The Movie (3.5/5)
All screencaps are sourced from the 1080p 3D Blu-ray disc, as evidenced by the floating window presentation, which Disney continues to use on all 3D releases to help keep things feeling natural as objects move in and out of the frame.
Read my review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story HERE.
The Video (2.2/5)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was shot using the Arri Alexa 65 camera in its native 6.5K resolution mode using the same updated set of Ultra Panavision 70 lenses that Quentin Tarantino used on his most recent film, The Hateful Eight. The picture and all special effects were mastered in full 4K resolution with a final aspect ratio of 2.35:1 for theaters. The film is presented here in its native aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in 1080p resolution.
First things first – I have to stop for a second and comment on just how different the 1080p 2D and 3D presentations of Rogue One are when weighed against the 4K 2D DCP that I saw in theaters. The movie I saw up on the big screen was incredibly soft and grainy, with solid color and detail. It was kind of how I imagined seeing Star Wars in 1977 might have looked, except that most of this look was achieved in post versus shooting 35mm film negative. It erked me a little that Edwards and his team decided to throw away the incredibly capabilities of this new Arri Alexa 65 camera system in order to mimic the look of the original trilogy, something even The Force Awakens didn’t really push for. It definitely wasn’t the theater I saw it in either, this look was consistent across 3 different theaters in which I saw the movie, so when I popped in the the 2D and 3D Blu-rays to watch it on my living room television, I was blown away by not how bad it looked, but how distinctly different it looked.
In 3D, Rogue One is an awkwardly sanitized experience when held up to its 2D Blu-ray and theatrical experiences. Gone is the lovely textured grain of the 2D experience, and any hit of the softness that gave it any sort of distinguishing visual references to previous Star Wars experiences. Instead, the image is incredibly sharp, to the point where it it starts to fall prey to artifacting and other visual oddities through the feature’s run time. The 3D conversion does little to add any interesting depth to the image, instead it simply creates a minor distinction between the background and foreground, which exaggerates the shallow depth of field that the Ultra Panavision anamorphic lenses bring to the table already. On top of all of this, many of the film’s large scale battles, particularly the film’s superb 3rd act, is plagued with weird anomalies in which X-Wings and Tie Fighters stutter across the screen, which often broke my ability to immerse myself in the action on screen. Ultimately, I was often distracted by, and mostly disappointed by Rogue One’s 3D presentation, especially considering how much I enjoyed The Force Awakens’ 3D release from last year.
The Audio (5/5)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s 3D disc features identical audio options to those reviewed HERE.
Special Features/Packaging (5/5)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been released to home video by Walt Disney Home Video on Blu-ray in both standard packaging covered HERE and in retailer exclusive packaging at both Target and Best Buy.
The Best Buy exclusive release, which includes both 2D and 3D Blu-rays of the movie, a bonus Blu-ray disc, and a disc with the movie on DVD in a steelbook package. The front artwork of the steel features the elite squad of guards that follow Director Krennic around throughout the film, trudging through the waters of Scarif as the Death Star looms in the background. The back artwork features a squad of standard Stormtroopers, also in front of a portion of the Death Star. If opened up fully, it creates a single image of the complete compliment of Imperial troops with a looming Death Star behind them, in matte style. Cracking open the case, once you remove all discs you reveal inner artwork that features the 6 main members of the Rogue One team, split into their own columns. Combined with the phenomenal disc art, this is one of the finest minimally stylized steelbooks Best Buy has put out as of late. For the record, this release contains no exclusive bonus features.
The Target exclusive release, which includes the 2D, 3D, bonus Blu-ray, DVD, and a bonus DVD with exclusive features, is packaged in a large fold-out cardboard packaged with a plastic transparent slipcover. The slipcover simply states the film’s title, and features schematics of the Death Star plans over the front and back. Examining the actual packaging that holds the discs, we are first greeted with a white frame cover, which is where the release’s five interchangeable covers are placed. There is a cover slip for Jyn Erso, Cassian and K2SO, Baze and Chirrut, Krennic and his guards, and Bodhi and Saw. You change them by literally placing which ever one you want in front, and sliding them back into the frame. The back of this package is a stark black cover, which under minimal handling has become filthy with fingerprints; not exactly a promising start.Opening the package, we are greeted with the release’s 5 discs across 4 panels of fold-out. Removing the discs reveals a large squad of Krennic’s guard troopers, spread across the 4 panels while the Death Star looms in the background; it’s essentially the cover art to the Best Buy steelbook, but expanded and without the Stormtroopers. On the back of the last two panels is a drawing of the Battle of Scarif, displaying Rebel troops fighting a squad of Stormtroopers on a beach while X-Wings fly over heard, and the Death Star looms in the background. Putting the discs back into their holders requires a surprising amount of force, and sliding the fold-out packaging back into the slipcover is a frustrating experience. It gets stuck on the slipcover multiple times while attempting reinsertion.
Target Exclusive Features:
Inside the Creature Shop – a 6 minute look into the creature department at Lucasfilm, where they describe the process of designing the creature characters and the effort that is required to bring them to life on screen.
Digital Storytelling – a fascinating 4 minute look at how the visual effects team worked with Edwards and the cast to create a more organic, immersive storytelling style using large scale projection screens and digital film making tools to allow Edwards to live in and find new angles and shots from a finished digital effects sequence.
As packaging goes, Best Buy has the simpler, more minimal appeal to its name. It just works, effortlessly. If however, exclusive extras, and large scale packaging and artwork is more to your liking, then Target’s release of the film is right up your alley. It features beautiful artwork, but requires a little more patience to keep in one piece. As far as its exclusive extras, they’re nothing to go crazy over, but the feature on digital storytelling does reveal some pretty cool info.
Technical Specs (click for technical FAQs)
Region Coding: None
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-Master Audio 7.1 (English)
Dolby Digital 2.0 (Descriptive English)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 3D is a frustrating experience, especially when held up to the perfect 2D 1080p transfer also included in the package, and other modern 3D titles from Disney, such as Moana and Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens. It leaves much to be desired in terms of consistency, and any sort of decent 3D effects, and has some pretty nasty artifacting that makes for a pretty weak presentation. Luckily, all 3D releases include the phenomenal 2D disc, and all of the included extras for the standard release. The Best Buy and Target releases of the film are both shipped in extremely compelling packages, with the edge going to the Target release in terms of the sheer scale and quality of the overall packaging, but also to Best Buy for its extremely satisfying simplicity. If excellent packaging is your thing, look no further than these two releases of Rogue One.