Star Wars The Force Awakens DVD Review

DVD Review by Jon E Clist

The Premise
A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

The Review
A complete and full on Star Wars nerd am I. Last night we went to the NZ premiere of Star Wars The Force Awakens and we got given this beautiful commemorative Medal. I put it on this morning to take it to my office, (For putting on the movie stuff shelf) forgot I was wearing it and ended up heading out to a café with it still on… Just like a Star Wars fanboy. So that kind of gives you the understanding of how massive my expectations were for The Force Awakens.

I am amongst the majority of Star Wars fans that love the original trilogy, only just tolerate the prequels, dislike The Phantom Menace and hate Jar Jar Binks. Here’s the thing. I have pretty much loved everything that JJ Abrams has done so far. I loved his reboot of Star Trek and to be fair I am probably even more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars fanboy. I have to say that JJ Abrams has managed this so well. He has kept the story and key components close to his chest while releasing enough to have your mouth watering cinematically. He has played up the “Where is Luke Skywalker?” aspects of the pre-promotion and this is extremely fitting with the storyline that unfolds.

This is absolutely one of those films where little needs to be said of the storyline other than it works and is a brilliant blend of fresh and respectful of what has come before. While there are elements of the story’s direction that mirror aspects from the previous Star Wars films, there are also plenty of new things happening along the way. The established characters are superbly funny and build upon the love that the audience already has for them from the previous films. One of the best parts of the story is the moment that Han Solo and Princess Leia are reunited. The dialogue is perfectly placed and you can’t help but feel a part of the relationship. After all, we are all family for the most part. Especially as for most of us, we grew up with the Star Wars universe. Even the younger ones have had The Clone Wars and Rebels Animated TV series to draw them in along the way.

Visually this is the blend of real action, filming miniatures and the right amount of CGI to accentuate what is going on rather than dominating it. This is the modern day Star Wars film that we have been waiting for and as far as I am concerned it delivers perfectly.

Much has been said in anticipation of the new characters and where in the prequels many of the characters were lackluster and you didn’t really care about them. Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren are fabulous and you can’t help but feel connected to them and long for more of their story to be told. Then that is what setting up and maintaining a franchise is all about… creating the desire to follow the characters.

I will say that it is also brilliant how they have utilised the characters we know and love and brought in new characters to help move the story forward.

The Verdict
Awesome, well worth seeing on the big screen and if you get the chance, perhaps even on the new awesome laser 3D projector at Imax…

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 13th April 2016
Rating: TBC
Duration: 135 minutes 
Genre:  SciFi
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Director: JJ Abrams (Star Trek)

The Extras
The production had a preference for using real locations and miniature models over green-screens and computer-generated imagery whenever possible in order to make the film aesthetically similar to the original Star Wars trilogy.

In summer 2013, it was revealed both Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill had begun a vigorous regimen of diet, exercise and stunt training to prepare for their roles of Leia and Luke, respectively.

Mark Hamill was the same age (63) while filming his role for this upcoming movie as Sir Alec Guinness was while filming his scenes in the original 1977 "Star Wars" film.

The first J.J. Abrams film not to have a musical score by Michael Giacchino. Aptly enough, Giacchino stated in an interview that he would rather hear the music of John Williams in a new Star Wars film than his own.

While filming in summer 2014, Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the door of the Millennium Falcon. About a year later, director JJ Abrams revealed that he broke his back while trying to help get Ford out from under the door.

When the first trailer was released, there was much discussion about how it appeared to be getting back to the "grubbiness" ("dirty transporters, second-hand rockets, things that broke") of Episode IV, rather than the CGI cleanliness of Episodes I-III. British TV star Phill Jupitus revealed in an interview that he "met an effects bloke in Essex, he drinks in my local coffee shop. He said [the makers of the new film] bought every gas-bottled air gun in England when they arrived because they wanted the Stormtroopers' guns to have a kick when they fired them. You don't have to fake it; it looks real."

The new droid BB-8 is inspired by one of Ralph McQuarrie's first concepts for R2-D2. But instead of a small R2 unit dome on a large ball, the original concept resembled a legless R2-D2 body resting on a smaller ball. That idea was scrapped because it was impossible to make it work in the mid-1970s

After he was cast, Oscar Isaac revealed to director J.J. Abrams that his uncle is a huge Star Wars fan. As a result, arrangements for Isaac's uncle to visit the film set were made. To the great surprise of both Isaac and his uncle, Abrams then asked if he would be interested in appearing in the film as an extra. Isaac's uncle quickly agreed.

After publicly declining to direct a new Star Wars film, J.J. Abrams was visited at his Bad Robot office by Kathleen Kennedy. Their negotiations lasted over a month, during which time, Abrams' central concern was the vast magnitude and cultural significance of the project.

Mark Hamill claimed that George Lucas nonchalantly told him over lunch that a new Star Wars trilogy was going to be made by Disney, and that if he did not want to be involved, Luke Skywalker would simply be written out of the script. However, Hamill immediately agreed to reprise the role.