Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray

Finally, after an interminable wait of three and a half months (anyone remember when films took a year or longer to come to video? No? Just me?), we have the home video release, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD, of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Is it the home video release we’ve all been hoping for, or a bare-bones offering designed to tide us over until a sequel trilogy boxed set is released with the real goods? A little from column A, a little from column B, it turns out. Read on to see what I mean.

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The Force Awakens News from Entertainment Weekly

jj-abramsSometimes, the best news is the kind that nobody was expecting.

Earlier this week, Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly revealed on Twitter that there’d be no new trailer or footage from The Force Awakens shown at Disney’s upcoming D23 convention. This wasn’t much of a surprise, since director J.J. Abrams revealed prior to San Diego Comic Con that the next trailer wouldn’t be released until the fall.

Today, however, EW released a slew of articles and photos from the upcoming issue, featuring interviews with J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, information about character names, and a badass cover of Kylo Ren. Club Jade has an excellent roundup on what we’ve learned so far.  Here’s some of my highlights:

  • Kylo Ren is not the character’s given name. He comes upon it after joining a group known as the Knights of Ren. Also, his broadsaber is a weapon of his own creation. Could he be the Sith fanboy we’ve all been dreaming of?
  • Kathleen Kennedy persuaded Abrams to direct the film by asking him a simple question: “Who is Luke Skywalker?” While Abrams and Kasdan don’t reveal any new information about Luke’s role in the film, or even what he’s been doing up until that point in the timeline, it’s clear that he’s still a major influence in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
  • Rey rescues BB-8 from a soccer ball style net, held by an alien named Teedo and his luggabeast. How does Teedo come upon BB-8? And does Rey have a history with the droid before rescuing him? That’s still unclear.
  • Yes, there’s a reason the surnames of Finn and Rey are still a mystery.
  • There’s a photo of John Boyega in stormtrooper armor next to the crashed TIE fighter, that can be seen in the Behind the Scenes reel from Comic Con. Odds are he’s the one flying that thing, perhaps out of the hangar that we see in the second teaser. “Fly, yes. Land, no!”

As if this isn’t enough new information for us to digest, Breznican teased more news coming tomorrow, featuring everyone’s favorite scoundrel-turned-general, Han Solo. Stay tuned….

Andy Serkis is Supreme Leader Snoke

The Official Site has a great interview with Annie Leibovitz about her Vanity Fair photo spread.

Included in that interview is a previously unseen photo of Andy Serkis rigged in mo-cap gear, and they also dropped his character name: Supreme Leader Snoke (of the First Order?).

Leibovitz also had some nice words about Adam Driver, who plays masked villain Kylo Ren.


J.J. Abrams Interview in Vanity Fair

daisy btsAs part of the June cover story, Vanity Fair sat down with director J.J. Abrams to talk about his work on The Force Awakens. Topics of conversation include how he and the rest of the creative team went about setting the tone and referencing the other films, and what it was like working on Star Wars as a lifelong fan.

On the podcast we’ve speculated a lot about the state of the GFFA 30 years after Endor, and Abrams discusses the appeal of dropping in the audience into the middle of the action with little explanation.

What was incredible about Star Wars, among other things, was that in that first movie Vader could’ve been his father, but he wasn’t, you know. Leia could’ve been his sister, but she wasn’t. You didn’t really know what the Empire was up to exactly. You didn’t really understand what it meant that there was a Senate or the Dark Times or any of the references, and yet you felt the presence of all these things and you understood because it was all being referenced in a way that allowed you to fill in the blanks, and that’s a very powerful thing.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but lately I feel very comforted reading and listening to interviews with Abrams. There’s no doubt he understands the importance of Star Wars, and knows that getting the feel right is just as important as the story itself. Combine that with the amazing new teaser and set pictures, and I absolutely cannot wait until December 18.

Andy Serkis Answers 10 Questions About The Force Awakens

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" New York PremiereWhile none of the actors are able to tell us much about The Force Awakens yet, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly Andy Serkis shared a few things that he can tell us about the movie and his work on it. His answers to EW’s questions, unsurprisingly, don’t give us a lot of detail about the story or characters, but he does reveal that he plays only one character in the film and that his voice in the teaser is unaltered.

One question that he’s not able to give an answer to is whether or not his character is performance capture, which is unsurprising, given the amount of information one could likely draw from the answer.

Unlearning What You’ve Learned, and Why It’s Impossible When You Know Nothing

Yeah, I’m still bouncing over The Force Awakens teaser. When I say bouncing, I mean I’ve been watching the teaser ad nauseum and drooling over Oscar Isaac and the new X-wings. I like the teaser the more I see it, and appreciate what they were able to convey in such a short amount of time. We can assume we’ve seen the new big three, and that there’s still a conflict between the Empire and “Rebellion”, or the New Republic, or whatever it’s called now. And then of course there’s the voiceover, which tells us something big has happened in the Force. This is all more than we officially knew, but we still know very little.

And this makes it impossible for me to to unlearn what I’ve learned about the post Return of the Jedi era. Allow me to explain.

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The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer: Our Reactions

The Force Awakens Logo

Brian: I’m still bouncing. The whole thing was just a rising linear progression of excitement. Right until we got to the X-wings and my heart about shot out of my chest. Then the Falcon shows up and I go straight to crying. It’s Star Wars. The universe feels dirty and lived in again. This feels like the thing I grew up with, and I love it. After you watch the trailer it gets even better. If the characters they showed were nominally the Big Three of this film, there isn’t a white male in the group. It’s progress, actual tangible progress, and I’m thrilled. Today The Force Awakens ceased being this nebulous thing that existed somewhere in the future and became something that’s actually happening. It’s a thing that’s happening and it looks like they’re doing some extremely exciting things with it. I cannot wait.

Nanci: I will admit, I am disappointed we didn’t get a shot of Luke in the teaser. I really, really, really wanted to see him. However, after thinking about it, I realize they made the right decision not to show the old Big Three. They wanted to show that while The Force Awakens will harken back to the Original Trilogy in terms of aesthetics and theme, it’s still a new story with new characters (and new music!). Instead they showed us the new Big Three (or at least I hope they did), and wow did they just stoke my interest big time. I need to know more about the characters John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac are playing. I need to know all about Isaac’s X-wing squadron. (Please can we get a book or TV series about them?) I need to know who that robed figure is; I’m thinking Adam Driver. Not to mention who’s saying the voiceover! (von Sydow or Serkis, probably.) I will end my rambly thoughts with this: while I won’t rest until I see Jedi Master Luke Skywalker wielding a lightsaber, seeing new X-wings made me nearly bounce out of my skin. I am excited. (But not as much as I could have been.)

Bria: Sobbing.  Just gross hyperventilating sobbing.  We have new Star Wars footage for the first time in almost ten years and there’s nothing that could have made me happier except for watching the movie.  The sight of the Falcon and the X-Wings made me squee but what will be sticking with me is that John Boyega was the first person we saw on screen.  Just think about that for a minute.  The first two characters we saw are a black guy and a woman.  DIVERSITY IN THE GFFA.  I’d also like to say that Daisy Ridley couldn’t have possibly looked more like Padmé dressed like Ania Solo in the trailer if they’d tried.  Honestly, there’s nothing that I didn’t love about the trailer.  GIVE US THE NEXT ONE.  AND THEN THE MOVIE.

Sho:  I’m so excited. I really want to know who John Boyega and Daisy Ridley are, who the gravely voice is, who the adorable little rolly droid is. And that scene with the X-Wings was just beautiful. And the lightsaber looked very striking but I’m not sure that cross guard would accomplish anything other than to make the wielder need to be extra careful of their fingers. I am 100% with Bria on how awesome it is to have John Boyega and Daisy Ridley be the first two characters you see. And does this portend how important their characters are in the film? Oh, please let this portend the importance of their characters in the film.

The Force Awakens Trailer To Be On iTunes Friday

The Official Star Wars Twitter account just announced that The Force Awakens teaser trailer will also be available via iTunes on Black Friday.

This follows the previous announcement that it will be debuting in 30 theatres around the United States from earlier this week.

We got our first hint about the Friday online release approximately thirty minutes prior to the official announcement when the official Star Wars Italy twitter accidentally tweeted the news preemptively but quickly deleted the tweet.  It’s great to see the news confirmed though and we here at Tosche Station are very glad that the fandom will get to experience this first trailer together.