The Film (3.5/5)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens began a cycle of Disney released Star Wars films that promised to expand the cinematic Star Wars universe beyond what we fans knew on screen. Disney also has stated that they would go beyond the main "Skywalker series", and begin to tell individual stories in that universe, as they attempt to release a Star Wars film every year. Their first of these films Star Wars: Rogue One is one of the more interesting stories they could have told in this universe. It has previously been covered in one or two lines in A New Hope, and had no need of actually being told, but now that it is here, it makes for an interesting story nonetheless.
Star Wars: Rogue One tells the story of the crew that recovered the Death Star plans and transmitted them to the rebels before the start A New Hope. Our main character is Jyn Erso, the daughter of Galen Erso, who as the story begins is a young toddler separated by her Father after he is forcefully taken from his family by the Empire to work on their super-weapon the "Death Star". She is found hidden hours later by the rebel Saw Gurrera, and raised by him. Years later Jyn is recovered by the developing rebel alliance while she is on her way to an Imperial Labor Camp. Apparently, she has been some trouble over the years, and hidden her identity for obvious reasons (her Father, though forced is a known member of the Empire). She becomes a member of a team that goes about carrying small secret missions, however once the power of the Empire’s new weapon becomes known Jyn steps up, and leads this new team on a suicide mission to get the plans knowing her Father put something in them to destroy the Death Star.
Star Wars: Rogue One is the prequel we have never gotten, until now. This has become a cliché statement, but it has truly put the war in Star Wars. While the other films have had space battles, this film shows dirty ground combat. It also takes characters we have come to care about it, and show that they are not safe at all. Of course, knowing the outcome of this story we are fully aware of that going in. The interesting thing is how well this plays out knowing the stories outcome. The film has a certain aura of suspense over the whole third act, even though we know the plans will eventually make it to the rebels by the film’s end.
Edwards handles the material well, making Rogue One feel like a part of the greater Star Wars universe, but making it feel quite distinct when compared against the other films in this franchise. I feel in time this film will certainly come to be one of the highlights of the series overall. The film does have some minor pacing issues, and the whole plot rest around knowing the early portions of A New Hope, but I do feel that this one with its well done action sequences, and darker look at the Star Wars universe is probably the best thing to come out of the franchise in 30+ years.
Did you expect a Star Wars Blu-ray to get anything less than a perfect score? The 2:39:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer looks spectacular here. Colors are natural where they need to be and pop from the screen. Detail is excellent, and blacks are inky and deep.
The DTS-HD MA 7.1 track sound amazing. Dialogue is crisp and clear, the score comes through perfectly, and every little sound FX pops from the speakers.
Multiple BTS pieces, documentaries, interviews, trailers and more are included on Disney's releases on Rogue One. None of them are particularly in depth, but we get a solid selection of material here.
Star Wars: Rogue One is probably the darkest film in the Star Wars canon. The Blu-ray looks and sounds amazing, and has a nice slate of extras, highly recommended.