Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

TFA-coverJJ Abrams has a lot of work to accomplish with “The Force Awakens,” removing the stigma and stench the series has accumulated over the years with the release of the “Star Wars” film prequels, the constant re-editing and changes to the original films, and so much more. “The Force Awakens” actively works as a rebuttal to the aforementioned legacy set, unleashing a film that’s very down to Earth and celebratory of the original trilogy as a whole. It not only musters up a lot of the tropes from the original trilogy, but acts as a launch pad for a massive movie series that Lucasfilm and Disney are planning for a very long stretch. While some have criticized the film for recycling some elements from “A New Hope,” Abrams fully understands what he’s working with, and working on, and uses “The Force Awakens” as a massive doorway accessible to literally anyone.

Long time fans will find it easy to plug in, casual fans will have no trouble catching up, and new fans will be able to garner a sense of what they’re in store for, hopefully allowing them to back track with the cinematic universe. “The Force Awakens” thankfully isn’t all set up as “The Phantom Menace” was as it sets up the future of the series while also unfolding a brutally compelling tale of redemption, legacy, and the battle of good and evil resurfacing in the galaxy after the Emperor and Darth Vader were defeated. The galaxy has not submitted to peace and kindness, now with a new force of evil emerging and extremists for the Empire and the Sith ensuring another war, as they engineer and build a planet destroyer even worse than the Death Star.

It’s up to a lone scavenger, a skilled X-Wing fighter, and an ex-Stormtrooper hellbent on proving he’s more than a killer to save the galaxy and discover the secrets behind the chaos the evil Kylo Ren is inflicting at all corners of the galaxy. “The Force Awakens” is a fantastic, welcome reboot, and continuation that seeks to restore the legacy of “Star Wars” back to its former glory by conveying a mythical, human, and simplistic adventure that still watches well with repeated viewings. I eagerly anticipate the direction Lucasfilm and Disney are taking the film series and mythology.

I expected so much more from “The Force Awakens” set, mainly because the entire back story behind it is so fascinating and lengthy. Maybe we’re getting the wealth of extras for the eventual thirtieth box set release down the line? Who knows? Where’s the digital scripts? Read Throughs? Talks with Ford, Hamil, and Fischer about coming back to the movie? How about looks at developing the new villain? The genesis of the movie series? Maybe even a separate soundtrack function allowing people to hear John Williams’ amazing score? Some of those functions would have added to the overall experience.

With the edition I bought, along with a DVD and Digital Copy, there’s “Secrets of the Force Awakens,” an hour long four part making of segment that spans the entirety of making and developing “The Force Awakens” for a modern audience, filming locations, concepts and creations of ideas, a look at the creations of new characters and creatue effects, as well as deciding the fate of a “Star Wars” character for future installments of the film series. “The Story Awakens: The Table Read” is a routine segment within the release that is only a brief look at the initial table reading of the film clocking in at four minutes, and how the cast learned to work off of one another. Anyone hoping to re-live “The Force Awakens” through a full length table read will be very disappointed. “Crafting Creatures” is nine minute look at the use of practical and digital effects used to create new creatures, and help revive Chewbacca for a new adventure.

“Building BB-8” s a six minute look at the creation and evolution of the beloved droid for “The Force Awakens” and its place within the storyline. “Blueprint of a Battle: Snow Fight” is a seven minute analysis of the climactic snow bound lightsaber batte and involves the look at set construction, and preparations for the fight itself. “ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force” is an eight minute very quick run through of the digital effects and how the element was more of a support than a crutch for the film. “John Williams: The Seventy Symphony” is a six minute look at Williams’ brilliant work and career, as well as his new work for the film. There are a slew of short deleted scenes, six altogether with further looks at Finn, Jakku, and some footage of the X-Wings. Finally, there’s the three minute “Force for Change,” a look at the charity work surrounding the film.