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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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I found the packaging very well done and much like the recent steelbook editions for I - VI.
You get all the formats in one package, 1 DVD edition of the movie located on left side when you open it, 2 Blu-rays on right side. One is the film, the other is the Special Features or Bonus Features, then the digital download copy insert.
The Blu-ray looks fantastic on the Ultra 4K 55"! The sound is awesome at English 7.1 DTS HD, plus other languages at 5.1 DTS HD.
******** ALL STAR WARS BLURAYS PLAY 2160p if you have a 4K TV of any make and an UPSCALING 4K BLURAY PLAYER *********
NO NEED TO WAIT FOR A PHYSICAL 4K DISC OR PAY SEVERAL HUNDRED FOR A 4K PLAYER.
ALL VII are STUNNING !! (I have a Sony 3D 4K upscaling Bluray player, 2016 model, bought at about $90 at local retailer)
**The following may contain "spoilers" if you have not seen it by now **
It is basically 30 years after the Battle of Endor and remnants of the Old Empire have regrouped and formed "The First Order".
Luke is in hiding and the "Resistance" is led by General Leia among others. A new "enemy" has emerged as well for the "Dark Side", Kylo Ren, but he is no Sith, not yet anyway. Old favorites are back from the original series as well as the droids from all 6 prior movies. A new droid makes it's appearance, BB-8 and is really a good character. "Rey", a scavenger, may just yet find that she has "Force" abilities she may or may not be completely aware of until the very end.
There are familiar situations, etc. that "take you back" to the past, for certain. That didn't bother me, really.
Hey, as long as I didn't see JarJar Binks in this one, I am a much happier SW fan. lol
If you really want a nice package for your Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Movie, you really should get the Steelbook Edition and to compliment your other 6, if you have them.
I have attached the photos to my review below!
The back cover to the steelbook is a picture of Captain Phasma. Kylo Ren and his red lightsaber are on the front...
Inside is a battle scene of the Millenium Falcon flying and getting shot at from a pair of Tie Fighters.
** NOTE ** ALL Special Features in this set are on the BLU-RAY second disc, "Bonus Features".
** There are NO Special Features on the DVD edition, just the movie itself with a decent menu.
** Special Features are described in the "Details section" for this movie here on Amazon. Loved them all.
** 3D version is exceptional!
** 3D VERSION ** since Amazon can't separate the reviews for the standard/steelbook/3D packages of this movie, I have to add it to mine here already.
I love the 3D packaging, very nicely done. Black leather like slipcase. A worthy collector's item certainly.
I have attached the photos of mine to this review. I love the slipcase and the feel of it, everything. Good to own this one.
The digital download code that comes with the Blu Ray disc set can be redeemed for the Amazon Streaming Video version. So that's cool.
░░░░░QUALITY OF THE BLU-RAY PRINT░░░░░
❖ The video quality of the Blu Ray print is flawless. The color depth and clarity of the image is as good as it gets for a 1080P screen. The IMAX scenes don't look any different. They are not formatted in a different aspect ration or anything like they were in the IMAX theatrical release. They look identical to the rest of the film. If you didn't know which scenes were shot in IMAX, I don't think you'd be able to tell from watching the Blu Ray.
❖ The audio quality is great. The volume differential between the special effects and the spoken dialog can be big at times, making it very loud when there are explosions, but that gives a true cinematic experience. Some stereos have a night mode that compresses that volume range. (Note: My set up is a 5.1 surround system. The Blu Ray's surround track is a 7.1 audio track but I can't review that fully. The 7.1 track on my 5.1 system sounded fine.)
❖ The box itself is odd. It has 3 discs packed into 2 disc holders. So the special features disc and the DVD disc are sitting on top of each other. I thought that was kind of weird. The top disc was not scratched on mine. But I don't love this method of packing the discs.
(These are only on the second Blu Ray disc. They are in HD. The DVD disc that comes in the 3 disc set does not contain these special features. It is JUST the movie. That may be different on the DVD only version. But I don't have that and can't comment.)
In the order I watched them...not the order they appear on the menu.....
❖ Secrets Of The Force Awakens - It's an hour long documentary about the making of the film from conception to post production. Many elements from this documentary appear in the other special features. The first scene in this documentary shows George Lucas signing the contract to sell the franchise to Disney. It's well worth watching both for people who need every ounce of Star Wars possible (Me) and for people who just love the magic of movie making (Also me). One of the coolest parts of this is about 11 minutes in. They show the production staff of Episode VII going to visit a warehouse full of props from the original trilogy. They go so they can see how the originals were made, giving them a leg up on recreating that same visual style. When you see them touching the actually model of the second Death Star from Return of the Jedi....it's really cool. There are a few other awesome spots like that in this documentary. Seeing how they create Maz Kanata with an actual actor using motion capture is neat. You also see things like the blasters having lights in the muzzles that indicate when they are fired, so the post production team can add the blaster bolt effect at the proper time. (Seems like that would have been handy when Lucas re-edited the Han-Greedo scene)
❖ Deleted Scenes - There are 4 minutes of deleted scenes. These are rough cuts that have not been fully cleaned up. I don't want to talk about the details because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. But there are 6 scenes. They are worth watching once. They don't add anything to the overall story. They were all cut for a reason. None of them have that "Oh!!! Now it all makes sense!!!" moment where the overall film suddenly gels better. Personally I thought these deleted scenes proved that the editor of The Force Awakens earned his paycheck.
Extra note on special features - Target has a special version of this disc set that adds 20 minutes more of deleted scenes. It's a Target exclusive. However, from what I understand those scenes are not included on the disc. You have to go online to watch them. I can neither confirm nor deny this, but that's what I've heard. I didn't get the Target exclusive disc so I have not seen these extra 20 minutes of deleted scenes.
❖ Blueprint of a Battle - This shows how they made the Rey Vs Kylo fight seen in the snowy forest. If you've seen the special features from Episode III there is one showing the choreography of the Kenobi Vs Skywalker battle. This is kind of that same thing. It's cool. It makes you appreciate how hard it is to make a scene like that. Runs about 7 minutes.
❖ Crafting Creatures - More movie making magic stuff. It's all about how they make aliens and robots and stuff. It's just about 10 minutes.
❖ Building BB-8 - This one was really interesting. It's in the same vein as the Crafting Creatures short, but it's focused on BB-8 because it's a more complex little robot. This is a great one to watch with any kids in your house that love BB-8. The neat part is that BB-8 wasn't very much CGI. It's a real anamatronic, including the free floating head. And there are several different versions of the droid that operate in different ways depending on the camera angels and interaction with the actors that's needed for each scene. It's roughly 6 minutes long.
❖ John Williams: The Seventh Symphony - It's about how awesome it is to be from John Williams. He also talks about how hard it is to score a movie so it matches the iconic score he's done 6 previous times yet still sounds new and unique. (Personally I think the score of The Force Awakens was the weakest of the 7 films because the music was held much more in the background than in the other 6. But that's a discussion for another day) This will take about 7 minutes of your time.
❖ The Story Awakens - Remember that still black and white promo photo that came out a few years before the movie was released showing the cast sitting on a couch reading the script? This is the video version of that. It's oddly much more exciting than I though it would be. It shows the new cast merging with the old cast. It's cool to see how much the new cast was mostly in shock the whole time just to be in the presence of the original cast members.
❖ ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force - This shows how CGI works to make The Force look real. It's interesting from a 'how'd they do it' perspective. But I didn't like this short as much as the others. Runs about 8 minutes.
❖ Force For Change - This is a 3 minute PSA about Star Wars fans being charitable dogooders. It's not introducing any new information if you're already up to speed on the various ways Star Wars fans get involved in the community. But it's cool. And for 2-3 minutes of your life it's worth a look.
░░░░░REVIEW OF THE FILM ITSELF░░░░░
Yes, there are a lot of reoccurring elements from the original Trilogy. (Read any 1 star review for details) It's not an accident. It's not laziness. It's an integral part of the plot and done for a specific reason. Kylo Ren wants to be Darth Vader. He is obsessed with Darth Vader. He makes the declarative statement that he will finish what Vader started. So he runs his sinister empire the same way Vader ran his sinister empire. It's hard to finish what Vader started if you don't do the same stuff.
Maybe you hate the movie because of the repeated elements. Or maybe you hate the movie because it doesn't follow the expanded universe novels. But this is what the movie is. If you can't stand the idea of a new death star or can't stand the idea that the novels are no longer cannon, you're going to hate this movie. (If you don't already) If you can get over those 2 things, I think you'll like it.
Anyway....my biggest concern with this going is was that it wasn't going to feel like a Star Wars movie. Even for all the problems with the prequels, at least they looked like they occurred in the Star Wars universe. For The Force Awakens we were dealing with a new story, developed under a new film studio, with a new director who has a recent habit of giving familiar stories a completely new look and feel (The new Star Trek series, specifically). And with Harrison Ford, who has openly never liked the Han Solo character, involved there was just a fear that this could be the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls all over again. But it wasn't. It was awesome!
The beginning of the movie has a distinctive look and feel that's not exactly the same as the other films. It's still 'Star Wars' because there are aliens and droids and spaceships, but it's done in such a way to make this film stand out as being a little different and to show that it's been 30 years since Return of the Jedi and things change. At first I was nervous about this, but a little while into the movie they start reintroducing familiar themes and characters and it starts feeling a little more 'Star Warsy'. As the movie progresses it just continues to feel more and more like Star Wars without giving up it's newness. By the end I felt completely immersed in the Star Wars saga again and just wanted the next movie to come out right away so I can see what happens.
It was filmed in 35mm rather than fully digital to preserve as much of the feel of the original trilogy as possible. (Except the scenes filmed in 70mm IMAX) That had a noticeable effect to me. The prequels were done digitally and while they looked super crisp and clean, that gave them a 'newer' look than the originals. The Force Awakens looks visually stunning by being shot on film, and mirrors the look of the original.
The characters from the original trilogy that come back don't disappoint. Everyone is older, but they are still the same characters. No one has been re-written to have a new personality. They all do their old characters justice.
The bad guys are different. Still bad guys, but not quite as disciplined at Darth Vader. There is more raw emotion and internal struggle from Kylo Ren (You are spoon fed this fact almost immediately. It' not a spoiler.) This is a nice departure from the first 6 movies where the bad guys were always the Sith and had to be fought in the same way, where they were highly focused and unwavering. That is NOT Kylo Ren. Ren is an emotional mess, making him a very different villain.
Episode 7 is largely expositional as the first installment of a new trilogy. It's setting up the plot of episodes 8 and 9. It doesn't stand on it's own quite as well as A New Hope does where there is a completely clean ending where all loose ends are tied up. There is clearly more that the people are going to do. It sets up well for the next episode without leaving you totally hanging. It's not quite an Empire Strikes Back ending where they literally cut the story off in the middle and completes it in Return of the Jedi.
Ultimately it's a quality addition to the Star Wars franchise.