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!
I was enthusiastic for this since I had a blast with TLJ Anti-Cringe. I feel like that edit breathed new life to a movie bent on being bold but doomed to buckle under its own ambitions.
TROS, the way I see it, had no ambition whatsoever and unfortunately an Anti-Cringe Cut could not change that.
That's not to say it isn't any better. It certainly is. Its lighter and tighter, I would say mostly because its rid of macguffins. But the structure remains the same. Its repetitive, redundant, and with terribly artificial stakes and scale. But hey, less cringey this time around.
I just feel it could have done a little more time on cutting table, though. I'm not sure if I missed something, but there are some mentions out of nowhere to Exegol, Occhi, and what does Rey want so bad with the second wayfinder on the Death Star that is supposed to be a nameless artifact?
Also, the added VFX to some scenes are rather jarring. Ren's desert un-crash and Luke's un-ghost are distracting, I have to say. Looking at the cutlist I would have thought some editing tricks like cropping or rearranging shots would work better in these cases.
While some of the changes contributed to better the story (like Rey killing Ren fitting Luke's prophecy, Lando's late reveal, 3PO's new beginning, no Palpatine heritage), others left me confused (Chewie's "ressurection" is cheaper now that there's no transport confusion shown onscreen, and the Knights of Ren are even more out of place since we don't know who they're supposed to be). Others I thought could be cut remained (Planet-killing ships and command antennas are still a thing, and I thought Pasaana was this movie's Canto Bight really), and that made me a little more disappointed.
I won't dwell on it, but this did not went the way I thought it would. Still I'd like to thank Don once again for the commitment and generosity in sharing his efforts. Even if its not the ideal TROS edit (at least for me), its definitely another showcase for his sharp editing skills.
Thank YOU for the first review!
Regarding some of your points:
- Exagol is established by Poe very early when everybody listens to the Emperor's broadcast, so it does not come out of nowhere ;)
- The same goes for Occhi. He is not mentioned in the cave but when Rey starts to remember what happened to her parents, she remembers his name too and tells it to Finn, so he is established as well.
- Rey is not looking for the wayfinder on the Death Star. I changed the translated dagger message, that 3PO is reading, so instead of "The Wayfinder" he says, that the Emperor himself is at those coordinates. That's why they travel to the Death Star. I purposely cut the the translated dagger message to be vague and open for interpretation because it does not have to mean that the Emperor is there in person all the time... but that he was there at some point and who knows who left that mysterious artifact behind ;)
- I expected Luke's unghosting to be distracting because I had no alternative material to work with and the VFX on that one are far from perfect. But I guess it's a similar problem I had with Leia in the original movie (at least Luke has more to do in the movie than her ;) )
- With "Ren's uncrash" as you call it, I guess you're referring to his ship in the background. Not everybody noticed that, when I put up a clip in the forums so I guess a viewer, who hasn't seen the clip and watches the scene for the first time would not notice it that much.
- Regarding "Chewie's resurrection": I dare you to show the original movie to a fresh viewer and ask him/her if he/she saw that second transport for that split second it was shown :) That's why we have a scene right after that one where Hux reveals that there was a second transport (which I cut). In my edit it's basically the same, only the reveal is later and instead of Hux saying there was a second transport, Rey is saying there was a second transport.
All in all I cut out a lot IMO but had to leave some stuff in so the narrative stays intact. Still happy you found some enjoyment with the edit at least and thanks again for the feedback :)
I think I could see and visualize the connective tissue that the editor wished he had to work with. There are scenes and call backs that I could imagine a scene added that would have full fleshed out the vision, but the editor only had so much to work with. AND WORK WONDERS HE DID.
the final battle is pretty much flawless, if someone had not seen the theatrical TROS final battle, I don't think they would be able to figure out that this was not the way it was intended to go. So many things just made so much more sense. I also liked that certain things and characters were left in, from a narrative standpoint they made sense. Seeing Babu Frik and Poe's relationship was really cool. I also didn't mind Rose, it made sense that she would be included in some way. Everyone just made sense. The amount of time they were given, where they came in at, and I especially liked seeing how much "fluff" was just removed all together. There were alot of scenes and characters and go-nowhere plot points that needed cut.
All in all, I cannot praise this edit enough. If you are a big Star Wars fan and enjoy fan edits, go out of your way to see this one. It takes the story in exciting, emotional, and fulfilling directions that are both surprising and engaging.
Thanks so much Don, awesome job my friend, truly awesome.
Again, please provide some specific examples. Just giving a low rating is not constructive criticism...
For me this was the most cringe out of the sequel trilogy and I’m not sure if that’s because Don Kamillo did such a great job when cutting cringe from ep. VIII or if this movie was just that much worse, because Metacritic would have me believe that this was the slightly less reviled film when compared to it’s predesessor.
Two things that had me cringe hard were the use of tread-speeders when sand-speeders were already a thing how many decades ago in a galaxy far far away? This is going to take quite a bit of work in CGI or a well trained AI to replace. So I was kind of surprised Don Kamillo left these in.
I was also shocked that he left the “broken death star” debris. This totally broke any sense of immersion into the story for me and reminded me again that Jar Jar Abrams had zero love for Star Wars. I didn’t expect all the shots filmed inside the debris to be cut. Just the line where Rey says “Death Star”. That way we could just assume it was some random imperial ruins.
There is still too much wrong with the film that I’m not really sure any amount of editing can fix. I live in hope that one day in the not to distant future someone empowered by AI and a clear creative vision can give us a sequel trilogy finale that could more easily pass for cannon.
Until then, this is probably the definitive way to watch this film. I can’t say I got through unscathed, but I’m sure this cut spared me a lot of pain and suffering over the original. Only a Sith could weaponize Star Wars into a post modern propaganda machine. So it is indeed the work of a Jedi to correct history and salvage the timeline. Gracias Don Kamillo and may the force be with you!