The first “Star Wars anthology” movie (a story not focused on the Skywalker family), Rogue One posed a unique challenge for director Gareth Edwards: pay tribute to George Lucas’ well-loved hexalogy, while connecting the story to A New Hope. Edwards does a solid job, creating a film that not only works as part of the Star Wars mythology, but as a stand-alone movie. Filling in the blanks that have bothered Star Wars fans for decades, audiences are finally given an understanding of the events leading up to the Rebellion’s first major victory in its war against the Empire. Rogue One is the story of the Rebel group that stole the plans to the Death Star, allowing Luke Skywalker to fire his fateful shot.
Jyn Erso’s (Felicity Jones), father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), an Empire scientist, escaped to avoid completing the weapon of destruction they demanded. After years of searching the Galaxy, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and his men find and retrieve Galen so they can force him to finish his work. However, Jyn gets away, and is raised by their trusted ally, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Ten years later, the Death Star is complete and the rebellion is marking time…unless Jyn and her motley crew–Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a pilot who has done, and sacrificed much in the name of freedom, his sarcastic droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Bodhi (Riz Ahmed), a defector from the Empire, Chirrut (Donnie Yen), the blind guardian of the Jedi temple, and his guardian, Baze (Jiang Wang), and assorted rebels with nothing to lose–can steal the plans that reveal the Death Stars weakness, and give their planet a chance of survival.
While Darth Vader and a few other classic characters appear, the focus of Rogue One is on a group of unfamiliar faces. As a fan of the franchise since its inception (A New Hope was among the first films I saw in a movie theater when it came out in 1977), it’s fun to finally learn what such a familiar universe was like before it became an integral part of our pop culture lives. Since nothing beyond the theft of the secret plans was known about the Rebel mission, the creative team behind Rogue One had a lot of leeway. The result is an exciting story, filled with compelling characters.
The first half of the movie establishes the difficult climate in which the Rebels exist. As the Empire’s hold on the galaxy grows, the Rebel Alliance becomes more anxious to stop them. Though Galen claims to be a double agent, both sides view his vast knowledge as crucial to their victory. Whatever happens, the Empire is sure their new weapon will quash any resistance.
The combination of a great cast, solid story, and Gareth Edwards obvious desire to make a memorable film, gave us a hugely entertaining entry into the Star Wars franchise that pays homage to the films that came before, but establishes its own place in the mythology. For those who want to, Rogue One offers an excuse to forget Episodes I-III.
Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is very solid. Shot digitally, everything looks sharp, be it planets, desert, or sky. Details, whether it be a worn ship or a pristine castle, are stunning. Spacing is impressive, and character movement looks free throughout. Depth is appropriately three dimensional. Black levels are well saturated, and crushing is not an issue. There are no apparent anomalies, and the print is flawless. Colors are appropriate, and vivid throughout. Faces appear realistic.
Disney doesn’t do Dolby Atmos yet, but the included 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack does a great job with the material. Completely immersive, this mix puts you right in the middle of the action. Every speaker gets a workout, whether it’s blaster bolts, explosions, or a quieter moment. Everything matches up perfectly to the activity onscreen. Even ambience has a ‘bursting,’ but realistic quality. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise, never getting buried under the sound effects.
English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a three-Disc set containing two Blu-ray Discs and the DVD edition of the film as well as a DisneyMoviesAnywhere digital copy. A ll bonus features appear on Blu-ray Disc Two.
For all but the most casual Star Wars fan, the extras will likely be a disappointment. The information is good, I just wanted something more. Totaling just shy of 75 minutes, we get a series of short featurettes covering typical production material: The origins of the film, development, how director Gareth Edwards became involved, characters, sets, costumes, etc.
- The Stories: A series of ten featurettes. Across these, we hear from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, visual effects supervisor John Knoll, SVP developer Kiri Hart, co-production designers Neil Lamont and Doug Chiang, concept artist/senior art director Christian Alzmann, co-producer John Swartz, producers Simon Emanuel and Allison Shearmur, creative executives Rayne Roberts and Pablo Hidalgo, animation supervisor Hal Hickel, co-writer Chris Weitz, co-story writer Gary Whitta, director of photography Greig Fraser, computer graphics supervisor Andrew Booth, senior art director Gary Tomkins, executive producer Jason McGatlin, art director Jordana Finkel, costume designers Dave Crossman and Glyn Dillon, lead compositor Todd Vaziri lead animator Jee Young Park, and actors Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, and Ingvild Deila.
- A Rogue Idea (HD, 9:00)
- Jyn: The Rebel (HD, 6:16)
- Cassian: The Spy (HD, 4:14)
- K2SO: The Droid (HD, 7:43)
- Baze and Chirrut: Guardians of the Wills (HD, 6:20)
- Bodhi and Saw: The Pilot and the Revolutionary (HD, 8:35)
- The Empire (HD, 8:18)
- Visions of Hope (HD, 8:24)
- The Princess and the Governor (HD, 5:49)
- Epilogue (HD, 4:15)
- Rogue Connections (HD, 4:31) Trivia and tidbits about the film viewers might have missed.
Movie title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Director(s): Gareth Edwards
Actor(s): Felicity Jones , Diego Luna , Riz Ahmed , Ben Mendelsohn Donnie Yen , Wen Jiang
Genre: Science Fiction