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'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Blu-ray Review: A thrilling, second awakening for 'Star Wars' fans

March 30, 2017Ben MK

Rogue One isn't just set in the turbulent time period between Episode III and Episode IV; it leads straight into the events of A New Hope, telling the story of a ragtag group of galactic misfits and Rebel Alliance fighters who embark on a dangerous and downright suicidal mission to steal the industrial schematics to the Death Star — the very same schematics that Darth Vader himself is after when he and his cadre of Imperial Stormtroopers forcefully board Princess Leia's ship, the Tantive IV, in the opening moments of Lucas' 1977 space opera.

At the center of it all is Felicity Jones' character, Jyn Erso, daughter of scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), the brains behind the Death Star. Kidnapped and forced to help the Empire construct its terrifying super-weapon by Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the Imperials' scheming Director of Advanced Weapons Research, Galen has spent the better part of the last two decades toiling away at the Emperor's behest. However, he has never abandoned hope — and, as Rogue One reminds us, hope is the bedrock upon which rebellions are built.

But enough about the plot. What director Gareth Edwards and screenwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy have accomplished here is — above all else — a movie made by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans. And, for better or worse, it's something that the film never fails to remind viewers of. Whether it's the callbacks to the original trilogy or the cameos by our favorite pair of droids or those two jerks who bully Luke Skywalker in that Cantina on Mos Eisley, Rogue One delivers ample fan service to blow the minds of even the most hardcore Star Wars devotees.

Of course, if you aren't a dedicated Star Wars fan, you may find yourself scratching your head when your fellow audience members start to gasp or break out in spontaneous applause. Still, the filmmakers have done a marvelous job ensuring that the appeal of Rogue One is far from inclusive, balancing the movie's intense action with moments of dark drama and lighthearted levity. Indeed, the Force may have awoken with Episode VII, but this latest trip to a galaxy far, far away is proof that the creative powers behind the franchise haven't fallen asleep at the wheel.

Rogue One proves to be as much an audiovisual tour de force on Blu-ray as its predecessor, The Force Awakens, perhaps even more so. Indeed, the gritty, lived-in aesthetic of a galaxy far, far away made famous in A New Hope has never looked better, as evidenced by the copious amount of detail visible on-screen, from scuff marks on Stormtrooper armor to the sweat and grime on the faces of Rebel fighters, and the rich palette of colors, from the earth tones on the rocky moon of Jedha to the green, tropical foliage and blue waters on the planet Scarif, not to mention deep black levels as menacing as a Death Trooper. This stunning 1080p image is bolstered by a full-bodied DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix, which brings to life the familiar universe of Star Wars sound effects, from blaster fire, to the bustle and chatter of an alien marketplace, to screaming TIE Fighter engines.

Disney's Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras, all of which can be found on disc two of this three-disc set:

  • A Rogue Idea (9:00) - Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Executive Producer & Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll kick off this look at the genesis of the movie, from its ties to Episode IV, to the concept art, to the choice of director.
  • Jyn: The Rebel (6:16) - A look at the film's heroine, Felicity Jones' performance and the physical demands of the role.
  • Cassian: The Spy (4:14) - A look at the character of Rebel spy Cassian Andor, and what Diego Luna brings to the role.
  • K-2SO: The Droid (7:43) - A look at what the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO brings to the Rogue One team, and at Alan Tudyk's portrayal and his humor on the set.
  • Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills (6:20) - A look at where Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen's characters fit into the Rogue One team, as well as the chemistry between the two.
  • Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary (8:35) - A look at the moral ambiguity inherent in the characters of Bodhi Rook and Saw Gerrera, Riz Ahmed's enthusiasm for the role, and Forest Whitaker's portrayal.
  • The Empire (8:18) - The various personifications of the Galactic Empire are touched upon in this featurette, from new characters like Jyn's reluctant scientist father, Galen, and the evil Director Krennic, to returning favorites like Governor Tarkin and the iconic Darth Vader.
  • Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One (8:24) - A piece spotlighting the film's production and costume design, how it ties back to the original Star Wars, and how it expands on the series' visual palette.
  • The Princess & The Governor (5:49) - A behind-the-scenes peek at the visual effects wizardry involved in incorporating a young Princess Leia and Governor Tarkin into the film.
  • Epilogue: The Story Continues (4:15) - A concluding look at the fan response to the film, and how Rogue One continues the legacy of the Star Wars franchise.
  • Rogue Connections (4:31) - A quick roundup of the connections between Rogue One and the rest of the Star Wars universe, from the droids, to the vehicles, to the aliens, to the various Easter eggs, and more.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of April 4th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 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. 13 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on December 15th, 2016.

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