Star Wars Episode IX: The Final Order

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(Updated: March 06, 2023)
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7.8
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9.0
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9.0
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9.0
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8.0
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4.0
Better.... it's better, that's what I can say.

The quality of the edits is top notch. A lot of the decisions made worked out for the better. Killing off Leia early on allowed the characters to be more independent, and enriches characters arcs like Poe's need to be the leader or, more importantly, the rivalry between Rey and Kylo. There is now more of a push and pull between them, Rey being pulled to the dark while Kylo is pulled into the light, and no Leia means this conflict is allowed to play out with their choices as opposed to others coming in to make the choices for them. The removal of Rey's parentage is cleverly done, using the vision of her taking the throne as the way Kylo tries to get to her. Bonus points for removing goofier elements like the Dark Rey scene or "Empress Palpatine," plus the addition of Palpatine's message to the beginning so we're up to speed. The Final Order feels more like a proper sequel to the previous movies now, and if this was released in theaters there'd be significantly less conflict about it (to put it mildly). It is better than what we had.

However, "better" doesn't translate to greatness, at least in my eyes. Even with these quality of life improvements, and believe me Spence outdid themselves on that front this isn't on them, I can't really bring myself to enjoy this movie. Finn isn't given anything to do, Rose being left to the sidelines, the fake out deaths, the Final Order fleet, Palpatine, that ending... these issues still permeate the film and hold it back immensely. There's still a reactionary vibe to the film that doesn't do it for me. Again, this is not the fault of the editor, who did the best they could and made a significantly more competent, even compelling, movie out of Rise of Skywalker. The Final Order gets a recommendation for me, if only because of how even these smaller changes help the movie immensely.

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Overall rating
 
7.4
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8.0
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9.0
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8.0
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6.0
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6.0
Spence has done an admirable job at excising what most find to be the most egregious central plot point of Episode IX: 'Rey Palpatine'. Unfortunately, what's left doesn't quite hold the rest of the film up in a satisfactory way for me. Several of the stretched out-shots look quite blurred out and there are some cuts and scene transitions that don't feel quite right.

Other than those minor gripes, the edit is well-constructed and thought through. I wish something along these lines had been filmed originally!

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Overall rating
 
7.8
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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4.0
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5.0
Spence took a complete and total mess of a movie and did the best he could to fix it. And in that he did a pretty damn fine job! The movie is still problematic storywise, but it's a little less overstuffed and more cleaned up. My favorite choices are these:

* Cutting the lightspeed skipping
* Killing Leia off at the start (I love Carrie Fisher but it didn't help to keep her)
* Put memories and Sith voices in Rey scenes to show the lure of the Dark Side
* Made Rey a nobody, no Palpatine connection (I dislike the idea from The Last Jedi but at least we're consistent)
* Dropped the Rey Skywalker nonsense

There's still so much this movie (and the sequel trilogy as a whole) got wrong, but how Spence turned it into a half decent movie is a damn miracle. Great work!

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Overall rating
 
8.2
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9.0
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9.0
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8.0
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7.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
The Final Order is one of the stronger edits of Episode IX that I've seen so far. And while my personal bias means that my favorite edit of Episode IX is, well, my own, this one gets a nice, shiny silver medal at number two. This one earns a high recommendation from me!

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Overall rating
 
8.8
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9.0
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9.0
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10.0
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8.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
I’ll start by just mentioning the notes I took while watching the edit.

-I like the addition of using Vader’s temple on Mustafar from Rogue One, both as a visual reminder as well as a way to help slow down the film’s pacing

-Seems like there should be a mention in the crawl that the people Kylo Ren’s fighting on Mustafar are either With Cultists/Vader loyalists/whatever so we know Kylo isn’t slaughtering potentially innocent people without context.

-I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I don’t miss “My boy, I made Snoke.” The vat of the Palpatine clones is implication enough as to what Snoke actually was.

-”You will rule all the Galaxy, as the new emperor.” I have more to say about this later, but in the moment, I love the idea that Palpatine isn’t outwardly trying to be the big bad, but instead trying to help Kylo do what Kylo thinks he wants. Of course, Kylo knows better than to trust Palpatine at face value, and most importantly, Kylo gets to keep his agency in this edit.

-How you handled Leia’s exit is great…but after you cut from R2’s reaction to another shot of Rey reacting through the Force, Rey is making a lot of crying sounds that are not conveyed at all by Daisy Ridley’s acting. The first time is fine, when she’s moving her head, but not so much when her had is staying still/

-On a similar note, on Chewie’s reaction to Leia’s death, there’s this weird thing where someone says “Chewie” before he cries out in anger, & it sounds awkward & also like it’s clashing with the musical cue that’s playing?

-This probably has more to deal with HAL, but I appreciate the little changes you did keep, mostly because I’m able to recognize that they ARE changes (i.e., I didn’t realize the Skywalker puppet show was a new addition when I first saw it in HAL’s edit.) I appreciate how Hux is a Captain now, since it helps justify his later actions, & Kylo’s reason for reforging his mask, while brilliant in HAL’s edit, is made even better in this edit, since now Kylo is reforging the mask in reaction to his mother’s death. He feels the call to the light & he’s trying to fight it.

Honestly, I wish you went further with the montage & added in Leia’s passing away, as well as Kylo saying he feels the call to the light since now he’s torn by the death of both his parents (more properly setting up his new arc in this edit), showcase more how he’s trying to hide from himself.

-Love the use of “they [The First Order] fly now” & the lightsaber/flashlight gag is still perfect.

-I love how you cut Rey’s scream of “Chewie” after she destroys the transport. Her silent reaction just hammers home just how much shock she’s in.

-”I know where she’s going.” I’m not sure if that was in the original cut, but I suppose it makes sense, given their force bond.

-While I do wish the Knights of Ren still had more lines (“Solo’s Wookie,” “I get his teeth,” “Well that’s not fair,” etc.), I appreciate the line “Kylo Ren wants the girl alive” since it showcases that Kylo Ren & Palpatine want different things.

-Great choice of having it so 3PO no longer parrots Poe verbatim when speaking about how all they’ve done would’ve been for nothing. I also really appreciate cutting out him saying “wait, maybe we could try this,” really let the moment stand on its own. Really makes me wish that 3PO didn’t get his memory back in this edit, since that means there’s one less person to remember Leia bye, which would’ve been heartbreaking.

-“You don’t just have power. You have his power. You…will kill Palpatine…& take the throne.” As much as I want the idea of Rey having killed her parents in TROS edits, this line of dialogue is pretty perfect. I have more to say later on when it comes to negatives, but I’m very okay with Rey being this prodigy in the Force struggling with how to use her power, or if she should use it at all.

-Is Finn saying “so *did* Leia” new? I want to say the original line was “so *does* Leia,” so it’s impressive if you were able to make such a change. Also, great how this is the first direct mention of Leia after her death & the masks are starting to break on both Finn & Poe.

-Is it me, or is the lightsaber fight in the rain incredibly chopped down. I remember it lasting far longer, then again, Leia was supposed to have died here, so that’s probably it. Still, love how Ren finally gives into the light & Rey (briefly) gives into the darkness

“The Jedi apprentice has disrupted my plans.” That…sounds wrong. The implication sounds like Ren dying was a part of Palpatine’s plan, which…why? Throughout this edit, Palpatine has been keen on killing Rey because she has the potential to put Palpatine down for good. Why then, would Palpatine try to kill the vessel that can’t kill him. I know you said you wanted to make Palpatine’s motivation more clear, but if anything it sounds more inconsistent.

I think the line should be “The last Skywalker (Ben Solo) has disrupted my plans.” Throughout this edit, it’s clear that Palpatine & Kylo do not want the same thing (Palpatine wants her dead, Kylo wants her alive. So for him to fight Rey & not only not kill her but come out of it on the light side of the Force, now Palpatine has lost out on a vessel that lacks the power to kill him for good, & now has to rely on the vessel that can kill him if he doesn’t play his cards right. That certainly would disrupt Palpatine’s plans.

-This is personal preference, but I hate how Rey & Kylo both use blue lightsabers against Palpatine. While I’m okay with Ben using a blue lightsaber, especially since it’s Anakin’s lightsaber which is a dream come true for him, I’ve never seen blue lightsaber wielders as being the most enlightened of Jedi (chalk that up to Luke in RotJ & Qui-Gon Jinn both using green lightsabers). Also, the new canon has made me sick of it’s overreliance on giving Jedi blue lightsabers (Rey, Kylo, Luke in the Krait battle of TLJ, Ezra, Kanan, Kanan’s master’s retcon lightsaber in The Bad Batch, etc.), meaning outside of being a perfect tribute to Carrie Fisher, Rey holding a purple lightsaber at least gives off some visual variety, & also stands perfectly between the light/blue lightsabers & the dark/red lightsabers, which would also make a great cap to Rey’s character arc.

-I don’t hate the idea of Rey not being bailed out by every legacy character, especially if we’re going with the idea of her being a prodigy/new vergence in the force. But her ultimate triumph against Palpatine just isn’t earned, because all we get is an (admittedly, well put together) montage of Rey’s Jedi journey as told by closeups of her hand, which doesn’t really inform any change about her character other than the fact that she was indeed on a journey. Also, as pointed elsewhere, it means the ST basically ends with the same thematic endpoint as the OT, except worse because instead of Luke throwing his lightsaber away & winning his father back because of his convictions, Rey wins through the same act of redirected violence that caused the fall of the Republic & rise of the Empire the last time Palpatine’s lightning was thrown in his face.

So, let’s keep the montage of Rey’s Jedi journey told by close ups of her hand, but let’s also add Finn taking her hand in TFA into the mix (I’m honestly surprised that shot wasn’t in here). We then cut to all the people she’s made friends with, as well as her relationship with Kylo / Ben & the times she’s gotten angry, accompanied by Luke’s line from TLJ about “powerful light, powerful darkness,” showcasing that Rey is capable of embodying both. You can then cut in Leia’s line about how “we have everything we need” (hopefully the “we” part can be changed to “you”) as well as “never be afraid of who you are. That last line is especially important, since now this is Leia telling Rey those words from beyond, and serves as a response/refutation of Dark Rey/Rey’s doubts & fears of her capabilities. Rey then wins using her own light & her own darkness, because she’s *not* a Jedi, she’s something else.

-Lastly, since I doubt Disney intends to go back to the ST or beyond it for quite some time, why not have an ambiguous open ending? Inspired by krausfader’s edit, as Rey buries the lightsabers in the sand, you could have a line of dialogue from an older Jedi suggesting that maybe Rey doesn’t want to lead the next generation of Jedi or even continue her own training (ideally, I’d source Asokah’s line from Mando season 2 about how connections to the Force eventually fade away, but that’d never get approved unless official blu-rays of Mando season 2 were made). Then instead of seeing the force ghosts of the Skywalker family, Rey catches a glimpse of…something. The audience never sees what it is, but whatever it is, it gives Rey a sense of peace. Does Rey decide to continue her training, or does she decide to live her life as a normal person? Whatever her choice, she is happy, and that’s what matters.

Overall, I’d say my opinion is mixed. I love a lot of what was done, but it can be taken even further. I hope Spence is open to a version 3, but I’d still recommend version 2 for people to decide for themselves.

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