The Film (5/5)
It has been a long time since I have been able to get excited about a Star Wars movie. In the run up to the Phantom Menace, I felt I had no reason to be worried about the film being bad, but after that experience I went into each film with trepidation. The prequels did end up better with each installment, but even at their best (Revenge of the Sith), they lacked some of the charm that made Star Wars what it was at it's core.
I will admit that I was anxious going into the Force Awakens, but with each trailer and TV spot much of my worry began to go away, and when I finally saw the film I found myself legitimately enjoying it for what it was. I will say that after 4 viewings I still enjoy it as much as I did the first time. The Force Awakens has managed to reignite my love for a franchise that I thought I had all but lost.
The Force Awakens takes place roughly 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The Empire is long gone, but in it's place is the First Order a group determined on conquering the galaxy in much the same way as the earlier Empire, to do this they have constructed a weapon that occupies the internal space of a planet and can do much more damage than either Death Star ever could. In response to this the Resistance lead by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) has been working to stop them. However, the Resistance is not as strongly powered as the Rebellion of old, and they are working with scraps, needing help, but not having it she sends her greatest pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in search of a map containing the whereabouts of the lost Jedi master, her brother, Luke Skywalker.
Poe acquires the map, and puts it into his robot BB-8, and sends the droid on his way as far as it can go. He does this just as the First Order with one of their leaders Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) arrives to intercept the information. The droid ends up in the hands of a scavenger named Rey, while Poe ends up with the First Order in space until a rogue stormtrooper that he nicknames Finn comes to save him (and himself). However, escaping isn't easy for the two, a crash occurs and Poe disappears at the site leaving Finn to find BB-8, and get him back to the resistance, now with the help of Rey.
The Force Awakens is everything I wanted in a Star Wars films weaving elements from the first trilogy of films with new elements to create something that was entertaining and compelling. It was, of course, exciting to see old favorite characters again, but the new characters including Rey, Finn, and Poe feel like they absolutely feel at home in this universe, and are as, if not more interesting than the older ones, and will be perfect entry points for young fans to enter the series through.
The performances from the cast, both newcomers, and old favorites are absolutely fantastic all the way across the board. The FX are as expected marvelous, and as CGI was kept at a minimum, I think they will hold up much better than the video game cut scene FX of the prequel trilogy. The score from John Williams maintains the quality standard of his other Star Wars work. The only real negative for the film is how it utilizes so many narrative qualities of the first trilogy of film. That being said I tended to let this go as the film worked for me on every other level.
If there is one last bit of praise I can keep upon this film it is simply that it has made me excited for what's next in Star Wars. That is a feeling I haven't had in some time.
It's pretty much no surprise that a Star Wars film would like stunning on Blu-ray. The film is presented by Disney in a stunning 1080p AVC encoded 2:35:1 transfer preserving the films OAR. Detail throughout the transfer is excellent, colors are bright and pop from the screen, and blacks are inky and deep.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD 7.1 track. The audio here is positively excellent with a truly immersive sound experience. The dialogue, score, and effects come through nicely, and I found nothing to complain about.
The extras contain a feature length making of documentary, that is highly entertaining, and worth the price of admission on it's own. Outside of that we have deleted scenes, a bunch of featurettes on special FX, music, and more. We are also treated to a bit on one of the table reads from the film.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is everything I wanted from a Star Wars film. The Blu-ray looks and sounds amazing. It is loaded up with entertaining and informative extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.