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: June 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 the timing of this video seems to me like a sign for me to go forward with finishing 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.
So, I won’t be using all of my ideas when I originally made this thread, but some I will, like trying to make Jyn a more active protagonist as well as save Galen’s involvement as a reveal.
I will be borrowing heavily from TM2YC’s Where Rebels Dare fan edit as well as taking elements from DigitalModification’s Spark of the Rebellion edit, big changes and small
As of now, I will not be implementing an opening crawl or wipes like they do, though.
Some other ideas I will be adding:
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.
Cut all scenes of Vader up until the corridor sequence.
Save Galen’s involvement as reveal, so the initial mission is only to get the pilot
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
Have Jyn be the one to suggest going to Eadu to rescue her father.
Keep Galen’s death the same, but have his last words be “Star… dust"
Cut all shots or mentions of Vader before corridor scene.
Cut shots of Vader looking straight at the Tantive IV.
One bigger idea I’m considering:
Use cuts and VFX to remove the data disc being handed off to the Tantive IV. Mask it out of hand. Maybe replace disc with blaster for the second rebel (since he has a blaster in his right hand when he makes it into the Tantive IV). We can assume both ships received the transmission.
Maybe the insert shot of the Raddus receiving the plans could be moved to inbetween the shot of the Tantive IV flying away, and the shot of the rebels running down the hallway, to show that they had downloaded the plans (maybe replicate the graphics of the rebels downloading it to the card).
Another idea I’m thinking about:
Cut mentions of Galen laying a ‘trap’. You can still interpret it that way, but I want it to also just seem like Galen is wanting to leak a weakness that is inherent to the Death Star’s design, not that he intentionally designed it to have a weakness. He lied all these years so he could know its strengths and weaknesses, and then tell the Rebels how it could be destroyed.
To me, this is the best of both worlds. Galen betrays the Empire, but it also doesn’t arguably take away from Luke’s miracle.
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.