The first of the Star Wars stand-alone films. Since almost everyone in the known universe has seen "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (except for the Trumps and the Putins, who were too busy divvying up the world), there's no need to replicate the entire storyline here, save to say that — unlike "Star Wars I & II & III" — this is a true prequel, picking up matters just before the beginning of the original 1977 "Star Wars" (now dubbed "Star Wars IV: A New Hope"). The Empire is close to finishing the planet-destroying Death Star and a ragtag assemblage of Rebels (including the daughter of the Death Star's designer, who has built a fatal flaw into the heart of the weapon) are dispatched to steal the plans and deliver them to the Rebel Alliance. Unlike "Star Wars VII," this adventure has a great hard edge, with more fighting, more deaths, more special effects and more action and — thankfully, more anger and vengeance. The leads, Felicity Jones and Diego Luna (at the risk of being politically incorrect, finally we have a Star Wars hero and a heroine that we would like to sleep with) are no-nonsense fighters; the supporting rebels are nasty but likable killers (Forest Whitaker, Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen), and the Empire villains are despicable. There's guest appearances (via CGI) of a couple Star Wars stalwarts, and Darth Vader shows up to finally strut himself as a true killing machine. Unlike so many other modern comic book or sci-fi "epics" that rely on FX instead of story to take the viewer from beginning to end (all those "Iron Man," "Avengers" and "Transformer" films that run together so you can't tell one sequel from another), this one boasts some intelligence in its plot. And if you have a decent surround system, you'll be pleased with the sound here; if you like bonus features with your DVD or Blu-ray, this release will keep you busy for hours: there's a crazy amount of behind-the scenes extras. Vitals: Director: Gareth Edwards. Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker. 2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 133 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $529.020 million, Disney. Extras:
- A Rogue Idea – Hear how ILM’s John Knoll came up with the movie’s concept – and why it’s the right film to launch the Star Wars stand-alone films.
- Jyn: The Rebel – Get to know Rogue One’s defiant, resourceful survivor, and hear what it was like for Felicity Jones to bring her to life onscreen.
- Cassian: The Spy – Diego Luna shares insights into his complex, driven character, who becomes a hero through selflessness, perseverance and passion.
- K-2SO: The Droid – Explore the development of this reprogrammed Imperial droid, from initial pitch and character design through Alan Tudyk’s performance.
- Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills – Go deeper into the relationship between these two very different characters, with Chinese superstars Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.
- Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary – Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed reflect on Saw Gerrera, the broken Rebel leader, and Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects.
- The Empire – Meet a dangerous new Imperial adversary … and cross paths once more with the most iconic villain of all time.
- Visions of Hope: The Look of “Rogue One” – The filmmakers describe the challenges and thrills of developing a bold new look for the movie that can fit within the world of the original trilogy.
- The Princess & The Governor – See what it took to bring the vibrant young princess of “Star Wars: A New Hope” – as well as one of her most memorable foes– – back to the screen.
- Epilogue: The Story Continues – Filmmakers and cast celebrate Rogue One’s premiere and look forward into the future, to the Star Wars stories yet to be told.
- Rogue Connections – Uncover Easter eggs and film facts hidden throughout the movie that connect “Rogue One” to the Star Wars universe.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.