Many fans agree with the critical acclaim that “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has been receiving since its release in December, earning it a rating of 85 on Metacritic and 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Marissa Cortes of Study Breaks described it as a “fun new edition to the ‘Star Wars’ universe,” pointing out the complex relationships between protagonist Rey, her reluctant tutor Luke Skywalker and the returning villain Kylo Ren as being part of the winning recipe. Critics are raving in particular about the quality of female characters in this latest “Star Wars” entry, celebrating the franchise’s turn away from loose-cannon, patriarchal heroes toward embracing a more balanced and female-centric Force.
In fact, the film has been described as “the most triumphantly feminist ‘Star Wars’ movie yet” by Anna Smith of The Guardian. The film is lauded for acing the Bechdel Test, a standard for measuring gender equality in works of fiction. The Bechdel Test goes like this: If a work of fiction has at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man, then it passes the test in terms of basic gender equality. Surprisingly, according to one BBC survey, nearly half of the “best” films of the 21st century failed the test.
While many viewers don’t have any issue with this evolution in the “Star Wars” universe, there is a vocal segment of fans who are criticizing what they call “SJW propaganda.” It was only a matter of time before a denouncer of feminism was going to do something about it, which is exactly what motivated the latest much-talked-about fan edit of the movie. Appropriately named “The Last Jedi: De-Feminized Fanedit (a.k.a. The Chauvinist Cut),” the fan edit was uploaded to Swedish torrent website “Pirate Bay.”
The creator of this version claims to have removed “Girlz Powah and other silly stuff” while insisting that it “had to be done,” resulting in a shortened cut of the movie that clocks in at merely 46 minutes. Here is a breakdown of some of the more significant changes as listed in the creator’s documentation for the edit and why they just don’t seem to add any value when it comes to making a better movie. Fair warning, there are big spoilers that lie ahead.
1. “No whiny/reluctant/murderous-psycho Luke.”
A lot of people had an issue with Skywalker’s downtrodden psyche in “The Last Jedi,” including actor Mark Hamill himself. Although Hamill expressed regret for voicing his opinion about the character’s storyline, diehard fans seemed to be disappointed with the way Skywalker’s character was handled.
Does this validate the change in this edit? Not necessarily. Skywalker’s failure and struggle props up his ultimate victory with the astral projection in the end. Without that, there isn’t much of a character arc for the beloved hero.
2. “NO HALDO!”
Of course, the creator must be referring to Vice Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern in the film. Holdo butts heads with Captain Poe Dameron, who started the film as Commander before getting demoted. Many viewers probably anticipated him to be a headlining hero in this latest installment.
What would have been seen as impressive heroics in past films gets turned on its head in “The Last Jedi,” where Dameron ends up causing more trouble than good due to his tactics. Without Holdo, Dameron doesn’t have anyone to stop him and would most likely play a bigger part in the film. But that’s probably not a good enough reason to completely do away with her.
3. “Lea dies. Kylo kills her.”
Come on, Kylo Ren has already killed his father, Han Solo, in the previous film. Does he really need to kill his mother, too? No.
That’s because his hesitation to kill her reflects the lingering connection between him and his mother, which helps to make him a more complex villain, just as Darth Vader’s connection with his son, Luke Skywalker, helped to make that last lightsaber battle in “Return of the Jedi” so much more powerful.
4. “Kylo is more badass and much less conflicted and volatile.”
See the above. Many viewers were more convinced by Kylo Ren’s villainy in “The Last Jedi” than in “The Force Awakens,” so the filmmakers did something right with that part of his character this time around. Maybe he’s badass enough for now.
5. “Kylo takes on more of Snoke’s guards, Rey struggles with a single one.”
The Kylo Ren and Rey lightsaber slash-em-up near the end of the movie was the one scene that really brought everything together. It was the biggest “Star Wars” moment of the film for me, the payoff that begs a couple more viewings once the film comes to VOD.
Rey struggles with a single one? Nah, I want to see some ass-kicking. I don’t care who’s slicing up guards as long as it looks cool, and it did.
6. “Luke is not a semi-force-ghost and is smashed by the first laser cannon shot.”
I can definitely see how many fans would be disappointed with the faceoff between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren in “The Last Jedi.” There are viewers out there who have been waiting for over 30 years to watch Skywalker fight hand to hand against the Dark Side once more.
A couple swings and it’s over? Boooo. Although the eventual reveal made it understandable in the end, it doesn’t fill the void left in those who hoped to hear that classic “Star Wars” score play while Mark Hamill blasted another bad guy for one last time. Which makes the choice to smash him with one cannon shot in this fan edit a total waste.
7. “Wookie eats the Porg, or at least isn’t interrupted in trying to do so.”
Okay, I get it. Not everyone appreciated the Chewbacca-porg stare down in “The Last Jedi” that seemed to pose an argument against eating the cute, furry little creatures. It did incite audience laughter during my viewing of it in a packed theater, although I did overhear a few people griping about it: “They’re turning Chewie into a vegan.”
Turns out, Wookiees are omnivores, so they do eat all kinds of stuff. Looking back over the films, however, Chewie loves meat. Especially considering how he seems to salivate at dead animals and pulls human arms out of their sockets. Considering how vegetarianism has been identified with feminism over the years, the creator must have considered the porg-empathy to be part of the so-called “silly stuff” that needed to be removed.
8. “Phasma is finished after the first blow by Finn.”
Some reviewers have voiced issue with the way that Finn’s conflict with Captain Phasma turned out, basically complaining that the female villain didn’t get enough screen time, so ending the fight with just one blow would be an even bigger disappointment on that front. Especially since one of the reasons the fan editor provides is chalked up to the idea that “Women are naturally weaker than men.”
Yes, that’s how it’s explained, along with pointing out that the character Phasma isn’t sensitive to the Force and is not believed to be equipped with an exoskeleton in her armor. Meh. Tell that to Princess Leia in “Return of the Jedi” when she’s choking out Jabba the Hut while wearing nothing but a metal bikini.
So that just about concludes the most significant changes contained in the MRA edit of “The Last Jedi.” To be clear, I have not seen this “De-Feminized” cut, nor do I encourage anyone to go out and download it, based on copyright concerns and the risks associated with BitTorrent sites alone.
By simply reading a few of the critical commentaries that have been posted about it so far, the consensus is that it’s not worth viewing. The director and various cast members of “The Last Jedi” have openly mocked the all-male edit of the film, while some have questioned whether it might be the work of a jokester.
Whatever the intent might have been, it’s hard to believe the creator actually expected even the most fervent men’s rights activists to appreciate their 46-minute “Star Wars” story when they were so self-deprecating within their own documentation, as Sam Barsanti of “AV Club” has pointed out. Nice try, fan editor, but for men’s rights sake, please don’t try again.