The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray makes its triumphant debut, but you’ll have to wait till later this year for the 3D Blu-ray version. Most people won’t need to be convinced to purchase it, but for those with their doubts; it’s an amazing movie that has an equally amazing A/V presentation.
“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark side, and the Light,” says Supreme Leader Snoke to a deliciously villainous Kylo Ren. Of course, everyone in the audience who has waited several years to get a chance to see the next chapter (the seventh instalment) in George Lucas’ galactic odyssey will feel it too. Thankfully, the force is strong with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a film that returns to the spirit of the original films.
Rey: There are stories about what happened.
Han Solo: It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi. They’re real.
Is it possible to encapsulate a 40-year-old iconic franchise and move ahead into uncharted territory without George Lucas at the helm? Diehard fans can rest at ease. Abrams elevates Stars Wars beyond our expectations, breathing life into the old while delivering something new. That’s what The Force Awakens is at heart; less a reimagining and more of a homage film. However, it’s not an imitation. It’s much more than that.
Yes, old favourites return. We get to see the core heroes we grew up with onscreen once again. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is flooded with nostalgia. But there is also a slew of new characters, equally as charming and reminiscent of our heroes at a much younger age.
It’s all remarkably familiar.
Leia: Hope is not lost today… it is found.
The iconic imagery. A desert planet. An unwilling hero. A young hero who shows signs of the force. A short strange creature who bears the wisdom of Yoda. A villain who is trying to follow in the footsteps of Darth Vader. A lovable beeping robot. A space battle. A sword (lightsaber) fight. An epic battle of light versus dark. A dramatic narrative with gripping twists. It’s all there. Everything you’ve loved about the saga so far, minus the clumsiness of the subsequent prequels. Think of it as a new arrangement of a familiar tune. Again, think of it as your very own Star Wars party and all the characters you love have arrived to watch you blow out your candles.
Kylo Ren: I will fulfill our destiny.
Abrams catapults Star Wars: The Force Awakens into a brand new horizon. The film is steered ahead by possibly its strongest director thus far, accompanied by John Williams’ epic score and breathtaking atmospheric visual effects. It’s a colorful, exciting, surprisingly funny and adventuresome continuation of the saga. New additions Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are fantastic as Rey and Finn. Their onscreen chemistry is truly authentic and charming. You can feel the emotion in every frame of their performance.
The story is fun, the characters are enjoyable, the action is engaging. There is no denying that initial magic of seeing the original films cannot be duplicated. That being said, it does well enough to be at least second or third best in the franchise so far. Yes, it’s that good.
Maz Kanata: I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes… I know your eyes!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a technically superb film that dazzles the imagination. Those who were filing for divorce after the prequels will learn to love Star Wars all over again. This is the blockbuster film you’ve been looking for.
Thanks to J.J. Abrams, The Force Awakens was shot on film – primarily on the Panaflex Millennium XL2 35 camera – giving it a look that is far more in line with the original trilogy than the prequels. Presented in the 2.40:1 ratio, The Force Awakens Blu-ray looks great. The transfers provides consistently faithful high detail (even though the IMAX parts were down-scaled and the aspect ratio changed). Blacks are dynamic and shadows still hold a lot of detail. The colours pop off the screen and the film is vibrant and breathtaking. Even on my 4k TV, I barely noticed any artifacts or imperfections.
Although the film was released in with Dolby Atmos audio, fans may be disappointed to hear that the The Force Awakens Blu-ray only contains a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. That said, the thunderous 7.1 lossless track does what it should and will rock everything in your living room. The audio is perfectly balanced and is, honestly, the best sound I’ve ever heard from a Blu-ray release. Everything is wonderfully in place and fills the room with those classic Star Wars noises. This is really the best audio to demo your system. Listen through it over and over and it’s hard to find any negative aspect to the audio. It really is a stunner. If you only get the disc for the audio, it would be totally worth it. You would be hard pressed to find anything better on the market.
The Force Awakens Blu-ray comes with a second disc dedicated to extras. There is about two hours of material here to keep you busy and invested in the franchise. If you wanted to know how the film was made, this disc covers almost everything; from the character creations to the audition tapes and the costume designs. Like the film, it’s really fun and gives a good insight into the magic behind the scenes.
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey – 1:09:14 total runtime
The Story Awakens: The Table Read – 4:01
Crafting Creatures – 9:34
Building BB-8 – 6:03
Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight – 7:02
ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force – 7:55
John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – 6:51
Deleted Scenes: Finn and the Villager (0:31), Jakku Message (0:47), X-Wings Prepare for Lightspeed (0:22), Kylo Searches The Falcon (0:50), Snow Speeder Chase (0:48), and Finn Will Be Fine (0:23)
Force for Change – 3:22
The The Force Awakens Blu-ray has earned its spot in your collection. Thankfully, this release is as good as any of Disney’s releases.