I’m new here, so let me give you a quick introduction:
Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I’ve done some “professional” video editing and a bit of After Effects animation. So when I saw The Last Jedi I remembered my past life and realized that yes, with a bit of trimming here and there, this could be turned into a decent movie. So I made a rough cut, just for myself. But I became frustrated with the process, since I had neither the appropriate hardware nor a software I felt comfortable with. Luckily I found out that others had been attempting to do the same. And so one day I stumbled across Hal’s edit of said movie. With the exception of THAT milking shot, which I would’ve cut, and the ironing joke, which I would’ve kept, this was exactly what I had in mind. Quickly I became enamoured with the other Hal cuts, especially the ones for prequels.
For those wonderful versions I want to thank all of you, Hal and the community who’ve helped to make them possible!
Fast forward to the The Rise of Skywalker. There’s some good stuff in there, but I found it mostly overblown and exhausting. So after watching it once I did not feel the need to do so again. However, I was aware that this community was hard at work trying to improve TROS. So I casually checked in to see how far along you’ve come. Finally I gave the 4th workprint a go. And while I don’t have much of a vivid memory of the original version (it’s mostly a blur), I still can say with confidence that this new edit flows much better. Good job everyone!
Personally, I don’t like how most of Leia’s shots go into uncanny-valley-territory, not to mention the Luke and Leia flashback, which kinda works, just until their faces are shown, ugh. But I suppose it wouldn’t be easy to make the movie work without those shots?
There was one shot in this edit however that I found odd, namely the very last one. I immediately realized that this felt a bit jarring. So I watched the original version and I have to say that I found the latter far superior. The main problem with the new version is the edit that happens between the last two shots. We’ve got BB-8 rolling off the screen with the two suns in the background mirroring his shape (“it’s like poetry”). The next shot starts kinda similarly but now the two suns are bit further appart. It’s basically a jump cut. In the original version this edit works, because a) Rey’s silhoutte is in front of the first sun, making it different enough composition-wise from the shot before and b) BB-8 carries his momentum from one shot into the next one by rolling in front of the other sun, so the suns end up giving both characters a halo (again: “poetry”, hehe). It’s not subtle, but a it is a very beautiful shot.
I know a lot of effort went into the new version and I’ve got nothing but respect for that - from a technical standpoint it looks really good. But at the same time this feels like a “Special Edition”-situation, like a too apparent over-correction by using cgi where it wasn’t exactly needed. I also prefer the music-only approach of the original, while the added sound fx break the atmosphere a bit for me. The original shot is also much calmer, which I found more fitting for the end of a trilogy (or even a whole saga). And this being the last shot I think it carries more weight than most other shots in the movie. Which is why I’d like to encourage you to “kill your darling” in this instance and go back to the original shot. (Or maybe you insert a different shot between the two, if there even is one that feels appropriate)
Forgive me, you’ve probably been through all of this already, but what was the reason for this change in the first place? My guess is that you wanted to convey to the viewer that Rey does not stay on Tatooine? In that case I will admit that the newer version doesn’t leave any doubts about that. On the other hand, in the original it is never stated or shown explicitly that Rey has intentions to stay. She very well could just be taking a well-earned break, enjoying the view, before continuing to do whatever she wants to do next. It leaves enough room for the viewers to decide for themselves.
Sorry for the long post. I just felt it would be rude to come in here complaining without a proper introduction. Also, I know the chances of me of changing your mind(s) are pretty slim, especially this late in the process. And if you disagree with my criticism, I will still consider this project a damn fine effort. 😃