This weekend, my family enjoyed our new copy of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story via digital download, available now. We also received a preview of the film on Blu-ray and DVD, which will be available to everyone on April 4th. We not only re-watched the film, which we saw in theaters back in December, but we also took a moment to check out the extras that came with our iTunes digital download. Here are some of my thoughts about the Rogue One digital release.
Since seeing the movie, I read the book Catalyst by James Luceno. Catalyst is the sanctioned Del Rey publishing lead-in account of Galen Erso’s involvement in the Death Star’s development, as well as his relationship with Orson Krennic, a friend (dare I say…frenemy?) from Erso’s past. This wasn’t my favorite Star Wars novel, and while fellow GeekMom Shiri might not agree, it’s a means to fill in any questions you might have had about Jyn Erso’s situation at the start of the movie.
In getting to view Rogue One again, I watched with more scrutiny the parallels with current events, particularly the rebel ambush in Jedha (a setting that had a distinctively Middle Eastern feel) and Saw Gerrera’s role as a “rebel extremist.” This is still classic good vs. evil—root for the underdog, if you will—type of storytelling, but in our current worldview, it’s been met with much more scrutiny as to whether Lucasfilm is presenting us a political message. I also had a chance to watch the transition between the end of Rogue One and the beginning of A New Hope (which to me will always be “the original Star Wars,” sorry).
I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in the extras that came with this release of Rogue One. No directors’ commentaries here. But unlike even The Force Awakens, there aren’t even deleted scenes. The Force Awakens digital release includes about a half dozen deleted scenes, and if there aren’t going to be any extras longer than 9 minutes, or a director’s commentary cut of the film, I think they could have given their fans a few deleted scenes to enjoy.
Nonetheless, let me tell you about some of the extras that are included with the digital download and Blu-ray. All of the extras total about 1 1/4 hours. It won’t take you long to view all of them.
Start by checking out the documentary shorts featuring Jyn, Cassian, K-2SO, Baze & Chirrut, Bodhi & Saw, and the Empire. These are in a section called “The Stories” on my iTunes version of the digital download. These shorts feature a fresh way to present the “making of” type of material. In this case, these 5-to-10-minute-long stories feature interviews with the actors and what it was like for them to take part in the filming of Rogue One.
I have two favorites. Firstly, the “K-2SO” short details Alan Tudyk’s role in voicing the reprogrammed-Imperial-droid, and how he was able to incorporate his sense of humor into the role. As many of you know, Alan Tudyk is one of GeekDad and GeekMom’s favorite people. The story also details how Tudyk had to go through the scenes wearing stilts, a special suit that allowed for seamless CGI, and this hilarious headdress with K-2SO’s head to simulate the correct height of the droid. The way Tudyk describes it is so funny. If you choose one of the character shorts to watch, it has to be this one.
My other personal favorite is “Baze & Chirrut”, featuring the two martial-arts savvy Chinese actors cast into the warrior monk roles: Jiang Wen as Baze and Donnie Yen as Chirrut. My relatives in Hong Kong were very excited about Yen getting cast into a Star Wars film, and Chirrut single-handedly taking out dozens of Stormtroopers on Jedha is definitely one of my favorite scenes. Donnie Yen is a vision to watch.
“Visions of Hope:” This 8 1/2 minute story details the challenges the film crew had with balancing the settings of A New Hope with creating a newer, edgier setting for Rogue One. The advent of 3D and HD filmography brought about new challenges. Go behind the scenes with the building of settings and the costume design.
“The Princess & The Governor” This is the short my family was looking forward to more than any other: How did Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) pull off the 19-year-old version of Princess Leia, and how did they bring back Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin exactly how he looked in A New Hope? Check out this short to learn more.
“Rogue Connections” This short features the movies “Easter eggs”. Their term, not mine. I’d argue that most of what’s featured here are not Easter eggs. It’s more like “trivia”. There are several examples of connections that help tie the Rogue One and A New Hope plots, such as pointing out that Red 5’s destruction in Rogue One during the Battle of Scarif paves the way for Luke Skywalker to take on that same call sign in A New Hope. However, at least half of those “Easter eggs” were simply scenes the film crew took on tiny cameo roles, such as director Gareth Edwards as a Rebel soldier at the very end of the film. Sorry, but that’s not an “Easter egg” to me. Nonetheless, watch the short and enjoy how many connections there are with not just A New Hope, but several of the other films in the episodic saga, and even Star Wars Rebels.
Image Galleries. There are two image galleries that feature dozens of Lucasfilm artist renditions of U-Wing fighters and K-2SO. It’s fun to look at the images, but it’s nothing one can’t find elsewhere.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is available digitally for $19.99 through your favorite retailer now: iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon Video. You can also visit Disney Movies Anywhere to buy your digital copy, and if you input the digital code into Disney Movie Rewards, you can receive a free set of Rebel and Galactic Empire decals; just pay $0.99 for shipping. If you want to wait till the Blu-ray and DVD comes out, you only need to wait another week or so: the physical discs will be on sale Tuesday, April 4th.
GeekMom was provided a complimentary sample of the digital, Blu-ray, and DVD versions of Rogue One for review purposes. All opinions are my own.