May/2018

Blu-ray Review: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’!

by Gumbercules9000 on Apr 3rd, 2017

Hi everyone, Bryan here….

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THE FILM

Since the release of ‘The Force Awakens‘, Disney will be releasing a ‘Star Wars‘ film every year for the foreseeable future. Well, it’s been a year since ‘The Force Awakens‘, which means it’s time for another ‘Star Wars‘ film, and luckily for us, we get ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘. I’m so glad that Disney is allowing up and coming, young  filmmakers a chance to have a go at ‘Star Wars‘, because director Gareth Edwards (‘Monsters‘ and ‘Godzilla‘) has knocked it out of the park, even though there were some re-shoots with writer Tony Gilroy (‘Michael Clayton‘ and ‘The Bourne‘ films). This is the ‘Star Wars‘ film we have wanted for a long time, in that we get to see some characters do some truly amazing and badass things that we’ve never seen before, and a return to some of those classic set pieces and ships.

Rogue One‘ takes place in between ‘Episode III‘ and ‘Episode IV‘. We all know that the original Star Wars film ‘A New Hope‘ focused on Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star, by way of stolen plans that Princess Leia entrusted to R2-D2 that instructed how to destroy that mega Death Star. We know how that turned out. ‘Rogue One‘ tells the story of how and who stole those plans from the Empire and got them to the Rebellion. I don’t want to give too much away here, because I know all of you will just fall in love with these characters.

Every performance is excellent here from Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso to Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, and even Forest Whitaker as fan favorite Saw Gerrera. Everyone gives a great performance of characters struggling to overcome the empire and deal with their past losses. Alan Tudyk (‘Firefly‘) voices the new droid K-2SO, which might be my new favorite ‘Star Wars‘ character of the whole canon. K-2SO is just plain fantastic and funny in a way that C3PO could never be. It was a delight. Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn are just straight up phenomenal and have many layers to their characters and steal each scene they are in.

Then of course Donnie Yen comes in and just owns every scene and proves he is the badass he has always been. There is a great story in this 133 minute film that keeps its pace with some of the best action sequences you’ll ever see involving spaceships and tie fighters. Michael Giacchino has done a phenomenal job of bringing John Williams‘ score to this film by adding in some of the old with the new, and it just adds to every scene and suspenseful and heartfelt moment.

Rogue One‘ is definitely one of the best ‘Star Wars‘ films I’ve seen.

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THE VIDEO/AUDIO

The Video:Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I really hope that Disney heads into 4K UHD territory very soon, because I think ‘Rogue One’ would be demo quality for that. With this 1080p HD version, the video quality is just aces all around. The many vast landscapes and atmospheres all look excellent, realistic, and flawless from a visual stand point. The image doesn’t seem to be overly washed in the digital realm either, but rather looks filmic like the old ‘Star Wars’ films we have come to love since the 1970s. Detail is sharp and vivid throughout with closeups revealing wounds, makeup effects, dirt, and individual haris on the actor’s faces. You’ll be able to see the rugged textures of the costumes when they get sandy or dirty, as well as the pristine conditions of the storm trooper’s outfits.

The interiors of the spaceships show every scuff mark nicely and the fields of Lah’mu in the opening scene showcase every crop and blade of grass with great detail. Wide shots never go soft as every tree, rock formation, and other spaceship give the image a ton of depth. During the heavier CGI scene, detail is never hindered, but rather still looks sharp. Colors are bright and vibrant, especially on the planet of Scarif, where all the tropical plant life looks stunning and pops right off screen with the bright blues and green. The red and orange lava look rich on Vader’s planet as well. Other than that, colors are rather bleak with grays, browns, and off whites. It’s truly a fantastic color spectrum. Black levels are very deep and inky in the vastness of space without any crush. Skin tones are natural as well. There were no instances of any banding, aliasing, or any other compression issues to speak of, leaving this video presentation with top marks.

The Audio: This release comes with an amazing lossless DTS-HD 7.1 MA mix and just sounds excellent. I wish there was a DTS-X or Dolby Atmos option here, because there could be some amazing overhead effects here, but maybe that will be available on a future release. That being said, this 7.1 mix is outstanding. sound effects are loud, robust, and realistic on every instance. The laser blasts, explosions, and droids walking around sound well balanced and perfect in every sense. There is some great directionality here too. During the big battle on Scarif, I was completely immersed in this all out war with the TIE fighters flying around, giant AT-ATs blasting the beach side, and the tons of explosions going off throughout the scene.

The score by Giacchino sounds impressive with the hints of John Williams’ previous score always adds to the entertainment and suspense in each scene without drowning out all other sound aspects. The low end brings a hefty bass sound that never crosses into rocky territory and will rattle the walls. The dialogue is crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills, leaving this audio presentation with excellent marks.

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THE EXTRAS

There is a second Blu-ray Disc dedicated to all of the extras included here.

A Rogue Idea (HD, 9 Mins.) – A look at how John Knoll came up with the story, his pitch to the studio, and how all of the elements came together with Gareth Edwards directing.

Jyn: The Rebel (HD, 7 Mins.) – This covers the character of Jyn Erso and her place in the Star Wars universe. It dives into her personality traits, origins, and some of the training Felicity went through for the role.

Cassian: The Spy (HD, 5 Mins.) – Very similar to the above extra, where Cassian’s character is given a look at his origins, history, character traits, and more.

K-2SO: The Droid (HD, 8 Mins.) – An excellent extra in which the new, funny droid is talked about. His personality, movements, and voice by Alan Tudyk is covered, as well as the motion capture performance and all of the improv that went into his dialogue.

Baze and Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills (HD, 7 Mins.) – The two actors talk about getting the parts in the film, training for the roles, their character traits, beliefs, and using the force. Great stuff.

Bodhi and Saw: The Pilot and the Revolutionary (HD, 9 Mins.) – We look at Riz and Forest’s preparations for their roles, the personalities of their characters, and their place in the Star Wars universe.

The Empire (HD, 9 Mins.) – The villains of the film are focused on here with all of their sinister personalities and motives revealed, as well as what each actor brought into each performance.

Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One (HD, 9 Mins.) – This cool extra centers around all of the sets, both practical and CGI  that were made in the film, as well as some of the stormtroopers.

The Princess and the Governor (HD, 6 Mins.) – This talks about creating the two digital characters in the film and how they made it look as good as it did.

Epilogue: The Story Continues (HD, 5 Mins.) – Here we have fans talking about the movie and Star Wars universe with images and clips from the film.

Rogue Connections (HD, 5 Mins.) – All of the easter eggs, cameo appearances, and some other secrets are reveal here.

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THE ULTIMATE WORD

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘ is a fantastic film and beautiful and thrilling story in the Star Wars universe. It has a bit of emotional heft to it and some excellent action sequences and perfectly bridges Ep. III and Ep. IV together. The video and audio presentations are both excellent and demo worthy for a standard Blu-ray and the extras are all worth watching, even though there could’ve been more to them. Must-Own!

MUST-OWN!

-Bryan Kluger

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