I liked Rogue One, but I definitely think that the lack of characterization and other common criticisms were justified. Without deleted scenes, you can only do so much, but I wanted to see what can be done with what we were given.
I think the biggest criticism of the film was its lack of character development. This falls hard on Jyn, especially. An informative video essay by Lessons From the Screenplay highlights the faults in the two newest Star Wars films’ central protagonists, Rey and Jyn. While Rey is another topic, Michael delves into Jyn’s character and describes her as a passive protagonist, meaning Jyn rarely makes decisions that have any influence on the story as a whole. Link to video below.
A few months ago I also stumbled across a Tor article by Max Gladstone titled “How to Fix Rogue One with the Least Amount of Effort”. While some of his changes are impossible to make, he had some ideas that I thought could be doable. Please give it a read when you can; he explains his own ideas much more elegantly than I could.
So, after reading these criticisms, along with many others on here and other websites, I decided to work on an edit with these major goals.
Make the first act less jumpy.
Make Jyn a more active protagonist.
Save Galen’s message as a reveal.
UPDATE: December 2019
Lately I have been thinking about revisiting Rogue One. YouTuber Nando v Movies just released a new video suggesting cuts for Rogue One (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Syx3CBenkz0), and it has made me want to come back to this edit. Considering my name on here is RogueLeader, I figure it would be appropriate for my first official fan edit be for Rogue One.
I’m thinking about revisiting this over the December-January 2019 holiday, so maybe I’ll make some progress on it.
I want this edit to build off of two excellent Rogue One edits, TM2YC’s Where Rebels Dare and DigitalModification’s Rise of the Rebellion, but I want the main selling point of this edit to be its focus on improving the narrative arc for Jyn Erso.
As of now, I will not be implementing an opening crawl like they do, but I may keep the wipes. Some other ideas that I want to use come from other users here, such as jarbear and krlozdac.
Some ideas I will be adding:
Potentially cut Krennic’s line “Do it” regarding killing Lyra Erso. Blatantly ordering the death of Galen’s wife seems like a bad way to get him to cooperate. Also, making her death not be directly on Krennic’s hands might help add ambiguity to Galen’s loyalties in this version of the movie.
Save Galen’s involvement as reveal, so the initial mission is only to get the pilot.
Cut all scenes of Bodhi and Saw before Jyn & Cassian meet them (Nando and ChainsawAsh idea)
As a side-effect of that idea, there will be no Bor Gullet.
Change “We’ll make sure you go free” to “[It’s] a chance for you to make a fresh start.” or “We’ll make you a fresh start.” Basically, they’ll set up Jyn with a brand new identity, not just “setting her free”.
Cut “we’re up against the clock” line, so it feels like Jyn has more of a choice.
Cut the Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba cameo.
Have Chirrut “sense” Jyn saving the young Jedha girl, which motivates him to rescue Jyn later from the Stormtroopers.
Remove lines referring to the Death Star’s flaw as Galen’s “trap”.
Have Jyn be the one to suggest going to Eadu to rescue her father.
Cut Krennic visiting Vader on Mustafar.
Cut shots of Vader looking straight at the Tantive IV.
And there will be more various changes throughout.
I had considered removing the disc hand-off in the Vader scene to maintain continuity with A New Hope, but I will not be doing that.
Another idea I have considered is a total regrade of the film to give it a more film look, something to make it feel even more in-line with the look of A New Hope. I’m not really an expert on color grading, so if someone who is could provide some insight and ideas I would really appreciate it. Part of the reason I would like to do this is because some people might feel like the differences between Where Rebels Dare, Spark of the Rebellion, and this edit are rather minor, so something like a regrade might help make a rewatch of Rogue One with this edit a fresher experience.
Also, any thoughts on a name for this edit? I don’t want to change the name of the movie. Maybe because I want to focus on Jyn’s characterization it could be called Rogue One: Stardust Edition? Is there an edit with that name already? Or just Star Wars: Rogue One, a fan edit by Rogue Leader?
There are still some other ideas I’m floating around with, like the scene where Jyn confronts Cassian about Eadu, Jyn’s speech to the rebels, and how to cut them based off this idea of improving characterization that I have. If any of you have any other ideas you want to suggest, just let me know. Also, if there is something you’d like to see that other edits have yet to do I’d love to hear it.