This past weekend I had the pleasure of being able to watch “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on Blu-Ray, as well as all of its bonus features. Of course, the movie was remarkable to see on the big screen last December, and I put in the movie expecting it to be good quality, but not compared to the visual experience of seeing it on the big screen. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I watched the film that it felt like I was watching at a movie theatre! The resolution was crystal clear, and the visual effects were still stunning to see, even when just viewing at home! I definitely got the same cinematic experience in my living room as I did in the cinema.
This was my third viewing of the film, and I still absolutely love it–I feel like the casting for the new generation of “Star Wars” characters was perfect, and I love that there is a strong female lead, as well as so many nods to the original trilogy in this film. But, since I’m here to talk about the Blu-Ray, I’ll move on to talk about each of the bonus features you can find on the Digital HD and Blu-Ray Combo Pack versions of the film.
When you open up your copy of the Blu-Ray combo pack, you get a code for your digital download, and three discs; one for the film, one for the bonus features, and a DVD.
- The Story Awakens: The Table Read – This is about a 15 minute featurette documenting the first time the original and new cast members all get together to read the script of Episode VII. It was very enjoyable, and I loved watching the interviews of many of the cast member’s feelings of nostalgia and excitement about continuing the legacy of “Star Wars.” I would have loved to have seen more clips of the actual table read that were filmed, but it was still very exciting to watch snippets of the cast getting together in an intimate setting and reading such an extraordinary script. It was a real behind-the-scenes treat that we rarely get to see for any film.
- Building BB-8 – One of the featurettes that talk about the process of designing BB-8, as well as the many different versions of him used to operate him in different environments for the shooting of the film. I thought this featurette was fantastic, and loved seeing the process of making the “R2 of our generation” (as the filmmakers often referred to him as) so lifelike. I think kids will really enjoy this one!
- Crafting Creatures – Something that I, and many other fans, were excited about was the heavy use of practical effects in Episode VII, much in the way the original trilogy had. It was incredible to see how practical effects have become so intricate over the decades since “A New Hope,” each one so intricately thought out and crafted, with many of them utilizing animatronic technology. This featurette was my favorite on the Blu-Ray, it was very in-depth and allowed us to see creatures the film crew created that were in the background of scenes and may not have been able to see them up-close otherwise.
- Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight – This Blu-Ray really nailed all the special features, because yet again I have to say, I loved this one! This focuses on creating and filming the fight between Rey and Kylo, and Kylo and Finn in the snow. It was interesting to see how every individual department involved in the film put incredible efforts into making this scene perfection. From watching this featurette you can really get a taste of how much coordination, teamwork, and talent it takes to create a film as big as “The Force Awakens.”
- John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – In this featurette, you get to see many clips of John Williams orchestrate the score for Episode VII, as well as interviews with Williams talking about his creative process in writing the score. In watching Williams lead such a massive team of musicians, as well as not only create new music but find ways to incorporate pieces of the original, its easy to see why John Williams is one of the most legendary composers of all time.
- ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force – It was amazing to see that much more of the film than I had realized were actually practical effects, and with this featurette you get a more in-depth look on this, as well as the enhancements they make with CGI. This was a really interesting featurette, but I would have liked if it were a bit longer, I would have loved to have seen more on this topic!
- Force for Change – A short look on how Lucasfilm and Star Wars fans around the world are giving back. It really showed what a great community the fans and crew of Star Wars have created and have found ways to use their love of Star Wars to give back! They have a website you can check out here.
- Deleted Scenes – Rather than full-length scenes, these were more like pieces of scenes already in the film that were cut, and some seemed like scene transitions. They are all very short clips, but still fun to watch nonetheless!
- Secrets of “The Force Awakens”: A Cinematic Journey – This was my favorite bonus feature of all! It was a full-length documentary with many in-depth interviews, and behind the scenes clips I had never seen before. We get a look at the film from the very beginning of casting, to the completion of the film. The documentary was not only a Star Wars-fan dream of an insider’s look of the film, but the feeling of being on set along with the cast and crew for the filming was very palpable.
Many Blu-Rays are released with bonus features that fall short, but this Blu-Ray exceeded my expectations with how in-depth and entertaining each bonus feature was. They were very fun and enjoyable to watch, and ones that I will definitely be re-watching numerous times. Even though I already watched the film and bonus features over Easter weekend, I’m ready for round 2!
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be released on Digital HD April 1st, and on DVD and Blu-Ray Combo Pack April 5th.
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