So unless you live under a rock or just aren’t a fan of the series and pay zero attention to it, the first spinoff Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, released last week. If you have seen it, then you’re well aware of exactly what it is I badly wanted to discuss as soon as the movie ended. I decided to hold off a week and give everyone a chance to see it before talking about the ending. So let’s get to it.
Do I even need to put a spoiler warning? This post is entirely about the ending to Rogue One.
I had two specific things I wanted to see in Rogue One; that the Death Star was sabotaged and Darth Vader at the height of his powers. I might write another post related to the first part but it’s the latter I’m focused on right now. What a fucking scene.
Darth Vader has always been a menacing and powerful character in Star Wars. Characters fear Vader and he commands the audience in every scene he’s in. We know he’s powerful and we know he’s terrifying, but I’m not sure he’s ever made me feel terrified. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t almost wet myself when the rebels were locked behind the door and the lights in the hallway shut off. After watching an entire Star Wars movie without Jedi or lightsabers, we now had the perspective of a regular person in the Star Wars universe. The footsteps, the breathing, the ignition of the red lightsaber that illuminated the hallway; that’s what fear felt like.
I had seen the rumors from many months ago but I honestly started to doubt that we were going to get the Vader scene I dreamed of. But watching Vader emerge in the hallway and completely undress the rebels with the force and his lightsaber while they screamed, frantically attempting to fight back and escape, was unbelievable. It was everything I wanted. Vader, at the height of his powers, ripping through helpless rebel soldiers in a scene of pure chaos and desperation. That was the Darth Vader that the Star Wars universe has feared since the series’ inception in 1977. It was so short but it has easily emerged as my all time favorite scene in the series. In fact, I’ve now watched the damn thing at least one hundred times through… unconventional means. But every time I see it, there’s one thing that kills me; the movie should have ended about 30 seconds earlier.
The Leia shot at the end of the movie kills me. No, not because I don’t like the CGI 19 year old Carrie Fisher. It was just unnecessary. Watch the ending again, the way the music plays with Vader standing on the platform watching the Tantive IV fly off matches perfectly with the credits music. It plays in my head every time I see it. The first time I watched the movie, I thought the credits were going to start and they just didn’t.
The movie should have ended with that final shot of Vader staring out into space. It was the perfect drop the mic moment for the movie. The rebels escaped with the plans to the Death Star and Vader was hot on their trail. The entire movie was about the rebels escaping from the clutches of the Empire with the plans to the Death Star against impossible odds and that final scene perfectly encapsulated the entire movie.
The shot on the Tantive IV was just entirely unnecessary. We already know that the rebels got away with the Death Star plans. We know that Leia is on board. We know everything there is to know at that point because A New Hope picks up right there. There was literally nothing of value to gain from that shot. Showing a CGI version of Leia was done because one, they had the technology to do it and two, for fan service. And oh my god, was that “hope” line from Leia cheesy as all hell. Every time I see the ending to Rogue One, I can’t help but be annoyed by the Tantive IV scene’s existence.
Now, I did see a great idea that works as a perfect compromise for me. End the movie with Vader watching the Tantive IV fly off, roll right into the credits like I want it to. And just shift the final Tantive IV scene to post-credits. Bam. Perfect. No complaints. Credit to /u/r4ge090 on the Star Wars subreddit for that one. The scene was just so detached from the rest of the movie that it really left a sour taste in my mouth after a jaw dropping scene featuring Darth Vader in his prime. Shifting it to post-credits would have been an excellent move and I’m honestly surprised that nobody in the production of the movie felt that way.
I’d be lying if I said the ending didn’t carry the movie big time for me. As great as the back half of it was, that 40 seconds of Vader was the highlight of the movie and is exactly what I bought a ticket for. I was like a little fan girl as soon as I realized what was about to go down. I could have walked into the theater, sat down, saw that scene and been satisfied enough with my ticket price. It was that fucking awesome.
Look, I’m as biased as it gets when it comes to Darth Vader. You put Darth Vader on screen, I approve of it.