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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 3, 2016 by  



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“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” on Blu-ray is a five-star release.  “Star Wars” fans who loved this seventh film, the videophiles and audiophiles will no doubt love watching the film on Blu-ray.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 & TM Lucasfilm Ltd LLC.


TITLE: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 136 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG-13 (For Sci-Fi Action Violence)

Release Date: April 5, 2016


Based on the Characters by George Lucas

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt

Produced by J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Bryan Burk

Executive Producer: Tommy Harper, Jason D. McGatlin

Associate Producer: Michael Arndt

Co-Producer: Tomy Gormley, Michelle Rejwan, Ben Rosenblatt, John Swartz

Music by John Williams

Cinematography by Daniel Mindel

Edited by Maryann Brandon

Casting by Nina Gold, April Webster, Alyssa Weisberg

Production Design by Rick Carter, Darren Gilford

Set Decoration by Lee Sandales

Costume Design by Michael Kaplan


Starring:

Harrison Ford as Han Solo

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren

Daisy Ridley as Rey

John Boyega as Finn

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron

Lupita Noyong’o as Maz Kanata

Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke

Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux

Anthony Daniels as C-3P0

Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka

Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma

Simon Pegg as Unkar Plutt


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.


It was the one of the most anticipated films of 2015.

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” was a film that no one knew what to expect after Disney purchased Lucasfilm.

A “Star Wars” without George Lucas, a teaser trailer that left people up at arms.  The announcement of J.J Abrams (“Lost”, “Mission: Impossible III”, “Star Trek”, “Super 8”) as director scared many die-hard fans.

That was until the movie premiered and positive reviews kept rolling in and the film shattered box office records, becoming the highest-grossing installment of the franchise, the highest grossing film in North America, the third highest grossing film of all time with more than $2 billion gross worldwide.

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” received five Academy Award nominations and now their is high anticipation for the two sequels “Episode VIII” (2017) and “Episode IX” (2019).

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” was directed by J.J. Abrams who co-wrote the film alongside Lawrence Kasdan (“Star Wars” original trilogy films, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) and Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3”, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, “Inside Out”).

The film would feature the return of original trilogy cast members Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Anthony Daniels as C-3P0 and Pete Mayhew as Chewbacca.

The film would star Adam Driver (“Frances Ha”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “What If”), Daisy Ridley (“Lifesaver”, “Scrawl”, “Only Yesterday”), John Boyega (“Attack the Block”, “Imperial Dreams”, “My Murder”), Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Ex Machina”, “Drive”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”, “Non-Stop”), Andy Serkis (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, “The Prestige”), Domnhall Gleeson (“Ex Machina”, “The Revenant”, “About Time”), Max von Sydow (“Minority Report”, “The Exorcist”, “Shutter Island”) and Gwendoline Christie (“The Zero Theorem”, “Game of Thrones”, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2”).

And the film will be released on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD in April 2015.

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” is set 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star.  Jedi Luke Skywalker has disappeared and a new threat known as The First Order has risen, led by their Supreme Leader Snoke (portrayed by Andy Serkis).

The Resistance is backed by the Republic and is led by General Leia Organa, who has been searching for her twin brother, Luke.

We are introduced to ace Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron (portrayed by Oscar Isaac) who has met with village elder Lor San Tekka (portrayed by Max von Sydow) on the planet Jakku.

The map of Luke Skywalker’s location is give to Poe, but when the Stormtroopers led by Kylo Ren (portrayed by Adam Driver).  Poe gives the map to his droid, BB-8 who escapes.

Meanwhile, Poe is captured and everyone in the village is slaughtered.  One stormtrooper, FN-2187 (portrayed by John Boyega) is alarmed by the killing and can’t make sense of any of it.

We are then introduced to a scavenger on Jakku named Rey (portrayed by Daisy Ridley).  Trying to find and sell parts in the desert to survive, she finds BB-8 near her home (in the junkyard).

Kylo Ren tries to get information of the whereabouts of the map from Poe Dameron using the Force and learns that his droid, BB-8 has it.  The First Order is now looking for the BB-8.

FN-2187 comes into the holding room of Poe and helps him escape, as he no longer wants to be part of the First Order.  As the two escape, Poe names FN-2187 to “Finn” but as they are outnumbered by the First Order, they are shot down.

When Finn wakes up, he can’t find Poe and thinks he may have been killed.  All he finds is Poe’s jacket, which he puts on, as he discards his Stormtrooper outfit.

As Finn wanders to Jakku, he finds the junkyard settlement and sees a young woman fighting off thieves and then sees BB-8.  As Ren and BB-8 come in contact with Finn and to find out why he is wearing Poe’s jacket, Finn tells her that he is with the Resistance and that he helped Poe escape and that Poe is dead.

But because there is a bulletin out on a BB-8 droid, the First Order is contacted and attempts to capture the droid and begins to attack Ren and Finn.

The three manage to escape and pilot the stolen, rundown ship, the Millennium Falcon.

As the three manage to defeat and escape from the First Order Tie Fighters that were after them, the Millennium Falcon breaks down and is captured.  But those who have captured it has turned out to be Han Solo and Chewbacca, who have come to reclaim their vessel.

Ren tells them that the BB-8 has information that must be given to the Resistance.  Seeing the importance of the message, Han and Chewbacca decide to help Ren and Finn reach the Resistance in any way possible, if it can help to defeat the First Order.


VIDEO:

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film looks absolutely wonderful in HD with closeups showing detail of skin pigments to seeing the detail in clothing. Outdoor scenes are vibrant and the CG utilized for the film is incredible. This is reference quality video and the film on Blu-ray looks fantastic!

For the most part, I didn’t notice any problematic issues with banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Description Audio and also on French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Also, in Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Dialogue is crystal clear and there is good use of surround channels as chase scenes and shots and explosions can be heard all around.  The lightsaber battles and each spacecraft battle and onground battle scenes are immersive.  Action sequences are just fantastic to listen to, dialogue and music are crystal clear and yes, like the video, the film on Blu-ray features reference lossless audio.  Fantastic!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” comes with the following special features on a second Blu-ray disc:

  • Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey – (1:09:14) Featuring a four part making-of that goes into Disney acquiring the franchise, hiring J.j. Abrams, bringing back the original cast, the use of technology for the special effects, shooting on location, the droids, the fate of a main character and the cast and crew’s thoughts of the movie.
  • The Story Awakens: The Table Read – (4:01) A table read between cast and crew.
  • Crafting Creatures – (9:34) Constructing the characters of the film and bringing them to life.
  • Building BB-8 – (6:03) A featurette about the design of BB-8 and more.
  • Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight – (7:02) A featurette on the final lightsaber battle from the film.
  • ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force – (7:55) A featurette on the digital effects used in the film courtesy of ILM.
  • John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – (6:51) Featuring discussions of Williams music used for Star Wars and the music created for the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring six deleted scenes.
  • Force for Change – (3:22) The charity work contributions thanks to the film.

EXTRAS:

“The Hateful Eight” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet code. A DVD for the film is also included.


As a huge “Star Wars” fans, like many others, I was skeptical on a new “Star Wars” film without George Lucas.

While I am quite aware of J.J. Abrams work and a good number of them that I truly enjoyed, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a new “Star Wars” film.  I watched every film at the theater, I collected the toys and it was a strong part of my youth.  I was also aware of the written work of Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, so

But I also believe that there is always a story to be told and I was quite impressed with what J.J. Abrams and were able to put together.

Because after watching the film in the theater, it was almost the same experience I had watching “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”.

The feeling of excitement, sadness and hope and a feeling of wanting to watch the film again, because I enjoyed it tremendously.

Which leads us to the Blu-ray release of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”.  When I watched the film for the very first time in the theater, I was mesmerized by the visual effects and how seamlessly reality and CG worked together.  The costume designs were fantastic, the overall settings were gorgeous.

And as expected, watching this film in HD is truly magnificent.  But I can only sense how much better this film would also look in 4K possibly in the near future.

The film looked crisp and vibrant, details were magnificent.  The lossless audio was immersive and knowing immediately that videophiles and audiophiles will have a film they would no doubt enjoy.

But when you combine it with a wonderful storyline that works with the “Star Wars” franchise, you can’t help but be excited for the film but also how the next generation of sci-fi fans, the next generation of “Star Wars” fans, will now have too look forward to.

Now we know J.J. Abrams is not the director for “Star Wars: Episode VIII” but I’m hoping that if they can be consistent with quality with storytelling, visual effects, audio, etc., I have no doubt that this latest trilogy can potentially be the best in the “Star Wars” franchise.

Seeing the original cast is great, but I also thought that Daisy Ridley and John Boyega did a wonderful job with this film.

And as mentioned about the Blu-ray, picture quality and lossless audio were both magnificent.  And there are also a good number of special features included on this Blu-ray release.

And while my heart will always be biased towards the amazing “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” as the best “Star Wars” film ever made, I can’t help but say that I really enjoyed this latest film!  It’s of course derivative but I absolutely was captivated by this blockbuster film and whether or not George Lucas enjoyed it or not, I know I did.

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” on Blu-ray is a five-star release.  “Star Wars” fans who loved this seventh film, the videophiles and audiophiles will no doubt love watching the film on Blu-ray.  Highly recommended!

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