Blu-ray Review: ‘Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens’
“The Force Awakens” is a nostalgic reboot for the “Star Wars” franchise.
It was the film that was never supposed to happen but just like the path of the Jedi, “Star Wars” could not escape its destiny. With its name and budget, “The Force Awakens” was too big to fail, but that did not mean it had a guaranteed pass from the critics. Despite the hype of its release building preemptive scrutiny, “The Force Awakens” either met or exceeded expectations. Leaving my bias as a fan at the door, I’ll tell you why this film is more than deserving of these positive reviews.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Story, Etc.) – 4.5
There is an aspect of this film that is a double-edged sword and it’s found within the plot. The structure mirrors “A New Hope” which makes the story a bit predictable and even repetitive at times. But when examined closer you can find a nostalgic nuance in the story’s cadence that is heartwarming for fans both new and old. It’s not playing it safe as some would say. It’s instead taking the risk of revamping a story we know and having the confidence to prove this structure remains relevant over 30 years later.
The characters follow this structure as well but they still manage to establish their individuality. Adam Driver takes on the role of the villain Kylo Ren though he’s not as menacing as Darth Vader. While Vader was a seasoned menace, Ren is at his infancy stage of villainy which leaves a lot of room for him to grow. Newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley act as the opposition to Ren. They fall into a rhythm of acting like they’re long time veterans. Boyega’s character Finn is one of the most unique characters in the “Star Wars” universe we’ve seen. As a Stormtrooper that defected, he goes through a spectrum of emotions conveying that his character is lost and in need of guidance. Ridley’s character Rey is a heroine that I believe will set an example for the future of women in film. She is tenacious yet vulnerable and her performance is incredible. If you’re not convinced in the film, watch the bonus footage of her auditions. And when it comes to pairing Rey and Finn together, their chemistry is so fluid that their love does not need to be sealed with a kiss like in most films. It just happens and the wonder we’re left with carries on after the film concludes.
Harrison Ford continued to carry the torch as Han Solo and blended well with the new cast to pass it on. His role was essentially the catalyst in the film from his guidance for Rey and Finn to his troubled relationship with Kylo Ren. There’s no need to elaborate anymore regarding his performance. Ford is and always will be Han Solo, it’s as simple as that. The rest of the older cast is limited with their dialogue and it’s probably for the best when bringing in the new cast. If you are a fan of Solo’s cool and reckless demeanor, I think we’ll see more of that in Oscar Isaac’s character Poe in future films.
The characters are essential and the details that make this film great, but they can’t exist without the world we see and hear onscreen. Just as “Mad Max: Fury Road” proved last year, “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens” proves that practicality is relevant. It’s the perfect balance of CGI and practical effects, the scene transitions move seamlessly together, and the angles and overall cinematography invoke emotion that supplements the story. And if the visuals weren’t enough you have John Williams’ score that lines up a perfect auditory cue of when and how to set the emotional tone.
The elements of this film meticulously all fit together in a package that honors both the franchise and filmmaking as a whole. J.J. Abrams is the mastermind that puts this package together but each individual component is part of what makes “The Force Awakens” a pinnacle film. Like an orchestra coming together to play the perfect symphony, everything fits into the realm of iconic filmmaking with J.J. Abrams being its conductor.
Entertainment Value – 5
I rarely speak of perfection but when it comes to entertainment but “The Force Awakens” is flawless. It’s a classic adventure tale with something for everyone. The visuals are so stunning that the film could run silent and still find appeal. But running silent would be a disservice to your ears by excluding the orchestral beauty of that John Williams score. The characters are dynamic and mysterious which gives a lasting appeal. And for those who love “Star Wars,” there’s a nostalgia that tugs at your heart strings.
When it comes to entertainment, “The Force Awakens” is a film that hits that mark on multiple levels.
Re-Watchability – 5
The original “Star Wars” trilogy contains some of the most “re-watched” films to date. And while the prequels are arguably not in that same realm of “re-watchability,” I do believe that “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens” does fall into that original trilogy realm.
It follows the same flow as the original films and brings a lot of new additions that establishes it as a film that will remain “re-watchable” in the future. The visuals, choreography, and sound all contain what we love about “Star Wars” but then these new characters bring something more. They are both dynamic and mysterious which will make this film “re-watchable” for the most analytical viewers. As you watch the film more and more, you will catch details you might have missed and this just supplements the already lasting appeal.
Maybe it’s the fan in me that makes me appreciate the extras so much more, but I love seeing how this film was made. The casting auditions are amazing to watch, especially Daisy Ridley. J.J. Abrams commentary on his logic and reasoning into making the film just makes me appreciate him more. And then the process of putting everything together leaves me in awe.
If you are looking for extras though, I would suggest buying the Target exclusive version of the film. It contains the extra footage that no other retailer will have. But if you’re looking at the physical attributes of the Blu-ray itself, the Target exclusive would be the least appealing. Best Buy has a steel book with Kylo Ren on the cover that has the most artistic appeal but little after that. Walmart has a BB-8 exclusive cover but it feels like it’s more for the kids. Disney offers some exclusive lithographs with their version but the boxing is essentially the same. But if all else fails and you can’t decide, the regular version still packs a punch!
"Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens" is miraculous in its nature as it was never supposed to be made. When it arrived and surpassed the expectations of its viewers it brought a smile to the faces of longtime fans and newcomers. It's a film that's worthy of being called a "Star Wars" film and also worthy of being called a cinematic masterpiece.