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!
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.
This is a very interesting edit, with a lot of potential.
Narrative-wise, there's not much to critique, as this film does just one thing (it's in the description). It does that particular thing very well, and the new format will probably slip past many people unnoticed. If you felt TFA was a bit too close to ANH in structure, then this is the edit for you.
Narrative-wise, there is potential for improvement, but it depends what deleted scenes (if any) are released in future. Since the Starkiller attack has been removed, the second act is slightly light on drama (even if it was "forced" drama). Also the political background of the film is, perhaps, even more obscure now, since content has been moved. If future scenes give us a look at Leia's rumored political subplot, this would be perfect to re-instate, and flesh out that second section of the film, before the attack on Starkiller base begins. But these are just possibilities, and cannot be called criticisms of the edit: what Hal9000 has achieved is excellent given the material released. I only hope there is more available in future, for the editor to improve on it even more.