Yeah, looking at what I wrote, if there’s anything usable it’s less the words (I think yours were better, and you’re right, that Spark of Hope bit needs to stay in there) and more a sense of urgency? Mine’s utility is in that there’s basically a ticking clock that gets started on Leia’s life, the resistance getting enough fighters, and Kylo ending the war on his terms. Functionally, it’s this:
Leia’s doing THIS because of THIS, The trio is doing THIS to stop THIS, and Kylo’s doing THIS to stop THEM.
I think the reason I was advocating just tilting down straight to the TIE jumping into frame from the nebula and cutting EVERYTHING Mustafar earlier in the thread, was because of the key problem any Mustafar edit will have, that you just crystallized for me in your post: Your urge is 100 percent correct that there needs to be some lead into the Mustafar scene. But the problem is there’s simply no footage that puts us on that planet as Kylo arrives.
I read a post at the JWFan boards awhile back (they’ve been piecing together score sheets and doing their own sleuthing as to what the film looked like at various points based on what music Williams wrote and scored) that suggested there WAS a cut of the opening reel at one point that just got rid of EVERYTHING Mustafar, and one of the cues actually lines up PERFECTLY with there being a tilt down to Kylo’s ship jumping into frame. At some point they decided against that cut for some reason, and decided instead to speedrun the Mustafar business as much as possible before sending him to Exogol. And unfortunately, that meant “Cut the landing, cut the establishing shot, cut the oracle, cut the castle, etc.”
Without that, I don’t think there’s any way around the sort of incongruous and weirdly dislocated feeling the opening has. No matter how many times you go at it, the shot you need (Kylo descending to the planet, establishing where he is and where he needs to go) will never exist, and so you can’t cut it together properly. The version in the film is as good as you can get without that shot, I think.
The only real solution to smoothing out the Mustafar sequence is somehow creating, out of footage from TLJ and TFA, and probably completely new VFX shots Adywan style, a shot of Kylo’s ship descending from the star destroyer and going down to the planet. As a pie-in-the-sky example:
TILT DOWN, TIE fighters swoop in. Camera trails fighters, then leaves off and pushes in on Star Destroyer. Kylo’s ship launches from star destroyer, camera - not stopping - picks THAT up and tracks with IT as it heads to the surface. (this is kind of a riff on TLJ’s opening mechanics, really, as well as ESB’s open)
CUT TO: INT of ship, Kylo piloting, sweaty and determined and pouty and greasy and hairy and hot, etc etc.
CUT TO: planet surface, looking up, seeing Kylo’s ship, now joined by two troop carriers, entering the atmosphere.
CUT TO: reverse angle, in the air looking down at the back of the ships landing, ruined castle in the distance, burnt out forest between the two points.
And then at that point you’d just use a wipe to pick up with the movie where it starts on Mustafar with Kylo mid-whoop-ass.
That’s basically the sequence you need to get to Mustafar and make everything else that blips by make sense. But it has to be made out of already used footage and completely new VFX, because Abrams & Co. didn’t give it to us anywhere else.