Disney’s first standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One, has some issues. We noted in our review that some of the characters are flat, and the film’s first two acts feel disjointed. Filmmaker Dustin Lee had some of the same concerns, and decided to put together his own edit of the film: Rogue One: The Battle of Scarif.
Lee told The Verge that while he enjoyed Rogue One, he felt it was a fun movie with a great ending, but had some issues with the film: “It just didn’t feel right to open a Star Wars film without a text crawl,” and the music left him uninspired. So, he decided to edit his own version.
Lee did something similar with Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, cutting the three films down into a single film. His Rogue One edit cuts out most of the film and leaves a 50-minute action movie. Gone is Jyn Erso’s introduction, the attack on Jedha and Eadu. This edited version begins with the Rebel Alliance talking about disbanding, and then jumps right into the film’s final act: the battle on Scarif.
This film features a traditional scrolling text introduction in the beginning that each Star Wars movie has opened with, summarizing the events in the original cut that led up to the final act.
He was also let down by the music, finding the score lacking. “From what I’ve read, [Michael] Giacchino only had three to four weeks to write and record the entire score. He did an admirable job considering the time constraints, but the resulting score for Rogue One was uninspiring for the most part.”
The reintroduction of John Williams’ classic score is the biggest change, and watching this fan edit, I’m astounded at how much Rogue One now feels as though it’s lacking. The classic cues perfectly supports the action, and they fill a huge emotional void that Giacchino’s just doesn’t cover. “When I dropped certain music tracks on top of scenes,” Lee explained, “it was surprising how little trimming I had to do at times. This makes me think the actual editors of Rogue One were cutting the film to these exact same tracks before Giacchino’s score was completed.”
Lee noted that he’ll take the film down if Disney asks, but he hopes that the company will regard the project in the spirit that it was designed: a fun project for the enjoyment of fellow Star Wars fans. “Fan edits do fall into a legal gray area, and there are reasonable Fair Use arguments for them in many cases. But ultimately they own the rights to the Star Wars universe, not me.”