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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga. Production was announced by George Lucas in 2011, years after initially claiming that the story of Star Wars ended with Return of the Jedi. In 2012 Lucas sold Lucasfilm, along with the entire Star Wars franchise, to The Walt Disney Company who then assembled a new team to rework Episode VII to their own design. This marks the start of a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, and effectively reboots the franchise by casting off the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, opening the doors for new stories to take place in various media.
The film was widely anticipated and went on to break several box office records, and is currently the third highest grossing film of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic (unadjusted for inflation, as of February 2016). It won a Bafta for Best Special Visual Effects at the 2016 British Academy Film Awards, and was the American Film Institute's Movie of the Year for 2015.
The Force Awakens is set roughly 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi and follows new heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, as they assist the the Resistance in the fight against the evil forces of the First Order, which has risen from the ashes of the defeated Galactic Empire.
So a few days ago, ILM released a link to their portfolio of concept art drafted up for The Force Awakens.
It's really quite interesting to see how closely the film actually got to these concepts... and which ones didn't.
Plus, the artwork is just freaking beautiful.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be coming to home video in April, the official website has revealed.
The film will be recieving an early release on Disney Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere digital formats on 1st April 2016, with Blu-ray and DVD versions available in stores from 5th April. The release date for the 3D version has not yet been announced, but is due later this year.
Bonus features (which may vary depending on format) include:
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey - a behind the scense look at the making of The Force Awakens, with new footage and exclusive interviews with the cast and crew. The Story Awakens: The Table Read - cast members reflect on the day they first came together to read the movie’s script Building BB-8 - behind the scenes with the creators of Star Wars' newest droid Crafting Creatures - behind the scenes with the creators of the film's new alien creatures Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight - a closer look at the lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren John Williams: The Seventh Symphony - the composer shares personal insights of his work on the Star Wars saga ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force - a look into the movie's digital visual effects Force For Change - see how the Star Wars: Force for Change initiative has united Star Wars fans all over the globe to help others Deleted Scenes - the scenes that didn't make the final cut
Firstly, a word of warning: While this article intends to be free of spoilers, please be aware that any external links or related articles may not be.
The Force Awakens was viewed with caution by many fans who wanted a return to the spirit of the classic Star Wars trilogy which many felt was missing from the prequel trilogy, released 15 years previously. As reactions sink in the general feeling seems to be that it has for the most part lived up to the hype, and that director JJ Abrams and his team at Lucasfilm and Disney have delivered on their promise to make Star Wars great again.
According to reports, The Force Awakens has already destroyed the UK opening day box office record, with a £9.6 million (US$14.3m) take that smashes the previous record set by Spectre only two months ago. A quarter of these sales where from the midnight release alone, and gives Episode VII of the Star Wars saga a boost to breaking further records as it continues it's run on the big screen.
The film itself is holding up well in reviews too, with film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes scoring The Force Awakens an admirable 95% fresh and user reviews showing that 93% of viewers enjoyed the film (at time of writing).
While some reviewers have criticised the film for playing fan-service and reusing old ideas, others have praised it for bringing back the feelings of joy they experienced the first time they watched the original trilogy, and carrying with it a sense not only of nostalgia but also of hope for the future.
Even the good reviews cast light on the moments where dialogue gets a little cheesy, but for every negative there are more positives; and one of these positives is the casting. Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Finn (John Boyega) work great together on screen and have us rooting for them throughout the action, and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was not just another copy-and-paste villain as we saw all too often in the prequel trilogy, but a complex character with his own ambitions that occasionally seemed to set him at odds with his superior, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and other members of the First Order. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is menacing as one of the officers of the First Order and parallels can certainly be drawn between him and figures from real world history. BB-8 and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are sure to be new fan favourites, as they both brings familiar humor and general badass-ness to the film.
Familiar faces also make a return, and we discover what Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) have been up to while we were away. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is central to the plot of The Force Awakens, but his role is clearly going to be more prominent in future films. Overall the film delivers much but ultimately leaves us wanting more, and with future films and spin-offs already on the way it is only a matter of time before we return to a galaxy far far away once more.
The Force truly is strong with this one.