Ordinarily I’d have posted this earlier this yesterday, but considering Star Wars: The Force Awakens only came out on Blu-ray and DVD here in Australia … and I work full time … well, you can imagine my frustration as my newly purchased copy sat tempting me within my company owned locker, waving from down the hall as I slaved away on my day-to-day duties. “Look at me! I’m a cute little DVD just waiting for you to unwrap me!”
Worst. Afternoon. Ever.
But then the day ended. I dashed home (being careful to stay under the speed limit. Speed kills, kids), stuck the disc into the player, re-watched the entire film and partook in all the juicy special features. But before I tell you what I think, let’s start from the beginning, shall we? How does Star Wars: The Force Awakens hold up now that we’ve had a good five or so months of cinema watching, analysis and rumour milling on what the future may hold? If your answer is ‘Rey is awesome’ then yes, it holds up really well.
There’s no doubt many die hard Star Wars fans had much to cheer for when The Force Awakens finally hit theatres late last year. Having trundled slowly and sometimes painfully through a prequel trilogy devoid of the same charm and sense of adventure the original three film arc provided, here was an opportunity for a clean slate, a chance to create a whole new era of characters whilst remembering the origins of this amazing universe. For the most part, new owners Disney and Lucasfilm pulled it off to perfection, and as a fan I couldn’t be happier.
Yes, there were a few iffy bits of dialogue, and Carrie Fisher looked bored (let’s be honest, even she knows she’s better than that), but the combined might of Harrison Ford and a cast of fantastic new characters helped to push this well beyond even the highest of expectations. The action was top notch thanks to some beautiful visual and practical effects, the call backs to the original trilogy were both amusing and heartfelt, plus the whole experience felt like one big, warm hug. The entire story was built from the ground up with love and respect in mind, carefully constructed to remind us of the good times whilst forging ahead with bold new ideas.
So The Force Awakens is the movie Star Wars fans have been waiting for since the end credits of Return of the Jedi (sorry prequels, you know it’s true). How does this early blu-ray package hold up in comparison? Do we get all the awesome special features we ever wanted? Well … kinda. It’s no Lord of the Rings Extended Edition, which had so many features it took just as long to watch them than the entire Peter Jackson trilogy even in extended form.
This first home video form comes with a few neat little features, such as a behind the scenes look at the round-table script read that featured the entire cast (including Mark Hamill as the narrator … I won’t spoil anything here in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t worry). It was great to see those early interactions, plus how honest some of the new cast members were in their early performance. I do question Harrison’s gushing over the casting choices though, was he really that happy? Really? Or was it the pay cheque? Hmm…
The main features include a general look at the making of the film, a nice piece that delves into the importance of maintaing the heritage of Star Wars whilst also adding enough new material to bring in the next generation of audiences, plus my personal favourite piece that focused on the making of everyone’s favourite new droid, BB-8. The little ball that could stole many a heart during his scenes and seeing how he was brought to life just adds to those feelings. He’s so damn cute!
The one annoying part of the second disc full of features, the part I was most looking forward to, were the deleted scenes. Not because they were bad scenes, despite how it made sense they were left on the cutting room floor, but that there were so many other teased and rumoured scenes during filming that weren’t included. What of Leia’s interaction with the Republic? Was there more to Luke’s scene with R2 that was filmed but not used? Were there alternate takes? I get the feeling Lucasfilm might be holding some content back for the 3D blu-ray release that’s scheduled (I believe) for later this year.
Also, it should be noted that there’s no audio commentary or blooper reel, two staples of the modern home video format that Disney normally include with their myriad of Marvel films. I don’t often listen to the commentary tracks, but I can understand people who may be frustrated at the lack of such a feature, wanting to learn more from the cast as they watch the film back. Again, maybe they’ll include that at a later date.
Overall though, it’s just good to finally be able to watch The Force Awakens in the comfort of home. It’s a wonderful film that makes the best use of surround sound rigs and big screen TV’s. It’s a popcorn flick with a heart of gold, and to think it’s just the first part of a planned trilogy (let alone the spin-offs that are coming out in-between, such as Rogue One this December and the rumoured young Han Solo film). The Blu-ray is a little light on the required features side, but what’s here tells a good story and provides enough insight into the making of that will appease casual audiences and hardcore fans alike.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-Ray is available now in most stores across Australia.
Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist who really, really wants to own a live size BB-8 droid.