Star Wars Episode IX: The Final Order

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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
 
8.4
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
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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Overall rating
 
8.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
7.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
Disclaimer: I've seen the theatrical cut once and Hal's edit once, so I am not crazy familiar with the material. Frankly, the editing felt botched in the theatrical, so if I mistake that for something done by Spence... please accept my apologies.

QUALITY

I opted for the highest quality version available. Visual quality looks good, but softer than I feel it should be for the file size. It's not on par with Hal9000's cut.

Audio sounds decent, but a bit brittle at points.


VISUAL EDITING

Just a couple of things:

10:17 - is this quick visual cut in the original? it threw me
10:28 - this shot is too quick and the sudden change in colour tone (time of day?) felt a little off.
30:03 - cut seems a bit quick


AUDIO EDITING

Unfortunately, there's a rather jarring problem with the presentation of the surround track. It has nothing coming out of the centre channel 90% of the time and then occasionally something will suddenly sound from that speaker, which betrays fanedited elements. The first instance this becomes noticeable is at 6:45 when there is an added bit of dialogue from Palpatine. It is much quieter as well, in spite of coming out of my centre speaker, which i always have up 2db louder than the rest of the system.

I didn't really want to watch the whole film with a bunch of cuts sticking out that Spence didn't intend, so I chose to mix down the surround to stereo for most of my viewing, else I think my list of audio stuff would have been longer. (For the record, I did also drop the file into my NLE to look at the waveforms and check that this wasn't some random issue on my end. )

So, mixed down to stereo, the film generally flows nicely. There's nothing abrupt as such, but there are a few moments where I can hear something off:

9:10 - sounds like two scores are clashing
11:01 - noticeable audio transition
11:39 - noticeable audio transition
12:27 - the way the sounds shifts here feels unnatural
15:12 - something sounds off with the music here
30:04 - remnant of score that's not from previous scene is audible
1:16:30-37 - noticeable transitions between scores

So it's mostly in the early portion of the film, which probably isn't much of a surprise, as that (perceivably) had the most extreme amount of work done. I did also notice a couple of moments where the sound was a bit thinner, probably due to having to clean up the dialogue and rebuild the sound somewhat. But this came across fairly well, all things considered, and wasn't jarring. An example would be during Palpatine's communication with Pryde; in this particular instance, I'd maybe suggest adding some more room ambiance. As it stands, we only hear music and dialogue.

From my stereo experience I would give this an 8, but since the edit only includes a surround sound option and this does not come across well on a surround setup, I've put it at 7.


NARRATIVE

Personally, I feel like this film is such a colossal fail in the realm of storytelling that you're just really limited in terms of what you can fix. That's not to say there isn't anything that can be done, it's just that the entire central premise of the film is so flawed that no matter how many changes are made, I don't think I'm able to invest in this film properly. Hal and co's fixing of the pacing and the colour grading made such a difference for me, but the base script just has so little of value that I could go either way on various other story changes.

That being said, Spence does make some admirable edits here. Most of what I appreciated came in some tweaks to visions or extended moments. I think what was done with Rey's climactic moment was particularly effective.

I don't really see how the choice to cut stuff relating to Snoke helps tie this in better with the other films. But anywho, I generally have no strong personal feelings on the choices made. Spence doesn't create any new narrative issues as far as I can tell, with just a few exceptions:

The transition into Leia's death at 10:28: I actually saw this clip in isolation when it was shared as a preview and thought it worked really nicely, but the way it sits here felt really rushed and out of the blue to me. (to be clear, I'm talking about the context the scene sits in, not the scene itself). Aside from that though, Leia's absence really doesn't have any negative impact on the plot.

The Emporer's presence is already a pretty poorly foreshadowed plot element, as it stands, and the exposition in the crawl was what little we got. Since Spence has cut that people are already aware of the Emperor from the crawl, we now only have one brief scene where the rebellion concludes he is back and it feels pretty poorly developed as a result. Then again, if Spence has plans to give a chunk of foreshadowing for this in a TLJ edit, maybe this criticism is void.

I also think there is the odd bit here or there that feels rushed, but I didn't note anything specific down because I honestly wasn't sure if this was an original error (the theatrical is SO choppy). One moment I did recall being a bit off, which I can see from the cut list was tampered with, is the reaction to the spy.


ENJOYMENT

Hal9000's edit is used as a base for this, and he did a wonderful job in terms of regrading and just allowing everything to be significantly better paced. That alone makes the film an enjoyable watch for me in spite of still generally not being a fan.

Spence's cut is also enjoyable and he does a fairly solid job of executing his own preferences. I do think he stewards some really nice moments here, but for me, since I don't have any super-strong preferences on the narrative, it then comes down to technical execution. Hal's cut is of higher visual and audio quality and there's hardly anything in it that betrays to me that it was fanedited, so that still remains the preferred watch for me, even though I do think Spence adds some nice touches.

That's not to put down Spence's work here and I'm sure it will be a hit for most people. I also know Spence plans on a version 2, so who knows what's in the future :)

User Review

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Owner's reply May 07, 2022

Thanks for the review! I figured out the audio issue and have made a new AC3 track available that fixes it.

T
Top 50 Reviewer 77 reviews
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