Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens 3D

Featured In Issue 211, November 2016

3D Picture5+
WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Sci-fi action violence
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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B & C
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J.J. Abrams
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DTS HD Lossless 7.1
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Stars Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens 3D Collector's Edition is encased in a four-disc collectible package reminiscent of LaserDiscs past and is set three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, when a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy, and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Director J.J. Abrams, as he reveals the creative and complex choices made while developing the first film in the new Star Wars Trilogy; the featurettes: Force For Change (HD 03:22), Foley: A Sonic Tale of Foley artists who match sound to action (HD 04:02), and Sounds Of The Resistance, which reveal how the epic sound design moves the legacy forward (HD 007:15); nine deleted scenes (HD 06:39); Dressing The Galaxy with Costume Designer Michael Kaplan (HD 06:27); The Scavenger And The Stormtrooper: A Conversation With Daisy Ridley And John Boyega (HD 11:45); Inside The Armory tour through the design and creation of the weaponry (HD 08:07); John William: The Seventh Symphony (HD 06:51); and the classic bonus feature from the April 2016 release of the movie, including the featurettes: Secrets Of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey (HD 69:14), The Story Awakens: The Table Read (HD 04:01), Crafting Creatures (HD 09:34), Building BB-8 (HD 06:03), Blueprint Of A Battle: The Snow Fight (HD 07:02), John Williams: The Seventh Symphony (HD 06:51), ILM: The Visual Magic Of The Force (HD 07:55), and Force For Change (HD 03:22); and a digital copy.

The 2.40:1 1080p MVC 3D picture is exceptionally dimensional. The 2D to 3D conversion was performed by Stereo D under the supervision of Stereographer Brian Tabler. You haven't fully experienced The Force Awakens unless you experience this originally conceived 3D version. The imagery was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa camera system and Panavision's Panaflex film camera system, with some segments shot with the IMAX MKIII system. Theatrical releases consisted of a Kodak Vision3 35mm and 65mm Vision3 in anamorphic Panavision®, as well as 70mm IMAX DMR blow-up. This is the D-Cinema 3D version, which also was released theatrically. The imagery is absolutely pristine. The opening roll is striking with the yellow lettering floating in the foreground against a solidly deep star field background. From the opening scenes, first the attack segments and then the vast desert segments, spatial dimensionity, depth, and perspective are stellar. The desert segments display a vast sand landscape with incredible depth. The sense of realism is fantastic, including the explosion in the desert sands. The volume and weight of objects and creatures, as well as humans, is perfectly natural in appearance. Every frame during the mid-air space craft scenes is excitingly rendered in 3D with convincing, natural depth. The internal visuals within the Millennium Falcon freighter is so real and perfectly defines the interior volumes. Shifting to the green-forested landscapes, the naturalness and depth perspective, as well as scale, is also stellar. The ground battle scene on the estate grounds puts you in the midst of the mayhem with such realism. While the 3D effect is virtually all depth focused, there are numerous instances of subtle but effective out of screen effects that enhance the overall excitement, especially when the spacecraft zooms into the screen from out. The impressive natural depth is endless, with every scene exhibiting stellar 3D dimensionality. Credit is no doubt due to the incredible production design, whether on space crafts, the Supreme Leader's throne quarters on the Star Killer Base planet, or at the Resistance Base. Furthermore, it is absolutely amazing how realistically dimensional the variety of creatures and humans appear in 3D.
As for the primary image quality, the color palette is naturally hued throughout, shifting from earthy terrains to steely gray war ships in deep, dark space. Lightsabers intensify the highlights with brilliant reds and blues. BB-8’s orange accents are warmly hued and reveal the wear-and-tear stress on his exterior. Contrast is excellent, with deep blacks and revealing shadow delineation. Kylo Ren’s black attire is nicely nuanced. Resolution is excellent throughout, especially with respect to the various attire worn by the characters, which reveal fine detail nuances such as fabric, frays, well-worn imperfections, and textures. The Falcon interior exhibits decade-long wear and tear, which effectively contrasts with the First Order’s starship interiors. Fleshtones are naturally cast and neutral. A fine grain structure is evident but is never objectionable and contributes to the cinematic appearance. This is an absolutely fantastic reference-quality 3D visual experience with wonderful image quality that is sure to please fans of the saga.GR
(Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 7.1-channel soundtrack is quite dynamic and holosonic® sounding, with an effective enveloping and aggressive soundfield. The four surround channels are frequently engaged with directional atmospherics and sound effects. The discrete effects are especially effective in the various action scenes as TIE fighters and X-Wing fighters swoop in battle exchanges and chase and fight scenes on the ground. All sorts of sonics can be heard, both bold and nuanced, during battle mayhem. A Star Destroyer hangar deck is portrayed with bustling sonic activity, and the larger spaceships rumble through space with deep, powerful .1 LFE bass extension to sub-25 Hz frequencies. This is not always the case with respect to laser blasts, which at times lack sonic power. In the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, all sorts of nuanced sounds are nicely rendered. Dialogue is nicely integrated spatially throughout. John Williams’ orchestral score is enveloping and precisely nuanced as is to be expected, filling the soundstage and extending to the surrounds to develop the soundfield. This is a wonderful soundtrack that enlivens the storytelling and nicely supports the nuances and energized excitement. We’ll have to wait for a 3D version, which, hopefully, will include Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D Immersive Sound formats. (Gary Reber)