STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS hits Blu-ray & DVD today – our in depth review

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS hits Blu-ray & DVD today – our in depth review


It’s not like I need to “sell” you on why you should buy the Blu-ray for STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS on Blu-ray, but I can tell you why it’s worth the money you’re likely gonna spend. When I cracked open my advance copy last week, I was a little surprised to see the first disc (featuring the movie) was about as bare bones as it gets – not one extra feature, no commentary track (which is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this release), no trailers, just the movie by itself. But hey, the transfer is of course superb. Every detail is crisp and clear showing just how polished this project really is. And the sound mix is fantastic, so good in fact that I realized all the little things I didn’t hear when seeing it in theaters. Where this really helps is in the Kylo Ren scenes, as Ren’s modulated voice was sometimes hard to make out in the theatrical presentations. I also appreciated John Williams’ powerful score better with this superb sound mix, so it’s safe to say this presentation of THE FORCE AWAKENS is definitely as good as it’s ever going to get.

While Disc One may seem pretty light, the bonus disc more than makes up for it. The true highlight is the “Secrets of The Force Awakens – A Cinematic Journey”, which is a feature-length documentary produced by the great Laurent Bouzereau that cover EVERYTHING you could possibly want to know about the making of the new film. Seriously, nothing is left behind. They cover the beginnings of it, George Lucas selling to Disney, Kathleen Kennedy taking over Lucasfilm, JJ Abrams being brought on board (they even show the moment where Kennedy announced his hiring to the other executives), and eventually the actual production. Once this gets going, they slip in brief interview snippets with the cast and crew, featuring all the major players and their thoughts on how it came together. But what really impressed me is how they don’t overlook little things that make the movie so great for the hard core fans. There’s moments where you see them re-making the Chewbacca costume for Peter Mayhew, and actually putting it on him. There’s also a great scene showing the return of Admiral Ackbar, and Nien Nunb (including some chatting with actor Mike Quinn who reprises the role from RETURN OF THE JEDI). What’s also refreshing is how honest the interview clips are, like moments where Abrams talks about how Carrie Fisher was a little rusty getting back in front of the camera after not acting for so long, or showing Harrison Ford’s final day of filming and how emotional it was on set. You can watch this section by section, or all at once, but it’s incredibly engaging.

The second best feature is a simple video about the first table read, which was the first time they brought the new and returning cast together. We learn here that Mark Hamill actually read the entire script out loud with the cast, and you get to hear the beginning and ending of that in the video… even after seeing the movie multiple times, this just gave me nostalgic chills. I can’t imagine how cool it must have been to be there in that moment for that.

There’s nice isolated features that focus on Building BB-8, making all the creatures, how they shot the snow fight with Kylo Ren and Rey (there’s logistical stuff in this section that shocked me, amazing what they can do and have it look perfectly real), the magic of ILM, and a wonderful feature on John Williams doing the new score. All of these videos are great to watch, and I could have sat through hours more just like them.

Perhaps the only let down on this disc was the Deleted Scenes, not because the scenes aren’t interesting and fun to watch, but there’s stuff still missing which was teased to be here. If you look at the video below that teased the deleted scenes on this release, there’s a big moment with Han and Chewbacca and Finn trying to escape Maz Kanata’s castle… and that scene isn’t here! They promoted it as being in the Deleted Scenes, and it’s not, and I was really frustrated over that… because I want to see what happened! I guess I hoped for meatier deleted sequences, but what we’re given is short and sweet. It’s possible other rumored moments were just never finished in time.

All in all this is a great release for THE FORCE AWAKENS, while still leaving room for another version down the road with even more content. I really would like to hear a commentary track by JJ Abrams, especially since his are usually so good, and the interactive commentary on STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS shows just how cool commentaries can actually be. Check out the list of special features below, and let us know in the comments what you think after picking up your copy today… come on, you know you’re buying it.

Special Features:
Secrets of “The Force Awakens”: A Cinematic Journey – Full-length documentary.
The Story Awakens: The Table Read – Cast members reflect on the memorable day they all first came together.
Building BB-8 – See how Abrams and team brought the newest droid to the screen.
Crafting Creatures – Watch movie magic as the filmmakers bring a cast of new creatures to life.
Blueprint Of A Battle: The Snow Fight – Go deeper into the epic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren.
John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – The legendary composer shares personal insights of his work
ILM” The Visual Magic Of The – An insider’s look into the remarkable digital artistry of the movie’s visual effects.
Plus – Deleted Scenes.

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 with Han Solo and Chewbacca in a desperate search for the one hope of restoring peace to the galaxy.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.