.
Overall, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ may suffer from some mild issues, but the positive easily outweighs the negative and Abrams has delivered an enjoyable and exciting return to the world so many of us love and introducing some truly memorable new characters along the way. This is another entry in the Star Wars saga that fans are almost certain to appreciate and want to experience time and again. The Blu-ray release delivers impressive high definition video and audio presentations along with an entire disc dedicated to extras, sure to make this release a must own for fans and fellow fanatics of that glorious galaxy far, far away. Those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of this fantastic sequel will want to make sure and check it out as soon as you’re able, you definitely won’t want to miss out on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks phenomenal, providing a sharp, detailed and gorgeous presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be found within thanks to the dedicated discs for the film and bonus content which allows for a more than adequate bitrate. It holds up impressively even during the constant fast moving and heavily populated sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that should easily thrill the fans and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds wonderful, providing a consistently crisp, clean and wildly aggressive audio presentation. Constantly utilizing all seven available to channels in order to surround the viewer with John Williams’ gorgeous score in addition to plenty of spacecrafts and blaster shots whipping throughout the various speakers, along with light sabers crackling as twisted about and a great deal more, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is an outstanding and immersive 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that contributes a great deal more fun to the overall viewing experience and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ includes a number of enjoyable extras, all of which can be found on the second Blu-ray disc which is dedicated solely to the supplemental material. The release includes a Feature length look into the making of the film with ‘Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey’ (running approximately 1 hour and 9 minutes in length) which includes behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew and more. We are also treated to a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film (running approximately 4 minutes altogether), along with some shorter behind the scenes Featurettes exploring different aspects of the film; the included Featurettes are: ‘The Story Awakens: The Table Read’ (approximately 4 minutes), ‘Crafting Creatures’ (10 minutes), ‘Building BB-8’ (6 minutes), ‘Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight’ (7 minutes), ‘ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force’ (8 minutes), and ‘John Williams: The Seventh Symphony’ (7 minutes). A promotional video for the Lucasfilm fundraiser ‘Force for Change’ (3 minutes) which also features some behind the scenes footage from the film is also included.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’; Arriving On Blu-ray & DVD April 5, 2016 & Now Available On Digital HD From Disney & Lucasfilm