Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrived on Blu-Ray DVD and in digital download format this week, and social media feeds for pop culture fans are full of plenty of photos of folks holding up their Blu-Rays proudly. For a lot of people, buying the take-home copy to keep in a collection is a given. It’s going to be placed alongside the other films on a shelf and viewing marathons will break out on special occasions like family gatherings, since Star Wars brings people together across generations. The film will eventually be shown on TV, too, and enjoyed in re-watch countless times.
But if you’re not sure about buying the Blu-Ray or digital download, why do it, or why do it now, versus waiting a few months? You’ll probably be able to watch it on TV, or through subscription channels, so why own it?
Firstly, the movie itself is a triumph, and not just because the DVD cover says “Triumphant”. It is film wrought so carefully to stand within the Star Wars universe that it even surpasses last year’s The Force Awakens. That may be a controversial thing to say, since The Force Awakens contains so many emotion-inducing returns of key actors to the Star Wars universe, but in terms of tone and aesthetics, Rogue One comes closer to the feel of the original films than any other thus far and actually manages to build on them. So having the film as a DVD or download is going to present the highest quality viewing experience to preserve those features.
But secondly, and related to that, the aesthetics of Rogue One were actually built on a certain texture, a grittiness, and sense of things happening in “real time”, and that is only preserved at a high level in this Blu-Ray or digital experience. In fact, when you watch this version of Rogue One on a small screen, it’s going to jump right out at you just how involved you feel in the texture of the film.
This was visible and perceptible on the giant screen in theaters, but when presented in a multi-screen format like the digital download, the same texture “reads” for viewers and even feels more accentuated. You are physically closer to the tiny, high-def details of the design of the film with home viewing, and that grittiness of a real, imperfect world is even more impactful. Just the opening sequences with Jyn running away from storm troopers in the rain, through sandy valleys, and into the cave will leave you feeling like you’ve been out in the drizzle, and are crawling through caves, too.
The traditional selling point, though, in picking up the Blu-Ray or digital download of Rogue One, though, are the extra features. In them you can learn a lot about why the aesthetics of the film are the way they are, and why you feel like you’re watching things happen in “real time”. There is over 1 hour and 8 minutes of extra features being released with Rogue One, called “The Stories” and they include the following: “A Rogue Idea” which features the whole surprising genesis of the film, “Visions of Hope“, which takes us inside the building of the sets for the film, including Scarif, and the difficulties of working with “legacy sets”, a section on the CGI used to bring a young Leia back to the screen and re-create Grand Moff Tarkin, and a series of character-focused pieces that go in depth into the design and acting demands for each role.
The latter forms the bulk of the extras and is a fascinating look into the journey of each character and how the roles affected the actors involved. Particularly eye-opening is a look at Jyn Erso and the sheer physical difficulties that Felicity Jones faced in the role. From a technical and acting standpoint, the feature on K2SO is fascinating, showing how the droid was designed based on original Star Wars sketches, and following Alan Tudyk’s development of the character on set through various difficulties and indignities needed to create a super-tall character who could interact with other actors. You’ll find some clips from the K2SO footage below.
Alongside these special feature clips, there are also two design galleries of still artwork relating to the design of both K2SO and the U-Wings used in the film, and a featurette that focuses on uncovering the Easter Eggs hidden for fans in the film, including cameos that most likely passed you by in theater viewings.
Would the extra features be worth the decision to purchase the Blu-Ray or digital download? Possibly not, though they are very compelling and bound to teach you things you did not know about the grand sweep and development of this film. But if you include in that the high quality presentation of the film itself, which may be the best aesthetic development in the Star Wars universe since the original films, then the combination is definitely worth home viewing.
Rogue One is out in shops now, and available digitally.
Here are clips from some of the special features on K-2SO:
On Designing K-2SO:
On K-2SO’s British accent:
And, lastly, here’s the trailer for in-home viewing: