4K Blu-ray Reviews

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

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Quick Take: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a highly polarizing film that strays from the previous films' template for success. The 4K presentation is uneven at times, but does shine when it needs to.

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the eighth film in the Skywalker saga, will be remembered as one of the most polarizing films in the franchise. It also happens to be the first Star Wars film ever released on 4K Ultra HD.

Vocal fans took objection to how J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm/Disney closely followed the blueprint of Star Wars: A New Hope when constructing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For some — myself included — it felt like a familiar reboot rather than a sequel, and cries went out begging for something new and different for Episode 8.

Rian Johnson and the team behind The Last Jedi, which includes Executive Producer J.J. Abrams, apparently took that criticism to heart. The Last Jedi subverts everything we expected to see following The Force Awakens by literally flipping each character’s trajectory on its head.

The questions you wanted answered? You won’t get many of them, and the ones you do get won’t be what you expect.

Whether one enjoys The Last Jedi boils down to the acceptance that yes, a person can dramatically change over the course of 35 years. Luke Skywalker, once am idealistic Jedi Knight willing to sacrifice himself for his father, has become anything but. If you can accept that then The Last Jedi has much to offer. If not then take a number and find somewhere to complain online like many others have.

I fall on the acceptance side of Luke’s emotional fence and truly believe that the decision to turn this former hero’s life upside down began with J.J. Abrams’ decision to put Luke into hiding. Yoda became borderline insane during his self-imposed exile. Luke became the ultimate Jedi cynic upon learning of his nephew’s deeply rooted darkness. It’s totally plausible.

After peeling away Luke’s narrative there’s still a fun Star Wars film left to be enjoyed with plenty of action, humor and lightheartedness the saga is built upon. Johnson isn’t perfect, though, with some rather gaping plot holes and leaps in logic. His dip into the world of Star Wars class warfare could have played out a little tighter as well.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is presented on 4K UHD with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos Audio. Numerous sequences, such as Finn vs Phasma and the Force-fueled showdown in Snoke’s throne room, are set against dynamically lit backdrops. The contrast between light and dark in these scenes is simply stunning

Much of The Last Jedi is dimly lit apart from the final act on the salt-covered planet of Crait. On this white surface, cuts through to the bright red minerals underneath the surface are brilliantly bright. When other locations offer little lighting, the black levels remain deep and sharp as intended.

The Dolby Atmos audio mix comes up a notch below the Dolby Vision HDR visuals. John Williams’ score fills the room when prominent, but other effects don’t seem to quite reach all depths of the soundstage. This nitpick aside, the overall mix is quite enjoyable and befitting a bombastic Star Wars film .

Bonus features are highlighted by the outstanding documentary, ‘The Director and the Jedi.’ Essentially a film unto itself, this feature follows a very nervous and excited Rian Johnson through the trials and tribulations of bringing The Last Jedi to life. Rian knows he’s taking creative chances that might stir the pot, and he strongly stands behind them.

  • The Director and the Jedi – Go deep behind the scenes with writer-director Rian Johnson on an intimate and personal journey through the production of the movie—and experience what it’s like to helm a global franchise and cultural phenomenon.
  • Balance of the Force – Explore the mythology of the Force and why Rian Johnson chose to interpret its role in such a unique way.
  • Scene Breakdowns
    • Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
    • Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
    • Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, reimagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
  • Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) – Writer-director Rian Johnson presents two exclusive sequences from the movie featuring Andy Serkis’ riveting, raw on-set performance before his digital makeover into Snoke.
  • Deleted Scenes – With an introduction and optional commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
  • Audio Commentary – View the movie with in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.

Love it or hate it, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a solid way to kick off the franchise that George Lucas built arriving on the 4K UHD platform. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I “love” The Last Jedi as the film has its flaws. But I do enjoy it along with the unexpected twists, and will be watching it again in 4K multiple times in the future.

Shop for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on 4K UHD Blu-ray at Amazon.

SCORE: 4.6 out of 5

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