Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" welcomes the return of original characters, including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Yoda, R2-D2, and C-3PO and further explores the deepening journey of the saga's new members, Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. The saga continues as the heroes of "The Force Awakens" join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past, as they, The Resistance, fight against The Supreme Leader Knoke (Serkis), Kylo Ren (Driver) and the First Order. (Gary Reber)
Special features include commentary by Writer/Director Rian Johnson; the featurettes "The Director And The Jedi" (HD 35:23) and "Balance Of The Force" (HD 10:17); three scene breakdowns: Lighting The Spark: Creating The Space Battle," (HD 14:23) "Smoke And Mirrors," (HD 05:40) and "Showdown On Crait" (HD 12:56); Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) (HD 05:49); 15 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Johnson (HD 25:02); and a Movies Anywhere digital copy.
The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using Arri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa Mini, and Arri Alexa XT Plus camera systems and on Kodak Vision3 film stock using the Arriflex 435, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2, MAX MKIV and IMAX MSM 9802 camera systems at a source resolution of 2.8K, 3.4K, and 6.5K, and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. The source format was anamorphic Panavision® and Super 35 (some scenes). Theatrically, a 3D presentation with conversion by Stereo D was distributed, but no 3D Blu-ray was provided for review. While largely photographed on film, grain is extremely light and virtually undetectable without pausing. This is a tour de force in terms of production design and special effects, as well as cinematography. Resolution is striking with fine textural detail exhibited throughout. The imagery is sharp, with fine detail reflected in facial features, skin ports, scars on Snoke's horrific face, Luke Skywalker's beard, hair, costumes, and all manner of object texture and intricate material compositions displayed throughout. The color gamut is wide and nuanced with a diverse range of hues. Colors are warm and rich and at times visually striking. The greenery in Ahch-To is perfectly natural and vibrant. Reds are rich and warm. Fleshtones also appear naturally hued. HDR contrast is excellent, displaying bright whites, such as seen on the Stormtrooper uniforms and on the island caretaker natives' flowing robes, as well in spot highlights. Blacks, whether dark star fields or the black attire worn by Kylo Ren and the darksiders within the First Order, are deep and shadow delineation is revealing, Contrast is wonderfully displayed during the sunlight reflections off the rock faces of Ahch-To. WOW! segments appear throughout such as from 01:08:32 to 01:11:46, 01:16:34 to 01:19:18, 01:54:06 to 01:56:14, 01:46:26 to 01:47:48, 01:53:24 to 01:53:55 and 02:15:12 to 02:16:30. The picture is wonderfully visual and filmic with excellent color fidelity and HDR output, displaying reference-quality imagery throughout that is engaging visually throughout.( Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is noted for its spacious and dimensional holosonic® spherical surround soundfield. Atmospherics and sound effects are dominant, as well as a seemingly always present orchestral score. John Williams' music occupies an extremely wide and deep soundstage with distinctive instrumental makeup that is well balanced and dynamic sounding. The music aggressively extends to the four surrounds to the sides and back, and to the back-end of the height dimension. Realistic atmospherics enhance the sonics with aggressive sound effects panned across the soundfield and to the surrounds. In one scene, the voices of Ren and Rey swirl around and are reverberant and in motion within the soundfield as they telepathically communicate with one another. The reverberant effect also is heard in the cave Rey falls into. Bass energy is deep and powerful throughout, often extending to sub-25 Hz during sound effects, with strong extension heard in the orchestral compositions. A sonic WOW! is during the scene in Canto Bight as large, powerful creatures race along a racetrack. Sound effects during action scenes, such as small ships whizzing by and blaster fire from the large ships, as well as lightsaber beams, are aggressively panned and directionalized. Dialogue retains intelligibility and good spatial integration throughout, even during the action mayhem.
The Immersive Sound element is comprised in large measure of the orchestral scored extended to the surround height channels, but at extremely low levels that do not enhance significantly the immersion, except occasionally when boosted. Periodic sound effects are heard in the height channels, but sporadically and at an extremely low level as well, with the occasional brief boost such as a craft whiz by. Unfortunately, for such a big-budget production, the sound designers failed to fully realize the impact potential of the height channels.
While the Immersive Sound element is a disappointment, this is a remarkably powerful and sonically soaring ear-level soundtrack in which every scene is sonically engaging whether the element is atmospherics, sound effects, or the magnificent orchestral score––delivering an effective dynamic presence in every scene. Wonderfully crafted, this is an impressive reference-quality Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. (Gary Reber)