Star Wars: The Force Awakens [Blu-Ray]
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Theatrical Release: December 18, 2016
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill
Studio: Lucasfilms Ltd. and Bad Robot Productions
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Finally Available on Blu-Ray and DVD! Okay, so, maybe ‘finally’ isn’t the best word to use. It has really only been about three-and-a-half months since The Force Awakens first hit theaters but at times it feels like an eternity. Like so many Star Wars fans I grew up watching the original trilogy over and over again more times than I could even begin to count. More than any other Star Wars film since, The Force Awakens truly captures the look and feel of the original films.
Now that it’s out on blu-ray and DVD we can all sit at home watching it again and again just like when we were kids.
That’s our plan at least.
We absolutely loved The Force Awakens. Considering how overhyped the movie was before it came out a lot of people were very wary of the new chapter in the series but any doubts people had were more than put aside once it came out. We had been cautiously optimistic from the moment Disney bought the franchise and they really came through for the fans – both old and new.
But The Force Awakens didn’t just capture the spirit of the original trilogy. It also gave us a whole new world to discover with fantastic new characters. We fell in love with the adorable BB-8 and we found the perfect new female role model to look up to in Rey. Both Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma became locked into our collective fandom as brand new, iconic antagonists. And the film took us on a whole new journey and set us up for an amazing story that will continue in the next two installments.
It’s been an incredible return to the galaxy far, far away.
The blu-ray release takes things further and gives fans an inside look at the creation of this new film through the included special features. Star Wars has a long history of including pretty great behind-the-scenes with their home releases – even the old school VHS releases! So it was absolutely expected that the final blu-ray release for The Force Awakens would come with some pretty cool bonuses. Over the past couple months we’ve been teased with details on some of the special features and on some of the deleted scenes and I can happily report now that they are everything any of us could have wanted – and maybe even more.
Let’s take a look at what is included.
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey
The ultimate behind-the-scenes bonus feature, Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey is a short film in and of itself. Clocking in at over an hour long it serves as a pretty comprehensive look at the development of The Force Awakens from initial conception to the final product. Everyone is on board for this special feature. From Roger Guyett to Kathrine Kennedy to JJ Abrams to basically the whole cast, you really get a feel for what it was like to create The Force Awakens.
In just about an hour, you see the film go from hardly even a concept to the fantastic film it became. I mean, this feature starts at the very beginning of everything. It goes back all the way to the announcement that George Lucas was looking to sell the franchise and then chronicles the race to create a whole new film – and the start to a brand new trilogy – by Disney’s 2015 deadline.
It really is a journey and the filmmakers and cast take you on that journey with them. There are moments when it actually gets pretty emotional not just for the viewer but for everyone involved. The cast and crew are reflecting on not just making the film but the pressure they were under to create a real successor to the original trilogy.
I can’t even begin to go over everything that’s covered in this feature. They talk about everything from Simon Pegg’s cameo to the evolution of Poe’s character arc from dying early on to becoming an internal part of the new trio of characters. They talk about developing Kylo Ren as a sort of ‘villain-in-training’ influenced by Darth Vader. They talk about filming on scene, developing practical effects, going back into the archives for inspiration, and more.
If you want to really see what it took to make The Force Awakens what it is today I cannot recommend Secrets of The Force Awakens highly enough.
Behind The Scenes Featurettes
Now, there are other behind the scenes features on this release. Whereas Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey is very broad (and long) look at basically everything that went into the film, the rest of the special features tend to be more focused. For example, Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight focuses solely on what went into making that final lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren a reality while Building BB-8 is all about designing BB-8 and turning him into a real character that could be interacted with on screen. A couple other featurettes like ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force and Creating Creatures are a little broader and focuses on the special effects and alien character designs respectively. There’s a little overlap with Secrets of The Force Awakens, sure, but they are worth watching in their own right because they go a bit more in-depth on their respective topics.
Okay, let’s talk a bit about the deleted scenes now. I love deleted scenes and there are so many little moments that didn’t make it into this movie that I had been hoping to get to see on the special features. There are seven deleted scenes included though most of them are admittedly pretty short. The longest is just under a minute while the shortest is just twenty seconds long. They range from the emotional to the humorous to the very action oriented.
Two of these scenes stuck out for me in particular. One involves Kylo Ren finding the crashed Millennium Falcon on the surface of Starkiller Base and walking through the ship briefly. This scene is complimented by another one involving Rey and Finn trying to shake off some pursuing First Order troopers in snowspeeders. But that’s not the second scene that stuck with me. No, the second one takes place shortly after the final battle when Rey goes to see Finn in the infirmary. Talk about heartstrings tugged!
There are a couple other ones that I also liked simply because I like Greg Grunberg and have been pretty much obsessed with learning more about Snap Wexley after learning he is Temmin Wexley from Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath all grown up. One is a scene that harkens back to the “Red Five, standing by!” roll call of A New Hope. The other is a scene where Snap asks an aide if he’s heard anything about Poe only to be blown off as he goes to inform Leia about what’s going on. Poor Snap. He’s just worried about Poe. I need to see more of this possible bromance.
And those just a few of the new – albeit short – scenes included!
Other Special Features
In addition to all the other special features there are a few others included in the blu-ray release that are worth nothing. The first two – The Story Awakens: The Table Read and John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – are really great. I loved them.
The Story Awakens: The Table Read is short but it documents that very first table read with the now inconic first picture of the new cast sitting together. You get to here Mark Hamill reading all the stage directions and see some of the cast reflect on those first moments with the characters. The John Williams featurette is an nice, brief look at what it was like for everyone to work with Williams and for Williams to return to Star Wars. He talks a bit about coming up with the new pieces and working in different themes from the original trilogy.
The last featurette on this release is entitled simply Force for Change and it sheds a little light on the charity fundraising that went along with the Force for Change campaign leading up to the release of The Force Awakens. It’s only about three minutes long so it’s worth a watch if you weren’t aware of the campaign beforehand.
Basically, the special features on The Force Awakens blu-ray are totally rad and definitely worth watching.
I know that I don’t really need to tell anyone reading this to go buy The Force Awakens today. I’m pretty sure that’s already your plan for today. A fair number of you probably have had it pre-ordered for months already. So instead let me simply validate your decision and encourage you to watch all of the special features at some point or another in between your tenth and eleventh re-watch of The Force Awakens later this week.
And may the Force be with you!