I was very intrigued by what HAL 9000 set out to do with The Force Awakens. I LOVE this movie, small warts and all, and I wanted to see what rearranging the narrative a bit might do for it.
Ultimately, I found myself not liking the movie nearly as much as the theatrical version. It's not a bad edit, per se. Not at all! It just didn't play to what I would have liked to see changed around. Whereby removing the use of Starkiller until the end gives it an unknown fear, by having it sooner everyone knows what the stakes are-- even if it more closely mirrors A New Hope.
The technical prowess is still pretty great, and perhaps others will like the reshuffled narrative more than I did. Personally, I would have liked to simply seen some edits made to any mentions of Kylo being Han and Leia's son until Han calls out his name on the catwalk, then would mention 'the face of my son' for the first time. It would make you wonder why Snoke was so invested in this former pupil of Luke's and Han and Leia seemed worried about him. It would leave questions like 'is he Luke's son?', 'is he Han and Leia's son?', 'was he a former trusted friend?' until the 'ah ha!' moment later on.
I liked this Restructured version very much. It is another way of viewing it.
I would like to have seen more X-Wings attacking Starkiller Base. I always thought it stupid that 12 fighters (yes i counted them) managed to destroy SB when the DS and 2nd DS took a lot more than 12 fighters to destroy. The resistance used more fighters at Takodana than at SB. I would have cut or trimmed the skirmish with Solo, Rae, etc with those two gangs and those CGI creatures, but that is my personal opinion of course.
I only have one thing to point, although i think you wouldn't have been able to alter, i don't know but it concerns Ren, in the last part of the movie, since you reorganize the scenes, we see Ren with his mask talking to Snoke, in another frame he doesn't have anymore, then it has it again, and this also happens when he is scouring SB for Rae with is hood/"cape", in some scenes he has it, in another he doesn't. Just a minor detail other than that, good work. =)))
I must say, I wasn't sure the idea behind this edit would work (saw a video, thought it looked great), but I can safely say that it does work!
So, first, the technical qualities of the edit. Visual is top of the line. Perfect. Well done!
Audio, however, has a few problems. Most notably, throughout the movie the volume is very uneven. Both my buddy and I noticed this, and we compared it with the original and I don't know what happened but the volume swings a lot in intensity. I don't suppose that was intended so this is an issue.
Also, as everybody pointed out, Finn's line "It's the First Order, they've done it" makes little to no sense in context. Removing it entirely wouldn't hurt the movie at all. Just cut to him coming up and saying "Where's Rey?" after everybody reacts, or cut to someone else after he says "It's the First Order" and leave it at that (no "they've done it"). Maybe a Han reaction shot/someone else?
However, I just LOVE how this edit gets rid of the god-awful reactions shots in the original to the planets exploding. It's completely impossible for anyone to witness such an explosion from across the galaxy, even within the same solar system planets can be hours away at light speed, so this edit works wonders within that context. I love the Han/Starkiller firing, I love the insertion of the speech, the modified Kylo Ren+Snoke scenes, everything works!
It also reduces one parallel with A New Hope so there's that.
The ending though doesn't work in the original (it's too quick, tonal problems gallore too), and it still doesn't work in this one. Not much we can do because there aren't really more available scenes, it's just a rushed movie problem.
I enjoyed watching this quite a lot, and the narrative stands improved. Some issues (mainly audio) remain, but if those are fixed, this could definitely replace TFA for me.
Though I've been following this project (and other TFA edits) with interest, I'm one of the few under the impression that the film doesn't really need an edit. Maybe there's a trim or two to be made and a deleted scene or so that could be added, but nothing necessarily has to be changed for me to love the film. As is, it's already fantastic.
Hal seems to be mostly under the same impression and his changes are minimal - a gentle restructure as he calls it. Though I've been against the idea of this restructure since I first heard it, it is an intriguing concept. So, since I had some free time for the first time in a while (and was a little down in the dumps and needed a Star Wars charged pick me up), I decided, why not? let's see how this plays out.
Let me just say up front I did not expect the restructure to work AT ALL. The acknowledged errors in the edit aside (Finn saying "they've done it," Kylo's mask continuity error), I just didn't think narratively it would work nor would it in terms of seamless editing. So, while I must say I still think I was mostly right, I will also say I am surprised at how close it came to almost working.
I'll try to go beat by beat and describe what I mean:
- First of all, there's a change that didn't happen that I think needed to - the crawl. For the Base to show it's previously unannounced weapon for the first time in the second half of the film is just a big no no. Doesn't work. If Starkiller Base comes out of nowhere in the theatrical TFA it does so even worse here where it's first mention comes almost a full 40 minutes after it's first mention in the theatrical cut. I understand with the restructure there's not much to be done except for the crawl, which I think would be a real Hail Mary for the Base and establish the threat right off the bat (rather than being an afterthought) and perhaps the First Order's intentions as well (which were a bit hazy in the theatrical and worse here).
- The first big change is the removal of the first Starkiller attack and the subsequent replacement with the arriving First Order fleet. Visually I think it mostly works (shame there isn't some way to fit the shots of Kylo on the Finalizer bridge into this) but the music just kills it. Hearing bits of "The Starkiller" over this just does not fit. The First Order coming is not sad, it's suspenseful and threatening. I think this change could work with a proper rescore but as of now it does not (and I can get pass the misplaced Finn line).
- The second change is the Snoke scene shuffle. Works like a charm and honestly the Kylo mask isn't so noticeable (though still unfortunate).
- The third change - the shifting of the Hux speech - actually works very well and was the biggest surprise to me. It just fits at that point and really gives the film the different, non-ANH vibe that the edit is going for. It makes me really want to believe that this concept is possible because this change makes things make sense that I wasn't sure would (namely the Resistance's reaction).
- The final change is the ultimate placement of the destruction of the Hosnian system. Emotionally it works. The music edit isn't quite perfect but that's not really the big issue. It just doesn't quite make sense, namely, the nonreaction to it. I'm not sure Leia is enough. Part of the issue is by this point we've almost forgotten that the Base is going to fire so when it does it's a little random (could honestly do with some more fire preparations and Resistance base learning it's about to fire). I know it's very tricky getting this to work in there what with the main emotional beat at this point (Han and Ben) taking precedence, but as of this version, I'm not feeling it.
- Finally, another non change that should have been. The X-Wing pilot celebration is trimmed but more needs to be done. Poe with a smile on his face saying their work is done feels so wrong - they failed! Maybe if there was some way to imply that the weapon was about to fire again at the Resistance? Otherwise the trench run feels so hollow and almost pointless. And then, when they get back, there's cheering and clapping. It just doesn't make sense how it plays out now.
Yeah, so in the end I don't think the restructure is really working but I believe this edit is a good starting point; a solid sign that this can be possible. If not now, then maybe soon.
Owner's replySeptember 11, 2016
Thanks for the insightful and honest review.
I too hope that this project can be improved upon in the future. If this edit solves 10 problems, it seems like it creates 9 more. But the thing is... those 10 problems were really annoying!
One thing I am convinced of is that the film would have been better if they had shot it with all this in mind in the first place. Less certain is whether it can truly be done well via fan editing.