Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Blu-ray Review

3D adds only occasional majesty to this still entertaining sci-fi adventure. 4.5 Stars

Seven months ago when J. J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered on Blu-ray, there were many disappointed fans who weren’t going to be able to relive their 3D theatrical experience in their homes since Disney was only releasing the movie in 2D. Now Disney has made good on their promise of an upcoming 3D release with the latest 3D Blu-ray incarnation of the film.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Released: 18 Dec 2015
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 135 min
Director: J.J. Abrams
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Cast: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver
Writer(s): Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Plot: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.
IMDB rating: 8.4
MetaScore: 81

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 16 Min.
Package Includes: 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Case Type: digipack in a slipcase with lenticular cover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 11/15/2016
MSRP: $49.99

The Production: 4/5

Seven months ago when J. J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered on Blu-ray, there were many disappointed fans who weren’t going to be able to relive their 3D theatrical experience in their homes since Disney was only releasing the movie in 2D. Now Disney has made good on their promise of an upcoming 3D release with the latest 3D Blu-ray incarnation of the film. To take some of the wincing away from the double dip, Disney has also included a director’s commentary and about forty-five minutes of additional bonus features while including in the package all of the previously released bonuses including a DVD and a digital copy. While the 3D offers an expansive feel to the original release and some perhaps more immersive visuals in certain instances, there is certainly nothing earth-shattering about the film in 3D for the average moviegoer. Those who insist on recapturing their original theatrical experience at home, however, should feel more than satisfied with this new release.

A scrappy scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a First Order Storm Trooper Finn (John Boyega) who has bolted from the ranks get drawn into the latest plot of the reigning evil power First Order to destroy planets hostile to their takeover and once and for all wipe away any vestiges of the Resistance and the Force. To do that, they must find the long vanished Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), but the only one who has a map of his whereabouts in the galaxy is a rogue pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who has hidden the map on a drive inside tiny droid BB-8. Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) has commanded General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and his enforcer Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to do anything and everything possible to carry out his orders by using their immense weapon of mass destruction, but Rey and Finn join up with the Resistance still being overseen by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Also coincidentally getting brought back into the fight, some for reasons personal as well as professional, are Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew/Joonas Suotamo), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). Rey especially feels a kinship to the Rebels and begins to sense that the Force is indeed within her.

Director J.J. Abrams created the screenplay along with screenwriters Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan (who helped fashion the best of the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back), and they’ve created a story that is at once both familiar and fresh. We’re going to have a heroine as the focal point of this trilogy, and yet there is much about the character of Rey that is as wide-eyed and full of wonderment as Luke Skywalker was in the first two films of the original trilogy while retaining his fighting spirit and search for the truth. If many of the characters retain similar paint strokes to original characters in the first three films: Poe’s confidence is similar to Han’s, Snoke’s sneering evil is a carbon copy of Palpatine’s, Ren’s dark suited menace a younger but similar force to Darth Vader’s, we do have Finn’s renegade Storm Trooper (who was trained as, of all things, a sanitation worker) that’s a new presence and energy in the story. Similarly, those who loved the Millennium Falcon or the light sabers or the different wing ships and destroyers and Death Star as well as the cantina with its colorful collection of aliens won’t be disappointed by this new effort in the least. Director J.J. Abrams keeps the story moving at a fast clip and stages all of the space dogfights and attacks on the new Death Star to keep viewer interest maximized, and he uses some of the same old-fashioned narrative crawl, wipes, and iris ins that George Lucas employed in his original movie while also retaining John Williams to write the stirring score and many of the same sound designs originated by Ben Burtt that give this film the familiar sounds of the originals.

The four younger members of the cast all do first-rate jobs establishing characters that we’re certain and eager to see in the upcoming sequels: John Boyega as Finn, Daisy Ridley as Rey, Adam Driver as Ren, and Oscar Isaac as Poe. Of the older generation, Harrison Ford takes the major portions of the spotlight as the older but unfazed by time Han Solo, his quips as fast as ever and his chummy relationship with Chewbacca as fast and feisty as ever. Carrie Fisher isn’t as smooth and effortless as her older co-star in recreating her original role of Leia, but there’s warmth there and genuine affection with Ford’s Han joined as they are by a shared regret that’s one of the film’s surprise revelations. Lupita Nyong’o gives a wonderful motion-capture performance as cantina owner Maz Kanata, and Domhnall Gleeson is imperious and properly unctuous as General Hux. Max von Sydow pops in for an early visit as Lor San Tekka, and Mark Hamill has a few quiet moments as the elusive Luke Skywalker, the years turning him into almost an Alec Guinness clone.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: 4/5

The film is presented in its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio and is offered in 1080p resolution using the MVC (3D)/AVC (2D) codec. Shot on film, the imagery here is very sharp and very inviting with exceptional detail while color quality is superb with especially inviting skin tones. Black levels are first-rate while contrast is exceptionally consistent to produce a reference quality picture. The movie has been divided into 50 chapters.

The 3D conversion has been smoothly realized, and it’s best experienced in scenes where the camera is looking down from on high greatly expanding the depth of what is being photographed. The desert expanses are certainly magnified with the use of 3D, and there are compositional elements which occasionally delight the eye (though not consistently so). A couple of short moments offer some brief forward projections (a rod from a speeder, the pointed end of a cruiser suspended in space), but some scenes which one might expect to be dazzling in 3D (like the space dogfights or the climactic lightsaber duel between Rey and Ren) don’t really seem more fully present than they were in 2D.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is exactly the reference quality immersive aural experience one expects from a Star Wars film. Dialogue has been exceptionally well recorded and has been placed in the center channel. John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score fills the fronts and rears with melodies both familiar and enticingly new, and the atmospheric effects pan across and through the soundstage continually to match the dogfights, explosions, creature sounds, and other expected noises common to the franchise.

Special Features: 5/5

There are no bonus features on the 3D disc.

Audio Commentary: J.J. Abrams provides a chatty hodgepodge recollection of anecdotes and feelings in his commentary track, the only bonus feature on the 2D Blu-ray feature film disc enclosed in the case.

All of the other new and the previous bonus features are contained on the bonus features disc in the case.

Deleted Scenes (6:39, HD): three additional deleted scenes have been added to the six which were previously included on the earlier release.

Foley: A Sonic Tale (4:02, HD): Denise Thorpe, who heads the Foley unit, introduces us to some of her new Foley artists who are being guided by her: Ronni Brown, Andrea Gard, and Kim Patrick in fashioning the sound effects for the movie.

Sounds Of The Resistance (7:15, HD): sound editor Matthew Wood introduces us to sound masters Ben Burtt and Gary Rydstrom along with other members of the sound team David Acord and Andy Nelson as they describe their work on the epic.

Dressing the Galaxy (6:27, HD): costume designer Michael Kaplan discusses his conceptions for the wardrobe for several of the primary characters followed by comments on the clothes by director J.J. Abrams and actors Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and Harrison Ford.

The Scavenger & the Stormtrooper (11:45, HD): actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega share memories of auditioning for the movie, arriving on the set, and appearing with legendary actors from the franchise.

Inside The Armory (8:17, HD): props master Jamie Wilkinson discusses the fashioning of the weaponry and other props for the movie. Comments on the props are made by J.J. Abrams, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Mark Hamill.

Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey (1:09:14, HD): a documentary-length feature that details the making of the film from the first press conference held by producer Kathleen Kennedy in 2013 through the pre-production process, the filming, and post production work. Along the way, director J. J. Abrams, production designers Rick Carter and Darren Gilford, writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, composer John Williams, sound editor Matthew Wood, producers Bryan Burk and Michelle Rejwan, director of photography Dan Mindel, and actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Simon Pegg, and Lupita Nyong’o make comments on the production.

The Table Read (4:01, HD): Cameras record Mark Hamill reading the stage directions and the entire company taking part in their first gathering together going through the script.

Crafting Creatures (9:34, HD): Creature Effects creator Neal Scanlan introduces us to the various means utilized to create the creatures of Star Wars. Included are the actors who voice the characters and the puppet masters who control the puppet and animatronic creatures in the movie.

Building BB-8 (6:03, HD): Writer-director J. J. Abrams shows his original drawing of the new droid for the movie, and we then meet Matt Denton who is in charge of electronic design and puppeteers Brian Herring and Dave Chapman and actors Anthony Daniels, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac who interact the most with the creation in its various incarnations.

Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight (7:02, HD): J.J. Abrams compliments the craftsmen who created the gorgeous indoor soundstage forest set for the climactic scene. Production designers Rick Carter and Darren Gilford and actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Adam Driver also add their comments on the experience.

ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force (7:55, HD): Producer Kathleen Kennedy along with director J.J. Abrams praises the various departments of ILM who created the visual effects for the movie. Special effects supervisor Ben Morris also adds some comments.

John Williams: The Seventh Symphony (6:51, HD): the Oscar-winning composer comments on his delight in being able to once again add his voice to the film while behind-the-scenes shots show him conducting the orchestra and being praised by director J.J. Abrams for his efforts.

Force for Change (3:22, HD): Kathleen Kennedy discusses the use of Star Wars for charitable initiatives with this film’s donations being given to Unicef.

DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.

Overall: 4.5/5

After a wait of seven months for this new 3D edition, Star Wars: The Force Awakens once again brings the universe of these beloved characters and stories alive with a swiftly paced and involving adventure that reboots the franchise joyously with enough mix of the familiar and the novel to please most movie fans. Recommended!

Published by

Matt Hough

administrator

47 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, Matt. Sounds like a solid disc that should have been released day-and-date with the 2D version, as is standard practice for all other major studios.

    I'm disappointed that the 3D version appears to not be OAR for home video – it should be 2.35:1 switching to 1.90:1 (or 1.78:1) for the Jakku escape sequence.

    I also don't understand why studios are generally reluctant to include the commentary track on the 3D disc. I want to hear it so I'll watch it on the 2D disc, but they take up almost no space, and for people invested in the 3D experience, it's more enjoyable to see the movie in 3D. It would cost the studio nothing to have the commentary playable on both versions, but would be appreciated by fans such as myself.

  2. Is it worth to buy the 3D-set just for the extras (I'm not interested in 3D)?

    I can see it listed what is different on the two sets, but I can't judge them from the distance.

    Edit:

    Wait, I missed something. Is the commentary NOT on the 2D-set?

    In that case my question is already answered.

    Never mind. 😛

  3. Thanks for the review, Matt. Sounds like a solid disc that should have been released day-and-date with the 2D version, as is standard practice for all other major studios.

    I'm disappointed that the 3D version appears to not be OAR for home video – it should be 2.35:1 switching to 1.90:1 (or 1.78:1) for the Jakku escape sequence.

    I also don't understand why studios are generally reluctant to include the commentary track on the 3D disc. I want to hear it so I'll watch it on the 2D disc, but they take up almost no space, and for people invested in the 3D experience, it's more enjoyable to see the movie in 3D. It would cost the studio nothing to have the commentary playable on both versions, but would be appreciated by fans such as myself.

    I'm with you on the commentary.  I don't know of a single 3D film that has the commentary on the 3D version.  Why?

  4. I'm disappointed that the 3D version appears to not be OAR for home video – it should be 2.35:1 switching to 1.90:1 (or 1.78:1) for the Jakku escape sequence.

    That's a misleading comment.

    Anyway I'll buy this when it reaches a lower price.

    No reason this should be $30 on release day

  5. Matt, can you tell me what's the run time of the movie? I'm curious if they used the original theatrical version of the end credits or, more likely, the longer version of the end credits that were on the first Blu-ray/DVD release. (Yes, I realize that I'm a huge nerd)

  6. Other way around – commentary is on the 2D version not the 3D version…

    Well, technical speaking we are both correct:

    It is on the 2D-Blu-ray of the 3D-set. But not on the 2D-Blu-ray from earlier this year. 😉

  7. I'm disappointed that the 3D version appears to not be OAR for home video – it should be 2.35:1 switching to 1.90:1 (or 1.78:1) for the Jakku escape sequence.

    Switching to 1.90:1 (or 1.78:1) for the Jakku escape sequence still wouldn't be OAR as the IMAX scene is 1.44:1 and I doubt any studio would shift aspect ratios on blu-ray for 16:9 televisions from 2.35:1 to 1.44:1.

    IMAX Theater (2.35:1 to IMAX 1.44:1)

    Blu-ray (2.35:1 to 1.78:1 crop of IMAX 1.44:1)




    Blu-ray (2.35:1 to IMAX 1.44:1)

    Even Nolan's IMAX scenes for The Dark Knight and Interstellar on blu-ray were not IMAX OAR and cropped to 1.78:1.

  8. Matt, can you tell me what's the run time of the movie? I'm curious if they used the original theatrical version of the end credits or, more likely, the longer version of the end credits that were on the first Blu-ray/DVD release. (Yes, I realize that I'm a huge nerd)

    2:18:06 on the 3D version.

  9. Why are the credits longer at home?

    Good question. The only thing that I think it could be is that they made the font larger so the credits can be more easily read on TV screens as opposed to a movie theater screen. The reason I noticed the change is because there's alternate and new music used into the end credits on Blu-ray/DVD/cable. Theatrically the movie ran about 2 hours and 14 minutes and it's now 2:18 so they added more than 3 minutes of music.

  10. Matt, can you tell me what's the run time of the movie? I'm curious if they used the original theatrical version of the end credits or, more likely, the longer version of the end credits that were on the first Blu-ray/DVD release. (Yes, I realize that I'm a huge nerd)

    Would it have been "No Longer End Credits/No Sale!" for you?

  11. Any retailer exclusives to worry about?

    I always hate to picking something up from one place, only to find out that another place throws in dinner with Daisy Ridley, then another offers a fully functional actual lightsaber, and then here I am with three copies watching TV with Daisy and slicing the arms off my futon.

  12. Any retailer exclusives to worry about?

    I always hate picking something up from one place, only to find out that another place throws in dinner with Daisy Ridley, then another offers a fully functional actual lightsaber, and then here I am with three copies watching TV with Daisy and slicing the arms off my futon.

    Dear Jon

    I'm not sure how to tell you this ….

    Wal*Mart has an EXCLUSIVE …

    A Lithograph of concept art for SPOILER
    With Kylo Ren vs Finn &  Rey with the Millennium Falcon 

    it's also $29.96 as of this writing $.03  cheaper than the Costco price of $29.99! but $5.00 less than the the Disney Movie Club price (Neither DMC, Target nor Costco indicated they had an exclusive …) So dinner with Daisy will have to occur by other means …

  13. Picked this up today.  I'm glad I waited so this wasn't a double dip for me, plus it's been awhile since I've seen the movie so I was able to enjoy it all over again. 

    Excellent 3D, and more noticeable to me than I remember the theatrical experience being.   My one and only disappoint is the IMAX scene not opening up.   The airport scene in Captain America:  Civil War was FANTASTIC at home. Even if just 1.78:1.  Well, it's a small nitpick.

    Soundtrack was great.   But I don't have Atmos yet, so I haven't experienced ceiling speakers to make me feel any soundtrack is missing something.  🙂

  14. Considering that there is no book included, they could have gone with much slimmer packaging. This thing is FAT and takes up the space of at least 2 and a half blu-ray cases.

    Mine (from Wal*Mart) had 4 discs 3D Bluray, 2D Bluray, Bluray Bonus Disc and DVD of the film plus a code for the online extras and a code for Disney Movies Anywhere for the 2D version (and the Lithograph – somewhat Ironic that the 2d Bluray is on top of the 3D bluray ….

  15. [ATTACH]35089

    I had the opportunity to watch this a week ago when Disney sent me a screener.

    I have had too many things going on this end to comment on the presentation.

    This is a striking 3D presentation.  One of the best upconversions I have seen.  In fact, one of the first conversions I believe I have ever seen with such immense pop-out in at least two sequences that come to mind.

    The 3D adds a boundless sense of infinity to space sequences.  The scenes that take place n Jakku also look remarkably endless, particularly when one's perspective is looking down from the massive sand dunes.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going on my Top 30 3D list as the very best conversion to date.  To watch this in 3D is absolutely thrilling.  It reinforces how wonderful this format really is.

  16. Considering that there is no book included, they could have gone with much slimmer packaging. This thing is FAT and takes up the space of at least 2 and a half blu-ray cases.

    Oh yeah, you're right on that!  I was shocked as hell when I opened up my Amazon delivery and saw this monster.  I was expecting just the regular type case.  I got Game of Thrones Season 6 in the same shipment, and that box was smaller!

  17. Any retailer exclusives to worry about?

    I always hate picking something up from one place, only to find out that another place throws in dinner with Daisy Ridley, then another offers a fully functional actual lightsaber, and then here I am with three copies watching TV with Daisy and slicing the arms off my futon.

    Eventually these reissues will start including everything except the film.

    Fans will still buy them though…..

    Seriously I would like to pick up the new version for the extras. I don't currently use 3D.

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