Star Wars: The Force Awakens In Your Living Room

I am days away from getting on a plane to go run in the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World. Along with the packing and the costume planning, I’ve been doing a fair amount of immersion in the Star Wars universe to get me ready for these races. And while the original three films are still near and dear to me, most of my attention the past couple of weeks has been on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Like many Star Wars fans, we were giddy at the release of this new film. We had Cordy and Mira watch the original trilogy ahead of seeing The Force Awakens, and they were nearly as excited as we were. Mira especially connected with the character of Rey, and I couldn’t be more happy to see a strong, positive female lead for her to look up to. It’s definitely made lightsaber battles among kids in our neighborhood more gender neutral, as no one questions that girls can be just as powerful with lightsabers now.

Mira will also be wearing her Rey costume for her first 10k at the Star Wars Dark Side 10k. (And I’ll be dressed as Rey for the half marathon.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Ph: Film Frame..©Lucasfilm 2015

The months between the film’s theater release and it’s release on Blu-ray/digital HD felt like forever. But then it was finally here, and I’ve been thrilled with everything on this Blu-ray. (Disclosure: I received a copy for review.) So, why do I recommend adding Star Wars: The Force Awakens to your movie collection? Here are a few reasons.

The movie is still amazing, even on a smaller screen. Unlike the prequels, this film made me feel like a kid again. It remained more true to the original films with the reliance on more practical effects versus computer special effects, making everything around the actors feel more solid and also bringing back a “lived-in” feel for the universe that is on par with the original trilogy. The characters are well-defined without giving the audience everything you’ll ever need to know about them – there’s still plenty to learn about the new characters, and that’s exciting when I know there are still two more films ahead of us.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) with Stormtroopers Ph: David James ©Lucasfilm 2015

The story itself fits perfectly as a continuation of the previous Star Wars stories, and the action is fast paced and purposeful. Yes, there are plenty of nods to nostalgia, with moments in the film that seem to be written specifically to make fans swoon at the memories of the original trilogy, but I expected that, and I feel it was necessary to acknowledge the audience’s expectations for it and then move on.

I have a feeling the next two films will not need those moments, as we’ve now established the connection between old and new and can now move forward with the new story.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Ph: Film Frame..©Lucasfilm 2015Passing the…torch?

“Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey.” This bonus feature, included with the Blu-ray or digital HD versions, is a feature-length documentary that takes an in-depth look at the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This addition is priceless for fans, as it provides a fascinating look at everything that went into the concept and creation of this movie.

If you enjoy learning about the process of making a movie (and making one that has to live up to the legacy of the original trilogy!), this is probably one of the best documentaries to watch.

Deleted scenes. I always love watching deleted scenes to get a peek into some of the additional ideas the director and team had for the film. All of the deleted scenes included here added a little bit more to backstory and character development, but none were essential.

The Force Awakens is a little light on deleted scenes, honestly, although I’ve heard there are even more deleted scenes than what was included with this release, including an entire story arc that was removed for time. I’m hoping those deleted scenes weren’t released because they’re trying to work some of them in as backstory for the next film.

Behind the scenes featurettes that cover every area of interest. Do you like learning about how the creatures were made? There’s a bonus feature for that. Love that little BB-8 droid and want to know how he was built and filmed around the set? They’ve included a behind the scenes feature on that, too. Nearly every part of the film-making process is covered.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Director J.J. Abrams w/ actress Daisy Ridley (Rey) on set...Ph: David James..? 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Probably my favorite bonus feature is the “Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight” featurette, which shows how they built that surprisingly lifelike, snowy forest on a sound stage, as well as how they prepared and choreographed that brutal final battle.

Star Wars Snow BattleThis fight was epic.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens carries the legacy of the original trilogy into the next generation, and the story, action, and tone of the film fit seamlessly with the previous films. We’re thrilled to include it on our shelves next to the Original Trilogy (and yeah, the other three movies, too), and I think it’ll be a valued addition to your movie collection as well.

PS – Want some free activities for your kids? (Or, let’s be honest, for you?) I’ve got you covered here:

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