Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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Visionary director J.J. Abrams brings to life the motion picture event of a generation. As Kylo Ren and the sinister First Order rise from the ashes of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is missing when the galaxy needs him most. It's up to Rey, a desert scavenger, and Finn, a defecting stormtrooper, to join forces with Han Solo and Chewbacca in a desperate search for the one hope of restoring peace to the galaxy.
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If you redeem your video through Amazon, the video does not show up in your digital library. Instead, you get an account credit for the price of the digital HD version on Amazon (just under $20). To redeem your video, go to this product page and "purchase" the video. The button you click will say "buy" and will have the price on it, but you won't be charged. Your account credit will be used to purchase the movie.
This isn't intuitive. I spent over half an hour trying to figure out why my video wasn't showing up in my digital library, which is logically where it should be. What makes this worse is that first you go to a Disney website to redeem the code that's inside the DVD case. When you do that and select Amazon to receive your video, you get an Amazon-specific code. The Disney website also includes an option to "link" a Disney account to your Amazon account. In trying to figure out why my video wasn't showing up in my Amazon digital library, I thought I might have to create a Disney account and link it to Amazon. So I created a Disney account and it indeed showed my code as redeemed, but it still wasn't in my Amazon library. I linked my Disney account to my Amazon account, thinking that would help, but it still wasn't there.
I figured out that the Amazon code basically gives you an account credit by finding some screen in Amazon's navigation (it's so far tucked away I can't even find it again) that shows you the balance equal to the price of the digital HD version. This balance is specific for digital video purchases. I'm not even sure if you have to purchase this movie to use the credit - I might have been able to use the credit to purchase the digital HD version of Rogue One - I don't know. But that's how it works. If anybody who has control over this process is reading, it's confusing because:
1) You first go through a Disney website and it's not clear if you should link your account to Amazon or not
2) Your movie doesn't show up in your digital library
3) The screen showing your account credit for digital videos is hard to find
4) To redeem your video, you click a button that says "buy" and has a price on it.
This is what you get with the Amazon Video HD version with bonus features, all in a single video with runtime of 4:17:33.
0:00:00-2:17:55 The film
2:17:56-3:27:23 Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey (documentary)
3:27:24-3:32:08 Deleted scenes
3:32:09-3:36:14 The Story Awakens: The Table Read
3:36:15-3:45:54 Crafting Creatures
3:45:55-3:52:02 Building BB-8
3:52:03-3:59:09 Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight
3:59:10-4:07:10 ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force
4:07:11-4:14:06 John Williams: The Seventh Symphony
4:14:07-4:17:33 Force for Change (charitable initiative)
The heart of the bonus features is the hour-and-ten-minute documentary, which I really enjoyed. I especially liked seeing more of Lupita Nyong'o and how they did Maz Kanata, and a little additional background/backstory on the motivations of Kylo Ren. It's just a pain to have to figure out where everything starts and stops.
The deleted scenes include: an outtake from the massacre on Jakku, a shot on the Resistance base that looks like it was intended to be Leia's introductory shot, chatter among Resistance fighter pilots, Kylo Ren on the Falcon, a speeder chase on Starkiller base, an injured Finn brought in for medical treatment, and stormtroopers catching Han, Finn, Chewie and Maz Kanata.
The technology exists to make bonus features separate files. I have a couple of seasons of Game of Thrones on Amazon, for example, and not only is each episode a separate file, all the bonus features can also be played separately. They could have figured out a way to bundle it like that for the convenience of the customer.
So I'm happy enough with it, I guess. But really, Amazon? Do you have to make things difficult for us?
UPDATE: Other reviewers and comments have pointed out there is a way to skip straight to desired scenes, including the extras. Go to the "X-Ray - View All" function and there you can click on "Scenes". This is helpful, but still not the best solution. There is no reason Amazon couldn't copy, paste and adapt the code it uses for TV series, with episodes and extras, to apply to bundles of films and their extras. This is a pretty simple programming task. As I said before, I like this package, and it's four stars. But it is definitely not the best solution.
Over the years I have seen my fandom for this legendary franchise decline. At this point in my life I am still a fan but, compared to so many films that I have seen, Star Wars is still just as enjoyable but, not elite. The first installment of this brand new sequel trilogy takes us 30 years after Episode VI. We get a new threat, the return of some legendary characters and a whole new bunch of heroes and heroines. The film is fun with everything that made the very first film great. However, it is similarities that this new film has to the very first film that make the film good but not great. The highlights of this film for me of course are BB-8, the return of Han Solo and the great blend of CGI and practical effects. What doesn't work for me is the heroes journey which have seen in Star Wars already.
I am not saying that this is a bad movie in the slightest. I personally wanted to see theses next three films work off of the Timothy Zahn books which I think would have made very original and thought provoking films. However, it is still great to have an excuse to go back to the theaters and see a Star Wars movie and I am looking forward to the next installment.