REVIEW: Dive WAY deeper into ‘STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI’ via plentiful features of new home release
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is probably the most polarizing film in the Star Wars Saga and now that it’s coming to the home market, it can give fans (and detractors) even more evidence to dig in their heels on their opinions. My take after the initial advanced screening was that I didn’t love it but didn’t think it was bad.
That’s why I was so excited for the advanced review copy of the Blu-ray multi-screen edition to dive in deeper with all the extras. Bonus Features for this release include include a several behind-the-scenes looks, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries. This release also marks Disney’s first title available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision™ HDR and Dolby Atmos®.
So what corners of the galaxy were opened up here? Let’s take a look:
- Audio Commentary was one of the features I was most anxious for with this release. Having not been a big fan of the movie I was excited to hear in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson. It’s clear that he was intensely passionate about the project and had all the best intentions for doing the necessary job of elevating the next chapter of the Saga to an unpredictable and intriguing point that sets up the finale of the next and final movie. Something to feel familiar but also not just a rehash of themes that many faulted in The Force Awakens. Certainly, not an enviable task to take on.
- Deleted Scenes can be watched with our without commentary by Rian Johnson. Normally, deleted scenes are sort of self-explanatory and not really worthy of much debate however the scenes here provide so much more light into the story that ended up on the screen. By no means do I wish TLJ was longer but it seems that one of the biggest issues after seeing the removed scenes was that the biggest downfall was the lack of an economy of storytelling.
The final film FELT disjointed and that’s because A LOT of connective tissue was removed in the interest of pacing and timing. It’s quite frustrating to see how a few more months of editing could have really changed the final result. The right materials are there, they just didn’t quite come together in a way that felt completely satisfying for me.
Scenes available in this release include an Alternate Opening plus Paige’s Gun Jams, Poe: Not Much of a Sewer, It’s Kind of Weird That You Recorded That, The Caretaker Sizes Up Rey, Caretaker Village Sequence, Extended Fathier Chase, Mega Destroyer Incursion – Extended Version, Rose Bites the Hand That Taunts Her, Phasma Squealed Like a Whoop Hog, Rose & Fin Go Where They Belong, Rey & Chewie in the Falcon, and less off a deleted scene and more of a montage of B-roll, there’s: The Costumes and Creatures of Canto Bight.
- The Director and the Jedi is a full hour-and-a-half documentary diving in again with Rian Johnson; this time on a MUCH more intimate and personal look at the writer-director on his journey through the production. Really great stuff in here from casting, costuming, shooting locations, building sets, realizing creatures, coordinating schedules, and just overall dealing with an immensely complex production. You really walk away with an appreciation for his efforts with the project.
- Scene Breakdowns are a wonderful techy geek-out for those interested in the actual film-making process. This is less about story and more but specific scenes and everything involved with realizing them. Here’s description of the three included featurettes — each of which is about 12 minutes long — courtesy of Disney:
- Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
- Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
- Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, re-imagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
- Balance of the Force is another great piece that dives deep into the mythology of the Force. It’s absolutely clear that Rian Johnson put a lot of thought and consideration into his portrayal of the makings of the Force, Jedis, and the balance of the galaxy. Some really great philosophies are shared with one of galaxy’s oldest most famous hokey religions. It’s a great exploration into a strong-point of this film.
- Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) is a really fantastic bit of behind the scenes magic. Andy Serkis, who portrayed Snoke with a motion-capture suit, delivered an absolutely chillingly captivating performance (which, to be honest, gets lost in translation into CGI) and seeing the actor actually in the scenes is truly moving.He delivers such an intense character that, had it been translated through to his CGI counterpart would have made Snoke a truth force to fear in this franchise. It really just goes to show that even with state of the art technology the intensity of human emotion is just not yet at the level to be fully translated digitally. Serkis is is truly terrifying, even in the silly mo-cap suit.
- Rebel Rose is a nice little look at casting Kelly Marie Tran as Rose. It seems that this was created as a piece to air on television as it ends with a NOW PLAYING message. Still, it’s always fun to see chemistry reads between actors before they’re actually cast in their roles.
- Score-Only Version of the Film is a fun extra if not a little strange of a feature. As it’s name implies you can see the entire film with just the musical track, no vocals!
The amount of bonus features on this release are not for the feint of heart. It’s a fantastic mix of really great features. My only real disappointment witht his release was that there was not a single feature dedicated to General Leia. Even if just a recap of the character over the years would have been a really nice tribute to the late Carrie Fisher. The lack of any sort of acknowledgement via a special feature feels like a glaring omission. Still, this is a home release to be excited about and now that it’s available for purchase you can make it yours!
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI releases digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ and via Movies Anywhere on March 13, 2018, two weeks before the 4K Ultra HD™ Blu-ray, and Blu-ray™ disc on March 27, 2018.