Star Wars: The Last Jedi (4K 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 None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 151:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
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 $39.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
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 an 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

†††† With Disney finally jumping aboard the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray bandwagon after their releases of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars movie to see such a release, to the joy of videophiles the world over. The Last Jedi was captured on both 35mm and 65mm film stock, while certain shots were lensed digitally, and it was mastered with a 4K digital intermediate, which is fitting for such an expensive, high-profile release. Thus, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray makes use of the native 4K source, making it a pleasant rarity in a sea of 2K "upscales." Despite the movie's beefy 152-minute runtime, Disney chose to only make use of a dual-layered BD-66, rather than a triple-layered BD-100. It seems odd that Disney would look to cost-save for a movie like this, which has already made such a huge profit in worldwide box office receipts. As to be expected, the disc is almost filled to capacity, resulting in the highest bitrate that this BD-66 could facilitate. Said bitrate approaches 46 Mbps, which is still significantly higher than the standard Blu-ray, but is nevertheless comparatively low for this format.

†††† Textures are generally excellent, with close-ups revealing the finest of details on skin, costumes, sets and ships. Indeed, even in wide shots of the vast fleet ships, you can easily make out every nook and cranny. During close-ups of Rey when she has visions of dozens of herself in a line, it's even apparent that she's wearing make-up - she must have brought her foundation to Ahch-To! Although there is not exactly a significant upgrade in textures here compared to the still extremely good 1080p Blu-ray, fine detail is better resolved all-round, and never falters despite lighting conditions. The transfer resolves a fine, pleasing layer of organic, source-related film grain, which is more apparent here compared to the 1080p Blu-ray. As ever, it's never bothersome and it's never even overly heavy, subtly allowing the digital elements to look more tangible and better blend with the practical effects. Of course, too, the presentation looks razor-sharp from start to finish, boasting superb object delineation. Occasionally there are moments of slight softness, but it's not a big deal.

†††† The Last Jedi sees Disney finally offering Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range, as opposed to just regular old HDR10. (If your equipment is not DV-compatible, the disc just plays in HDR10.) It's critical to note that the movie's HDR grade is deliberately unaggressive, only slightly accentuating the colours and making the image look a bit more lifelike, but it's probably the most understated use of the tool in the format's history. First things first; blacks look consistently milky. During the opening crawl, I could not help but wish the blacks looked deeper and truer, and alas these underwhelming blacks are retained throughout the movie. Still, cinematographer Steve Yedlin has said that this was intended. Furthermore, the colours also fail to genuinely leap off the screen - they look very good, sure (explosions are certainly brighter and lightsabers are more vibrant), but you could be forgiven for thinking that you're watching the movie in SDR. This aside, since Dolby Vision is dynamic HDR, the image looks more balanced, with terrific highlights and as much detail on display as the source could permit. Clarity is also better compared to the 1080p Blu-ray, though contrast and image depth is not greatly improved. As long as you can accept that the understated HDR is completely faithful to the intentions of the filmmakers, the presentation is excellent on its own merits. Indeed, certain shots and moments look particularly striking - see pretty much anything on the landscapes of Crait.

†††† The movie's textures would probably look a tad better resolved with a higher bitrate on a triple-layered BD-100, and of course some may wish that the HDR was a bit more pronounced, but this is still an impressive 4K UHD presentation which represents an appreciable upgrade over its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart. The encoding is extremely competent to boot, with no anomalies like macroblocking, aliasing, crush, or anything else. Out of all the releases of this movie, the 4K disc is my preferred way to watch The Last Jedi. And now we wait and see how long it takes for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be released in 4K. (Please do it sooner rather than later, please, Disney.)

†††† English and Spanish subtitles are included. I had no problems with the English track.

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

Audio

†††† Whereas the standard Blu-ray and the 3D Blu-ray were only permitted 7.1 audio tracks, Disney saves the Dolby Atmos track for this 4K Ultra HD disc. I could not detect any appreciable differences between the tracks in terms of prioritisation, mixing or encoding, particularly since I only have a 7.1 set-up, and my thoughts therefore remain unchanged. It's worth pointing out that even though Disney usually pack their 4K discs with countless audio options, this disc only contains two additional Dolby Digital Plus mixes (English and Spanish) and a descriptive audio track. It would appear that this is all Disney could fit onto this BD-66 without significantly reducing the bitrate.

†††† 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

†††† The 4K disc contains no extras, but the set comes packaged with the standard Blu-ray and the bonus disc.

R4 vs R1

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

† † 4K discs worldwide appear to be identical. (The U.S. release contains identical audio options.) It's a draw, buy local.

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.

†††† Luckily, this 4K disc is a nice step up compared to the 1080p Blu-ray; the video is more impressive on the whole, resolving more textures while the understated Dolby Vision HDR grade augments the visuals. The Atmos audio track is still slightly underwhelming, but the technical presentation of this disc is still pleasing. And the combo pack contains a terrific array of special features to boot. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, April 12, 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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Comments (Add)
Such a bad movie -