The Rise of Skywalker: Resurgence (The Rise of Skywalker 2019) - krausfadr
In my review of Hal9000’s excellent Ascendant, I noted how that was the same movie that was just given a second pass in the editing room and kind of went into how this meant that not every problem was of course fixed and that it was still largely the same movie overall. Well if that movie was just TROS but given a second pass, Resurgence is something more like a restructuring, an attempt at fixing the movie by reshuffling scenes, trimming some down and even going as far as to create new scenarios while keeping some of the original’s more wild concepts intact. This idea intrigued me immensely and so I knew I had to get a copy for myself and because the original editor has asked for a totally honest review? I’m glad to give it a shot. Warning for those reading though, spoilers are gonna be present but before I get into those, here are my quick, spoiler-free thoughts.
All in all, I really like Resurgence and I think it does a solid job at attempting to rectify some of TROS’ problems with some great ideas, some stellar editing that most of the time was fairly seamless and of course the efforts of the various amazing users on here cannot be understated. That being said though, this has more than its fair share of problems whether its issues that were carried over from the movie or new issues introduced due to editing choices that I personally scratch my head at.
Okay now that we got this out of the way, it’s time to delve into spoilers and right away, I just have to say for the first massive positive, I LOVE the replacement for the Rey Palpatine twist. The idea that Rey’s emotions flared up so much when her family left her that she ultimately killed them in her anger is chilling and dark in all the right ways and the way it’s executed does an amazing job at expanding upon what was in TLJ by having her know exactly what she did and denying the action while dueling Kylo and it even does a great job of calling back to TFA because one can totally understand crying when someone tells you that you know whoever left you on a backwater planet is never coming back if you’re the one who killed your own parents. The one criticism I have is the sentence mixing on Kylo’s lines are a little wonky. Perhaps maybe this could’ve been done better if say someone was gotten to just deliver the line with effects added to blend it in with Adam Driver’s real dialogue but those are limitations you sometimes have to accept with fan-edits. I also am glad to see some of the more wild elements from TROS staying around for this such as the lightspeed skipping which is just a fun concept that I was sad to see missing from Ascendant. I also really like some of the little changes here like having Rey’s attempt at self-exile on Ahch-To taking place at night with her waking up to Luke lifting the X-Wing and I most especially appreciate the added Knights of Ren dialogue. With just a few lines, the Knights of Ren become actual characters which while still ultimately not being in the movie that much are at least far closer to feeling like actual people and not just a group of Boba Fetts and some of the lines they get are menacing at one point even funny.
Though unfortunately, mentioning how one of the lines was funny kind of leads me to one of my criticisms of this edit. It’s a minor criticism mind you but still a criticism. I feel way too much of the humor was chopped out of this movie. Now I know people are kind of divided overall on the ST and most especially on the humor but me personally, I like when Star Wars is quippy and fun and I always felt that while a few line snips were needed in TROS? This kind of takes it a bit too far. For instance, I was missing Finn’s “I was just thinking that.” in the little Falcon battle at the beginning. In fact it felt like quite a bit of his back and forth with Poe was chopped out and often to the movie’s detriment. I loved their banter in TFA and I felt one of the only unfortunate outcomes of TLJ being the way it was was that we missed out on more of that. I also was missing Rey’s “They’re not with me.” which I always felt was pretty funny and a nice way of selling her frustration in a manner that feels distinctly like her and what doesn’t help is often you can tell where line cuts are which makes things very distracting which brings me to another problem. This edit has a great idea with the opening scene instead focusing on Kylo discussing with the First Order about this new fleet before destroying Corellia but execution-wise? I think this is a case where the movie really didn’t provide a lot to truly work with to nail what was needed. In particular, there’s the matter of Kylo reforging his mask which is a good way to transition for sure into the meeting… but here’s the problem I have. The point of the Corellia destruction is to build upon Kylo’s modus operandi from TLJ which was to let the past die which it does but him reforging his mask I feel is a symbol already of him not being willing to let the past die. Now don’t get me wrong, I get the scene has to be here and it would be really, REALLY stupid of me to ask for someone to spend time rotoscoping out a whole helmet to slap an Adam Driver head over the body because that would be ridiculous and would look terrible. I also really do like the added dialogue from a Knight of Ren which implies that he was basically made to do this to continue leading them so really, this is more a problem with what the source material provided and not the editor but still, it did bug me somewhat. What possibly could’ve been avoided was the opening shot of the TIE Fighters still heading to Mustafar which was still a cool shot but it makes it so that once it’s mirrored later when Kylo does head to the planet? It’s immensely distracting, especially since it comes a half-hour into the film. I feel like there could’ve been a way to have an opening shot like this while avoiding problems like this like maybe if it repurposed a shot from TFA with some light new visual effects or something like that. Just something to make this a little less off-putting.
I also admittedly wasn’t big on how the opening went with the restructure and personally still felt it went a bit too fast. You can basically tell that the Palpatine scene was meant to come earlier and see how the meeting scene throws everything out of whack. It feels like I bumped the skip button on my remote and accidentally back and forth between scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s a fan-edit and thus one has to be somewhat mindful that little issues like this will come up when it comes to executing certain concepts but this really was very distracting. Not as bad as how the original movie handled things but still not optimal overall. This edit also included slightly too many of what I’d call “fanservicey” moments. Now I get it, it’s made by fans and therefore fanservice is bound to be present. Especially when considering this is supposed to be Episode IX as in the ultimate end of the saga and in some instances, the fanservice really works. For instance, the quick shots of Han’s death we get from Kylo? Those are brilliant. I also love the imagery of Rey standing up with the Force Ghosts faintly being behind her. That’s fanservice done subtly and cleverly. Having the scene where Han fell into the chasm in Starkiller Base fade in over the destruction of Corellia though? That’s incredibly distracting and I feel takes away from the moment. I get what it’s going for and it’s such a neat idea but execution-wise? It doesn’t really impact me. Same goes for outright getting close-ups of the Force Ghosts and seeing them raise their hands. I get the idea being presented here and it’s a cool one. That being said? I feel this is an instance where less is more. Having the Ghosts be with her faintly appearing is more than enough to establish that the Force is with her. Them doing more kind of disrupts from the fact this is supposed to be Rey’s moment and them watching her end Palpatine I feel is excellent symbolism for the old generation watching as the next generation puts an end to an old enemy of theirs. Them joining in is going just a teensy bit too far for my liking. I also was really not a fan of the addition of “Be with me.” during the trip to Tatooine nor was I really all that big on Yoda’s dialogue from ESB being added. I felt the moment of quiet was best set as that, a moment of quiet and the impact that line’s addition was supposed to have doesn’t really work and instead distracts from it.
As for other issues this had? I will never be a fan of the Ben and Rey kiss so seeing it here really didn’t work for me. I personally felt the cutting of most of Poe’s speech during the scene when the Resistance is gearing up to fly to Exegol really undercuts the vibe it was going for and instead makes what should be a triumphant “Kriff yeah! Our heroes are heading to kick the FO’s teeth in.” feel way too awkward, I really preferred the goofy “Okay!” call from Lando’s driver to the grunt, the loss of Mark Hamill voicing Boolio I didn’t think I was going to miss until I watched it and just felt like it was missing so much personality. I mean I get what it’s going for here and the idea is cool to have an alien grieving for the loss of their child but I’m not too sure with how small it was it was worth the cutting of what I thought at least was a fun performance. Lando… was odd to me. I’m kind of glad the edit cuts out his lines about not wanting to be involved with this fight anymore and overall it resulted in Lando feeling more proactive as a result but on the other hand, it has the weird effect of strangely making it feel like Lando had no place in this movie. Again, most likely this is the source material’s fault but still, it’s something I’ve noticed. Finally, I thought the ending was a little off. The way the scenes were cut, I was confused for a moment. I guess Leia going was meant to symbolize that Ben did become one with the Force instead of us seeing him pass or maybe he did live? Honestly, it was a confusing edit and I would’ve kind of preferred if it was just left to Ben dying onscreen like in the original.
That’s all the issues I have though. Now it’s positive for the rest of this. Once the edit got past its somewhat odd first half, it really, REALLY picks up once we get to Kylo meeting the Emperor and to give props to the creator, good attention to detail on how Kylo never does put his helmet back on from this point forward which does help these scenes to feel like they belong in this order. I also really love seeing the Snoke clones replaced with vats of discarded Palpatines since that is such a nice creepy effect and the removal of some dialogue between Ren and Palpatine helps to sell this as what it is, not an alliance to bring back his granddaughter but rather more an uneasy “You better be telling the truth otherwise I’ll kill you old man.” kind of alliance. I also loved the removal of the insanely awkward dialogue by Maz in most scenes since it helps some of these moments really stand out more in the manner that they were intended to. The removal of Luke and Leia from the ending was something I thought I wasn’t going to like all that much at first but it really did improve upon the scene and helped to make this feel more like an intimate send-off to the franchise rather than some bombastic fanservicey nonsense. I really appreciate the changes done to the scene where Poe reveals what Boolio handed them and how it made it more about the fleet rather than Palpatine. I especially loved the scene of Palpatine tossing Ben aside with no dialogue, I feel the way it’s handled it does such a great job of making it clear that Palpatine is just done with Skywalkers at this point and is just wanting to get on with retaking the galaxy and finally for something very simple, I love the new crawl. It conveys exactly what it needs to, it feels in line with the other crawls of the ST and most importantly, it doesn’t just try to give everything away in one go.
All in all, this edit is solid. It’s not my favorite edit unfortunately because there are so many little annoyances that hold it back for me but the effort cannot be understated. I still have to tip my hat off to the editor and everyone involved because this is still insane. The fact they were able to take a fully finished product and turn it into something that feels almost completely different is nothing short of amazing to me. Definitely request a copy and give this a watch if you haven’t yet.