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STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS (Digital HD / Blu-ray review)

Review by Stefan Blitz

With the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens on Digital HD today and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 1st, fans can now experience the latest installment of the saga again and again.

I’m not going to review the film yet again.  It’s far from perfect, but highly entertaining.  Director J.J. Abrams did what was considered near impossible which was to resurrect and reinvigorate the franchise for future generations.  With a diversified cast, a successful mix of practical and digital effects and a story that is attractive to fans new and old, The Force Awakens is the Star Wars film that fans have been waiting thirty years for.

Knowing what to expect with the film, the special features of the home video release were what I was most interested in.  And while good, they aren’t nearly as great as I had hoped.

On both the Blu-ray and Digital HD release, there are a number of supplementary features.

Here are my thoughts on what’s included.

The first and most prominent feature is Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey, a sixty-nine minute four part documentary that feels far too brief.  There’s plenty of behind the scenes footage (including some great stuff of Harrison Ford on the Falcon and Joonas Suotamo explaining his process of playing Chewbacca), but everything in it feels too short.  We see moments of audition tapes of the new cast, some footage of both pre-production and production, and lots of talking heads, but none of it has the weight that it should have.  Since it’s likely that everything was documented, this doc would have been better served at four times it’s length.

The next feature, The Story Awakens: The Table Read features the cast meeting for the first time and a few moments of the table read. At four minutes it’s a disappointment.

Other featurettes include:

Crafting Creatures: A nine and a half minute look at building the practical creatures of Epsidoe VII including Chewie.

Building BB-8: The origins of the droid including evolution, building models and the character’s place in the film (in six minutes).

The other featurettes all under 8 minutes each include Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight which looks at the climatic lightsaber duel; ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force discussing the effects of the film; John Williams: The Seventh Symphony looking at the composer’s iconic and new material; Force for Change a look at the charity work associated with the franchise and deleted scenes.

The six deleted scenes, which I won’t go into for spoiler purposes are all less than a minute long and feel like trims rather than scenes. A big disappointment.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is a must have for any fan of the franchise, but this release is a big disappointment for anyone expecting solid supplemental material.

Missing are commentary tracks (I would have loved to have had three: One with Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan; One with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher; And one with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Issac), more substantial deleted scenes (there are shots in the trailer and subplots that we already know of with Maz Kanata that we know were filmed and aren’t here in any capacity), the trailers and a more substantial documentary. 

I’m sure we’ll get these one day once this trilogy has concluded, but I’d be lying to say that I didn’t want more now.  If you love the movie, there’s no question that you want this, sound and picture are great.  I just wanted more.

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