This editor has previously brought some fine edits, and I was confident that this one would please. A very straightforward piece of work, not deviating far from the original, only making some continuity changes that add to the dramatic climax. I was pleased with the overall effect, and feel like this version could easily be swapped with few viewers ever knowing the difference.
I was also quite impressed that subtitles were included.
The Force Awakens Restructured addresses several weak points and pacing issues that exist in the theatrical cut. The changes I noticed most in this cut:
Kylo Ren no longer has a Darth Vader fetish, nor an altar to Darth Vader. I like this change, it makes the reveal that much more poignant when Rey reads Kylo’s mind and senses he fears that he will never live up to what Darth Vader was.
Better editing of the audio and video snippets Rey experiences when grabbing Anakin’s lightsaber for the first time.
Starkiller base is introduced WAY later in the film. The Resistance doesn't find out about the Starkiller weapon until well after they’ve launched a plan to save Rey in this edit. Starkiller base doesn’t launch its first attack until right after Han dies. Kind of a downer, the initial mission fails because Han’s team didn’t detonate the explosives in time. Personally, I felt with all that had been cut from Starkiller base’s backstory, even more could have been cut, to make it a race against the clock for The Resistance to destroy the base before it got to fire a single time. But that’s really my only point of contention with this edit.
What was cut wasn’t needed, and what was kept was good. The changes make sense, and this is a fan edit well worth watching.
To start with, my brief thoughts on the original TFA. I loved it! Say what you will about all the "member berries" and the copy paste script from Episode IV, all correct obviously, but I loved it. I'm talking about an enjoyment factor 9-10. So, for me to see a fanedit of this, it had to bring something special to the table, beside just trimming scenes. And moving the destruction of the planets towards the end of the movie, had me really intrigued!
Before expanding on the narrative, I will just say about the editing part of this version, that it was perfect! But I wasn't expecting anything less from HAL9000, he is one the top faneditors ever, with a big history on the Star Wars franchise, and I've seen many of his edits. So, once again job well done on the technical side of things!
On the narrative side, although it was indeed an interested perpective to move the destruction of the planets, it did not work for me. First of all, killing Han (spoiler alert) at the end, is enough of a "big moment" to keep me invested and exited, plus all the stuff with the force and the lightsaber battle and the twist that Finn wasn't a jedi as J. J. led us to think throughout the movie. Which means, the rest of the movie kind of dragged for me. Also, as others mentioned, the weapon fires and then it's ready to fire again in no time. But even if I leave that last one out, which I didn't really care to be honest, there wasn't any downtime to absorb Han's death (major WTF moment) aaand the death of a gazillion poor souls. So, for me at least, having at a seperate time during the movie, two major events, is for the best. Most of the other trimming the editor did though, like removing Kylo knowing Finn's number or too much idolatry from Kylo to Vader's mask, was welcome!
So, for me, it did not replace the original and since I already loved it, no reason to switch. But I do recommend this to anyone, whether you loved the original or not, because it is something different, without butchering the film by removing chunks of it in order to make work (Phantom Menace I'm looking at you). It's exactly what the editor says, a "restructured" version!
Thank you Hal9000, thanks to anyone who read my review and may the force be with you!