Things Rogue One should have done differently

Rogue One was undeniably awesome, but it did have a few missteps, and there were a few things we wanted them to have done better. So let's play script doctor and tighten up some of the more problematic parts of the movie.

Spoilers follow, so don't read if you haven't seen it.

Seriously, this is your last chance to avoid spoilers ...

Show more of the Imperial prison and how terrible it is there

When we find, Jyn she's in an Imperial prison ... for about three minutes before the Rebels bust her out. This happened too quickly. For all the talk about the evils of the Empire, Rogue One doesn't really show how terrible living under Imperial rule actually is. It basically seems like any other government (until they blow up Jedha, of course). Expanding the time Jyn was in prison would have given the audience a better taste of the day-to-day totalitarianism.

Make the prison a hell-hole. We should have seen Jyn's daily life of monotony and fear. Have a scene where the stormtroopers torture somebody. Have another scene where a stormtrooper beats Jyn for talking back. Show us more of her growing dissatisfaction and give us a sense of the horror of living under Imperial rule.

Not only would this set up the world of the movie better, it would also let us empathize with Jyn better. Part of what worked so well in New Hope and Force Awakens is, we got to see Luke and Rey's life before their call to adventure. Audiences need to see what the protagonist is leaving behind for the arc of the hero's journey to work. If we don't, then the emotional impact of starting the journey is lost.

Spending more time in the prison would've created a more emotional connection with Jyn, and truly show the Rebellion as a symbol of hope.

Only show Darth Vader at the very, very end

Ok, we admit, Vader having a lava castle on Mustafar is pretty awesome. It's gaudy and corny, but fits the aesthetic of old-school Star Wars. There's no problem with the lava castle itself, though after what happened at the end of Revenge of the Sith, you'd think vader would want to stay as far away from lava as humanly possible.

Here's the issue: what actually happens in that scene, from a storytelling perspective? Not much. We get to see Vader, which is always welcome, but we don't learn anything more about him, besides that he has a castle. We watch Krennic complaining about not being in control of the Death Star, but we already saw him argue that with Tarkin — ergo, no new information. The only real reason the castle scene exists was so Vader could make a lame "choke" pun, and James Earl Jones can voice five minutes of Vader dialogue.

Cutting this scene would actually make the ending scene in the hallway even cooler than it already is. After all, in any good horror movie, you don't show the monster until the end. Imagine it. We haven't seen Vader, only heard people talk about him. Then suddenly, at the end of the hallway with the frightened Rebels, we see his lightsaber slowly ignite. The first time we see him in the film is this badass shot of him standing in a dark hallway, lit by the glow of his own lightsaber. Without saying a word, he goes to town on the Rebels.

Wouldn't that be awesome? Certainly cooler than the first shot of Vader being him floating in a bacta tank. Plus, we wouldn't have that dumb pun. Darth freakin' Vader should never tell dumb dad jokes.

Jyn should've looked more unique

Felicity Jones did a fine job in the movie, no doubt about that, but isn't it weird that every woman main character in the Star Wars universe is a petite, pretty brunette with a slight English accent? Between Padme, Leia, Rey, and Jyn, we've seen the franchise cast similar-looking women for the main roles every time, and that's not likely to change anytime soon, with Emilia Clarke getting cast in the Han Solo standalone.

Having Jyn look like Standard Female Protagonist #4 stood out, in a bad way. The script characterized Jyn as a hard-edged, rebellious freedom fighter, but her physical appearance didn't back that up, unlike Saw Gererra or the other Rebels. They had grungy, worn-down looks, like real-life freedom fighters.

Obviously, you shouldn't judge Jyn solely based on her looks, but in a movie, visual storytelling is a big deal, and audiences get information by what they see. Take Mad Max: Fury Road. Furiosa's appearance alone told us a lot about her character. She's practical, scarred, and a truly capable warrior. Rogue One should have taken a page from George Miller, and made Jyn look more unique. If they still wanted Felicity Jones, dirty her up. No heavy black eyeliner, especially when going into battle. Jyn should not care about her makeup when "fight the Death Star" is on her to-do list.

How about cut her hair short? Or give her face tattoos? Or some sort of disfiguring scar? Something to show us that Jyn has lived a violent, horrible life, and developed a take-charge attitude to survive. Make her look like a dirty, grungy Rebel, and show us that conventionally pretty girls aren't the only ones who can fight for freedom.

K2SO interacting with a loyal KX droid would've been boss

Despite all the other awesome things in this movie, K2SO absolutely stole the show. Essentially the murderous, sarcastic version of C-3PO who was way too honest and blunt for his own good (think Sheldon Cooper in deathbot form), K2 was exactly the comic relief the movie needed and actually had the saddest death scene, sadder than any of the flesh-and-blood characters. That's pretty impressive for an emotionless metal security robot.

While everything about K2 was perfect, we could have used even more of him, just for fun. A great scene that they could have included was K2 interacting with a loyal droid from his series while they are sneaking around Scariff Base. Have another KX droid stop them, and let K2 try to talk his way out of the situation. Imagine K2's sarcastic sass contrasting with a lock-step loyal droid that existed only to serve the Empire. K2 would have made him doubt his whole existence and dedication to the Empire, and probably given the poor robot an existential crisis.

From a storytelling perspective, this would have really deepened K2's character. We would've seen where he came from, and his original personality. Contrasting him with a boring, loyal robot would make his death scene that much more poignant. Audiences would have even more reason to fall in love with the unlikeliest of heroes: a tall, metal, shade-throwing security droid. Star Wars truly lost a great character.

It should've been at least an hour longer

One of the biggest problems in Rogue One was a lack of character development. The characters had little time to sit and talk to each other, and thus the audience never got a chance to explore the dynamic between these very different people. It was especially obvious with Cassian Andor and Jyn, whose relationship never got off the ground. In an odd turn of events, the personalities of the secondary actors far outshined the main leads.

Part of why this happened is because the movie had lots ground to cover: introduce a completely new ensemble cast and set up the world they characters were living in, all while driving a complex narrative forward. That's a hard task, even for the best filmmakers.

Really, Rogue One needed another hour of running time to do all the elements properly. Basically, be like Fellowship of the Ring. Both movies introduced large ensemble casts while trying to drive the narrative forwards, but what Fellowship had that Rogue One didn't was time. Peter Jackson's approach benefited from a slowed-down pace that let the audience's dig into the characters, and Rogue One would have as well. Would you have complained about more Star Wars? We didn't think so.

The Death Troopers should have more unique and more … deathy

The black-clad Death Troopers sure looked cool, but what did they do? Not a lot, unfortunately. This was one of the most disappointing elements of Rogue One. For how much advertising emphasized the Death Troopers, they didn't seem any more competent or deadly than the standard Stormtroopers. In many ways, they suffered the same problem that Captain Phasma did in Force Awakens, where advertising hyped them up and they ultimately did nothing. At least Phasma will get another movie or two to become truly badass. Where are the Death Troopers after this? Decommissioned, apparently.

A few changes would've made the Death Troopers more interesting. First, they should've had unique weaponry. Instead of just using standard Stormtrooper blaster rifles, they could've wielded an insane arsenal of advanced weaponry: rapid-fire blaster rifles, rocket launchers, missile packs on their shoulders like Iron Man, jetpacks, land mines, etc. Then, during the battles, show them cutting down dozens of Rebels, maybe even single-handedly shooting down an X-wing — anything to show them as the Empire's elite.

Another way to make them stand out would've been to have the Rebels respond to them differently. Instead of just having them gun down Death Troopers like they were regular grunts, they should've tried to avoid them, or have everybody concentrate their firepower on them. Having one Death Trooper need multiple Rebel soldiers to kill it would have shown how truly frightening these black-clad troopers were.

Had Jyn distrust the Rebel Alliance for way longer

One of the main story arcs of the film's second act was the conflict between Cassian's orders to kill Galen Erso, and Jyn's attempt to save her father. We got that really good scene at the Eadu research facility that ended in Galen's death, with Jyn learning that the Alliance was trying to kill her father and dropped the bomb that killed him. She's rightfully pissed... for about five minutes.

Yep, that's about all. After learning that the Alliance had lied to her and killed her father, she just went right back to helping them out. Why would she trust these people at all? They completely lied to her about the most important person in her life, but she just forgets about it almost immediately and is still willing to go along with them, even dying if necessary.

A huge opportunity got wasted here. Instead of just having Jyn go back to blindly trusting the Rebels, we could watch her re-evaluate her allegiances. Without resolving it right away, that would add another layer to the battle at the end. We'd wonder if Jyn will do the right thing and support the Rebellion, or let her emotions get in the way and leave them, finally getting her revenge for killing her father. It would add another layer of dramatic tension to an already extremely tense last act.

We should've only seen Tarkin's back and voice, at the very end

Through the miracles of CGI, the makers of Rogue One were able to resurrect Peter Cushing ... in a weird, lifeless uncanny-valley way. We have to give credit to their audacity, but unfortunately, CGI will likely never be lifelike enough to truly resurrect the dead.

The Tarkin scenes were ... weird. He looked fine in the wide shots, but looked only almost life-like in closeups. Almost is not good enough for life-like CGI, so the filmmakers should have just chosen a look-a-like, as they did with Leia. Or better yet, only have Tarkin appear only at the end, since the only reason he was there at all, was because audiences knew him, and it was a nice way to tie everything together.

Instead, have everything play out to eventually get Krennic down on Scariff. Then, at the end of the movie, when the Death Star is about to fire, we cut to the control room where we only see the back of Tarkin. He gives his famous order: "You may fire when ready." The Death Star obliterates the Scariff research facility and the movie ends. That way, audiences see that Tarkin is in command now, and it still ties everything together well. Then, if you're watching the movies in order for the first time, Tarkin's still a mystery. All we know is that he killed his own people, and that's way spookier than looking into the uncanny face of a dead actor.

Leia should've had more to do

Leia's cameo was only 10 seconds long, and while it was an incredible, emotional ten seconds, it raised an important question. Namely, what was Leia doing during that entire battle? Was she just sitting in the cargo hold during the biggest battle the Rebellion had yet fought? That's decidedly out-of-character for Leia, who should've been in the thick of things. Original Trilogy Leia was a go-get-em character, not content to sit on the sidelines while other people fought. Rogue One seems to have forgotten about that, and sidelined her.

Instead of the way things played out, Leia should have been on the bridge of the Rebel flagship. It would've been more in-character for her to help out on the bridge, making snarky comments and barking orders alongside Admiral Raddus. That's how you introduce our beloved Princess — show her as the take-charge Alliance commander — willing to do anything to get the job done — that we've know she was from the very start.