STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
A Newer Hope
Another look at the blockbuster, plus all the extras examined.
released OUT NOW! 2015 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD/ download
Director JJ Abrams Cast John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill
There’s a haunting early image in The Force Awakens. The husks of fallen Star Destroyers dominate the horizon of desert world Jakku. They look like ancient ruins in the empty sands, remnants of a lost age. It’s a striking metaphor. Nearly 40 years on we’re all still living in the monumental shadows of Star Wars, still dominated by its iconography.
And just like desert scavenger Rey, JJ Abrams is out to salvage what he can from the relics of a previous generation – sifting the useful parts from the broken, lashing them together with a technician’s eye, running voltage through the scrap until the machinery sparks back into life. Building the new out of the old.
It’s over four months since the release of Star Wars Episode VII, one of the most anticipated, most dissected films in Hollywood history. It was a hard movie to process at Christmas. While the original trilogy felt set in stone, the paint was still fresh on this upstart addition to the mythology. Now it’s in our homes, on DVD and Blu- ray, and even moments that at first felt jarring – like the low- key death of a beloved character – have been absorbed into the saga; have become Star Wars.
You remember how much it gets right, for all its rehashed Death Star strike and half- hearted treasure hunt plot. Yes, Abrams fetishistically recreates the look and texture we love but, more crucially, the new trio of leads have life in their veins. You want to follow them on their damn fool idealistic crusades.
And then there’s that last, inscrutable shot of Mark Hamill. When Rey hands the lightsaber to Luke it feels authentically Arthurian, crackling with the promise of new myths to build, new stories to tell, in Episode VIII and beyond. We’re on an uncharted world but that’s the moment, more than any other, that welcomes us home. The Force isn’t just awake. It’s alive.
Extras It’s no easy task finding something new to say about The Force Awakens, a film that’s been so heavily promoted that there are probably Amazonian tribes without technology that know JJ Abrams turned the film down when Kathleen Kennedy first asked him to direct it. Yet the makers of the star attraction here, the 69- minute Secrets Of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey, manage to pull off a quality Making Of, even if it never quite achieves the level of “warts and all” ( which was unlikely in any case).
Naturally, there’s unparalleled access behind- the- scenes at almost every stage of the film’s development
You want to follow the new trio
and production, and it does generate a few candid moments that elevate the entertainment level – such as Adam Driver’s admission of nerves about shooting that infamous scene with his on- screen father. It’s also helped by the palpable energy from all involved, boosted by the ineffable charm of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. We’d have liked more from them; there’s clear evidence that a longer chat between the two was shot, so perhaps that’s lurking on a hard drive somewhere, waiting to be released on a future Special Edition. Amidst all the puff- piece love- in praise, there are moments of raw truth ( including Kathleen Kennedy admitting that original screenwriter Michael Arndt didn’t feel he could deliver in time, resulting in the switch to Lawrence Kasdan working alongside Abrams), and yet some things remain unexplored – including Harrison Ford’s on- set leg injury, which Abrams has talked about openly in interviews, but we suppose is avoided because of the health and safety case about it. Elsewhere, the deleted scenes ( three minutes) are skimpy and don’t really add a lot to our appreciation for the final film and the much- hyped piece on the first table read ( four minutes) feels like it was snipped out of the main documentary for no good reason. There are also six interesting short featurettes ( 41 minutes) looking at how the many creatures came to life, BB- 8’ s birth and development, the climactic snowy lightsaber clash ( all shot on a set), John Williams’s music, and Star Wars charity Force For Change.
The VFX team for the Millennium Falcon scanned in images of the original model and replicated all the decals in detail.
Sunday down the recycling centre was always a good day out.
That’s one highly evolved orange.