Prepare to go deeper into a galaxy far, far away.
I admit it—I’m a sucker for DVD/Blu-ray bonus features. I am the guy who will not only watch the standard making-of documentaries included with many films, but will also listen to the commentaries if it’s one I really like. If the movie has really gripped me, I want to find out all I can about how it was made.
This was especially true in regards to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the crazy-popular sci-fi franchise that has literally spanned generations. When the bonus features were announced, I was excited to see them not only because I’m a big Star Wars fan, but a big fan of this particular movie as well. I was intrigued by the story of how the movie was developed and have been looking forward to getting a more in-depth look than we’ve been given so far.
You can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to get a pre-release copy of The Force Awakens thanks to the help of the world-class team at Click Communications. They have been great supporters of The Good Men Project, and I was honored that we were selected as one of the media outlets to receive an advance copy.
If you’re reading this, it’s pretty likely that you’ve already seen The Force Awakens, maybe even more than once. (I definitely have!) You’ve already formed your opinion of the movie, so let’s skip right to the bonus features. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts:
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey (1:09)
Official description: For the first time, discover the complete story behind the making of The Force Awakens, revealed through in-depth footage and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers in this feature documentary.
My take: This nearly feature-length documentary is the centerpiece of the bonus features. The doc takes you from the very beginning of the process of creating The Force Awakens, all the way through production. It hits all the major points: casting, creating the story, filming, special effects, and more. I enjoyed seeing snippets of the audition tapes for John Boyega and Daily Ridley, and you can clearly see why they were cast in this monumental movie.
The Story Awakens: The Table Read (4:00)
Official description: Cast members familiar and new reflect on the memorable day they all first came together to read the movie’s script.
My take: This is a several-minute look at the first table read of the script, where the entire cast came together for the first time to experience the story together. Although some people probably would have liked to see the whole table read, I think this is enough to give you a taste of the experience without adding a bonus feature that anyone except the most hardcore fans would find fairly dull.
Building BB-8 (6:00)
Official description: See how the filmmakers brought the newest droid to the screen, creating an instant fan favorite in the Star Wars universe.
My take: I am amazed the ingenuity, creativity, and engineering that went into creating this new addition to the Star Wars droid family. I especially enjoyed seeing how different versions of BB-8 were used during production. Sometimes it was a remote-control droid, sometimes it was puppeteered directly, and other times it was completely CGI. That fact that you can’t tell the difference in the actual movie is a testament to the high standards of the filmmakers.
Crafting Creatures (9:00)
Official description: Watch movie magic as the filmmakers bring a cast of new creatures to life.
My take: Nearly every Star Wars fan knows that The Force Awakens used a lot of practical effects and creatures to try and capture the aesthetic of the original trilogy. This was especially true with the creature designs. It’s quite amazing to see the work that went into over a hundred different creatures, many of which are only on screen for a few moments.
Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight (7:00)
Official description: Go deeper into the epic, climactic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren.
My take: I was surprised to learn this scene was filmed on a soundstage, complete with real trees. It’s amazing to see the amount of work that goes into just a few minutes of screentime.
John Williams: The Seventh Symphony (7:00)
Official description: The legendary composer shares personal insights of his work on Star Wars and The Force Awakens.
My take: John Williams’ music is a key part of Star Wars. As Williams shares a few of his insights into the creation of TFA score, you get a real sense of his humility, despite the fact that he has operated at the pinnacle of his profession for decades.
ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force (8:00)
Official description: An insider’s look into the remarkable digital artistry of the movie’s visual effects.
My take: This is one of the most fun bonus features. I was amazed at the lengths the digital artists went to so they could faithfully recreate the Millennium Falcon.
Force for Change (3:00)
Official description: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. See how the Star Wars: Force for Change initiative has united Star Wars fans all over the globe to help others.
My take: It’s great to see TFA crew not only doing their best to create a great film, but also making a concerted effort to do some good in the world at the same time. Yet another reason to love Star Wars.
Deleted scenes include:
- Finn and the Villager
- Jakku Message
- X-Wings Prepare for Light Speed
- Kylo Searches the Falcon
- Snow Speeder Chase
- Finn Will Be Fine
My take: These scenes are very brief—typically only a couple of minutes or less. But as you watch them, you get usually understand why they were cut from the film. The only one that might be an exception is Kylo Ren on the Falcon. That would have been a great addition to the film. Many times, scenes are removed to help the pacing, or because the point of the scene was made elsewhere in the story.
The Force Awakens team has done a great job putting together a collection of bonus features that will satisfy most fans and take you deeper into the production of the movie. I would have loved to see a commentary from the cast and crew, and am honestly a little baffled why this wasn’t included. It would have been a simple addition that many fans would have loved.
We all know that once Episode IX is released in 2019, there will be a massive Star Wars collection released that will probably have far more additional bonus features. However, the bonuses here are well-done and will tide you over until the release of the next chapter of the new trilogy.
The Force Awakens is already out on Digital HD, and the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD release on Tuesday, April 5th.
Bonus Feature Clips
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