Warning: This story contains spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (But given the headline, did we need to say that?)
Rogue One has Star Wars fans buzzing about its ending — and rightfully so. In a world of endless sequels and cinematic universes, it’s a rarity to have all your protagonists perish, with no hopes of popping up in another installment (unless, of course, some of them find their way into the young Han Solo movie). Here, Heat Vision‘s Aaron Couch and Graeme McMillan break it down.
Graeme McMillan: So, that Rogue One ending. I’m genuinely torn. On the one hand, I’ve been (vocally) hoping for an ending that killed everyone off for a while, because it felt right for a movie that was being sold as the grittier Star Wars. But there’s something about the execution that left me thinking it was pretty lifeless. No pun intended.
Aaron Couch: That surprises me. I joke that you are grouchier than me when it comes to these matters — so I thought you’d be thrilled all of the heroes died! We predicted it, but I didn’t actually think Disney would have the guts to kill off its characters — and the way they did so was quite beautiful. Plus, the shot of Krennic seeing the terror of his life’s work instantly became one of my favorite Star Wars images. The ending also gives us the best understanding of the consequences of the Death Star. With Alderaan, millions of voices cry out, but we don’t see them — and the Starkiller Base in Force Awakens destroys multiple planets, but we don’t really know why we should care other than that it destroyed multiple planets. But I’m sensing you didn’t get as much out of our heroes’ sacrifices as I did?
McMillan: I really didn’t, and it’s not just because I’m dead inside and can find no joy in anything. A large part of my problem was that I didn’t really feel anything about any of the deaths with the exception of Chirrut’s, and that is mostly because of the great scene Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen had as Baze watched him die. (Chirrut and Baze OTP of the movie, I think everyone can agree, right?) Bodhi’s death seemed rushed, K-2SO’s felt unfinished (am I the only one who felt like Alan Tudyk needed to have one last line as we saw his eyes flicker into darkness?) and the apocalyptic hug for Jyn and Cassian seemed like an unearned cliche. I’m not sure what I expected, but it … wasn’t this … ?
Couch: I appreciated that Jyn and Cassian felt peace at the end of their lives. They’d done their duty — and it was OK that they were going to die. Bodhi’s death was the weakest to me, but when I watched the movie a second time, I felt the other deaths even more, including K-2SO’s. Anecdotally, a friend told me his young daughter liked the movie — and I think that might not have been the case had the deaths been any darker. If anything, Star Wars does need to be kid-friendly, so striking a soft enough tone was key.
McMillan: That’s a really good point; I was very conscious of the kids in the screening I was at, not least of all because they seemed disinterested until the second half of the movie. But, when it comes to the ending, I wonder how many of my problems with the ending stem from the now-infamous reshoots, which reportedly changed the ending significantly. As ScreenCrush has pointed out, there are scenes in trailers for Rogue One that not only aren’t in the finished movie, but don’t even make sense in the context of the finished movie, including Jyn and Cassian out of disguise, running through both the Imperial base and also the fight on Scarif’s surface. Did the movie originally have an entirely different ending where they escaped? Or, at least, had met a different end? Perhaps they met Krennic outside of the base and had a different showdown, which I suspect I might have liked more. (I admit, I feel robbed of a proper Krennic/Jyn confrontation, and feel like her being saved by Cassian was a terrible decision.)
Couch: I was waiting for the Tie-Fighter to come down to the satellite platform and confront Jyn both times I watched the movie, because that was my favorite shot from the trailer. That was a bummer that those things didn’t make it in. But we need to touch on Vader for a moment. I didn’t have that high of hopes for Vader and I wasn’t expecting to see him in action — and they go and pull out one of the best Vader action sequences ever. It was much more like the Vader of Marvel’s comic book series. Even more brutal — and relishing his kills. I don’t want to retroactively take away from A New Hope, but it’s funny watching that movie’s introduction of Vader right after Rogue One. He’s got a lot less pep in his step.
McMillan: I liked that last scene much more than the earlier one where he made the choking pun: Darth Vader makes puns? What’s that all about? But, yeah, it definitely felt like there was an influence of the Darth Vader comic there, and with K-2SO, as well. Maybe if Rogue One is a massive, massive success, this’ll convince Lucasfilm to just bring Kieron Gillen on to write a solo Darth Vader movie inspired by his comic run? Now I have something new and entirely unlikely to hope for. And, as we know, hope is what rebellions are built on, or something.