Is Rogue One a good movie? Yes. Is it great? Maybe. And while it comes to, perhaps, the most rousing conclusion of any Star Wars movie to date, it has some big flaws that are hard to overlook. Namely Darth Vader. But we'll get to that in a minute. While most people won't bother to read why he's handled so poorly here, we'll first admit that he's fun to watch. And if what he were doing didn't happen minutes before we see him in Star Wars: A New Hope, it would be some of the best Darth Vader moments we've ever witnessed in a movie or TV show.
But, alas, his final scenes in Rogue One happen just mere minutes before we first meet him in the original 1977 classic, and for whatever reason, he's just not the same Darth Vader from earlier in the franchise. But perhaps there is a logical reason for that. We'll get to fan theories a little later, because we're sure Rogue One will help spawn a lot of new ones. Before we continue, abandon ship all ye who fear spoilers, because there are going to be a lot of them from this point on.
The story behind Rogue One is simple enough. In fact, the entire plot is revealed in the opening crawl for A New Hope, giving a third act spoiler nearly forty years in the making. In this Star Wars spin-off, we get to see the Rebels first great victory over the Empire, and boy, is it a doozy. What happened to this regime by the time the Rebels get to the Death Star in a New Hope? Neither side of this space war seems to be holding up their end of the bargain in terms of what happens here. This is a galactic brawl unlike no other ever witnessed in the franchise. And it can't help but dwarf the iconic climax of the original.
And that may be the biggest problem with Rogue One. It's too big. It's too ambitious. It's too full of energy. Basically, it's everything you want in a Star Wars movie, but it's in danger of making the 1977 original kind of suck. It's nearly impossible to watch Rogue One and A New Hope back to back. Sure, that's the intent by Disney and Lucasfilm. One movie seamlessly drifts into the other. The Rebels steal the plans, Princess Leia gets them in her hands, and fans know the rest by heart. But Rogue One now makes A New Hope look like a lethargic lumping beast of boring. It's like watching The Road Warrior and Fury Road side-by-side. The new, fresh energy of today's filmmaking techniques simply aren't on display back decades ago. And it's jarring to say the least.
But the abundant energy in Rogue One isn't the only thing making it awkward in terms of what has become before it. There are a few issues that are hard to over look. Or just simply annoying. The cameos are fun, but some don't make sense, some feel shoehorned in, and others are hampered by their quality, because, let's face it, some of the VFX still aren't where they need to be to pull this off. But that's where George Lucas' tampering with his old classics might have set a precedent for better things to come. And maybe in a few years, Lucasfilm will revamp some of the flawed VFX imagery here. And yes, we did just call this stunning achievement flawed. While he doesn't want to be named here, one of the top Star Wars fan leaders reluctantly agreed that perhaps some of the VFX could be improved as technology continues to evolve. You probably know what we're already getting at before we dive into this.
Watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it's hard not to get swept away by its grand adventure, its thrilling space battles, and its dark take on the material. There's a lot of death and destruction in this movie, and if you suspected that none of the new characters make it out alive you'd be right. But we don't think those are problems at all. Now, what follows are the true things I feel Rogue One got wrong about Star Wars.
Darth Vader's intensity doesn't add up.
Here's the thing. I remember being in the theater for an advanced preview screening of Attack of the Clones before the general public got a chance to see it. And the audience went ape poo-doo when Yoda ignited his lightsaber and proceeded to trounce Count Dooku. Then, I was there opening night, with none of the filmmakers or press in attendance. And the scene got a similar standing ovation. People loved it. It was thrilling in the moment. But then a few weeks later, the buzz wore off, and people suddenly had a problem with this scene. It has since become one of the more criticized things in the prequel trilogy. Some hardcore fans absolutely hate this character development in terms of the Jedi master's overall arc, presumably showing why he was so revered. Twenty-three years pass in the life of Yoda before we see him again, as the aging Jedi Master is too frail to move like he once did when Luke comes calling.
So. Here's the rub. Darth Vader gets a similar scene in Rogue One. He does get to use his lightsaber. And in the moment, it is awesome. The audience was cheering. It brought the house down. But watch A New Hope immediately afterwards, and it's a definite buzzkill. The Darth Vader we see at the end of Rogue One is not the Darth Vader we meet in the opening moments of A New Hope. In this spin-off, he is full of piss and vinegar. He is ruthless as he kills rebels left and right to get back the Death Star plans. He takes on an army all by himself without even breaking a sweat. But then, literally a few minutes later, switching movies, we see him lumber through the Tantive IV, and he does not kill one rebel soldier with his lightsaber. Instead, he sacrifices the lives of many stormtroopers. Why? He just proved he's a bad ass that can kill everyone in this hallway. Why doesn't he continue his reign? It's not like he storms the Tantive IV slicing everything in sight like the monster Rogue One makes him out to be.
We used to think Darth Vader was a bad ass in the opening moments of 1977's A New Hope. But now he's a slow moving mellow fellow who comes across pretty nice from what we just saw him do only mere seconds ago. Okay, maybe overlook that. But then later on in the movie, we see him fight Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he moves like an old man who has just gotten off the couch at the nursing home for the first time in years to swing his lightsaber around. He gets winded, quickly, and if Obi-Wan hadn't of sacrificed himself to save Luke and his friends, we're almost sure Kenobi could have taken the Sith lord.
How in the hell does Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One go from a bad ass killing machine to a lumbering giant who mostly relies on his choking powers in A New Hope? Well, I have a theory on that.
I'll call it the drained battery theory. Perhaps the Bacta tank we see Darth's limbless body in at the halfway point of Rogue One is giving him renewed energy. He is completely at 100% when he gets out of the bacta tank. Then he drains his energy the more he walks around in that sure to be heavy helmet and cloak. After he kills that squadron of rebels, he's pretty tired. And with the events of A New Hope moving like they do, perhaps he never gets to climb back into his Bacta tank until his big showdown with Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back. It could explain the waning lightsabers and the lumbering half-assed moves we're now forced to contend with in A New Hope. Because the Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One, mind you, meets up with Obi-Wan just a few days later. And there is no way the Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One doesn't just wipe the floor with Obi Wan, killing him with a few swift strokes before single-handedly taking out the Millennium Falcon. But, alas, he does have to let Luke get away, or the Empire would have never found the hidden Rebel base. So there is that. Again, is anyone bothered by how epic the end of Rogue One is when compared to the end of A New Hope? Just in Tie Fighter numbers alone, they should have been able to wipe out the Rebels small fleet without much effort. But forget that. I'm getting off track. The Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One is a slaughtering, all-powerful badass fool. In A New Hope, he has trouble fighting an old man with a stick. Rogue One is in danger of making me never want to watch the original Star Wars again, and that in itself kind of sucks.