Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (The Definitive Anti-Cringe Cut) 2018 - DonKamillo
WARNING: The following will contain spoilers for this cut and The Last Jedi. 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.
So this is gonna be interesting. This is not my first trek into the world of Star Wars for fan-edits but it’s my first trek into this for a movie I actually really love. Yes let’s get this out of the way right now, I love The Last Jedi. It’s my second favorite Star Wars movie of all time nestled neatly right by ESB. For a movie I was so terrified was going to turn out awfully when I first went into it back in 2017? I left that theater with nothing but love in my heart for it. It has a few problems certainly and there are a couple I will point out as I review this but those hardly are an issue for me as someone who loves this to death. So with that in mind, I’m not looking at this Anti-Cringe Cut from the perspective of a fan who hates this movie and wants to see a fan-edit can do to improve upon it but rather I’m viewing this from the perspective of an unabashed lover and defender of TLJ who is wanting to see if this will just be a good movie and decide for myself if seeing this in theaters I would’ve been satisfied. With that all said and done? Here we go, this is DonKamillo’s Anti-Cringe Cut of The Last Jedi.
The Last Jedi’s first act is a very crucial part of why I love this movie. Right away it throws us into what the situation is following The Force Awakens, the crawl informs us more about what the First Order is and builds upon the idea of being a fringe element of the Empire trying to retake power and most importantly? It clues us in that this is not gonna be a safe movie. Poe succeeds at taking out the Dreadnought due to it being a “fleet killer” but due to him foolishly wanting to see this mission through when he could’ve probably settled on just disabling the big cannon along with the other surface shots? He ends up using up most of the bomber fleet and gets tons of people killed for his reckless behavior and asks for a plan from Holdo in such an uppity manner when she is just barely instated on the ship. Luke we see from this point is now a depressed loner hermit who due to circumstances really doesn’t want to get involved with this First Order business and clearly doesn’t have much love for the Jedi at this moment with Rey being confused as she expected to find on Ahch-To the hero of legend that the stories spoke of and finally Kylo Ren we see is being reprimanded by Snoke for his failures and receives a verbal beatdown that helps set him on his arc for this story and puts him in the perfect position for his scenes with Rey. How does the Anti-Cringe Cut handle it? Unfortunately this is where I immediately have to get into criticisms and I should stress I hate doing this when it comes to fan-edits. Fan-edits are insane pieces of work to put together, I can’t imagine what it must be like for people in an editing room to have to figure out what to do to make a final cut of a movie and the same extends to fan-editors who pull off the insane task of taking fully finished movies and whatever material they have on hand to make a whole new experience. The effort that went into this has to be commended still and I’m not about to downplay or crap on any of that.
That being said? The problems start at the crawl which I really don’t like. Now admittedly, it could just be that I’m spoiled on this for the edits I’ve watched prior were Hal9000’s Cloak of Deception and Ascendant and krausfadr’s Resurgence which have phenomenally well done crawls that look and sound official from the sentence structure to their vocabulary. This crawl uses specifically DigModiFicaTion’s crawl tutorial and make no mistake, it’s a fantastic tutorial and a great resource for editors to use. The problem I often find is that this is the kind of crawl that makes the “fan-edit” nature way too apparent. For one thing, the title font is off to me. It uses it looks like a take off the Universe font that ROTJ, the Special Editions and the PT used and make no mistake that font’s great and it was used for a reason but this version has kind of strange scaling on the letters, it’s hard to describe without looking at it for yourself but trust me, it’s very off but this is at best a nitpick like a lot of this to be fair is. Then there’s the crawl text itself. For comparison here’s The Last Jedi’s crawl transcribed:
The FIRST ORDER reigns. Having decimated the peaceful Republic, Supreme Leader Snoke now deploys his merciless legions to seize military control of the galaxy.
Only General Leia Organa’s band of RESISTANCE fighters stand against the rising tyranny, certain that Jedi Master Luke Skywalker will return and restore a spark of hope to the fight.
But the Resistance has been exposed. As the First Order speeds toward the Rebel base, the brave heroes mount a desperate escape…
And here’s DonKamillo’s:
The FIRST ORDER reigns. Having completed training his apprentice Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader Snoke now deploys his merciless legions to seize military control of the galaxy.
Only GENERAL LEIA ORGANA and her band of RESISTANCE fighters stand against the rising tyranny, certain that young Rey will find Jedi Master LUKE SKYWALKER and with his help restore a spark of hope to the fight.
But the Resistance has been exposed. As the First Order speeds toward the Rebel base, the brave heroes mount a desperate escape…
The main gist is the same but compared to the original, it doesn’t flow as smoothly and it also talks about information that really for this particular moment I’d say is irrelevant. For instance, Snoke completing Kylo Ren’s training is not important here. It would make sense say if the movie’s plot involved Kylo joining the First Order in their attack on the Resistance base but it doesn’t, instead it just comes across as a kind of shoehorned way of referencing that TFA ended with Snoke saying that it was time to complete Kylo’s training. The original line works because it basically is describing how Snoke is taking advantage of the situation whereas here it feels like it’s checking things off of a to-do list. Same goes for the second line, it works because describes the hope in more succinct terms that Luke Skywalker will return which plays into the through line the first act has about people expecting things to play out like the legends of old while not realizing that these people are just people and that one shouldn’t rely on legends on entirely. Here it’s unnecessary info for the audience when we already know what Rey’s doing, our expectations and thoughts are more regarding Luke specifically which the original crawl seems to get.
After that point we get to the First Order attacking D’Qar and the first cut I noticed is Connix having her “Oh no.” snipped when the Destroyers show up. It’s a minor thing and I get what it’s going for as she hears the Destroyers pulling in and thus she looks up and we cut to seeing the fleet and it works really well like this but I did like the “Oh no.” as a simple beat. Like she hears the ships, she looks up and she’s clearly taken aback by just how quickly the First Order has shown up and realizes right then and there the escape isn’t gonna be pretty. Again though, it’s very minor and to be fair it’s followed up by a pretty solid little change by cutting out Poe’s call with Hux. Now unlike a lot of people, I really love this whole gag, it does go on a smidge long but I like the idea that while the experimental hyperdrive is charging up, Poe’s just BSing to buy himself some time and Hux falls for it because Hux’s role in this movie is to be the foil. We saw in TFA Hux in his element where he’s in power, in-charge and really has nothing to worry about. Here we see him taken out of it and it kind of demonstrates just how much of a snide pathetic loser he is. It’s a very succinct commentary on neo-fascism, you strip away facade of the strength and power of the military or even just take these guys out of their element and you find that for as dangerous as they can be? They are shockingly pitiful but what makes them dangerous is their devotion to an objectively awful cause and how their words are being heard. Here? It works in a different way. Hux is informed a single fighter is pulling up and he’s kind of confused. You can imagine during the exchange he’s wondering what the Resistance is playing at, then the ship charges the Dreadnought and he basically is like “Oh, so this guy’s a moron then. Okay.”. I can overall appreciate the idea behind this and I think it was done very well and that theme is maintained for most of the changes. I love just seeing Hux stare at the surface cannons being destroyed and then after a few moments of being with Poe we see him contact Canady. I actually really like the cut of BB-8’s repair gag and how it’s now more a gag that relies on your imagination. It cuts away from when there’s one spark leaving you and BB-8 to think “Oh it’s not gonna be that bad.”. And then when we get to BB-8 finally getting the weapon systems running we see just how much work he’s putting in to get the systems online, conveying a similar idea to the original scene but in a new way that doesn’t make it feel like crucial stuff was lost. Another cut I like and I especially have to give props for because I didn’t even notice it? Moving Leia telling Threepio to wipe the nervous expression off his face to after the cannons point at the cruiser. Both ways work I feel but whereas in the original it’s like Threepio is really concerned with what Poe’s about to do, here it feels like we wordlessly get classic Threepio worrying when things are getting hairy while showing Leia’s steely resolve. I like it overall and again, nothing crucial was lost it feels like.
Though we then lose another scene that I feel, while not crucial, was really good. Following the Dreadnought’s destruction, Hux’s interaction with Snoke is cut, leaving us with him just giving this pouty, worried face as he is told that Snoke is making contact. This is a mistake to me. As I stated before, I think there’s a very clear reason why Hux is portrayed the way he is in TLJ and honestly looking at how the scenes are cut? If the scene of Hux being reprimanded by Snoke stayed? It would be a better drawn out reveal for what Hux actually is in the First Order but here, I feel like something is lost by stripping this out. Yes it’s a little more overt humor as we see Hux get slammed to the floor and he skids around but with the cutting of the humor that’s been done anyway? I feel like this would’ve been earned and that it would feel less like humor and more like Snoke showing more overtly that he doesn’t screw around. It’s especially weird because then next scene we get is Finn waking up, hitting his head and falling over which I like but to me that feels more like overt goofy humor that I would expect to see cut here and it just makes the movie flow a little awkwardly.
Now… next change I like the idea of but I feel this is a case where execution really doesn’t come through and might be a case of overambition. For good stuff? I like that we cut down Rey handing the saber to Luke and it’s more focusing on what happened after that ending in TFA. The original movie’s version is still really good but it does a good job of playing it up as less a “See we only did the dramatic pause for the cliffhanger, this is actually went down.” and more like we’re just picking up where we left off. Now I really like Luke tossing the saber over his shoulder in the original, in one action we get the perfect picture of where Luke’s at mentally and emotionally in this movie, it throws the audience for a loop and it sets up for what I think at least is a very well done arc. That being said, I recognize why people have problems with this scene and upon thinking about it, I think I have my own small issue with it, it comes across too much like a comedic beat than a huge serious moment. The way the dramatic music stops as Luke gives this frustrated stare before chucking the saber so casually and walking off with Rey giving out a confused “Master Skywalker?” makes it feel like a comedic bit when this isn’t a scene I think we should be laughing at. The edit does a good job of presenting a potential alternate idea by having Rey approach Luke as she sees in his expression he’s seemingly not interested in being handed the lightsaber and then she just takes it back, possibly noticing how Luke isn’t gripping onto this thing that hard before he walks off with a simple “I’m sorry.”. It’s a great idea… but there are problems here. For one, I think this is a case where manipulating the footage just isn’t enough to convey the proper feeling. If I was watching this in theaters, I think this would have that kind of odd disjointed feeling that they didn’t have time to shoot a different version of this scene so they just manipulated elements they had to make it work. I think the “I’m sorry.” assuming that’s not in the original movie is unnecessary, the wordless interaction works perfectly in conveying Luke’s disillusionment in the Jedi and it ensures the audience keeps their shock a little longer which is a good call and very intentional on the part of Rian Johnson as we’re not getting answers right away and we’re just as confused as Rey is. In a way I guess it avoids showing supposed disrespect to the saber but I feel that disrespect works in conveying Luke’s mood at this point in the film. To me this was a change that I think had a good idea but the original source didn’t provide enough. It does have a neat idea though and it almost lines up with my idea for how I would’ve changed this scene which is to have Luke grasp the saber and look at it for a bit before roughly shoving it back into Rey’s hands before walking off or just dropping it.
Then the editing continues and… it gets a little iffy. DonKamillo made a note that he cut Rey explaining what Chewie said to Luke which I get the idea behind because Luke at this point would know what Chewie’s saying and it feels like it’s restating what is better explained by just Luke’s reaction but the cut is kind of jarring and again a case where I don’t think the movie necessarily provides enough to make it seamless but it’s a minor issue. What is less so is the edit including the deleted scene “Luke has a moment” where we get Luke’s reaction to Han’s death. Now personal opinion time? I get why the choice was made to cut the scene and have it instead go from Luke asking the question to Kylo, it’s an editing trick that tells the audience through a reminder “This is where he is. This guy killed him.”. That being said, it is a really good scene with some fantastic acting from Mark Hamill and I get why edits have strived to include this… but this take on it provides severe tonal whiplash. For one thing, we cut to aerial shots of the island and thus we don’t see Rey breaking the news to him which is fine but it breaks up the flow a little… and then there’s the music. It uses the version of the Force theme that’s commonly played right before we transition to the credits or in other words, music that’s supposed to be there when punctuating a triumphant moment and it’s being used… for a man grieving their best friend’s death. Now I get what the intent is, there are plenty of movies where a character discovers a good friend has died and as their grief overtakes them the music swells but more often than not the music is made to sound somber in tone as in it represents building sadness. Here? I instead am ready to just laugh as it’s like the Force Gods or whatever are going “WOO! THAT NERFHERDER IS DEAD! WOO!” while Luke is hurting. I’ll be frank, this scene if I saw it in theaters would’ve made me feel like Han was being disrespected and it just would take me right out of the movie.
Later cuts are better but some cracks start showing. Cutting out Hux’s conversation with Snoke earlier has the knock-on effect of making Snoke’s line of “Tied on the end of a string indeed!” more off-putting. It’s not delivered like Kylo is just coming in on a standard conversation, it’s following up on Hux’s talk with Snoke earlier when he first brings this up which brings about the audience’s curiosity on what exactly they mean by this before they then answer it with the hyperspace tracking reveal. Maybe this would work if with some light editing we hear from Hux that he’ll tell Snoke personally rather than him saying he’ll take the message in his chambers but that would feel at odds then with Hux’s characterization for the sake of the plot so really the only answer I have for this scene is that Hux’s communication should’ve stayed. We get a minor cut later to get rid of a small comedic beat with two officers reacting to Kylo right before he steps off the elevator but this is a case it should’ve just been left in. It’s a tiny bit of humor for some levity after a very tense scene and it’s integrated in a way to where it really doesn’t or at least shouldn’t distract from the huge moment that was Kylo smashing his helmet. It’s a small thing though because otherwise the Snoke scene remains intact the way it should be. Moving onto Luke, I thought I was personally going to hate the cutting of Luke milking that creature. I know people have said so much about this one scene, it’s very minor in the grand scheme of things so cutting it shouldn’t be too much of an issue but to me I like it because… it’s intended to be disgusting. It’s Luke basically intentionally showing Rey that his life on this island is not glamorous but he fully intends on doing this and if she doesn’t like it? She can just leave and it wouldn’t be that much of an issue since he is not gonna join the fight and inject Jedi back into the equation. The way it’s done here though? It works. The framing is now not Rey watching Luke’s daily routine but rather her following Luke seemingly out of curiosity, like maybe this is just a test or a misdirection… and then she sees he’s just fishing and still has absolutely no intention on leaving the planet. Couple that with the aerial shots of the island that are there to fill out the scene and it feels very natural like this was how it always was.
And we keep this up with a great addition in the deleted scene with Poe and Finn. One complaint I simultaneously agree and disagree with is the one regarding Poe’s characterization here. I personally think the idea of having Poe’s arc being that he learns to be a leader and not just a hero is a great one and it was executed very well and in a manner that is loaded with nuance and subtleties that allow for the subversion to work without it feeling like it’s telling us everything. That being said, it does have one issue and that’s how it might be a little too subtle. There are many moments of great acting between Oscar Isaac and Laura Dern that deals a lot in expressions, intonation and body language that when coupled with the filmmaking and framing does a good job of selling that Poe is not exactly the one in the right and that he is making tons of screw-ups. The big problem though is you have to actively tell someone to look for them when they’re rewatching it for someone to see a lot of these and often it’s nothing but these kinds of subtle bits of filmmaking and bear in mind Star Wars isn’t really a franchise that’s made to be analyzed so closely like this. I mean sure it’s banking on the idea that Star Wars fans will see this movie several times but I feel it skews a little too close to feeling like that’s a requirement. Worst of all if people have already decided they hate the movie and won’t watch it again? Well that’s gonna be a problem and it’s gonna be an even bigger problem if those who come out of it pick up on these things and note that they should’ve been a bit more at the forefront. This dialogue scene between Poe and Finn does a lot of heavy-lifting. It shows that Finn can almost recognize something is up with the vibe on the ship and highlights he more cares about Rey than he does the Resistance right now, it sells Poe’s arrogance because of the way he speaks to Finn with him coming off as that one friend who you love but know has an attitude issue and is kind of a smug jerk at times. That being said it also shows Poe still is a good person deep down, especially with how adorably honest he is about not being much of a sewer and the scene going right into Leia slapping Poe works really well to pull the rug out from under the audience. I really like how the original movie did it but this to me works really well and does what adding a deleted scene should do since it adds to the moment while not undercutting anything else.
The movie plays out pretty much as normal until we get to the moment. That moment being when the First Order destroys the bridge and sends Leia and a great deal of the Resistance leadership out into the vacuum of space because in this version? It makes the choice that Rian Johnson was once saddled with due to unfortunate real life circumstances and here it kills Leia. I must admit… I am very mixed on this choice and a lot of it has to do with those real life circumstances. Now when Rian Johnson talked about the potential of making this choice, he said what ultimately prevented him from doing it was he felt it would’ve been a disservice to Carrie Fisher in what is now her final role on a film she enjoyed working on to change it to where she died, especially since it would mean getting rid of her big moment to use the Force. Now I am no defender of the Leia scene as is. I think Rian Johnson had a truly great idea when it came to the concept of Leia not necessarily flying but rather using the Force to pull herself back onto the ship. The problem comes down to framing. That sweeping shot of Leia moving toward the ship as her theme blares was a bad call to me because it’s framed almost like a superhero shot. The scenes that came later where everyone rushes to the bridge due to the damage before it shows Leia making her way through the destroyed bridge work better and if it was just those scenes like maybe it cuts right after her eyes open? It would’ve been fine but as-is, it doesn’t work that well and could do with some alterations. This is… not what I’d call good and this is where I have to stress that this is probably emotion over what actually happened coming in because I get what the editor is going for and that they had nothing but the best of intentions.
But I’m just gonna say it, if this was in theaters? The shot of Leia’s freezing corpse floating through space while the knowledge of Carrie Fisher’s passing lingers in the back of my mind would’ve come off as horribly tacky and disrespectful. It’s one thing to edit a movie to kill a character or write them off to account for the fact that the actor has passed, it’s another thing to make a movie where a character dies and then have that actor die before or just after the movie released since those are cases where the passage of time is a cruel mistress that doesn’t care a single bit about you. This on the other hand is a whole other ballpark and just awful. This honestly makes me appreciate more why Rian opted for the choice he did because this would definitely be one of those ideas that would be on the docket and he probably took one look at that and went “Nope! Nuh-uh! That sloshing in the back of my throat is vomit from my disgust I ain’t going for it!”. Granted he probably had the capabilities of reshooting stuff to make it more seamless since again fan-edit, it really can only use already completed movie footage but still this is not good. But setting aside the personal feelings? It also just isn’t done that great. It makes Leia Organa in this movie barely a footnote in the Sequel Trilogy one movie after Han got a very poignant send-off due to how it’s executed and also it hurts the scene of Luke wandering through the Millennium Falcon for the music that plays is a more mystical variation of the Force theme which transitions into that scene with Luke which pulls double duty of making it feel like Leia is gonna use the Force because the music is really not sad enough to sell that she died and it causes what should be just a slow scene of Luke reminiscing to come across as painfully awkward, especially when we hit the scene where R2 replays Leia’s message because now… it rings less like a fun moment of R2 knowing how to push Luke’s buttons that provides fanservice and is important to the story but now it feels like a cheap move as in it feels like the movie’s going “Look! We threw this in! Now you can forgive us for killing Leia and plastering her corpse on-screen!”.
That might be pushing things a bit but personally that’s just how I feel on this. I also feel again from an editing perspective? This movie doesn’t give enough to make this truly work the way the editor intended because after this, it goes into the speech that leads to Holdo taking command. In the original movie, the “Save your sorrow until after the fight.” bit worked because we’ve had a whole two years to process Han’s death and we get the idea there really is no time to give him a proper send-off and… well you can’t have a funeral when there’s no body to truly bury and the one other character that gets named is Ackbar who I know is a character that people feel is wasted… but bear in mind, in terms of the movies, he really only appears in two before this and is known for a single meme. Then he gets stuff in the EU and TCW but the stuff that’s canon really doesn’t play that massive of a role in this grand story. Therefore it makes sense for this to kind of our way of moving along while acknowledging the many deaths. Leia’s story though is important to the grand scheme of things. Her message to Obi-Wan helps to get him and Luke to join the adventure that kicks off the whole saga. To have Leia die in this manner coupled with the awkward transition to the Falcon and then her death glossed over so hard here is appalling in how off it feels. I personally think this is a case where even if you hate the scene? You need Leia to live and float through space because it just ensures the movie flows better as a story and things fall into place a lot more naturally because the alternatives can result in something like this which is outright anger-inducing. And again I should stress that I know DonKamillo had probably nothing but the best of intentions and that this couldn’t have been easy but this is just how it feels to me. Anyways it is with Poe saying that Holdo was not what he expected and it performing a screen-wipe over to Ahch-To that we end the first act and overall? This beginning act is a mixed bag.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s great stuff here. The streamlined Dreadnought fight is a ton of fun, the Finn and Poe scene that was added back in really works in favor of both their character arcs and especially helps Poe’s whole deal of learning to become a leader become more clear. I liked how the cutting of Luke drinking the milk was handled and it had the right idea of altering his toss over the shoulder. It stumbles a little at the beginning but it gets back up pretty quickly and those issues were ultimately minor quibbles. However those aren’t the only faults. When this cut falters? Oh it falters hard. Again, there are some minor quibbles I have here and there that I can ignore but there are genuine massive issues here that make this story so frustrating to try and watch. In particular one thing I’ve noticed about the weakest changes here is that while they add something? They take away so much at the same time. Sure we have Luke mourning Han now but that comes in a way that really disrupts the tone and flow of the story and takes me right out of the movie. Yes there are less jokes overall but it really takes away from the characterization of certain players and introduces some editing gaffes that make proceedings a little more distracting than if the movie had just left some of the jokes in. Yes Leia doesn’t fly through space anymore… but it comes at the cost of feeling like it’s done in poor taste and it harms all the scenes that come after.
The second act of the original movie is where people tend to have the most grievances I find. A lot of people don’t like the Canto Bight subplot which this edit opts to completely strip out and personally… I don’t like that idea. Canto Bight’s problem never was its inclusion to begin with, it’s just that it ran a little long. It needed some trims and touch-ups to make it a little more refined more than it needed to be completely cut. This also is where Luke’s characterization is make-or-break for them and personally for me? It makes it all worth it. This is where most of the twists and subversions happen and the main message of the movie is given and I’m of the opinion that a lot of it is done very well. But that’s just me, how did this edit do?
To start off, this edit does something I haven’t really addressed but I think now’s a good time to bring it up. It chops out a lot of the Porg scenes and relegates them primarily to just small appearances as animals on the island. I don’t mind that aspect and think it was done fairly well. I never really had any strong feelings about the Porgs, they were goofy comic relief creatures that provided levity when needed but they didn’t need to be in the movie. What we do get more of is the Caretakers on the island, complete with a reinstated deleted scene where Luke addresses one of them and we get a brief explanation of what they are. I really like this overall, especially Rey’s comment of “I don’t think they like me.” which gets an extra chuckle considering we see one of them give her the evil eye while scraping their knife across the fish. There isn’t much to talk about for a good chunk of this in terms of changes. There is one change that’s made where Kylo discovering the rainwater in his hand is cut down to reframe it as if he’s just wiping sweat from his brow after an intense conversation. I personally disagree with this as a change but the alternative isn’t bad and still makes sense overall. The one thing I do want to comment on is that this second act really gives me a lot of appreciation for why Rian cut the movie the way he did and why most of the Star Wars movies tend to cut between and a side-plot. Spending a lot of time in a single location, especially when you look at how these scenes were originally cut together can make the movie feel like it goes on for longer than it actually is. I also find that certain scenes just don’t really have the right flow paired together compared to the original. For instance we go from Luke noting that he has seen this strength before and that it didn’t scare him then and we cut to Rey enjoying the sight and feeling of rain. We can tell from the establishing shot that yes time has indeed passed but having these two scenes put together like this feels very off. We go from Luke being very intense following him witnessing someone potentially heading down the same path as Ben to something that’s just a little too light, even if we get the good interactions between Ben and Rey.
See in the original movie, the scenes work in tandem. Star Wars is often structured where you get the war story that really is only there because… it’s named Star Wars and really because it provides a good backdrop for the true story and all our character development and as such, scenes and how they’re cut often inform the themes and through line of the movie and other scenes even if they’re not directly related. For example, the general themes of TLJ are that failure is our greatest teacher, destiny isn’t laid out for us whole hog and we need to carve out our own paths, our heroes can be fallible for they are just people and there is something to be said about deifying these figures and putting too much stock in legends but that at the same time there is good that comes from those stories. The Luke scenes when working in tandem with the other scenes really do a lot to make this clear because you see how it connects all these plot elements. Poe’s hubris and obsession with being a hot shot hero led to him making costly mistakes that lost the Resistance more than it helped and it is through his failure to both not execute his own plan and the plan just being a failure by concept alone that he learns to be a stronger leader. Finn’s focus is on Rey and he foolishly thinks that being involved in fights like the one between the Resistance and First Order will just lead to unnecessary death and destruction but the failure that is Canto Bight and his encounters with DJ and Rose get him to realize that in situations like this, neutrality is not the best route because it means you look out for no one but yourself and your closest allies and turn a blind eye to so much injustice and hardship and Rey… well her story’s still here so we’ll get to that later. Stripping all that out and leaving mostly the Ahch-To stuff means we kind of just are stuck on this planet with Rey with not much to do and it feels like we’re not really learning these lessons by seeing them demonstrated. We’re just stuck in Rey’s mode of “Luke you’re a grumpy dingus who is being needlessly bitter, ignite the green already you moof-milking son of a Vader and let’s go.”. It even hurts the addition of the third lesson from Luke and… okay I feel like speaking on this because I hear every time about how this is such a crucial scene to incorporate and I just don’t agree.
People get so hung up on how Luke only teaches at most two out of the three lessons. In terms of the final cut? It works because it comes across that Rey is contemplating and thinking about what Luke told her, how she’s dealing with the idea that this mythical figure is both real and at the moment rejecting his legend and the call to action which goes against everything she has heard about him and thus she finds an odd amount of solace in interacting with Kylo who seems to be straight with her unlike Luke and because her will and trust in this man is being shaken and tested? It leads naturally to her deciding to investigate what’s at the bottom of the island as she is looking for clear-cut answers in a situation that is messier and more complicated than she ever could’ve imagined and in this time? Luke is thinking over her words and her feelings because she’s providing actual counters to what he’s saying and while some of it is based on the idea that they need a legend? Some of it really does hold water like her statement that maybe the galaxy needs legends and that he indeed still saved Vader. The third lesson to me isn’t needed… because Rey learns it herself through the movie. The third lesson is about how the galaxy doesn’t need the Jedi to solve all their problems and that they in fact caused more problems than they solved and that their continued placement in these situations as far as the Jedi of legend are concerned don’t make things better. To paraphrase Luke, the Resistance needs someone who’s able to help and willing to jump in when the situation calls for it, not some husk of a religion. Yes it’s important in the sense that Rey then fires back that she understands while they’re doing this, their friends are dying and this helps spur Luke into wanting to help? But the thing is, the movie shows enough for why he would want to anyway. This is spelling out the arc through dialogue while the movie does it through action and showcasing this story unfolding with the only time it stops really being for the Yoda scene that presents the message that failure is the greatest teacher.
Now to play Devil’s Advocate? The scene would absolutely work in the movie because with all the scenes set during Canto Bight and such? Like I said the Luke stuff helps to enhance all those other stories and themes. I can see maybe this scene being big because it makes it more clear that Luke is doubting himself on his choice to self-exile and it helps present the idea that the old Jedi ways were flawed and that the worst thing normal people can do when organizations like the First Order rise is do nothing in the face of adversity and that relying on legends and putting all your stock in the idea that a single savior is going to solve all your problems is a bad idea with the balanced perspective being to look to those legends as inspiration to do good. Here though? With all the other stuff cut I don’t get that impression from Luke, he just comes off like the grumpiest, most untenable person to be around and I can say that because this edit makes it to where it feels like I’m stuck with him for a good long while and yet simultaneously, it feels like he rushes through the lessons since with this edit? All three lessons are given super quickly and there isn’t enough time for each of them to really sink in. After this we do get a scene with Holdo before going right back to Ahch-To and it’s to show Holdo’s moment of pause before she tells the crew to maintain their current course. On the one hand, we know the plan is to find a new base to contact other corners of the galaxy so this works in a basic streamlining sense where Holdo is right just from the start but on the other hand? It really makes her and the other characters feel superfluous. I love this scene in the original movie because it’s a subtle hint that while there is a plan at play? These losses are weighing down on her and that she does have her moments of pause, probably might be thinking even on if her course of action is a mistake and because we know by this point what Poe and Finn are doing? It should in a way maybe get you to pause and go “Hey maybe Poe is kind of being too hard on Holdo and should just take a breath.”. Here though? It’s like the movie remembers it has other characters and doesn’t really know what to do with them so it just shows them and basically is emphasizing that Rey and/or Luke need to get there and save the day.
Speaking of Luke, we get the scene of him reconnecting to the Force again and he happens to connect to Leia’s Force server and sees the worst. She is dead and floating in space complete with close-ups of her corpse with him getting a ghostly echo of her voice. I harped enough on the Leia stuff in the first part, the same criticisms those scenes apply here but I just gotta note how much this really takes away from this scene. First off, I know it’s a fan-edit and this might be asking for a bit much but it is way too obvious that these are reused shots from earlier in the movie. If you must show Leia at all? I’d personally try to just keep it to the hand and maybe one of the shots where her face is in shadow in order to avoid the feeling that we’ve seen this stuff before. Next off, in the original movie it really felt like a sweet tender moment. Luke sensed his sister was in trouble and since he was mulling over what Rey said? That helped to motivate him to want to join the fight and it showed a lot more was going on with Luke than maybe what people and Rey were thinking. Here it just calls further attention to the fact that Leia’s gone and honestly feels still very exploitative. Thankfully though I’ve got a good edit to talk about though a small one. The edit cuts Rey’s comedic bit of her in a flustered manner asking if Kylo can just put on a cowl after she sees him shirtless and honestly it’s pretty well done. I really liked the beat in the original movie, especially because it wasn’t put in a really bad place but I think leaving it to that unspoken reaction of Rey ready to ask Kylo why he left only to lose a good deal composure once she sees he’s shirtless makes things much more funny. It’s like when something completely stupid happens while you’re serious and it derails everything. It can’t be helped and you know you need to continue but you at the same time need a moment to find yourself because you were thrown completely off-base.
Speaking of being thrown off-base though, we get more changes I don’t really like after the scene in the pit and between Kylo and Rey. The first change that was made was so that Luke didn’t fall after the first strike in the back of the head and it really is noticeable. The idea is to make Luke look more skilled but that makes me scratch my head. I’m aware of the complaints about Rey, I know that there are people out there that cite this scene as being an example of Rey being overpowered because how can she knock down the mighty Jedi Master Luke Skywalker? I’ll say why. In the original movie, Luke’s not fighting her. He’s not prepared to force her off the island and wanting to use all his abilities to get her and Chewie the hell off. After seeing her and Kylo sharing a moment and presumably feeling it because he’s reconnected to the Force now, he simply sternly tells her to leave as he walks back up the steps, presumably to his hut either to wait or to finally end the Jedi because he hasn’t fully climbed back out of his funk and this happens after Rey demands to know if he attempted to murder Kylo like his version of the story suggests so she is at this point angry and sick of not getting answers so she strikes Luke in the back of the head, hoping to force his attention on her and get the answers out of him that way. He didn’t want to fight and wasn’t expecting that strike therefore it caused him to fall down. Then he immediately gets back up and uses the Force to pull towards himself a staff to defend against her strikes. The cut here is so jarring, messes the music up a bit and even the sound, coming across more like a glitch in the video than a deliberate moment and after this? We get Luke having a vision of Rey being tempted by the Dark Side as the voice of Yoda tells him not to strike.
I’ve got to be blunt. I hate this addition. I genuinely hate this addition. As I stated before, Luke is not aiming to fight Rey, he is merely defending himself. You watch the movie back? Notice how he’s effortlessly blocking and dodging her blows, his movements showing not a hint of malice or hatred towards her. If I recall correctly, Rey does get struck once but it’s not aggressive, it’s more done in that way of a master letting an uppity student know they are not trying to fight but that if it were to happen? It will not go their way. It’s only when Rey draws the saber that Luke shows visible concern because at that moment he doesn’t have a weapon to stand up against a lightsaber and there’s the shock of seeing this girl actually pulling one out on him. Yoda’s dialogue here restates what we already can see, kind of takes away from Yoda’s appearance later instead of acting as a fun tease and while I understand that multiple readings of the same scene can be valid? I’m sorry I just don’t see how that scene in the rain could’ve been taken any other way. This change is a solution in search of a problem and ends up causing one in its attempt to fix that problem. Speaking of problems? We get to the next big change, the end of the Rashomon tribute where in the original movie, we learn the true story of what happened with Ben. Luke went into his hut after seeing several glimpses of darkness during his training and decided to finally see what was up and looked into him and what he found was worse than he imagined. Snoke had already turned his heart. In Luke’s own words, he would bring destruction, pain, death, and the end of everything he loved because of what he’d become. And thus for the briefest moment of pure instinct, Luke ignited his saber… and then stopped as he was left with great shame and the consequences of those actions were made clear because before he could leave and compose himself? Ben had woken up and stared up at him, Luke noting he saw the face of a frightened young boy whose master had failed him. This is a moment that a lot of people find themselves at odds with in TLJ and considering you’ve heard most of the arguments already, I’m not gonna repeat them here except for the relevant ones. This change though I’m just gonna state now does not make this movie better. In fact, I think in general if this had been the choice made in theaters? I would’ve looked at everyone calling Luke a coward… and sympathized with them.
Now it’s not all bad. I think the fade to black right before the “Snoke turned his heart.” line worked really well. I like the idea of the flashbacks to stuff from TFA since it makes it more overt that Luke saw more than just a little darkness in Ben and like I said about the Poe and Holdo stuff, I’m willing to meet detractors halfway here because maybe we needed a more overt showcase of what Luke saw instead of just hearing the sounds of screams and lightsabers igniting. That being said? I feel in the effort to make Luke feel more “in-character”? This ends up causing more harm than good. Bear in mind the reason why Rashomon sequences work is that you get multiple perspectives and then you get the true story which often has elements of both while others are painted by biases and what people thought they saw. In Luke’s eyes, he did not want to think about the idea that instinct almost overtook him and nearly caused him to kill his nephew and so he compartmentalized it and saw it from the perspective of a master showing concern and then finding his student had already turned and betrayed him. Kylo’s perspective is that of a terrified young boy who only saw his uncle with an ignited saber standing over him and because not every Jedi is just reading people with the Force to find out what they’re feeling or what conflict they have, his emotions overtook him, a fight or flight response occurred and he assumed the worst and the true story comes down to a mixture of both. Luke did go to Ben to investigate this darkness, got way more than he expected to find and his instinct to end the evil that would be unleashed on the land in a moment overtook him and he ignited the saber. Immediately he felt guilt but it didn’t matter to Ben because of what I said earlier and Luke saw that. It was a little too late unfortunately and thus Ben took a swing and Luke was forced to defend himself and what it led to was the creation of Kylo Ren and the burden being on Luke. He took in the son of his best friend and sister, promised them he would train them to be a great Jedi and they trusted him… and not only did Snoke turn his heart but he ended up expediting the process that would lead to him becoming that great evil that would bring pain and destruction. To me it works in the movie because we don’t know much about what this Luke has been through in thirty years aside from him not really going through the insane amount of hardship as his Legends counterpart did where due to those stories being about the continuing adventures of the classic trio, he found himself roped up in a lot more severe situations that would help shape him. This only would work to me if we knew more about how Ben was turned by Snoke because otherwise it’s really odd that Ben would see Luke standing over him and staring, presumably with a more pained expression on his face and he’d jump right to attacking him. The saber being ignited works because that is something so severe, that is an act that can be read in the most horrific way possible otherwise I’d think Ben would more be like “Uh uncle why are you staring at me while I sleep? Is this a Jedi thing because I don’t like it.”. Now maybe to be fair Ben being a Force user feels Luke in his mind and is fearing the possibility that by seeing the darkness he feels that he’ll be rejected but in that case he should be more distraught but he’s not here. He’s scared and taking a swing at Luke out of fear which feels so at odds with how the scene plays out.
Moreover, many people criticized TFA for the idea of there being a map to Luke Skywalker, asking why Luke would leave pieces of a map for people to find him and why he’d be off on some planet for so long while his friends deal with the First Order and TLJ we were promised would answer that question. Of course later watches of TFA would show the map specifically was to the first Jedi Temple and that it’s more a guess on that being his current location than it is an actual map to Luke but that didn’t answer the other questions about why Luke was here and Rian Johnson honestly to me came up with the best possible answer he could with the pieces he was provided and when you look at this? It makes a lot of sense why this along with learning about the history of the Jedi would convince Luke to cut himself off from the Force and be bitter about the Jedi because he feels responsible and like he has just retread what he feels the legacy of the Jedi is now, a legacy of inaction, failure and unchecked hubris and also there is no way he can just look Han and Leia dead in the eyes and state what happened. I mean just hearing even the thought of killing Ben passed through his mind would’ve probably been enough for Han to sock Luke and end their friendship for good so he went into exile. This? To me, it’s more like Luke would feel responsible for failing him and would go out of his way to try and help him not as a Jedi Master but as his uncle.
That’s what makes the scene so powerful in the original movie to me, it’s Luke feeling on all fronts he has failed. He failed him as a Jedi Master because he let him fall to the Dark Side and played a part in that, he failed him as his uncle because instead of being his protector and friend, the thought of murdering him occurred and it nearly happened, he failed his best friend and sister because he broke the promise he made them, he failed as a legend and he failed as the Jedi who was supposed to restore the Order and bring peace and justice back to the galaxy. Now? Ben just comes across like he had the most massive overreaction and Luke at best only really failed him as a master. To me, this is one of those changes that would more rely on the movie showing us more of Ben and Luke’s dynamic as student and master and again some of what Snoke did to turn him. In a way, this is the kind of story that I think would work if say we got a version of that comic miniseries The Rise of Kylo Ren that goes off of this version of events because while that series undermines a lot of the simplicity of the original movie as it goes out of its way to “fix” Luke’s character from this movie? Here it works better because it is more of a simple case of a dark shadowy figure manipulating a member of the Skywalker family again and you need the extra time because otherwise Luke really just comes across as a terrible coward on most fronts. It also undermines the scene with Yoda which is fully intact and still as great as ever… but it works with the movie as-is because it allows you to put everything in perspective. All the scenes with Rey, Finn, Poe, Luke and I’d argue even both the Original and Prequel Trilogies, all of them get painted in a brand new light. Now though with us only getting Luke and Rey and this altered version of why Luke left? It doesn’t read that way, instead to me the scene comes across as Yoda basically going “A dum-dum you are. Missed everything I tried to teach you did and therefore I have to set your ass straight.”. This also severely undermines Rey’s story since one of her lessons is coming to understand that legends and folktales while they can be used to lift our spirits and inspire us should not be taken as fact or a sign that this is how history and destiny work as she believes in the stories of Luke Skywalker and thus thinks that like he did, she can use the connection she shares with Kylo to bring him back to the light while missing that Kylo himself isn’t like Vader and that their two stories have diverged drastically. This feeling of undermining stories is particularly felt with the next scene where Poe confronts Holdo.
Again, because we have not really spent any time with these characters really? They feel superfluous to this whole story and the dialogue here because it’s the same as in the regular movie? It implies this song and dance of Poe demanding a plan has happened a lot but now because we don’t see Poe actually doing anything to undermine Holdo’s command? It comes across like Poe just went stir-crazy and snapped waiting on this ship and it makes Holdo’s inability to speak the plan to him seem like it was an intentional joke. The story the way it is in this edit really makes the only important people the ones with the laser swords while everyone else is just completely pointless. I mean even if you dislike the story of TLJ in regards to what goes on with Finn and Poe? Cutting them almost completely out of the movie I’m sure you can agree at least is not the best decision as far as building off what we saw in TFA is concerned.
Second act in review is much, much worse than the first. Again there are solid ideas I will grant this edit such as some streamlined scenes but all the good execution is relegated to minor cuts. This however really ramps up the issues as too much of the movie is missing. The important story beats as a result don’t have a lot backing them up and a lot of the really powerful moments that should have impact crumble to pieces so fast or they barely leave even a simple crack in the pavement they’re landing so lightly. This is the point in the story where I feel the desire to correct “plotholes”, character mistakes and “cringe” has become an obsession that’s at the expense of the characters and story and as a result my enjoyment of this cut goes down tremendously and I find myself sorely wishing I could watch the actual movie. Now it’s not incoherent to be fair and certainly there’s a lot to consider because again, it’s a fan-edit but I have to say that even if I had not seen TLJ beforehand and I saw this in theaters that this is the point I would start actively asking more questions in my head and thinking about if I should plan a bathroom trip soon the fact it’s Star Wars be damned.
Now here’s an act that I think even some of the largest fans of TLJ would agree could’ve used more trimming. The third act of the original movie is absolutely fantastic and provides a satisfying climax to many of the arcs and stories in progress but it is also the one point of the movie where you really feel its length at two and a half hours. A specific scene to note where this really becomes apparent is everything that has to do with Crait since while providing a fun battle and what is in my opinion one of the best Luke Skywalker moments I’ve ever seen? At this point the movie feels like it’s kind of spinning its wheels after already reaching a natural ending with Rey and Kylo splitting the saber so a recut like this tightening this up I’m all here for.
And to start off I have more complaints unfortunately. Because Poe didn’t mutiny, all of Threepio’s lines come across as being way more paranoid than normal and his responses now read like he’s trying his damnedest to scare the daylights out of the droid with his tone and wording. This then leads into some admittedly beautiful shots of Crait as we get an exposition dump on what the exact plan is. Now this is a case where I really can’t be too harsh because again, it’s a fan-edit and thus DonKamillo did the best he could with what he had. However this whole thing just doesn’t work for me. For one compared to a lot of the amazing cinematography of the movie throughout, the Crait shots make this feel too much like I’m watching an in-universe Powerpoint or documentary on the planet itself and considering it’s a planet of nothing but salt it’s pretty bland to look at. I also think this isn’t really done that naturally as it feels like the movie is sitting us down with its hands on our shoulders gazing into our souls as it just spells out to us what is happening because again with it not doing anything with Poe, Finn or anybody? It just feels like it forgot about these characters, recalled it needs to do something and hastily threw something together. As a result I don’t care for Poe nor do I care for even Holdo in this edit as they feel completely superfluous to this story. Also as a result of cutting the Finn story, it feels like every Stormtrooper, officer, whatever in the First Order had precognition or a Spider Sense that told them about the transports. The whole purpose of escaping on the transports in the original film was basically that it would come at a point when the First Order would be completely unaware and would just assume to keep following the big ship. Because of that everyone would’ve been bought more than enough time to contact the assistance they needed and would be able to properly regroup and plan the next move. Poe’s plan messes this up because it’s banking on really bad odds, guesswork and the assumption that Holdo is an out-of-touch fool and because he’s not one to carefully work through things? Finn and Rose end up with a codebreaker who backstabs them and leads to the culmination of his character arc as he learns the negatives of not joining a cause and only being out for himself for the codebreaker tells the First Order of the transports for cash and to save his skin. Here? No such thing, it just happens because we need more conflict to happen and because the movie doesn’t really allow for the transports to safely get away which tells me this idea was just a tad too ambitious for a fan-edit. Now maybe, maybe the assumption is that the edit expects you to hear Snoke’s line about the transports and go “Oh so Snoke is the one who used the Force to learn of them.” but there’s nothing in the movie to set up that possibility. Hell it makes it seem like if Snoke was that powerful and that able to predict everything that he should absolutely be able to see when Kylo turns the saber on him.
The Snoke scene basically plays out the same way it did in the original movie though it has some minor changes here and there. I don’t know if this is an edit thing but right before the big clash with the Praetorian Guards and the slow-mo wide shot, we hear Kylo’s blade ignite as he’s just standing looking at Rey and his body lights up a smidge in red for the sake of the light which is a neat idea but it disrupts the flow a little bit and I don’t feel it’s really required but the other changes are pretty good. The speeding up of the shot of Rey using the reverse grip to get out of the hold is very nicely done and kind of adds more to the fight overall. I applaud the edit for keeping it intact along with the reveal that Rey’s parents were nobody. The rest plays out as normal until we get to Crait where everyone’s already set up at the base, we get some shots of the crystal foxes and we get finally, after so long Finn just returning to the movie… and it’s just to explain the battering ram cannon and to give part of a speech about how their allies believe in Leia. The edit also cuts the Resistance fighter looking out over the horizon for incoming enemies and Gareth Edwards’ cameo. Small scenes? Yes they are but I really don’t feel they’re deserving of being called cringe. If anything they’re just small moments and in the latter’s case? It’s a fun little gag before the very tense battle that’s about to happen. Another thing we notice here is the reveal of Rose being Paige’s sister happens here because she’s cut out of most of the movie and the idea was that it contrasts the beginning by having Paige die in battle while Rose lives. I… am conflicted about this. On the one hand, most of my complaints and issues I’ve said already and can just be applied here but on the other? I do kind of like the idea of a book-end where we see regular Resistance troops with family fighting that aren’t necessarily main characters. But on the other other hand? This rings hollow to me. One aspect I loved about Rose in the original movie was we were seeing basically a grunt in the Resistance, a regular old engineer grieving over a lost loved one as a reminder that these wars are fought by people and it serves as a further reminder that Poe’s actions had very real consequences for someone is no longer whole thanks to losing their sibling as the pendant represents and we see how much this fight means to her. It’s through her adventure with Finn that the two develop. In Finn’s case, he learns how important standing up for something is, why this fight matters and that it can be won and in Rose’s case she sees that while he wasn’t the legendary hero quite like she and Paige imagined? Finn’s a genuinely good guy. Plus we get to see someone who isn’t a smuggler, isn’t a Jedi or anything like that rise up to being a main character which parallels Rey’s story a little as it shows great heroes can come from anywhere and the real good legends do. Now she’s… just some rebel woman who happens to show up because side-characters for comm chatter show up all the time.
And that rebel woman nearly gets shot dead by TIEs before the Falcon shows up in a… really awkward cut to get rid of the triple kill shot. I’ve seen the critiques about this and specifically the change notes mention how it’s exaggerated and… I mean different strokes for different folks but setting aside how much I like the scene? It being cut like this just is off. The music noticeably shifts as does the audio, the Falcon’s engines feel like they come in way too quickly and overall? I say it just would’ve been better to leave it in, exaggeration be damned as it made for a more natural entrance for the Falcon into this battle. I feel like if maybe it was cut in a way to where we see the TIEs in the air and we get the single one being blasted, followed by a reaction shot and then the shadow it might’ve worked out a little better. This also includes an instance of a Porg showing up with Chewie which… I guess if I have to nitpick it’s that this now kind of feels like just a random inclusion of a Porg for marketability rather than the culmination of the comedic side-story of Chewie’s changing relationship with the Porgs but I can’t bring myself to care, I like the Porgs so seeing one makes me smile. The scenes mostly progress as normal, there is one very jarring audio shift when the AT-M6s just start unloading on the speeders and then there’s the Wilhelm scream which is if I’m being honest kind of unwelcome here. It’s used for the wrong kind of death, very badly timed, the audio isn’t really loud enough to give it the impact these screams usually have and feels like it’s more here out of an obligation and not because it was actually needed.
And then we get to an edit I like the idea of… but I accept that ultimately this is a case where the movie really doesn’t provide much to work with. I do agree that one of the big missteps in this movie was Finn’s thwarted useless sacrifice. The idea was a nice by Rian Johnson, I get absolutely what it’s going for and I like the ultimate message but it’s kind of absurd. Rose ramming into Finn to stop him from pointlessly killing himself is edited not only kind of weirdly with the quick zoom on Rose’s cockpit (which kept me making think of Spy Kids for some reason)? It also is just too violent a crash for it to feel like either of them could’ve survived that. To me this scene should’ve been reshot either with Rose using her techniques as an engineer to hack her way into Finn’s comms to stop him or maybe when he shuts his eyes, the sound goes out and he remembers Rey saying “We’ll see each other again.” which would hint towards the Force being present in him and then his eyes could shoot open, he looks around and sees that the speeder is burning up and then he quickly forces it to either move out of the way or he opens the hatch and quickly jumps out of it sustaining some minor burns. Then you could have Rose pull up beside Finn and pick him up as she demands to know what he was thinking and he then says something about how he thought this was his way of making a difference, that this was him fighting for a cause he believed in until he realized he had more to live for or at least that’s his way of explaining it since he has no clue that what he just tapped into was the Force or something like that.
But this is a case where the movie doesn’t have enough to actually do a proper redo with. The only tweak I can see being made without it breaking the scene is removing the zoom on Rose’s cockpit so that the reveal of who stopped Finn comes when Finn rushes towards her speeder. As it is though? It feels way too broken up and leads to more clunky audio shifts that take away from the immersion and my enjoyment. Another bit that does this is Luke’s appearance on Crait unfortunately. For one thing, due to the flow of the movie now it happens way too fast now with us getting barely time to even kind of process what just happened and it really doesn’t have the impact it should. Next, without Leia being here it really hurts both the moment of letting the despair linger for a bit when we hear that no one’s answering the distress call and it just makes Luke feel like the movie kind of forgot about him and so it’s just like “Here’s Luke Skywalker guys!” as Mark kind of struts awkwardly onto the scene and then of course there’s Luke marching out to confront the First Order which is done well as usual but it makes me ask why clever editing wasn’t done to make this the big reveal of Luke. I mean we know this place has multiple entrances and we know these guys currently are feeling a little bit of despair over what’s going on so they won’t notice if a space wizard just appeared here and really it makes more sense. The moment with Threepio is sweet but it only really works with the Leia scene to back it up for on its own Luke feels like he just shows up, no one notices him come in and then he just winks at Threepio and walks off, no real good emotional moment or anything happens, the scene just… exists.
We also cut Hux getting pushed aside by Kylo and I disagree with that. It not only was a fun comedic beat but even if I didn’t like his abuse when Snoke is in charge? I think him getting thrown around and smacked is perfect to mark the change over to Kylo as the Supreme Leader since he hates Hux. He doesn’t give a single speck of Bantha poodoo about Hux so any opportunity he gets to either undermine him or just show he cannot backtalk anymore would be something Kylo would do in my eyes. It shows his title is basically just a formality because what does Kylo care about with this weasel? That being said, there are more issues to discuss. Specifically without the scene with Leia and when paired up with the revisions made to the Rashomon sequence? Luke’s very matter-of-fact “No.” to Kylo here comes off as just being so cold and dismissive and then there’s the lightsaber color. I’m just gonna straight-up say I’ve never cared about this little visual. To me the original movie works because Kylo is so blinded by his rage and hatred for Luke that he fails to notice that the lightsaber he’s wielding is the one that was destroyed. It also works to me because when the scene happens where Kylo and Rey have their struggle over the saber and it shatters. Pay close attention and you’ll notice Kylo is out for longer than Rey is so it stands to reason that maybe when the saber broke in two and Holdo rammed the ship that Kylo didn’t see it shatter. The saber noticeably causes a flash so that tells maybe Kylo was partially blinded and flung back and thus he was knocked out cold, long enough to where he didn’t see the saber in two pieces. In other words from the perspectives of both if he didn’t see it and him being so blinded by hate, I don’t see why he’d question the logic of Luke having it. Now granted the change notes state how this was done primarily so that the con about him being a projection isn’t given away which is a nice idea… but now I ask why it is specifically his old saber that’s projecting the green blade and not his ROTJ one. Granted one can say this is a nitpick and a case where it being a fan-edit needs to be considered because I do not think it is sane to ask someone to edit in Luke’s ROTJ saber in every single frame that it’s on his belt or when he holds it but this really causes a lot more attention at least for me to called to the fact he’s not there whereas in the original movie? Yes you might ask for a moment why he’s holding a saber that was just shattered in two but that’s if you’re really focused on the very minute details. Most people on their first viewing will more pay attention to the fact that Luke Skywalker just seemingly tanked hundreds of cannon shots and is facing down the First Order all on his own which is exactly what he said he wouldn’t do at the beginning of the movie and if questioning of the saber happens? It’s just shrugged off and rationalized that maybe he did some crazy Force magic to repair it or that perhaps in the chaos that transpired that maybe we didn’t see the saber get destroyed. That last one is a very big stretch admittedly but it’s still possible. This though? This is one of those very overt small details that throws everything off and to top it all off I just have to state that I don’t think the green recolor job looks that amazing. It’s impressive for sure but there is something about it that feels very artificial and also I think it kinda just doesn’t look great with the colors of the scene. Moving on though, it keeps all the beats for the most part the same, there is one minor editing gaffe I want to note where in a wider shot Leia is very clearly standing among the group despite the fact she should be dead but it’s a minor thing and really if there is one compliment I can give across the board it’s that all the edits made to take out Leia are pretty seamless for the most part. Having one scene she pops up by accident in is easy to overlook and chalk up to being just another Resistance person in robes.
Moving on we get another editing gaffe for Kylo the fake projected dice on the ground like he does in the original but with there being no Leia to give the dice to and considering we don’t see Luke bring the dice when he projects himself? This comes across as kind of awkward. To be fair the original movie having the dice was off too considering the added importance on what was otherwise just a cute bit of joke set decoration comes across as being very strange but at least we set it up more properly with Luke bringing them to Leia. I guess Luke is trolling Kylo but I prefer to just go with this scene being here because it was quite difficult to edit around. Though watching it, I think muting the sound design of the dice, using some editing wizardry and cutting out the scene with them could result in just a nice scene where Kylo drops to his knees as he feels Rey’s presence and then when she closes off the connection he just is left seething with rage. Rewinding back a bit though? I do like the edit featuring Luke collapsing right before cutting to Kylo marching in with his forces, that’s a nice touch and while maybe a little quick? It conveys the idea nicely enough. Moving on though I have to ask what exactly caused Rose to get so battered she needs to be nursed back to health now that she didn’t save Finn. Did she caught in the blast of the battering ram cannon? Was she just that tuckered out? I don’t know and also apparently here an edit was made to make Rey seem less jealous of Finn and… I didn’t get that from the original movie at all. It’s not a bad edit by any means but I really didn’t see that though my focus is more put on not having Leia here because it kind of makes ending go a bit too quickly but I kind of forgive it considering what this edit makes its new ending. Broom Boy is not here anymore because Canto Bight isn’t here so we get a brand new ending that the change notes promised was going to be Luke picking himself back up after his projection as he watches the suns set (or rise depending on how you look at it). As the notes put it, he looked at it as an infant in Revenge of the Sith, as a young man in A New Hope and finally as an old Jedi Master. Hope fills his eyes. He is alive after all. That sounds like an ending I would’ve been satisfied with.
And then the version I have just had to kriff it up. Oh my God where to begin with this editing choice? After Luke starts picking himself back up, we hear the music get a bit of a sinister tinge as Luke looks more worn down and kind of frightened. We then cut to a scene of Kylo from The Rise of Skywalker looking over Vader’s helmet as he sets his hand on it and gets that one crazy vision from that movie. My heart sank there… and it might as well come out of my butt leaving me a dead husk like Palpatine because it transitions to Kylo flying towards Exegol and goes all the way until he meets Palpatine. We don’t see every bit of it, some very music video editing is done to the visuals while Palpatine says the “I’ve been every voice…” line except he only says “I’ve been every voice inside your head.” and the film ends on a very unfitting moment where the Force theme plays as we have Palpatine grinning to the camera before the movie ends. And to top it all off due to the changes made to the credits? The timing for Carrie Fisher’s tribute where the piano rendition of Leia’s theme plays is thrown off and thus it doesn’t have the same impact and thus at this point? I am left actually pretty pissed. Now, before I tear into this, let me be clear respect has to be shown to the fan-editor and that I am strictly speaking about this only as far as my opinions on the edit are concerned. I am not here to insult, I am not here to belittle and I am not here to downplay the effort that went into it. I will even say the idea of the movie ending on a kind of cliffhanger is not the worst one. I loved that TFA did it because it was ballsy and it demonstrated that this was a trilogy that at least knew it was going to be a trilogy from the beginning so I don’t mind the idea of continuing that with this.
But this? This is outright awful. This feels like what would happen if an MCU film ended on a scene intended for the post-credit and not the actual climax. It steals all the emotional weight of the final scenes, it makes Palpatine the focal point of this ending when old Sheevy boy hasn’t received even a mention aside from one single line, it completely robs Kylo of the chance to be Supreme Leader before he gets the opportunity to fully be one and worst of all, this is done just for the sake tying this movie into the next one while replacing what sounds like an actually pretty beautiful little ending for a movie all about Luke. Now I’m aware that the choice was made because apparently in the edit of TROS? A change was made to have Luke go in that movie which okay, I can see that and I can understand that maybe this was done because otherwise in TROS, people will notice the reuse of shots. That being said? This choice utterly kills this edit and this third act.
The Definitive Anti-Cringe Cut was something I was intrigued by despite its title. I adore TLJ but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to indulge in fan-edits of movies I love. It can allow for me to see some flaws I maybe never noticed for, concede that some ideas could’ve been handled better or more simply? It just allows me to get a look into one of the many ways a movie could’ve reconfigured in the editing room and don’t get me wrong, despite my tone throughout this review? It is impressive to see something like this and I genuinely do like a good couple of the choices I made. There’s a good bunch of stuff to like here and I will admit when it gets to the climax? For a moment I just go with the ride because it brings up everything I love about The Last Jedi to the forefront for the most part.
But that being said, the flaws in this are too numerous and too glaring to ignore. This at least feels like a finished coherent movie but it is sorely lacking in so much content. It tosses out character stories left and right without considering how it would affect the structure and pace of the main movie and how it would mess with certain sound cues, certain changes that were made to “fix” character issues either created brand new issues or they were based on an off-base interpretation of the scene to begin with. Certain ideas were not executed well either because the ambition stretched well beyond the boundaries of what fan-edits are and I think even what the editor was capable of at the time or the idea genuinely just wasn’t fantastic for how this film was laid out and worst of all? Its biggest change which was to kill Leia ends up in turn making this movie unintentionally insulting to Carrie Fisher and her legacy. I think personally if this was the version of The Last Jedi I had seen in theaters back in December of 2017? I would be one of the people who hates this movie with the burning passion of twin suns. If I were to give this a score? I would give this a 4.5 out of 10, maybe a 3 depending on how I feel. This was a very unpleasant surprise.
That being said, I wish DonKamillo nothing but the best and I still do recommend you give it a watch if you can. Fan-edits are a beautiful thing that require a ton of effort and patience to be crafted and clearly this one still had plenty of hard work put into it that should be commended. There are even people who view this as being their favorite take on The Last Jedi and you know what? That’s awesome. I’m glad there’s a version of this film out there that appeals to those people and if nothing else? As long as I’m able to, I’m still willing to watch other edits of DonKamillo’s because I think they still deserve a whirl. But this one though? Oh this one was not for me.