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'The Last Jedi' Blu-ray Review: Rian Johnson's 'Star Wars' Epic Divides... and Conquers

April 4, 2018Ben MK

At the end of 2016's The Force Awakens, moviegoers were filled with both a sense of satisfaction and a feeling of anticipation. Director J.J. Abrams had successfully reinvigorated the franchise, introducing iconic new characters and weaving their stories into the fabric of Star Wars lore. Yet, the film ended on something of a cliffhanger, leaving audiences wondering — just what kind of role would Luke Skywalker play in the followup?

Now, with director Rian Johnson's eagerly anticipated The Last Jedi, we finally have the answer. Picking up shortly after the events of its predecessor, Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga finds Captain Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), BB-8 and the rest of the Resistance on the run. Pursued relentlessly through the galaxy by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order forces of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), their only hope lies with long-lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Will Rey (Daisy Ridley) succeed in convincing Luke to end his self-exile and rejoin the fight against the dark side?

Joining Hamill and the other returning actors are several new cast members, including Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, a Resistance technician who turns personal tragedy into personal triumph, pairing up with Finn for a dangerous secret mission, Laura Dern as Amilyn Holdo, a Vice Admiral who butts head with Poe, and Benicio Del Toro as a rogue-for-hire who may or may not be trustworthy. Some of these new characters make more of a meaningful impression within the narrative than others, but in true Star Wars fashion, they each have a role to play in helping this galaxy far, far away feel like a living, breathing entity unto its own.

Last, but not least, there's Carrie Fisher, whose sudden passing left a gaping hole in the hearts of Star Wars fans that no amount of visual effects magic could possibly fill, and to whom The Last Jedi bids a fitting and fond farewell. Suffice to say, fans won't be left wanting for space battles and lightsaber combat, but what's most impressive is just how much humanity there is in the story, despite all the spectacle. From Rey to Rose, Finn to Poe, Leia and even Kylo Ren, each of these characters embarks on an emotional journey over the course of the movie. And when it's all said and done, it's the impact of those journeys that viewers will feel the most.

Following in the footsteps of The Force Awakens and Rogue One is no easy task, but not only is The Last Jedi up to the challenge, so is its technical presentation. From the craggy terrain of Ahch-To, to the openly-flaunted riches of Canto Bight, to the icy salt flats of Crait, the 1080p image quality is stellar through and through, delivering a wealth of fine detail and robust colors, with the crimson hues of Supreme Leader Snoke's throne room being one of the standouts. Factor in the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix, which doesn't disappoint when it comes to such iconic Star Wars touchstones as the scream of TIE Fighter engines, the hum of lightsaber blades or the "pew pew" of blaster fire, and the result is something Star Wars fans will be proud to add to their Blu-ray collections.

Disney's two-disc "Multi-Screen Edition" includes an iTunes/Movies Anywhere digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras, most of which can be found on their own dedicated disc:

  • Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Rian Johnson - Johnson talks about the cameos and the actors' performances, the humor of the film, the dynamic between the characters, the set and production design, shooting on Skellig Michael Island, the sound design, the costume design, the editing and the evolution of the narrative, the visual effects and more.
  • The Director and the Jedi (1:35:23) - A making-of documentary that covers the gamut of the film's production, from the announcement of Rian Johnson as director, to pre-production set and costume design, to the process of filming in the studio and on-location on Skellig Michael Island, with special segments devoted to Carrie Fisher, the return of Frank Oz's puppet Yoda, the Canto Bight casino sequence and the fight sequence set in Snoke's throne room.
  • Balance of the Force (10:17) - A look at how the Force is presented in The Last Jedi, from Force connections to Force projection.
  • Scene Breakdowns (33:01) - Behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of three key sequences ("Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle," "Snoke and Mirrors" and "Showdown on Crait").
  • Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) (5:49) - Footage of Andy Serkis' mo-cap performance as Supreme Leader Snoke.
  • Deleted Scenes (23:51) - Fourteen scenes ("Alternate Opening," "Paige's Gun Jams," "Luke Has a Moment," "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 & Finn Go to Where They Belong," "Rey & Chewie in the Falcon," "The Costumes and Creatures of Canto Bight"), featuring an introduction by Rian Johnson, and playable with an optional commentary by him as well.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of March 27th, 2018. The Blu-ray features English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 32 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on December 12th, 2017.

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