Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 28-Mar-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sci-Fi Action Audio Commentary-with Director Rian Johnson
Featurette-Making Of-The Director and the Jedi (95:23)
Featurette-Balance of the Force (10:17)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scene Breakdowns x3
Featurette-Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) (5:49)
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 151:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rian Johnson
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Daisy Ridley
Mark Hamill
Adam Driver
Oscar Isaac
John Boyega
Kelly Marie Tran
Carrie Fisher
Benicio Del Toro
Laura Dern
Domhnall Gleeson
Peter Mayhew
Anthony Daniels
Gwendoline Christie
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Despite its critical and commercial success, certain vocal armchair critics felt that 2015ís Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens played things too ďsafe,Ē and merely rehashed 1977ís Star Wars. Answering to that criticism is writer-director Rian Johnsonís Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, which takes this new trilogy in fresh and bold directions, defying the smug expectations of those who assumed they were just in for a remake of The Empire Strikes Back. In addition, whereas The Force Awakens was a fast-paced, escapist blockbuster, Johnson slams on the brakes to deal with story development and drama, opting for epic storytelling over constant thrills, and requiring patience. Indeed, The Force Awakens was more purely enjoyable, but this follow-up is the superior movie. Exquisitely polished, appropriately rousing and emotionally rich, The Last Jedi is another stalwart Star Wars adventure which proves that there is still plenty of life left in this long-running film series.

††† The location of the Resistance base has been exposed, prompting General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) to evacuate as the First Order closes in under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). But the Resistance fleet cannot escape the First Order and are critically short on fuel, not to mention their starfighter fleet has been obliterated. Unsure of their leadership, Finn (John Boyega) and ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) go rogue in an attempt to save whatís left of the dwindling Resistance forces. To this end, Finn teams up with maintenance worker Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) to disable the tracking system of the First Orderís main Star Destroyer. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Chewbacca have tracked down Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who now lives like a hermit on the isolated planet of Ahch-To, the location of the First Jedi Temple. Rey begs Luke to leave his self-imposed exile and join the fight against the First Order, but heís haunted by his past failures. Even though Luke reluctantly agrees to teach Rey the ways of the Jedi, he fears that she will be seduced by the Dark Side, much like his nephew Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver).

††† Picking up immediately after The Force Awakens, the narrative of The Last Jedi is unexpected, and its ultimate trajectory and plot surprises cannot be spoiled. Happily, aside from sharing a few tiny surface details, this is truly the furthest thing possible from a remake of The Empire Strikes Back. (Itís satisfying to see how confidently Johnson shuts down those who have spent the last two years arrogantly assuming they have ďfigured outĒ this new trilogy.) Johnsonís vision is dark, and he unearths astonishing depth and thematic density to create a more adult motion picture, which is a welcome surprise given that this is a Disney production. Whereas George Lucas built the original Star Wars trilogy around concepts such as Joseph Campbellís heroís journey, Luke is now fully aware that happy endings never last, and that becoming a legend is not necessarily a good thing. The characters here debate the merits of holding onto the past, not to mention the Jedi religion and its hubris is brutally deconstructed. One of the movieís most powerful scenes involves the surprise return of an old character, who has much wisdom to impart. Other themes also crop up throughout The Last Jedi, including the business of war, as arms dealers sell to both sides of the conflict to earn their riches. The self-reflection is certainly welcome for a franchise that has just celebrated its 40th anniversary.

††† The Last Jedi is certainly long, clocking in at 152 minutes which is the most substantial runtime of the saga to date, and it does feel its length. This particular story doesnít exactly lend itself to a tidy three-act structure, and therefore what amounts to Act 2 feels incredibly beefy and is a bit too overcomplicated for its own good. Johnson also has a proclivity for defying expectations to surprise the audience, often stubbornly refusing to let the heroes win, but he pulls these types of tricks a bit too much, sacrificing a degree of narrative stability in the process. Working in the pictureís favour, however, is a pronounced sense of humour amid the armrest-clenching action sequences, suffusing the material with some much-needed humanity and levity. There is even a dialogue exchange in the opening minutes of the film, played for laughs, thatís unlike anything we have previously witnessed in the franchiseís history. Plus, in the casino on Canto Bight, a drunk space-leprechaun mistakes BB-8 for a slot machine. For all of the hoo-ha about the Porgs - small seabird-esque creatures which inhabit the planet of Ahch-To - their presence is insignificant, and they donít immediately irritate in the same way as the Ewoks from 1983ís Return of the Jedi.

††† In terms of tone, The Last Jedi is closer to something like Christopher Nolanís Dunkirk, and in many ways feels more like a proper war film than 2016ís Rogue One. There are certain chaotic sequences in which the Resistance frantically scramble to survive, with a pervading sense of utter hopelessness, that we simply donít see in major motion pictures very often. When Johnson does cut loose to deliver the type of thrilling action that Star Wars fans yearn, he does not disappoint. Lightsaber skirmishes visibly take influence from samurai pictures, while large-scale battles evoke classic war movies. The jaw-dropping extended conflict to close out the second act would be an exceptional climax in any other movie, but Johnson has even more up his sleeve for the actual climax, which packs a real punch. Furthermore, Craitís distinctive red and white landscape makes the finaleís striking visuals look like something from an art-house film. This is Johnsonís biggest movie to date in terms of scope and budget, but it appears that his previous directorial endeavours properly prepared him for the world of Star Wars.

††† For a movie of such a large budget (and considering that it spent the best part of 18 months in post-production), itís disheartening that some of the digital effects are sloppy (particularly the crystal critters on Crait and the space horse stampede on Canto Bight), and a certain returning character in a surprise cameo looks slightly off. Outside of these slight imperfections, however, The Last Jedi is visually stunning, with rock-solid photography courtesy of Johnsonís regular cinematographer Steve Yedlin (Brick, Looper), who predominantly captured the action with a combination of 35mm and 65mm film stock to generate an aesthetic reminiscent of the original trilogy. It looks as if practical model ships were photographed as opposed to wall-to-wall CGI, as the realism and immediacy of the outer space battles is magnificent. Itís also a joy to behold real sets and locations. Meanwhile, the motion capture techniques used to bring Snoke to life are better than ever, looking astonishingly intricate and tangible. Perfectly complementing the visuals is the score by series veteran John Williams. His reliably majestic compositions actually have more presence than The Force Awakens, and recognisable beats from the original trilogy are incorporated during certain moments. Williamsí work is simply invaluable.

††† Nobody back in 1977 could have predicted that Hamill would be capable of such a performance here, as he disappears into the role and submits the best acting work of his career. Itís a treat to see Hamill taking a bigger role this time around, while Fisher is likewise a more significant presence, which is a huge deal since this is the last time we will see Princess Leia. (Outside of the odd occasional Rogue One moment, if any of the spinoffs go that way.) Fisher endows her performance with authority, gravitas, wisdom and warmth, and seeing her play this iconic character just once more is both poignant and bittersweet. Fisherís daughter Billie Lourd is also given a beefier role as an officer in the Resistance, and sheís a delight, not to mention itís wonderful to see her acting alongside her mother. Out of the newcomers, Laura Dern is a notably brilliant addition as Vice Admiral Holdo, and Benicio Del Toro carves out a particularly memorable character. Meanwhile, after making such a positive impression in The Force Awakens, Ridley continues to impress, and is given the chance to really flex her acting muscles and show us what sheís made of. Itís a extraordinary performance, and of course she maintains her innate charisma throughout, making her easy to latch onto. Driver also has the chance to find more depth, and heís consistently excellent, portraying a layered, conflicted antagonist. Isaac shines yet again in his role as Poe (his dress now looking a bit similar to Han Solo), showing the same type of spunk and boyish charm exhibited by Harrison Ford in the original Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately, Tran is less successful as Rose - she lacks spark and charisma. At least Boyega places forth another terrific performance, proving yet again that he was an ideal pick for the role of Finn. Long-time fans should be wary that outside of Luke and Leia, the veteran characters do not have a great deal to do - in particular, R2-D2 is barely glimpsed.

††† More than just a brainless fireworks reel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi emerges as one of the yearís most intelligent and compelling blockbusters, with Johnson extracting superlative performances across the board and pushing the boundaries of the Star Wars franchise. Of course, the movie does refuse to provide answers to all the burning questions that you may have (particularly in regards to the origins of Snoke, and Reyís lineage), and there are imperfections, but The Last Jedi gets far more right than wrong, setting the stage for what has the potential to be one hell of a closing chapter. Johnson also eschews pure fan service as he finds his bold new vision, and as a result your mileage with the finished movie may vary depending on your willingness to watch it with an open mind. It is worth noting that, like its immediate predecessor, The Last Jedi not only stands up to repeat viewings but actually improves a second time around.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Star Wars: The Last Jedi was predominantly shot on film (both 35mm and 65mm) before being completed natively at 4K, according to IMDb. It's a visually spectacular movie which looked excellent in the cinema, and Disney's AVC-encoded, 1080p Blu-ray transfer is one of the best in recent memory. Disney have never been one to waste disc space (as seen with their high quality Blu-ray release of Rogue One), and their excellent Star Wars Blu-ray track record continues with The Last Jedi. Making use of a dual-layered BD-50 and virtually filling up the entire disc, Disney has mastered the movie with a truly remarkable average bitrate of 31 Mbps, which is a huge improvement compared to Thor: Ragnarok, and is even marginally higher than The Force Awakens. This is the first Star Wars movie to receive a day-and-date 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and it's comforting to see that Disney has finally adopted the format, but this 1080p Blu-ray is still demo-worthy in its own right.

††† Framed at the movie's original letterboxed aspect ratio of 2.39:1, The Last Jedi for the most part looks extremely good in 1080p. Thanks to Disney's competent encoding, outstanding fine detail and texturing is apparent throughout; during close-ups of Poe, you can count his whiskers and even make out his beads of sweat, while Luke's facial hair is consistently well-defined. There are always ample textures to make out on skin, costumes, sets or ships, while you can also make out dozens of tiny stars during shots in space. Extreme close-ups of Kylo's hand reveals exceptional texturing on his leather gloves and lightsaber. Furthermore, The Last Jedi frequently looks razor-sharp on Blu-ray, with outstanding object delineation. The sweeping long shots on Crait look phenomenal, beautifully resolving the revised AT-ATs and the landscape, as well as the dirt and salt debris in the air. The presentation thankfully retains a fine but noticeable layer of organic, source-related grain. "Grain haters" may be displeased, as usual, but grain is part of the fabric of film, and it serves to help CGI look better integrated and more tangible. (Besides, you can crank up the noise reduction on your TV to reduce the grain, if that's your thing.)

††† Although the presentation does not have the benefit of High Dynamic Range, colours still look strong throughout. The palette is totally faithful to how the movie appeared on the big screen, with accurate flesh tones, bright orange explosions and flames, and brilliant lightsabers. Climactic shots of Luke on Ahch-To, as the sun goes down, display a strong orange palette that will almost make you think you are watching a 4K disc with HDR. Admittedly, blacks are not quite as deep as they probably could be, and occasionally take on a milky appearance, but I believe that's traceable to the source and is true to the vision of cinematographer Steve Yedlin. Apart from this, I never felt that the palette looked weak or underwhelming; this is a faithful rendering of the source. In addition, Disney's encoding is close to flawless, as the presentation never displays any bothersome encoding anomalies - I was unable to detect any aliasing, banding, macroblocking or any other compression artefacts. It's smooth sailing across the board, making this one of the best Blu-ray encodes of recent memory.

††† The only real shortcoming of the transfer is that it occasionally looks a touch soft, and that detailing is not as strong under lower light, or when light sources are too brilliant that shots look blown out. The movie carried a bit more pop and looked better-resolved in the cinema from a textural standpoint. However, given the disc's maxed out bitrate, this is probably about the best that The Last Jedi could look on a 1080p Blu-ray, particularly due to the format's inherent shortcomings and limited colour space. But that's not to denigrate the disc to any great extent - although the 4K UHD Blu-ray certainly raises the bar, this is still one fine-looking disc that should please fans and videophiles alike.

††† Subtitles are available in English (for the hearing impaired), French and Spanish. The English track is free of problems to my eyes; it's well-formatted and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† As per usual for a Disney movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was mixed in Dolby Atmos, but arrives on Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, much to the ire of audiophiles across the world. (The 4K Blu-ray has a Dolby Atmos mix, for those interested.) Disney has had problems with the encoding of their audio tracks of late, but The Last Jedi is a noticeable step up compared to Thor: Ragnarok, and is nowhere near the catastrophe that was Avengers: Age of Ultron. Although you need to crank up the volume higher than you should probably need to, and the audio could stand to have a little bit more oomph at times, this track is crystal clear and gave my surround sound system a fine workout. The opening crawl set to John Williams' iconic music sounds excellent, enough to give you gooseflesh, and the track utilises panning effects and channel placement throughout. When ships fly past the screen, the sound pans across channels. Certain lines of dialogue come from one side or a single speaker, for instance when Rey first experiences her Force connection with Kylo. Atmospherics are also evident throughout, from the sounds of the waves crashing into shore on Ahch-To, to rain coming from all around, as well as chatter and game sounds in the casino on Canto Bight. I was never left feeling that the soundscape was too hollow. Williams' majestic and beautiful score fills all channels, coming through with precision and never drowning out sound effects or dialogue.

††† The only real issue I had with the track was with dialogue. During quieter scenes, the dialogue sounds a bit too soft, but thankfully it's never muffled. Apart from those certain moments, there aren't many other issues to speak of. Dialogue is easy to make out during the big action scenes, with spot-on prioritisation amid the explosions and laser blasts. The battles sound terrific, exhibiting superb dynamic range to create an immersive soundscape. When Kylo flies his fighter past the bridge, the sound is deafening as the subwoofer is put to good use. When Rey fires her blaster during her first Force connection with Kylo, the blast is loud and packs plenty of impact. When lightsabers are ignited, there is brilliant subwoofer activity, and the hum comes through with effective impact. All laser blasts from fighters are impactful, and explosions are deafening - just see the hanger on the Resistance ship being destroyed. Luckily, I never detected any drop-outs or sync issues, nor are there any pops or clicks.

††† Yes, it's disappointing that this is not a 5-star track like it should rightly be, but this lossless track is still perfectly acceptable, and I was never left feeling overly underwhelmed like I was with Thor: Ragnarok. Plus, casual viewers without surround sound systems probably won't notice that anything is off. And after all, it's definitely better than a lossy mix. Still, audiophiles with expensive set-ups will continue to nit-pick, rather than just enjoying the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† While The Force Awakens received a beefy supplemental package with its 3D Collector's Edition, Rogue One lowered the bar somewhat. Thankfully, Disney raises the bar with their Blu-ray release of The Last Jedi, which has a bonus disc packed with extras. On top of a feature-length audio commentary, we have 163 minutes of video extras, making this one of the most comprehensive Blu-rays in recent memory. Greedy me still wishes there was a little bit more, but this is enormously satisfying. Perhaps there will be a double dip further down the track.

Disc 1:

Audio Commentary with Director Rian Johnson

††† Recorded in late November 2017, before the movie was even released, this is a predominantly scene-specific audio commentary, with director Johnson flying solo as he runs through as many topics as he can to provide comprehensive insight into the production of The Last Jedi. During the opening sequence, he discusses how things changed in post-production, and mentions the movies that influenced him - most notably the Gregory Peck film Twelve O'Clock High. The stunt performer standing in for Hux even broke his nose during the fall to the ground when being thrown around by Snoke. Johnson gives shoutouts to Hermione Corfield and Noah Segan in their cameo appearances, and it's interesting to hear his rationale for the polarising scene in which Leia uses the Force in space. The track is littered with information - he even explains that Maz (Lupita Nyong'o) had a larger role in an earlier version of the screenplay. He breaks down character motivations, narrative choices, and even points out that the Porg nest in the Falcon was kept because Kathleen Kennedy always laughed at it during screenings. Johnson also has some fascinating anecdotes about the shooting of the iconic Yoda scene, including Frank Oz suggesting the initial dolly shot. Thankfully, there aren't any noticeable dead patches throughout the commentary, as Johnson - who's very calm and cool - consistently has things to talk about.

Disc 2:

The Director and the Jedi (HD; 95:23)

††† Whereas The Force Awakens earned a rather substantial 70-minute documentary, Disney crank things up a notch with The Director and the Jedi, a gargantuan documentary about the making of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's also terrifically intimate, for the most part tracking the production through Johnson's eyes. With videographers documenting the production at every stage, this extra begins with the announcement that Johnson will make the movie and shows the general internet reaction. And before the start of principal photography, we are shown the days of pre-shooting at Skellig Michael, as well as the rehearsal process. The level of access we are permitted is remarkable - rather than focusing just on the filming itself, we see producer Ram Bergman and others trying to work out scheduling, as they had to schedule around set construction. It's rare for a documentary to trace the less glamorous aspects of making a motion picture, particularly one as high-profile and expensive as this, making the extra incredibly valuable.

††† Once filming begins, the documentary tracks the shoot in great detail. It's particularly poignant to see the shooting of Carrie Fisher's scenes, and there's some nice interview material with her. Johnson is seen navigating difficult scenes and even visiting the editing suite as often as possible, watching the work of editor Bob Ducsay (Looper) and offering input. Warwick Davis' cameo on Canto Bight is covered, and there's a beefy ten-minute segment about bringing Yoda to life, with Frank Oz getting involved in the production. Fight choreography is touched upon, with Johnson extremely happy that they could shoot the primary actors in wide shots doing their own fights. We even get to see the moment that Johnson tells Hamill the title of the movie, and as filming winds down, we see certain actors wrapping. Thankfully, the shooting of Luke and Leia's emotional reunion is covered, if only briefly. As ever, I wish this was still longer as certain stones remain unturned, but this is never less than a fascinating, informative and hugely entertaining documentary.

††† Packed with raw behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with a large number of cast and crew, The Director and the Jedi is a motion picture in its own right. It's encouraging to see Disney producing such a terrific Blu-ray extra, particularly since each Marvel movie gets nothing even close to this.

Balance of the Force (HD; 10:17)

††† In this extra, Johnson discusses the Force and his thinking process whilst writing the movie. He covers Luke's reasoning for going into exile and not coming back, as well as Rey's motivation in the story. Bringing in the Force connection between Rey and Kylo is discussed, as well as Luke's climactic act and its repercussions across the galaxy which will ultimately lead into Episode IX. The movie's detractors should definitely watch this one.

Scene Breakdowns (HD; 33:00 total)

††† Three featurettes are provided, which take a closer look at specific scenes and aspects of the production. These are a terrific addition to the disc. These can either be watched individually, or via a "Play All" function.

Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) (HD; 5:49)

††† Johnson provides an introduction to this extra, explaining that Serkis' performance as Snoke was so good that he wanted to give viewers the chance to see his performance in the mo-cap suit, before he was replaced with the digital character. This is a nice addition to the disc - we even get to see practical elements, such as a Snoke hand being placed against Rey's face.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 23:02 total)

††† Director Rian Johnson publicly stated that the first cut of The Last Jedi ran around three hours, and a fair bit was cut. Thankfully, we can now see what was cut or altered. These are all presented with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and special effects are in varying stages of completion. There's an optional audio commentary with Johnson on all the deleted scenes, in which he talks about why certain things were cut. These can either be viewed individually, or via a "Play All" function.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † In terms of extras and even language options, our local disc is identical to the standard U.S. Blu-ray. However, in keeping with tradition, the Target exclusive edition in the United States comes with an additional featurette called "Meet the Porgs" which clocks in at 6 minutes. Although this edition is the ostensible winner, an expensive import for a 6-minute featurette on a DVD does seem a bit extreme. I'm calling it a draw.

Summary

††† The backlash against Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been powerful in the months since its cinema release, with its low Rotten Tomatoes audience score and continually falling IMDb rating. But after multiple cinema viewings and watching the movie again in my living room, I still like it. Although not perfect, it has heart and spectacle, and I appreciate the auteur vision on display. It's almost a shame that J.J. Abrams is coming back for Episode IX, as he might play things a bit safer.

††† Disney's two-disc Blu-ray release of The Last Jedi is worth every penny. Even though the audio is mixed a tad low, the 1080p video presentation is excellent and there is a staggering selection of special features. It will take a Star Wars fan nearly 6 hours to chew through everything, including the commentary. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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