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Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
DVD disk BLU-RAY disk
04.05.2016 By: JimmyO
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens order download
Director:
J.J. Abrams

Actors:
Daisy Ridley
John Boyega
Oscar Issac
Adam Driver
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Mark Hamill

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After the defeat of the Galactic Empire decades ago, a small group of Rebels attempt to fight off a new and powerful enemy.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Upon my initial viewing of THE FORCE AWAKENS, I found myself entertained but with a hint of frustration. The intense hype machine around the return of STAR WARS had diminished my excitement. Yet after another viewing with the recent Blu-Ray release, it seems Episode VII has finally connected. It is a brave new world, one that is also quite familiar. After all, THE FORCE AWAKENS harkens back to STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE in a number of ways. Loaded with nostalgia, the latest chapter welcomes a number of new players, as well as some very familiar faces. And while that may be a let down for some, in many ways, the STAR WARS universe may have needed that to remind people of the ridiculously fun times that were missing in the prequels.

When it comes to STAR WARS, one of the most satisfying aspects of THE FORCE AWAKENS is the level of talent involved. The is arguably the best in the series when it comes to the cast and their performances. Daisy Ridley is terrific as Rey, a young woman who discovers there are more things waiting for her in a galaxy far, far away. John Boyega is also a great addition as a Stormtrooper who is also thinking beyond what he has known. The two make for a charismatic twosome that help carry the new film and give it a fresh feel. And then there is Harrison Ford. The man is back and he is excellent in his return as Han Solo. Mr. Ford is having the time of his life playing off both Ridley and Boyega, as well as his furry life-partner Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

Much like J.J. Abrams did for STAR TREK - probably even more so this time - the filmmaker has done an impressive job bringing the action to life. Nearly everything here feels like a STAR WARS film. Whether it is the first time the Millennium Falcon is revealed, to Rey wandering the desert with the adorable BB-8 - the coolest new droid this side of the galaxy - this new film fully embraces the pulpy goodness that was so infectious in the original trilogy. Of course, having Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill back certainly helps in that department.

The biggest issues I had with my first viewing still linger. While I think Adam Driver is a strong actor, his take on the villainous Kylo Ren didn't quite work for me. I found Domhnall Gleeson far more evil as General Hux. However, the now famous scene with Kylo Ren and Han Solo is exceptional, but mostly thanks to Ford. And while the similarities to A NEW HOPE are less bothersome upon repeat viewings, it would have been nice to deviate from the original film a bit more. That said, the similarities to the original trilogy are a blessing compared to the ludicrously bland prequel trilogy. This is a simple story, and it is far more effective because of it.
THE EXTRAS
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey: If you are at all in the mood for a little nostalgia, this approximately hour-and-ten-minute documentary is perfect. The interviews are informative, and one specific day of shooting that is presented will have you smiling with a tear or two in your eyes. This is almost worth the cost of the Blu-Ray in itself.

The Story Awakens: The Table Read: Now this could have been epic. And while it certainly is great to see this cast assembled together to read the script for the first time, it would have been far more satisfying if it didn't gloss over what a fantastic experience it could have been. I would have loved to see the whole damn thing, but alas, we only get a few minutes about it.

Building BB-8: Considering the popularity of the new droid, I fully enjoyed looking into the creation of one of my new favorite characters in the STAR WARS universe.

Crafting Creatures: This is a very brief look at the creature effects in the new film.

Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight: This behind-the-scenes look at one of the best fights in the film is worth a look. From the choreography to the actual shooting, this wintery battle is exciting to look at even without the final touches.

John Williams: The Seventh Symphony: Watching this master at work is a highlight. While like many of these features, this one is quite short, however it is nice to see Mr. Williams talk about specific themes in the film.

Deleted Scenes: The scenes included here are "Finn and the Villager", "Jakku Message", "X-Wings Prepare for Lightspeed", "Kylo Searches the Falcon", "Snow Speeder Chase" and "Finn Will Be Fine." Each scene is very short, but at least we get a little bit more of Carrie Fisher in Jakku Message.

Force For Change: This is a quick interdiction to the initiative to help several charities including Unicef. And it has a really sweet Harrison Ford moment... Can't get enough of that guy!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE FORCE AWAKENS holds up, and it certainly gives me chills to hear John Williams amazing score throughout. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega make for two characters that I can't wait to follow in the next installment. And watching Harrison Ford step back into the role so effortlessly is more than a little hard to resist. If Abrams STAR WARS film isn't necessarily on par with say THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, it is certainly a strong contender. This is a STAR WARS movie, and it is one that I find myself appreciating more the second and third time around.
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