Review Detail

8.4 21 10
Overall rating
 
7.6
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
7.0
Enjoyment
 
7.0
Spoilers follow.

So, at last, the Anti-Cringe Cut of Episode IX is here.
I could not wait to see the film, and was, once again admired by the big changes you dropped in this one. However, I feel the narrative has been brought out to the expense of character a bit too much. I'll go through the movie analyzing the narrative decisions, highlighting the best as the ones I liked less.

First of all, I wanted to mention a minor flaw I noticed with the receding Star Wars text, as it is surrounded by an iris which paves the way for the text. I see why you did this, though.
I think the first act works wonderfully, both with the "minor" changes like the Emperor's broadcast and Kylo not crashing and the removal of certain characters and plot points. I loved the removal of Finn's secret that lead nowhere. I think that the first head-scratching moment comes when Ochi's name is pronounced: per the narrative, I didn't know who he was and it seemed a bit too soon to give out his name. Maybe, for a possible version 2.0 (which I encourage you to put out as there's so much good in your edit that can be built off of!), you could invert the two lines (to "I've seen that ship before... Ochi's ship!" and perhaps add a short flashback of Oochi's close-up so to establish him visually too, and get clear any doubt.) I liked the serpent scene and the healing's removal was necessary to pull Kylo's death through.
Contrary to some reviewers, I didn't find it difficult to accept the masking of Kylo's ship in the desert. Well done. I also enjoyed the Kijimi sequence. Babu Frik is such a fun character. Nonetheless, Poe loses a bit of backstory here, and Zorri Bliss is not really consistent as a character. To be fair, she isn't very developed in the theatrical either, but I believe that leaving some of her romance interest (if possible, without the smuggler angle of it) in Poe in the movie could have benefited both characters, fleshing them out a bit more. It would also add to Poe happily welcoming Zori Bliss and Babu Frik to the battle, which feels partly hollow in this edit (partly because it is implied Babu Frik was his friend on Kijimi, not Zori Bliss, so when they arrive you're still happy to see them cheer.)

Unfortunately, I feel a great disservice has been done to Hux too. If on the one hand, he was mistreated in The Last Jedi by making him pure and unabashed comic relief (and you fixed that in your release of The Last Jedi), relegating him to a cameo with no reaction to the previous movie's storyline doesn't help in this one, if only because he disappears from the movie after half an hour. Furthermore, I feel that General Pryde is robbed of some development too, as Hux's death could work to that end, too.
Upon the good things this edit accomplishes to help the narrative, I also liked the postponement of Chewbacca's survival, as it now comes off as a surprising reveal rather than cheap backpedalling.
I think the big narrative wonkiness (which is also a fault in the original, don't get me wrong) comes in when Rey goes to retrieve the dagger a second time: she says they're going to need it again, but they don't, and it appears there's no way around that if not to include the Indiana Jones-esque moment where the dagger points to the throne room. I understand why you removed that, but I think that more than helping the movie, it created a plot hole (unless I lost something, that is! :))
I really liked the contraction of the narrative when our group arrives on the moon of Endor, and I think that having Jannah bring Rey and Finn to the ruins immediately as they arrive works well, but not fleshing her out even a little bit I think makes her feel a bit too much like a Deus Ex Machina. Some backstory would not have hurt at all, I believe. Her, Poe and Hux are the three characters that suffer the most from this edit, unfortunately.

Now, the big, absolutely grandiose decision and change this edit forwards is the death of Ben Solo. No choice can be more logical than this. This is what makes the edit step up. It is the logical conclusion to his arc, and I wonder why the original decided to have him redeem. Obviously, this means the disappearance of the Knights of Ren in the third act, but it is most definitely forgivable as it is genius to have Kyo die.
I wonder why the planet-destroying weapons weren't done with, as they have no reason to exist if not to temporarily add threat to Poe... only for that to be swept away by Lando's speech. Speaking of which, I liked the reveal of Lando. This way we're not left wondering what he was doing on Pasaana, or why he was left behind with no reason at all, and makes it seem as if he was already at the base, and enters the quadrant only when he has something valuable to say.
Luke's force ghost, as stated before even by the editor himself, isn't entirely convincing but it isn't too noticeable while watching, at least to me. Ironically, I found the switch from TLJ footage (Luke walking down the steps) to TRoS footage more jarring. Maybe you could tone down some of the sunlight in the two shots of Luke looking down to Rey to make it mesh together a bit better? Anyways, the effect in the two later scenes come off much better. Now, we come to the second plothole that bugged me: if Luke went searching for answers regarding Palpatine, why didn't he tell Rey, his apprentice, that he knew the coordinates to get to Exegol earlier? Is it because he returned to Ahch-To and closed himself to the Force again? To make it clear, I understand there wasn't much to work with in the first place, and this would be forgivable plot hole if it had been explained why Luke doesn't contact Rey earlier. The change to Leia's lightsaber is not the one I was expecting! I think it works fine, but the shot of Leia holding the saber in the flashback seems oddly black & white almost. I imagine this is due to the colour correction, to make it resemble the yellow tint of the saber, but I feel that you may have lost a bit too much green/blue from the background. Maybe purple would have caused less trouble?
The final battle in the third act, works, lean and mean, very well. Both the set pieces work, and Rey remembering Han, Leia and Kylo adds some emotion to the moment. Well done. Nonetheless, I have to nitpick here (this is very minor): when Rey grabs Leia's saber, the saber is blue, and when she grabs Luke's... it is yellow. I think this may have been inverted for dramatic effect, and it works very well, without a doubt, but as a fan I couldn't help but notice it. I had to point it out, but had it happened in the original (other than mere lack of attention to details) I wouldn't have bothered too much; I see it a bit like Vader's saber not being rotoscoped in a shot from Episode IV.
I have to say that Luke's death is a moment that definitely lands, and is well cut together with the original footage.

During the celebration, you obviously cut the same-sex kiss. It didn't feel natural, I see why you cut it. Nonetheless, I think that it can be frustrating for some people to see that moment gone.

And finally, the ending on Tatooine. At first, I was left wondering why you changed the lightsaber to red (!) but after some thought, I got to the conclusion that it feels right for Rey's arc. This is a bold decision you have made. This is my reasoning: Rey's theme in this movie is to embrace who she is. She has the power of both Jedi and Sith, and she doesn't doesn't understand it; therefore she fears it, and herself. By building herself a red lightsaber, she is embracing the dark side to do good. It is a way of showing that colour doesn't necessarily count. What matters is what you do with it. Still, I think that the colour yellow created less confusion, as one reviewer felt confused after seeing the film.

All in all, I think your edit satisfies many of the faults the original had (except the ones which are no fault of the editor) but also creates some of its own doing. I do like most of them, and strongly encourage DonKamillo not only to finish off his ACC trilogy but also revise his edit of IX in the same way he did for VIII to implement some of the feedback me and other reviewers have brought forward!

Congratulations,

Canon Editor

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