The Force Awakens Blu-Ray Review – Dagobah Day #13

Dagobah Day - 2016

Sometime during April there’s a good chance you picked up Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-Ray or Digital HD (or both, if you’re me). I know that it released in the beginning of April in the U.S., but I know that people in other territories had to wait a few more weeks to get their hands on Episode VII. So, today I thought I would talk about the Blu-Ray: talk about what is great, what isn’t so great, and what is missing on the Blu-Ray.

The Movie

I still really love the film. When I bought it on digital HD, I ended up watching it twice on that same day. It’s a really great film for both new and old Star Wars fans. There’s a lot of great practical effects, great use of CGI, great action scenes, character moments, and it’s just a really great movie.

The Deleted Scenes

Ranked from best to worst, here is a ranking of the deleted scenes that appear on the Blu-Ray.

  1. X-Wings Prepare for Lightspeed.
  2. Kylo Searches the Millennium Falcon.
  3. Jakku Message.
  4. Finn and the Villager.
  5. Snow Speeder Chase.
  6. Tunnel Standoff
  7. Finn Will Be Fine. 

None of them really felt necessary, and I wish we would’ve seen more of Maz Kanata in the Tunnel Standoff, as well as more emotion in Kylo Searches the Millennium Falcon. I actually really liked the X-Wings Prepare for Lightspeed-scene, but that’s mainly because I wanted to see more scenes with Poe Dameron in the film. But, in short, these deleted scenes are actually really underwhelming. If the top two scenes were changed a bit, then I think we could’ve definitely seen them in the film.

Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight

Ever wondered how they built the snow battle set? Well, here’s an answer for you. It is actually very, very impressive, and it gives you an understanding of how much work it takes to actually make just this scene in a movie this big work. Personally, I was just really impressed with the movement of the actors. I thought Adam Driver was very impressive with the lightsaber, and you actually get to see the actors practice and see the scene itself – you get to see how it was handled. This might be my favorite of the shorter special features, with it being close to seven minutes in length.

Building BB-8

BB-8 might actually be the biggest new star in Star Wars. He’s quickly become a fan favorite, so fans should be pretty excited to see what this feature gives us. You see some of the other designs that were prepared for the character, and you see the simple idea that J. J. Abrams had drawn on a post-it note, which ended up becoming BB-8. You see how they shot some of the scenes, you see some of the different versions of BB-8 that they needed for different shots. It is a pretty interesting feature. Oh and Anthony Daniels has some really nice things to say about BB-8, that very short section of the feature might’ve been my favorite part of Building BB-8.

Crafting Creatures

This special feature is almost 10 minutes long, and goes into how they created the creatures of the film. You both get to see how they handled the practical effects characters like the puppets, but also how they updated Nien Nunb and Chewbacca. There’s also a really nice moment with Warwick Davis.

Force for Change

This is neat little explanation of ‘Force for Change’. How Star Wars and Lucasfilm is trying to improve lives across the world. It’s more of a highlight reel than a special feature really, as I think you can find most of this on YouTube.

ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force

Now, whereas Crafting Creatures was about practical effects, this feature is more about how they attempted to blend in CGI with practical effects. They go over the motion capture work with Lupita Nyong’o and Andy Serkis, but also the rathtar-scene, as well as the X-Wing and Millennium Falcon action.

John Williams: The Seventh Symphony

John Williams is a legend, and he is very special to Star Wars fans. I like how they really treat John Williams as a legend, and it was really nice to hear people speak highly of him. I really enjoyed the musical score for The Force Awakens, and ‘Rey’s Theme’ is definitely the best piece of new music. Thankfully, we get to hear what John Williams considered when he created ‘Rey’s Theme’.

Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey

This is a four chapter documentary, essentially, and it is really, really cool. It touches briefly on the fact that George Lucas was selling the company, and that Kathleen Kennedy was taking over Lucasfilm. The focus then shifts to J. J. Abrams and the development team. I would’ve liked to hear more about what specifically Michael Arndt brought, or wanted to bring, to the project, but we don’t get a lot of info about Arndt here.

You do get the audition tapes here, some of which have been released online. Daisy Ridley’s audition looks really impressive. What we see from Boyega’s auditions was interesting, insofar as it surprised me what dialogue the actors got to use. You also get a bit more from the table read (yeah, I thought it was a bit weird that we got a separate video about the table read too). In fact, I did think it was a bit weird that the main contents of the other special features was shown in the ‘documentary’.

There’s a part in the documentary where it centers on the Millennium Falcon, and it is really cool. Boyega’s reaction is awesome. You see Simon Pegg and Karl Urban in the Falcon. It’s really great. And then we get the ‘Chewie, we’re home’-moment. So special. And the documentary touches on all the special moments, including Luke’s island and Han’s death.

The Story Awakens: The Table Read

Now, I really thought this would be my favorite thing on the Blu-Ray. And while it is pretty cool to hear about the table read, you only get four minutes here, and the table read is also shown in Secrets of the Force Awakens. It isn’t underwhelming, per se, but we should’ve gotten more of the table read.

Now, this is a must buy for every Star Wars-fan, and there are a lot of really great special features here. But I thought the deleted scenes were pretty underwhelming, and the biggest problem with this Blu-Ray is that Lucasfilm and Disney haven’t given us a commentary track. Would it really have been so hard for them to get a couple of people together in a room for two hours and talk about the film? But I’m certain we’ll get a commentary track on future editions of the Blu-Ray, or maybe in a new collection of the Star Wars saga.

What did you think of the Blu-Ray? Sound off in the comments.

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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