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ROGUE ONE Blu-ray Offers a Tiny Peek Behind the Scenes (Review)

ROGUE ONE Blu-ray Offers a Tiny Peek Behind the Scenes (Review)

It’s now been close to four months since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was in theaters, and I’ve had time to intellectualize my opinion of the movie after seeing it two times on the big screen. The initial outing–at a press screening relatively early in the morning–filled me with teary-eyed nostalgia thanks to the final act. The second viewing–a week or so later with my family–pointed out the shortcomings, and these made the triumphant final act seem less grand. But with the release of the Blu-ray, I feel like I’m siding more with my Star Wars kid heart than my head, just this once.

The issues with the movie will never go away fully; Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) will still be a half-fleshed protagonist whose motivations for becoming a Rebel are never truly established; Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is still an amoral soldier who miraculously becomes compassionate for seemingly no reason; and Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is still a main villain who is constantly in the shadow of two ostensibly supporting baddies who have the benefit of us knowing about them already. I recognize these faults (and the general way the Rogue One team are unknowable ciphers with quirks more than personalities) and yet I tend to exist in a bubble of pleasantness when watching it.

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This almost assuredly is due to the direction by Gareth Edwards and the utterly gorgeous costume, set, and CGI design, because they do a lot to make the movie feel aesthetically like a Star Wars movie even if the story doesn’t quite measure up. Edwards knows how to make expanses seem enormous, how to make action feel immediate, and how to make a movie at once feel like 1977 and 2017. While it’s easy now in retrospect to notice which scenes must have been filmed during the reshoot process (hair length will get ya every time), it’s just as easy to see the stunning visual work by all involved.

For me, the movie works, sadly, not because it does a great job making us care about the six members of the initial mission (because aside from K-2SO and Chirrut, I don’t really have much attachment to anyone), but because of how well it depicts “The Rebellion” as an entity. As a major fan of Star Wars Rebels, and of the original trilogy in general, I’m fascinated by how the Rebel Alliance came to be, and how it grew from several small factions into one distinct, cohesive army ready to take on the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. There are heroes of the Rebellion we barely get to know, and ones we only saw briefly in other movies now given more of the spotlight. I’m all for that, and it makes me excited for the backstory in a way I haven’t been in ages.

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The movie looks and sounds great on Blu-ray (Disney usually has masterful technical specs on their releases), so fear not there. The big question mark for me was the extras. Ultimately–even though disc provides higher quality picture and sound than streaming or digital download–if there are not compelling special features, there’s no reason in this day and age to buy a disc. And Rogue One‘s initial outing has a little over an hour of featurettes, which you can watch separately or as a single program. These are all shot absolutely gorgeously. Disney’s got the money to make their EPK footage look feature quality, and they do so here quite well.

Particularly of interest to me among the topics of the special features include ILM’s John Knoll talking about the genesis of the project, his pitch to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and his colleague Doug Chiang’s immediate exuberance in helping Knoll get it all together. I also loved listening to director Edwards talk about his approach to the movie, and where he decided to put his cameo (a pivotal character, despite having no dialogue). There’s also a cool bit about shooting the ending, and the Darth Vader hallway sequence we all love. And, yes, I loved seeing how ILM pulled off Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia’s appearances, because dammit I’m a Peter Cushing fan and seeing more of him in any capacity is a-okay with me.

The bulk of the extras though (I’d say probably half) have to do with the individual characters, with interviews with the cast (such as the above portion with K-2SO actor Alan Tudyk. I have to say I found most of these little more than pleasant jaunts, since the characters in the movie are pretty flat, Tudyk’s reprogrammed droid aside.

The big question here for me is how and if I should recommend this release. As we learned with The Force Awakens, which had a feature-length doc and some meager deleted scenes for its initial Blu-ray release, a bigger edition will be coming later in the year, surely. TFA‘s second edition (the 3D release) featured a great commentary by J.J. Abrams and a lot more extras in addition to the ones initially found. There’s far fewer extras on this Rogue One release, so even if I quite enjoyed spending an hour with behind-the-scenes footage, I’m sure a better edition is on the way, with commentary and maybe some deleted, extended, or alternate scenes, which would be where all the intrigue lies for this film.

A bit of a cop-out recommendation, but if you want Rogue One on your shelf right now, you’re in good hands and will be pleased with what you get, but just realize you’ll likely be double dipping in a few months time. If you’d rather wait and see what treasures the Blu-ray rebellion uncovers with the next go-round, then I certainly don’t blame you. The Force is with you either way.

Images: Disney/Lucasfilm


Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!


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