Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (The Anti-Cringe Cut) 2020 - DonKamillo
WARNING: The following will contain spoilers for this cut, the prior cut of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. If you haven’t seen the movie or this cut and wish not to be spoiled then please stop reading now and do so. You have been warned.
You know by this point between fan-edits and rewatches of the actual movie for comparison or just simple rewatches? I will probably have ended up seeing The Rise of Skywalker more times than is ever necessary for a person and I’m not really changing that since I am now covering the Anti-Cringe Cut made by one DonKamillo. Now this is a sequel to his edit on The Last Jedi which in case you haven’t read my monster of a review on it? The cliff-notes are that the edit was not great. It had some very interesting ideas for sure, it streamlined elements from the original movie in ways I liked and to make one clarification, I still did enjoy seeing such a different take on the movie. However the edit itself to me was marred by over-ambition, there were so many scenes chopped out it effectively made the story incredibly thin and lacking in content on top of adding plotholes and other gaffes and there were outright choices that made me feel very uncomfortable like how killing Leia was handled and then baffled like the cases with the music choice on the deleted scene where Luke grieves Han and the ending. However despite my dislike? I was willing to give this one a shot because I am both a glutton for TROS edits and I’m genuinely curious about how this builds upon the previous edit. With all that said, let’s get right into it.
This really intrigued me going into this. The first act in the original TROS was a mess through and through. From the moment the crawl begins with the cheesy and memetic lines “The dead speak!” to when the gang comes across Ochi’s ship? The pacing is breakneck and the content is excessive with how much gets established. I was curious how this was going to be handled in particular because with the move of Palpatine’s reveal to the end of the previous edit? That means this movie is going to have to do some significant shuffling and reorganizing for its first act which has the potential of making it feel like a bunch of scenes were chopped to bits and shuffled around. So how was it done here?
Much like the previous edit, let’s start with the opening crawl which goes as follows:
The galaxy is in turmoil. A mysterious broadcast in the sinister voice of the late EMPEROR PALPATINE has heralded in a new age, a NEW EMPIRE.
Sensing a disturbance in the force, Jedi Master LUKE SKYWALKER embarks on a quest for answers, leaving his apprentice REY with cryptic notes and a restored lightsaber to finish her Jedi training.
Meanwhile GENERAL POE DAMERON and a small group of his most trusted agents head out to gather intelligence on the diabolical FIRST ORDER and the whereabouts of its Supreme Leader…
The crawl here is a significant improvement from at least the crawl in the previous edit. It still looks a little off in terms of the title font but it overall reads a lot better, there’s a sense of flow and while this could be me seeing things? There are nice nods to past crawls like having it begin with “The galaxy is in turmoil.” which brings to mind the beginning of TPM’s crawl for me. It still has flaws to be fair. I think the second paragraph is a little much in terms of how it’s worded, seeing “force” instead of “Force” is odd and in the movie proper there’s a lot of weird spacing done to the words make the crawl fit but it still works very well. Afterwards we get the pan-down and right away while it’s the same scene of TIEs flying to the Finalizer hovering over Mustafar? The music really hits this time as we get this very operatic choir like something straight out of the Prequel Trilogy which I adore. One complaint I did have for TROS and the Sequel Trilogy in general is that they really overcorrected on trying to ensure that not a single element of the prequels ever entered the movies aside from a handful of references and considering this was Episode IX and the grand finale of the Skywalker Saga? It felt like it would’ve been a perfect fit to have elements from all trilogies so this I’m grateful for. Another aspect I like? We go into Kylo getting his helmet reforged as we hear Palpatine’s broadcast along with his theme with it ending on his evil laugh which is a very nicely done change. Even though I overall don’t like the idea of Palpatine being back and I really didn’t like how the previous edit ended on him? This is to me how you get me more comfortable with the change because it makes me think “Okay, it’s a sacrifice to get this really cool opening out of it.”. I love it in particular because you almost get the idea he made the broadcast after he met Kylo and it really sells that this is his movie and his return a whole lot better than in the original where he just came back with barely any explanation and they kind of speedrun through what he has been doing these past couple years. Also in a way it’s a nice little editing trick since the crawl ends with the mention that Poe and the others are searching for info on the First Order and Kylo’s whereabouts and we scroll down to see where he is.
The hard cut to black goes on a little long before we get to Finn, Chewie and Poe meeting with Boolio but I still like it overall. When we get to Boolio though, the attempts cut out some of his lines create some fairly awkward long pauses between sentences and thus the exchange here doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as it did in the original movie… which to be fair wasn’t that smooth given there are so many words exchanged in such a short period of time that help to contribute to the breakneck pacing and honestly there’s not much one can really do here so I’m a little more forgiving and it’s a small thing. There’s kind of a noticeable audio jump here when we go from Finn’s line telling Poe to get them back to base and the hard cut to black to get rid of lightspeed skipping is also jarring. Now unpopular opinion time, I liked the lightspeed skipping sequence in TROS. Yes it made probably very little sense in the grand scheme of things but it was something new and insane being done with a classic feature of Star Wars and I always love when this series gets a little kooky every so often. As for the actual change itself? Well one thing that’s leading to me giving this a bit of a pass and what consequently makes me rethink some of my criticisms of the previous edit is that this and the one before came out before edits that used visual effects to make more natural changes like The Last Jedi: Legendary and The Rise of Skywalker: Ascendant which is clear because this uses more straight hard cuts which isn’t a bad thing overall. That being said, Star Wars doesn’t use hard cuts super often and some of these aren’t done the absolute smoothest so there are points where they’re more than a little jarring, especially if the cut to black lasts a few seconds longer than you might be expecting.
This one doesn’t though. In fact it actually provides a neat audio transition as the music during Rey’s training builds before fully transitioning to us in the middle of the action. This I love and it really plays to the strength of not having Leia here. I love Carrie Fisher as much as the next Star Wars fan and I absolutely sympathize with the crew and her family for the effort they made to try and wrap her story through this movie. That being said? Her inclusion often really hurt the movie for aside from one scene? Most of the ones she was involved in made the movie flow much more awkwardly as the seams of them reusing deleted scenes from TFA were very obvious and with how limited they clearly were in what they could use it resulted in dialogue feeling unnatural. Here though it’s no problem and also I have to say the cutting of Kylo’s scene with Vader’s helmet is handled very well. The seams aren’t too noticeable and there are jarring audio jumps as a result of this cutting out the Imperial March. We do get a poor edit though later on with the cutting of the Falcon being on fire and the interactions that result afterwards. Now I’m of two minds about this since on the one hand, it made sense for the Falcon to be on fire in the original due to the lightspeed skipping pushing it too far and with that being cut? I can see it maybe not making much sense to see it taking so much damage after just one jump that smashed through an ice wall. On the other hand? The edit is described as being for the sake of the Falcon not being treated like trash and it kind of brings to mind similar issues that the previous edit had with making changes like this that in the effort to “fix” issues with either characterization or the respect that was shown to legacy elements end up causing more problems due to how these would affect the film not being taken into consideration.
Case in point? The silence prior to the briefing scene is kind of distracting and the cut to it is more than a little jarring. To be fair it’s faithful at least to the previous edit which tried to make Poe seem more like a calm collected intelligent commander but I feel that’s to its detriment overall. The briefing scene itself though does something really cool. We don’t get Palpatine’s full broadcast but rather just the laughter and I like the silence that permeates the scene and the use of the close-up shots of Poe as he looks up, almost seems like he’s about to say something and then he looks down and shakes his head like he doesn’t know what to say about news this awful. It works very well in selling just how unbelievably frightening the idea of the return of the Emperor is, it strips out the memed “Somehow Palpatine returned.” line and just gives us this sense of dread, especially as you hear the ramblings of everyone in attendance. There is an awkward audio bit here after we hear from Aftab Ackbar as Poe mentions Palpatine’s been planning his revenge for years but still, this is very nicely done. Another thing I like? It cuts the “Dark science. Cloning. Secrets only the Sith knew.” line. Now you can just hear speculation in the background as Rey rushes for the books and that’s how I prefer it since originally that not only highlighted how rushed the movie was but also it felt it was kind of simultaneously spelling out and brushing aside the reason why Palpatine lived. If we must have Palpatine back? I like the idea of it being a mystery with only the prequel line being there to kind of explain it because any explanation we’d end up getting would basically amount to him either not being the original Palpatine or some really bizarre dumb explanation.
Awkward editing continues though since after a well done transition to Maz’s line, we get Rey showing up with the books and standing rather awkwardly. Now perhaps this was done because originally this led into dialogue with Leia who obviously isn’t here so I’m willing to forgive the change but still, it does make things a little odd. I also find Rey’s dialogue about her picking up Luke’s search for Exegol now more odd considering while I can imagine that wide-eyed look before she went for the books was her realizing what Luke’s quest was about? Her nailing that his trail went cold feels a little far-fetched to me. The scenes play out as normal and for the most part I do like how Leia has been edited around but there are every so often awkward transitions like when we go from R2 to the Falcon taking off as both the music cue and R2’s beeps get cut off and it’s kind of jarring. Thankfully that quickly picks back up with the Kylo scenes and I absolutely adore some of the choices here. First the trooper dialogue regarding the Knights of Ren has been snipped which is a little disappointing since it was a fun interaction but I love that the looks of the Stormtroopers now convey a different idea like it’s the troopers more perplexed to see the Knights of Ren here. I also really like the editing done here to make Kylo’s dialogue more about an unknown traitor rather than someone in the First Order. It’s a small change and one that may not be considered necessary but with how well it was done? It’s a welcome one to me.
Most of the Pasaana stuff plays out as it did in the original, including surprisingly enough the items being transferred through the Force which makes me want to call out how this kind of contradicts the previous edit which made a note of cutting out instances of that but considering it kept in the stuff with Kylo and Rey joining hands it makes me willing to accept that as being a tease of the possibilities and this just evolving the Force further. Another big change? No Lando and honestly I really like how this is executed. Rey runs up and mentions Ren’s coming as normal and rather than just encountering a Stormtrooper, Poe takes no chances and leads them to speeders with this being where we get our first glimpse at the Jettrooper who is now our first shot of the First Order presence on this planet. It’s done in a way to where it feels like this was how that scene was always meant to go and it keeps things moving instead of having our only stop be for fanservice. As a result it does make Lando feel more superfluous to the movie but I’ll take that if it means the movie flows better. We do get another cut with this time being the “They fly now.” gag and this one is kind of a problem because I can still hear a little bit of Poe saying the line when it was cut and also I feel this was a mistake because the gag itself was quick and fun. I get people have expressed that this kind of conflicts with earlier EU material where flying First Order troopers were already a thing but there are ways to rationalize the scene and I really just love how the interaction was done.
We get another odd choice made as Rey still refers to the ship they see as being Ochi’s and that is a problem to me since without Lando’s scene which gave us some background on Ochi? This kind of makes Rey’s knowledge of the guy come out of nowhere. I think a simple cut to her saying that she knew this ship would’ve been better but then again, maybe there was too much stuff with them referring to Ochi to cut without things being very awkward. More editing is done to cut around Leia and in one case while Rey is interacting with the serpent? She doesn’t heal it but instead she reaches out with the Force to calm it while we hear Luke’s voice. Now I’m mixed about this change. On the one hand, it was so neat to see the Force Heal ability being present and I liked how it was a contrast to what Palpatine does in how it allows for a Force-wielder to transfer some of their life-force into another while the Sith steal that life for themselves. On the other hand it’s a pretty neat little change and the added voicelines are a nice way to clue us in on what’s happening. Also I like how it kind of reframes Rey’s interaction with BB-8 as being less about how he would do the same and help to maybe him noting how reckless it was while she just coyly tells him he would’ve done the same.
Then we get probably the worst edit of the first act. It cuts out Kylo coming at Rey with the TIE Whisper in an effort to remove her “Matrix jump” as the change list called it and an attempt is made to edit the movie so that it looks like the TIE was parked. Now I like overall how the scene plays out with Rey focusing on Kylo and having to calm herself presumably because this is the first time the two are going to see each other in person in a good while and the way they cut around this to allow for Finn to tell Rey about Chewie early feels very seamless. Then we get Rey looking straight ahead at Kylo who has landed and the TIE Whisper… is basically a PNG overlayed over the scenes at one angle with some scaling and blurring being applied and at one point the keying around Kylo’s hair makes it to where you can see a decent amount of the desert behind him. I’m not gonna lie, I burst out laughing seeing this because it just looks so bad. I don’t like outright calling the work of editors bad but in this case? I have to comment on it because it just looks so cheap and unfinished. First off, the fire crackle sounds are still there which there’s no reason for considering the thing didn’t crash. Second, the smoke is still present which when coupled with the single angle of the TIE makes it seem like Kylo’s form of landing it was to skid it across the sand and wreck the ship partially and third? This just seems like a change that while the ambition can be respected? I genuinely think either more shots should’ve been cut or had heavy visual editing, the TIE could’ve been placed further in the background or better yet the scene just should’ve been kept as-is. This to me is an instance where regardless of intent the movie just doesn’t provide enough for a change this extreme to be possible and while the effort and idea is admirable? The PNG TIE really doesn’t make it seem all that worth it so much as it makes this scene now kind of laughable as more attention is on that effect.
That being said? The first act itself is pretty decent overall. It streamlines elements of the original film pretty well, most of the cuts are pretty seamless and they for the most part do a fairly decent job of balancing the editor’s personal desires with giving the film a natural flow. However when there were problems they were fairly glaring ranging from scenes feeling broken to in one case an absolutely ridiculous effect that pulls me right out of the movie, mostly coming as a result of careless cutting and ambition being put at the forefront over how natural it was going to end up being.
The second act was generally where most people could agree that TROS managed to find its footing somewhat for this was where the film slowed down somewhat and managed to maintain a flow that was more in line with Abrams’ previous offering in the ST in that it’s less spice-addict and more thrill ride.
There isn’t much to discuss at the beginning with how the edit handles it. It cuts out the early reveal that Chewie is alive but does opt to leave in the towing of the Falcon up to the Finalizer which is a pretty solid choice. It helps to really set up this feeling of dread as now the audience would believe Chewie is dead and to make matters worse, now the ship that it’s safe to say Kylo grew up in for most of his life is in his possession and considering he’s about destroying the past? It leads to the imagination going a little wild. After this not much really happens until we hit Kjimi and it’s here where more drastic cuts are made, cutting out Zorii’s introduction, the reveal of Poe being a spice runner and instead it leaves us with meeting Babu Frik and Zorii at the same time and this is where I have big criticisms. The sound editing is pretty off as there are noticeable dips and cuts and the biggest one is just how this completely disrupts the flow of the movie as it leaves too much up to the audience having to accept introductions happened off-screen, without the scene it means we don’t build off of Finn’s question to Poe about how he’s able to hot-wire a speeder and again it leads to very noticeable issues in the editing. Now full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan of Zorii since I feel she is a cool design first and an actual character second. She has elements to her I like but considering this is the third and final film in this trilogy and the closer for the entire Skywalker Saga? This is one new character that really doesn’t need to be introduced here. I also don’t like what it meant for Poe’s development because it felt like Abrams was both appeasing studio executives by showing that there was no way on this planet that Poe could ever be interested in Finn to appease a country that never cared about this franchise to begin with and that he was a much more like Han Solo which contradicts how he has been portrayed in past movies and it completely screwed up the new canon EU which had to bend over backwards to accommodate this change. That being said? I should address that there is the very real reality that quite a few people who are watching this edit have seen TROS already and know the characters but to me that only goes so far. After all some people show fan-edits in place of the actual films when introducing these stories to people just to give them the best possible experience and also these are still being described as potential replacements for the original movie and to me that just makes it all the more imperative that editing choices are done in service of the story and its flow and not for personal taste unless you are truly a wizard that can make this work. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s commendable that changes like these were attempted in the first place but I still think this deserves another look.
One edit that is decent is that it cuts out Zorii’s disbelief that they’re aiming to translate Sith but I personally still feel it should’ve been kept. It’s natural for underground smugglers and spice runners to not question really any shady dealings but I think hearing that they need to translate Sith would raise enough of an eyebrow for someone to bring it up but it isn’t that important and the edit is done seamlessly enough. The change with Threepio and when he’s translating Sith I actually quite like. It really is reflective of how this was a quick and dirty process done by an underground blacksmith and not by an experienced engineer and it even makes a noticeable audio glitch work in its favor since I can buy that this process would lead to odd jumps in the sentences. It does bring up the question though of why the wayfinder plot was cut because honestly it now conveys the idea that Palpatine is actually in the Endor system and not on Exegol which means when they head to Kef Bir? It just comes across as them being on a wild goose chase and thus it would make this trip feel pointless. Another change that reflects other issues is the removal of the First Order coin. Now this is definitely a change I agree with in concept. The scene between Poe and Zorii, while a nice small character moment where we get more info on just what the First Order has been doing to various worlds and it does give us one of the themes of the movie which is that evil thrives on making you think you’re alone and that there is more good to go around than there is that but on the other hand, it’s a scene in a movie that devotes time to a character that isn’t that important to the plot and the coin is just another MacGuffin that’s introduced for the sole purpose of explaining why the group are able to get up on the destroyer to save Chewie.
That being said? The movie really doesn’t provide enough to cut this out fully without something being knocked out of place and in this case, it’s hearing Poe say they’re here for entrance as if he has clearance… on a ship that the First Order is looking for. To me this was a case where even if the scene in spirit should’ve been cut? It is too woven into the story for the flow to not be disrupted so I think either the Poe line should’ve been muted or we should’ve just had the scene in there in the first place. Then again maybe it’s just Poe BSing just for the sake of trying to maintain some sense of cover so who knows. Later edits are better though, I really do like how the edit cut out Finn and Poe’s charge down the hall blasting troopers though I personally disagree with it being done because of the logic of seeing two characters do this without cover. It’s a fun action beat in the original movie and feels like the kind of thing you’d see in many adventure and fantasy stories which Star Wars is. That being said, this feels like an edit that was done to service the story and so I give it a pass. I have more mixed opinions on cutting Kylo’s “I’ll come tell you.” line. The way it’s done now just makes it seem like Kylo just is standing in awkward silence as he truly expected Rey to know why Palpatine wants her dead and so he just kind of decided to disappear to save himself the embarrassment. I get the idea behind it but without anything to either fill it in or maybe more cutting to make Kylo disappear faster or just snipping out this exchange altogether it really doesn’t work as well as imagined. Then there’s the reveal. Now on the plus-side? Rey isn’t revealed as a Palpatine which is a great choice to me. I’ve always never minded the reveal from the perspective of how it was executed in the movie but I have never liked it as an idea. It undermines TLJ’s message that greatness can come from anywhere but it also bizarrely tries to honor that at the same time and as a result it pleases no one. The way this was handled though I do have my criticisms for, mainly that Kylo still says she has his power which still basically comes across as revealing Rey as a Palpatine. Now to give it credit, that is better than what’s in the original film because it means Kylo doesn’t spell out the connection thus leaving the silence and music to do the heavy-lifting though if there is a minor criticism I can give, the flashes of her vision of her on the throne of the Sith were completely unnecessary and with no sound cue or anything just makes this feel like an editor accidentally submitted a cut with scenes placed in the wrong areas.
But that’s not my biggest issue with these choices. My big problem is that the changes would work… if Rey being a Palpatine was intended but it isn’t. One of this edit’s expressed goals is to remove that connection entirely but quite frankly I think it fails to do that to a satisfying degree. The framing really doesn’t reflect the intentions and as a result if it wasn’t for the change list I would be confused about what the intentions for this were. Not to mention this undermines the whole purpose of the Force Dyad which I get for people is a controversial concept and certainly I don’t like it either but at least the explanation made some sense with how the movie went over it. This to me reads a lot like it was an edit that was done with good intentions and a lot of ambition that just didn’t translate properly as far as execution was concerned. Later edits are better though, the edit cuts out the Falcon crash-landing and this change I feel is done for the better compared to the last time the Falcon being damaged was cut. With the scene of Rey repairing something on the Falcon being present it’s pretty easy to infer that Rey and Finn worked double-time to fix the Falcon’s landing gear before they landed. It also cuts Rey matching the dagger to the mountains which is pretty smoothly done but it does result in the dagger feeling like the most useless MacGuffin ever but still it’s done pretty well and then there’s the stuff with Jannah that’s cut down significantly to where she’s just a person they meet on a planet that provides them with the skimmer and it’s immediately used. Personally? I think it’s a very well done change that streamlines the story and it removes the very unnecessary bickering between Finn and Poe. Consequently though it does cut out some good development of Jannah as being another Stormtrooper that left the First Order. Granted Jannah much like Zorii felt very underdeveloped for it’s basically taking the idea of Stormtroopers revolting from TFA and Colin Trevorrow’s Duel of the Fates and kind of reducing it to no more than a footnote. That being said, it still provided a nice bit of bonding and development between the two characters and it still addressed the idea but I’ll chalk it up to being the movie’s fault for not doing enough with her since I don’t see how the edit could’ve handled this differently.
I do see though how this could’ve handled Dark Rey differently. Now when I read the list of changes and how it described that Rey would not briefly duel her dark self and instead the moment she’d move to strike, Rey would be frightened and fall back. Idea-wise? I think this is really cool. But I think the way it plays out in the edit proper really doesn’t convey the “creepier” nature that it was going for. Instead it comes off as a sudden jump-cut that throws off everything. Now I can see how this maybe could’ve been better like maybe let’s say we see the lightsaber ignite first and then we could get the strike because it would at least give it some build-up but instead it’s too sudden. That being said, it picks itself back up very quickly with the interaction between Rey and Kylo and I love how seamless this is and how it really sells Kylo as more of an intimidating villain. Now full disclosure, I really did love the scene in the original movie and how he spoke about Leia and him covering how she can’t go back to her like he can’t but this is a good way of remixing everything to remove her presence and make it more about the fact that she is leaning heavily towards the Dark Side and I like how it’s done without the Wayfinder with us instead being able to just guess that this artifact is just a holocron which concept-wise has been sold to the casual fan well enough in TCW, Rebels and various video games that we genuinely don’t really need an explanation. It does bring up the question why they came here if there is no purpose to this trinket but it is the Force, I can imagine them looking for the Wayfinder is more like they’re looking for just a simple map to Exegol or something else.
The positive comments continue with how we see Finn I guess sensing that Rey’s in trouble which I really like. I like subtly showing that Finn is Force-sensitive and how one can just assume Poe who isn’t in tune with it would be unable to sense it or that he’s just investigating another part of the Death Star or even just keeping watch on the island for any First Order activity. The change I will say I am kind of mixed on is Luke being the catalyst for Kylo pausing. On the one hand, aside from the voice saying his name clearly being from Leia with no alterations to make it maybe a little deeper to better match with Mark Hamill? I can totally see Kylo being naturally distracted by his master reaching out to him especially from far across the galaxy. Even though he saw a full-blown projection, that kind of thing is bound to shock anyone especially Kylo who probably at this point has shut himself off from Luke. On the other hand? It does result in this coming off as a little odd because personally, I think Leia stopping it worked because of the special connection Kylo had with his mother. It built off how she was his weak spot in TLJ and how that was why he couldn’t kill her, it was fitting for her last act in the story. Luke? Kylo just does not have that same connection with him. TLJ makes it clear that Luke cannot be the one to save Kylo for his hatred for his uncle was too strong to break so I almost picture that had Luke been the one to do this, Kylo would’ve stopped for a moment but then his rage would get the better of him and also he might take a sick pleasure in killing his one apprentice, the one he said was going to continue on the Jedi legacy.
And this feeling kind of continues as Luke is shown more. Now the reaction shot I have no problems with though I think his utterance of “Rey.” could’ve been cut since visually the idea works well enough. The flashback to the scene in the rain really doesn’t work though. Not only is the audio too clear for this to be a flashback but also it’s totally unnecessary. Rey and Luke’s interaction worked in TLJ because Luke was trying one last time to warn her that she wasn’t going to turn Kylo back to the light just because that’s how history played out with him and Vader and it confirmed that by having Kylo kill Snoke only to then say afterwards once Rey speaks to him expecting that he has redeemed himself that it’s time to let old things die. That isn’t to say I like the idea of this scene having added weight but I think it’s better left for the audience to think about instead of basically spelling that idea out. Showing and not telling is something that I’m willing to concede the ST kind of struggled with throughout all three movies so any opportunity to fix that is an opportunity to take to me. And then it continues because with there being no Force Heal? It means Kylo is actually dying here (Though I guess the Force gods or whoever decided he should at least go out with no scar for some reason though that is a nitpick.) and we do get the nice scene with Rey telling him she wanted to take Ben’s hand before leaving but then we get a very jarring cut back to Palpatine who gives a quick “Join me on Exegol, General Pryde.” before we move on and it leads to a problem I feel like addressing now because it kind of needs to be said that this edit very much mishandles General Hux.
The edit cuts out both him being the spy and also getting shot by Pryde presumably in an effort to allow him to maintain some dignity but unlike the TLJ edit where I could largely look past it despite it messing up some of the flow of scenes? This really emphasizes one of the original movie’s flaws which was how it drastically tried to course correct in the worst ways, in this instance deciding that we needed Pryde because Hux was seen as a joke now. Now they handled it decently well in TROS since I like the idea that in the intervening years Hux would become so disillusioned with the First Order under Kylo’s leadership that he’d basically decide to sabotage things for the sole purpose of getting back at him. Sure General Pryde then shooting him easily did make it a little more insulting for him but it still worked for me because considering the reveal later that he did serve the Empire and Palpatine during the Galactic Civil War? One could argue that this is showing that Pryde is aware of Vader’s redemption and is not about to let anything like that happen in the First Order. The way it’s done here just means Hux completely disappears from the narrative. Now unlike the removal of Phasma and DJ from TLJ in the previous edit? It doesn’t necessarily rob anyone of any character development but because Hux is still featured? It kind of makes it feel like the movie just forgot about him as it had no idea what to do and thus this reads more like a change that I personally feel shouldn’t have been done just for the sake of giving us closure to his character but that’s just me.
Speaking of giving closure? This edit recontextualizes the scene between Ben and Han as being now him accepting that it’s time to pass on and rejoin with his mother and father in the afterlife complete with an edit to the end which has him and Han fading out. I… am very mixed on this. Not because the edit is badly done because aside from an odd instance where a line feels like it was pulled from The Force Awakens due to the shift in audio, it’s done very well, especially with how the fade-out is done. No I’m mixed because I think this is a case where ambition really doesn’t match what is possible here. The dialogue still largely remains the same and some of those lines make it very clear this is about Ben replaying his encounter with Han from that perspective and not Kylo Ren’s. The way it’s framed, it’s clearly about him finding redemption to go and assist Rey and not because he’s becoming one with the Force and that really distracts from a lot of the good this moment has such as the music and how it keeps all the emotional beats. It also is immediately undercut by seeing the Final Order do its thing with blowing up Kjimi. I’ll get more into it later but I think this scene in concept is really good but execution-wise it’s a little off and it ends up creating more problems for this edit and the story it’s trying to tell.
The second act is a mixed bag to me. Not as much as it was in the previous edit since there is far more good than there is bad, especially with the many choices that were made to streamline the story and unlike the TLJ edit it doesn’t feel like large chunks of the story are missing but the bad that’s here is still very distracting, mostly coming down to edits having a good idea and a great deal of ambition behind them but there just is not enough to truly pull it off to the level that was intended. I think personally there should’ve been some concessions made for the sake of the story flowing more naturally but I’ll get more into that when I give my closing thoughts and verdict. For now though, let’s move onto the third act.
Right away I have to give some positives, I like that this keeps the Star Destroyers all having planet-killing tech. Now to be clear, the idea in the original movie was insanely dumb. It was way too over-the-top for the tone ST set for itself and it kind of made some of the more insane ideas of this movie that were cool suddenly just kind of not great as a result since instead of paying attention to how new these ideas were you instead are noticing how ridiculous this all is. That being said? I always liked it as Palpatine’s desperation ploy. The idea that if he were to die that he’d have a contingency to come back and basically go full scorched galaxy as a means of restarting from scratch with people he trusts I’m all for. It kind of reminds me of how Thanos comes to the conclusion of wiping out all of Earth’s population in Endgame, it to me really works. It’s undermined though by Poe coming to Leia’s body. Now on the one hand, this is a good scene and I like how it’s utilized here since it plays off of Poe’s insecurities about being the new general and it provides a good spot for Lando to come in… but there are issues that stick out to me.
For one thing it’s why the corpse is here in the first place. In the original movie, I get why the corpse is just covered with a blanket since Leia had just died but due to the desperation of what was going on, there was no time to give her a proper burial as I’d imagine it’s being saved for after the war is done. That isn’t to say I don’t picture the Resistance going back and picking up the body from space assuming it hadn’t flown off somewhere to give her a burial but them basically picking up the body only to keep it under a blanket I’ve got to say feels immensely weird and really takes away from the emotional impact this scene was intended to have since I just picture someone in the Resistance or even Poe himself just noting how morbid it is they are keeping the corpse of a legend just out in the open like this. Like imagine doing that with your own family member that just passed away and instead of taking the body to be stuffed and getting at least a casket to put it in you just leave it out on a bed for several weeks as you plan for a funeral even when guests come over, it just sounds so weird.
As for Lando’s reintroduction into the story? It just feels so off now. Now to be fair this is more a criticism levied at the original film and not the edit because in the original film Lando really had no place in this story beyond fanservice. He just shows up on Pasaana, acts like the Lando we saw back in the OT, disappears for a long stretch of time until this moment and that’s it. Whereas Han, Luke and Leia felt like they were these characters after thirty years of development had passed and had very important roles to play in this story? Lando felt like he was just perfectly preserved almost like you’d see in fanfiction that care more about providing cool moments than a story so I really can’t fault DonKamillo for this choice. That being said this does show why you can’t have your cake and eat it too with Lando’s inclusion since now it really feels Lando pops in out of nowhere to fulfill this movie’s continuous trend of having OT characters prop up the ST ones almost as if there’s no faith in this new generation being able to carry the torch. And speaking of OT characters, because Luke is alive in this take on the story we do have him appearing on Ahch-To. One edit is made here so that Rey doesn’t throw the lightsaber into the fire and instead we have Luke looking down at her from atop the steps and she hangs her head in shame. There are a few oddities here, mainly I can tell this is using footage from TLJ to achieve this which had Luke in a completely different outfit from TFA and TROS which as a result brings to me the image of Luke pausing to get dressed in a different outfit before his talk with Rey and the fact that the steps aren’t behind the TIE which makes the cutting between scenes feel kind of disjointed but it’s still a fine idea and it’s done the best it could be. As for the stuff with ghost Luke being edited into being alive I am thoroughly impressed with how this was achieved. There are some small issues with it I can nitpick but no joke this is honestly one of the most impressive visual edits I’ve ever seen and I’d love to see someone build upon this effort in another edit because if it’s this good already I can’t imagine what it’d look like refined. In terms of other edits? I think the added scenes of Rey remembering what happened earlier in the movie were unnecessary considering the audience can easily infer what she’s thinking back to but it was still a neat idea. Another neat idea that’s here? Leia’s lightsaber is now yellow instead of blue or Ascendant’s purple which I really like. For one thing, it kind of brings to mind the Infinities Endor DLC that The Force Unleashed II had where Leia had a yellow saber but it also is neat because it’s a unique color and it calls forward to when Rey constructs her own saber and it’s yellow. Overall, this is very well done. There are some odd breaks in the editing as we don’t get the full unbroken flashback of Luke and Leia training with this being noticeable because the sound effect of Leia lifting the blast-shield plays when Luke’s talking despite us not seeing that happen on-screen until after another shot of Rey but that’s a minor quibble. I really can’t focus on every minor flaw that comes about. Sometimes I just got to appreciate what I’m given and I’ve been given is something really nice.
Another change that has been made is Threepio’s memory remains wiped and the way it’s edited together… kind of works. Now I love the original movie’s gag where we set up the potential for his memory being restored with Threepio making the crack about R2’s backup memory and how that leads to their interaction followed up by the smash cut to R2 just restoring it but I do get and even share the criticism about how it cheapens Threepio’s sacrifice and I think the way it’s addressed here works with you being able to read the scene as either R2 just not caring to waste time on this and thus he’s choosing to focus on more important matters or he gets the message just as he’s about to restore his memory or come to terms with this being the new normal. I even don’t mind hearing Threepio still calling Luke “Master Luke” since something tells me R2 would quickly brief him on who he was before they shared the message. I also really like how without the scene with Zorii, the line about how the First Order wins by making them think they’re alone is just something he shares. This works because easily I can imagine this being a sentiment that Leia would share with him and other members of the Resistance.
At this point it’s mostly Exegol stuff which plays out as normal with some minor edits here and there to cut out the Wayfinder and just some other minor scenes. We do still get the stuff with Jannah and Finn when he senses through the Force where the navigation signal is though now it is less impactful due to the cutting of the scene of them bonding. The biggest changes though involves everything from Palpatine trying to convince Rey to do the ritual onwards and this is where I get into one of the biggest criticisms. Personally, I think killing Ben early was a mistake. Now I must commend DonKamillo for this is a very ambitious idea and one that to an extent I like the concept of. But the execution really fails it because simply put? TROS does not provide anywhere near enough content to make this work and the seams are very noticeable starting with the fact the Sovereign Protectors (Those are the red armored dudes that surround Rey here.) just materialize in seconds due to the nature of the cuts, there are occasional audio issues, the flashbacks to Han, Leia and Ben don’t mask the the fact you can still hear the heavy breathing of Ben Solo over the audio which doesn’t match how Rey is at this moment and the reuse of audio from TFA just to give Rey a line refusing the ritual really doesn’t work as the line is breathless and delivered in a frightened manner when the framing and how the scene is filmed suggests it should be more defiant and the time between Rey refusing and Palpatine pulling away comes way too quickly. Not to mention there’s just all the jumpcuts and the fact Palpatine then just decides “Okay, you’re gonna play it like that? I’m gonna sap your life-force now.” which comes way too quickly and despite the rather awesome effect of the multiple Reys screaming in agony as this happens which brings to mind the pit from TLJ. I’m just distracted by how this feels very rushed and very sloppy.
To me, it was just not worth the hassle and the disruption of the pace to cut Ben out of these scenes. It especially doesn’t help because now the Knights of Ren join the ranks of Hux in that they just disappear from the narrative with no resolution which is what Ben’s inclusion provided and also it means the Force Dyad idea has no bearing on this story whatsoever because in the original movie, one might recall that was the reason given for why Palpatine could restore himself. He decided after the two messed up his plans he was going to take matters into his own hands and just steal their life-force, presumably he expected it would just preserve his life but then he discovered something odd. He found out about this dyad through how it healed him and the dialogue makes it clear that this is generally not how this usually goes down. Then overjoyed, Palpatine just goes full hog with it. Here I can’t figure out what Palpatine’s whole goal was with this for it makes me ask if he could just restore himself from one person who’s strong in the Force, why didn’t he do this way earlier or better yet, why didn’t he do this to Rey the moment she approached him? It throws off so much that it undercuts the whole awesome sequence of the galaxy uniting to stop Palpatine for your attention is more on how awkward the cuts in the previous chain of events were though this isn’t free of oddities since there’s an awkward with Lando’s line “Hold on Chewie!” and Poe’s “You made it!” was changed with the intention being he’s referring to Babu Frik instead of Zorii and… I mean it’s not a bad edit overall but this is a case where I do question the intention slightly.
Everything else plays out the same overall except without Palpatine flinging Ben into a pit and we still get the repeating of “Be with me.” and past Jedi speaking to Rey which I really like. Though one massive goof has been made here. In this the wrong lightsaber has been colored yellow. It’s the regular Skywalker saber that has been colored yellow and not Leia’s. Now at first I thought the blue blade was maintained during her fight with the Sovereign Protectors because the idea was that because it was shot from far away that most people wouldn’t notice and assume she was using the Skywalker blade still since that is the saber she pulls out. A solid idea that’s handled very well… but then you get to this scene where she Force Pulls Leia’s saber to her and it’s blue and even though we get a clear close-up shot of the Skywalker hilt? When she whips it out it’s yellow (Though color correction and all the blue results in it looking more green than anything.). It’s not a big deal to be fair but this is definitely a mistake that I’m amazed slipped through the cracks here, especially considering that there was so much time devoted to certain other major edits like changing Luke to appear more alive. Also the death of Palpatine is nowhere near as impactful thanks to the music which I feel was done partially because this cuts out Finn and Jannah raiding the Star Destroyer on those space horses which… I miss. Once again like cutting Ben Solo, this disrupted the flow of things so much more than if it was just kept and as a result the music cue just isn’t as impactful. In the original movie, it really felt like an accomplishment with how the credits variant of the Force theme was used as it really emphasized that this was the final end of the Sith and that Palpatine is definitively dead this time. Here? The vibe it kind of gives me is that this isn’t the end at all and is just a standard beating of a villain. Though I know why it was done because that theme is now moved to Luke’s death since in this edit? Luke’s death from TLJ is moved here with the idea being that with Palpatine gone and the assurance that he’s no longer gonna be the last Jedi? He finally lets himself pass on and this is when Leia finally goes which kind of makes me ask why a corpse stuck around for this long. Now edit-wise? I think it’s a neat idea but I think in execution it does disrupt the flow of the ending more than intended though I’m willing to let that slide when it comes to the Luke stuff because it is genuinely really good and it’s enough to distract from me questioning why Finn’s on the Falcon when here he never supposedly left the ship he was on.
The celebration happens and there’s mostly minor changes here. It cuts Chewie getting Han’s medal from Maz which is a solid cut. I like that it’s just a small moment between these two and no longer is an unnecessary bit of fanservice for people who joked about Chewie never getting a medal in ANH. I don’t really care for Poe’s non-verbal request to kiss Zorii being left in because now it doesn’t really build off of anything and just comes across as random. I… as minor as it is and as much as I’m gonna try to refrain from keeping any potential political stuff out of my review? I’ve gotta say I’m not a fan of the cut of the kiss between two female Resistance members. The list of changes states this was a removal of “pandering” and… I just can’t agree with this. I don’t want to get too deep into it because this will get too personal but what I will say is I think for a series that generally tries to share positive messages and be a force for progress? This is just a tad regressive. Is it necessary in the original movie? No but considering it’s a small bit among all the celebration and what happened with Oscar Isaac trying to push for Finn and Poe but not getting it due to Disney trying to appease countries that will never give a single kriff about this franchise? It was at least something. Moving onto a cut I like? I like that we don’t get Lando and Jannah’s scene though it really highlights just how superfluous and unnecessary he is in this story.
And to continue with the positives? We get one minor change at the very end and that’s how Rey’s lightsaber is… red now. Now at first when I saw this I really wasn’t sure how to feel about it and was worried that it would lead into a cutting of the “Rey Skywalker” line but it didn’t and honestly the more I think about it? The more I really like the idea. In a way, this is Rey wearing the darkness in her on her sleeve for all to see and showing that it’s okay to have that be a part of you as long as you never let it overtake you which contributes to how Rey is going to be better than her forebears because whereas Anakin was consumed by darkness and Luke tried to snuff it out? She’s accepting it and that I think is a very powerful message along with the idea of her taking the name of Skywalker. I’ll speak about my opinions overall of the third act in the verdict section.
The third act and by extension this edit is very much a mixed bag which in a way is kind of fitting since the original movie is a mixed bag. That being said, I’ll give it credit and state this is much better than the Anti-Cringe Cut of The Last Jedi and that it makes a lot of choices that build off of that cut in ways that makes me soften my stance on it at least in terms of when I look at these as two parts of a larger whole. There’s a lot of really impressive editing here that streamlines plenty of scenes, in one instance pulls off the insane task of making a character look like they’re alive and some of the scenes on their own bring really striking visuals like Ben fading with Han, the multiple Reys screaming as Palpatine steals her life-force and the image of Rey accepting the darkness in her by constructing a red lightsaber, making her one of the first Jedi I think to do so at least in this new canon. There’s a lot to love here.
However, it also has a ton of glaring negatives that really bring it down like the TLJ cut from editing choices resulting in wonky all over the place cuts that simply just call attention to how it would’ve been better to just leave certain aspects alone, up and down pacing and certain ideas just being either way too ambitious or not conveyed properly. I applaud the attempts made to change things up more drastically than certain edits and unlike the previous, I will grant it that I didn’t end this viewing feeling kind of angry due to certain decisions made but overall? I view this as a more interesting but very janky experiment. Now let me just say right now when it comes to fan-edits that I completely understand sometimes you’ve got to accept certain bits of jank due to the nature of what these are which is average joes who know their way around some editing software tinkering with completely finished movies. No one working on these has say a secret history at ILM with skills that rival some of their best and they are very limited by what footage, music and audio is available to them so to expect perfection is just ridiculous and simply not gonna happen. That being said, I do feel that editors should sometimes take as many looks as possible at what the footage provides and how the movie flows and weigh how necessary the fix is over what it does to the actual film. Bear in mind, while these edits are being made for specifically niche audiences because let’s face it not every person will go for fan-edits? I do feel that if you are making something for people to indulge in that some sacrifices are necessary. In other words, it’s the same as actual filmmaking and what happens in the editing process which leads to depressing cuts that may be of scenes or ideas you’re personally attached to but you have to do so because otherwise the flick doesn’t flow right.
That’s why in particular I’m quite harsh on editing choices like the kind DonKamillo has wound up making in both edits I’ve watched of his. It’s not that I hate the guy nor is it that I don’t recognize the sheer amount of effort put into it. I quite admire it actually and I think there is still something to be said about viewing these alternate versions of movies and seeing how some fans would’ve done it. That being said, I also feel if you put out a product regardless of if it’s something you pay money for or an edit you download for free that honesty in reviews is of the utmost importance because it is through that honesty that editors can learn how to potentially improve their craft. That being said, I also understand that it very well could be a case that these edits just weren’t for me and you know what? That’s also something I’m okay with. Much like how everyone has their own idea on what Star Wars is for them, everyone has their preferred edit of a movie. I can totally see why tons of people love these two cuts and I hope they do keep loving them and that more people give this a try.
But as I said, honesty is what I’m here to give and personally? I am going to give the Anti-Cringe Cut of TROS a 5 out of 10. It has tons of great ideas and I don’t feel like my time was wasted but this is far from being the ideal edit of this movie and I’m probably not going to be rewatching this ever again unless I think up a good reason to.