I’m not a faneditor myself, but I’m a big believer that a well crafted fan edit can make a bad movie good and a good movie great. The prequels are some of my favorite films thanks to the efforts of faneditors like Hal9000, q2, seciors, and l8wrtr to name but a few. I also think TLJ greatly benefited from poppasketti’s thoughtful edits.
Despite not being a faneditor, I will offer my two cents on TRoS and the sequel trilogy as a whole. I think a successful fanedit of TRoS and perhaps the entire trilogy is completely doable. The challenge with TRoS is that so many fanedits work primarily by being subtractive rather than additive, i.e., removing what you don’t like or doesn’t work and leaving the rest to shine.
But TRoS already plays out like a bad fanedit as Harmy pointed out in his review. It’s rushed and disjointed, and it feels like too much was cut out as it is. Nonetheless, I don’t think all hope is lost.
The main problems with TRoS are that it lacks thematic consistency with itself and the other films in the trilogy. Also problematic is the fact that the movie lacks internal logic, taken both as a single movie and as part of a trilogy. Lastly, it has a lot of plot contrivances which JJ Abrams is known for.
I’m not a fan of trying to add a bunch of new shots and effects as others are suggesting, unless they come from actual extended and deleted scenes belonging to the films. I believe “less is more” is the right approach. I’m also not a big fan is radically changing the director’s initial intent for the film. Reining in some of the director’s excesses, yes, but this is about honoring the director’s vision, not stomping all over it. I think a conservative and thoughtful approach is the best path.
I think the a good fanedit of the three sequel trilogy films should include five overarching goals:
First, the films simply need to fit better with each other. TLJ tries to undo what was established in TFA, and TRoS in turn tries to undo what was established in TLJ. We need a trilogy that smooths this out so everything flows together. There is a lot in TRoS that probably needs to be foreshadowed in TFA (primarily that Palpatine lives), and conversely, there’s a lot set up in TFA that doesn’t go anywhere and needs to be dropped (her force vision is particularly problematic because it hints heavily at her coming from noble Jedi lineage, likely a Kenobi or a Skywalker). I don’t think there is anything wrong with strongly implying that Rey is a Palpatine right from the outset, and it should be clear that Kylo Ren is lying or not telling the whole truth when he tells her she’s a nobody. Let’s cut to the chase: Rey isn’t afraid that she’s a nobody; she’s afraid she’s pure evil.
Second, character motivations need to be streamlined and clarified, especially in TRoS. It needs to be clearer what these characters want and what they’re doing to get it. God only knows what Palpatine wanted in TRoS. First he wants Kylo to kill Rey. Then he wants Rey to kill him. Then he just wants to suck the life force out of both Rey and Kylo. And then Rey does kill him, but apparently it’s a good thing??? I mean, what the hell?
Third, there’s also thematic inconsistences both within and among the films that need to be corrected. For example, in TLJ when Finn tries to sacrifice himself for the greater good=bad. Yet, even Holdo does the exact same thing=good. Seriously??? More problematic, however, is Force healing, and especially Force reviving. Bringing people back to life using the Force is a SITH endeavor, people! RoTS not only dealt extensively with this, but Palpatine even alludes to it again in TRoS. On the other hand, the Jedi way is to accept when a person is dead and be at peace with it. When Ben revives Rey, he is acting like a Sith would! The act is not redemptive at all. Not to mention all this force healing is Deus Ex Machina overload. It also lowers the stakes: “No one’s ever really gone” when you can just force heal people back into existence.
Fourth, there are a ton of plotholes throughout but especially in TRoS that need to be resolved. So much of it just doesn’t make any damn sense. There are also a lot of contrivances (which Abrams is known for). Abrams does this to artificially raise the stakes, but it never pays off. Chewie’s dead, except he’s not. 3PO gets his mind wiped, except it’s soon fully restored. Kylo is mortally wounded, only to be healed, even though “THAT’S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS!” Rey is killed, only to come back to life. Nothing carries any real weight in this film. Also, the Star Destroyers having Death Star technology is completely unnecessary and stupid. A huge fleet of Star Destroyers without death star tech is still scary as hell.
Fifth, a good fanedit tries to bring to the fore what is actually good about a film. For all three films, the themes relating to identity and legacy are interesting and compelling and ultimately what the ST is all about. A competent fan edit wouldn’t obscure this but rather shed more light on it. The relationship between Kylo and Rey was always interesting (although I will say that the kiss at the end is a little much…“Reylo” should not be a thing. In Rey’s eyes, more or less, Kylo is just the guy who murdered Han Solo. She should always despise him at least a little bit).
So, to recap:
- Properly set up key events in later films early on, esp. Rey is a Palpatine and that Palpatine may be alive. Also, downplay or excise set up that didn’t go anywhere, ex. Knights of Ren.
- Make character motivations clearer and less muddied, esp. Palpatine. Also, who is Snoke, and what does he want? What is the First Order, and what does it want? Etc.
- Make sure themes are consistent and don’t contradict each other, ex. bringing people back to life opposes Jedi values and so is a huge contradiction.
- Remove plotholes where possible (and leave them alone when removing them would prove too much a hassle) and eliminate contrivances that don’t actually raise the stakes, ex. Star Destroyers with Death Star tech.
- Emphasize what’s already good about the sequel films.
In practice I think this means radically rearranging all three films so that you might have parts of TRoS in TFA and TLJ. Or, likewise, parts of TLJ in TFA and TRoS. For example, perhaps it would be helpful for Luke to overcome his cynicism earlier, or to have Snoke die only after we find out Palatine is still alive. I might make some rough edits just as proof of concept that it can be done (again, I am not a fan editor), but for now these are just my general ideas on how this could be achieved.