A thumb through my eye is the decision to give Darth Vader only a cameo; to utilize the greatest villain in movie history (AFI says it’s Hannibal Lecter, followed by Norman Bates, then Vader. WRONG!) for about three minutes. Why? The top villain in Rogue One is a forgettable puss. Why?!
The Death Star, world-destroying superweapon, is prepared to blast its huge ray for the first time. This project is not above Vader’s pay grade; he could easily have been responsible for turning on the Death Star and thwarting the rag-tag Rogue One team.
Vader has a scene at the end, a scene I fear oblivious Star Wars fans adore, where he kills a bunch of rebels in a hallway. He flashes force and ninja skills, but this scene is bullshit. At the end of the hallway, a man struggles to hand off plans that will ultimately enable Luke to blow up the Death Star. Vader spends enough time twirling his lightsaber and slicing up expendables that the data escapes. Vomit! A badass Jedi master of the dark side could have absolutely prevented a hand-off down a hallway.
I get it: It’s a side story. It’s tangential fan fiction. It’s entertainment. No matter if Rogue One doesn’t play with Joseph Campbell’s hero myths, like other good Star Wars movies. No matter that the heroes are thinly realized, never near as fun as Han and Chewbacca, or even Luke and Leia. It’s Star Wars. People like it. A beloved trilogy is now a blockbuster Disney franchise, new movie and merchandise released annually. So it goes.
It’s the decision… The decision torments like a vaporous demon, haunting and taunting. Why? Why?! Writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, and director Gareth Edwards, were given a soulful, compelling, powerful, murderous, awesome-looking and iconic bad guy. As a stand-alone prequel to Star Wars, Rogue One required one thing: rebels must steal and deliver data. Instead of hunting them with Vader, filmmakers staged giant battles, full of explosions.
I don’t fucking get it.
But maybe now, after writing this down, I’ll get over it.