Hello! What a great idea for a fan edit. I quite like TFA as-is, but this really improves the only aspect that I thought was lacking in the finished film - Starkiller Base. I just watched V1 last night and thought it was great. I did have just one suggestion, though. And I think my reasoning for it might be hard to articulate, but I’ll try my best…
So, I think the surface shots of Hosnian Prime as it goes kablooey should be removed. For the hypothetical first-time viewer, the death of HAN FRICKIN’ SOLO is gonna be a pretty big deal, yeah? So as the Starkiller fires, the viewer is still gonna be reeling from that I think. That’s a very personal, human-level tragedy.
Now, I’m totally fine with the Starkiller firing on the Hosnian system right after that. I like the symmetry - Han’s death sort of signaling the turning point where EVERYTHING goes down the crapper. But! It seems to me like those shots on the planet surface were there in the original scene to add a human dimension to the event, like “Look! There’s PEOPLE here! They’re all gonna die! It’s SAD!” And yeah sure, that kinda sorta works in the scene’s original placement. But where it is now, I think the viewer doesn’t have much time to care about a bunch of random folks when they just saw Han Solo die. It’s enough to just see the planets explode from a distance. Han fulfills the human-level tragedy in a way, even though he’s obviously not on any of those planets.
It may sound strange, but he’s much more important to the audience than the billions of faceless, nameless people that die on those planets, ya know? So cutting away to the people on the surface kind of dilutes Han’s death, at least for me. It feels like the movie’s going “Oh yeah, Han Solo died, but also THESE PEOPLE!!!” and it’s too much. Does that make any kind of sense? I’m worried it doesn’t. Anyway, just a thought that I had. I can pretty easily do it for my own version if Hal doesn’t want to.