Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Blu-ray Review: An Impressive and Immersive High-def Experience

A delightful space fantasy with enough action to entertain the casual viewer and enough story elements and links to other works to please the Star Wars aficionado.
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While the Star Wars universe had previously been expanded over the years into multiple mediums, Rogue One was the first time the film franchise focused on a story that didn't primarily involve the Skywalker family, and they chose a great idea.  As revealed in the prologue crawl of Star Wars (1977), the Rebel Alliance obtained the Death Star plans.  Rogue One tells the story of how.

Watching the film a second time, what worked for me and what didn't, as stated in my movie review, remain the same. It's an impressive blockbuster in terms of its action and almost all its special effects, except for the distracting digital recreation of actors' faces.  There are interesting new characters introduced, and though their time on screen was short, their back stories will likely be expanded in other mediums.  We absolutely need more of the earlier adventures featuring friends Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), a blind warrior who is aided by his belief in the Force, and the big gun-toting Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen).  The plot is driven by the known end point, too often forcing the decisions of some characters, regardless of what sense they make.

The Blu-ray offers an impressive and immersive high-def experience.  The video is presented in MPEG-4 AVC/1080p at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1.  Colors come through in vibrant hues, from the green vegetation on the planet Lah'mu to the bright oranges seen in many fiery explosions.  Blacks are rich and inky, contributing to high quality of the contrast.  The image delivers very fine clarity and much texture and detail is evident throughout, adding a realness to objects and the film.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 offers a wide dynamic range and the track helps transport viewers into believing what they are seeing as sound effects surround them and move about in conjunction with the visuals.  The dialogue is always clear and Michael Giacchino's is presented with strong fidelity.

Unfortunately, the disc is light on extras.  The Stories (HD, 69 min) is a 10-part feature that covers subjects such as visual effects supervisor / Industrial Light & Magic's Chief Creative Officer John Knoll's story pitch, brief biographies on the characters, the production design, and the digital creation of human characters.  Trivia fans will really enjoy Rogue Connections (HD, 4 min), a breakdown of elements in the film, yet it suggets there are more so why bother stopping when the feature is so short, although why it's not just included in The Stories is a puzzle.

Rogue Connections clip:

Rogue One is a delightful space fantasy with enough action to entertain the casual viewer and enough story elements and links to other works to please the Star Wars aficinado.  Even more satisfying is the presentation the Blu-ray offers.  One of the best of the year.

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