Rogue One: A Star Wars Story landed in theaters this past holiday season and the question whether audiences would turn out for a story that was not tied to the trilogies was quickly and resoundingly answered. Rogue One quickly became the seventh highest-grossing film of all time in the United States. Now, you can own that slice of heaven as the Rogue One DVD and Blu-Ray has arrived.
The moment we heard about the plot, we were hooked. I mean, what a great idea for a film — a heist movie set in the Star Wars universe? Yes, please! Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a criminal and a revolutionary, who is pulled into the galactic rebellion when she is recruited with a band of outcasts to steal the plans for the Empire’s biggest, best and most lethal weapon ever — the Death Star. Exactly how did Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) get those iconic blueprints that would inspire a rebellion? By the end of Rogue One, we know exactly how!
As a prequel to Star Wars, this is a story we’ve only heard quick whispers of in the past and it is an absolute delight that director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) has brought this world before A New Hope to life. It is a literal hand-off to Episode IV and for new and longtime fans of the series; Rogue One is a must-see and a must-own. It is an impressive home video release as it includes nine never-before-seen bonus features that take us inside the making of the blockbuster hit, but also adds layers to the story itself and even brings additional insight into the entire George Lucas-conceived series.
Oscar nominee Jones is superb, as is the entire cast that surrounds her and supports her. Their effort and passion for the rebellion is felt on an emotional level that adds layers to the story that will resonate long after the credits roll. We become engaged and enthralled by her fellow Death Star stealing cohorts. Diego Luna is stunning as Cassian Andor. Donnie Yen has us yearning to know more about his character, the almost Ninja-like Chirrut Îmwe. Oscar winner Forest Whitaker gives a brilliant take as the veteran warrior Saw Gerrera. Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook rings true in the most subtlety intense of ways. If there is a scene-stealer among this group, it is the geek world favorite Alan Tudyk. His vocal performance as the droid K-2SO is at the same time hilarious, heartfelt, heartwarming and harrowing in terms of his fate. One can easily see why there’s talk of a K-2SO spin-off!
Rogue One is also easy on the eyes and takes Star Wars fans to places never-before-seen. The beauty of the landscapes (including a palm tree laden, teal-colored water planet) is a chilling contrast to the high stakes that are established if this mission fails.
Edwards could not have been a better choice to helm this effort that was previously thought of as risky. I mean … a Star Wars Story whose ending is largely known and a tale that is filled with characters that no one has ever met before? Disney and Lucasfilm were really going out on a limb with this one and its payoff, both entertainment-wise for fans and box office-wise for the studio, is explosive.
What makes this Rogue One Blu-Ray release so extraordinary is the 11 bonus features. Yup, you read that right… one shy of a dozen brilliant bonus features that should enthrall, enlighten and entertain all who take the time to toil through Lucasfilm’s latest foray into a galaxy far, far away.
The bevy of bonus features are led by A Rogue Idea. Exactly where did this concept come from and how was what began as the most skeletal of ideas flushed out into the brilliant film that will certainly stand the test of time? This nine-minute featurette answers those questions and more as it looks at John Knoll’s idea and pitch, how they lured Edwards to direct and how the pair (and other creative types) flushed out this world to craft a compelling story that can confidently stand with the other films in the Star Wars canon.
Our heist’s leader gets the spotlight in Jyn: The Rebel. The piece takes a closer look at the feisty and fiery leader and gives us a rich history of the character, as well as what sets her apart from other protagonists in the Star Wars lexicon.
Our second favorite member of the team shines in K-2SO: The Droid. Every Star Wars film so far has had droids that do their best to steal scenes, but none do it as eloquently awesome as K-2SO. Tudyk not only provided the vocal presence for the scene-stealer, but also tackled something that was relatively new to the veteran actor, motion capture work. It is a brilliant look inside the creative process of one of our most talented sci-fi/comedic actors.
Luna gives his thoughts on where he thinks his character fits into the Star Wars world in the impressive Cassian: The Spy. His insight is particularly fascinating in how he reveals the backstory he created that enhanced the performance and reverberated throughout the entire Rogue One experience.
The rest of the team receives their due in Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills and Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary. Both are appealing and certainly worth a look. We particularly enjoyed Whitaker’s thoughts on Saw and how he took a keen interest in his fate and relationship to Jyn that propelled them both to new heights.
The Empire is an eight-minute-plus featurette that delves deeper into the major Imperial characters, including Orson Krennic, Grand Moff Tarkin, Galen Erso and of course… the great Darth Vader. Witnessing Vader alone back and being bad is enough to get your juices going!
One of the most incredible aspects of Rogue One is how digital technology managed to bring back two characters, one beloved and one feared. The Princess & The Governor takes us inside ILM’s movie magic. Is it possible to be even more impressed with ILM after all these years? The answer is a firm yes and you will not want to miss this featurette that illustrates why, like fine wine, ILM only gets better with age.
As we mentioned earlier, the film is gorgeous and stunning on many levels. How Edwards and his team achieved that is explored in Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One. Viewers get a front row seat into all aspects of the production, from set construction and production design.
Those who like to push their Star Wars viewing further in terms of where it sits in the universe that Lucas created wont’ want to miss the final two featurettes. Epilogue: The Story Continues takes us to the premiere, includes fantastic fan insight and concludes with some clips from the film that enhance what we’ve just heard discussed. Lastly, Rogue Connections gives us secrets to the movie that might have escaped you upon first viewing. Also, look out for some cameos and Easter Eggs that will make you want to watch the entire Rogue One film again.
Film Grade: A
Bonus Features: A+