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Were The Force Awakens’ deleted scenes worth the wait?

It's finally here - North American audiences have been streaming Star Wars - Episode 7: The Force Awakens since Friday, with copies hitting retail on April 5 (our UK readers will have to wait until April 18 - sorry, not sorry). And with the retail release of the latest Star Wars film comes something almost as anticipated as the film itself: deleted scenes.

Normally, we wouldn't get so excited about some small snippets of cut footage, but Star Wars' deleted scenes are a whole other beast, especially considering The Force Awakens' place in the series canon, set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Disney has been teasing the inclusion of several deleted scenes for months now, and with the digital release on Friday, I've taken it upon myself to watch through them all and write a brief summary for each. What I've found has been… disappointing, to say the least.

Finn/villager stand-off

Finn runs from the desert massacre, and hides behind an earthen hut - and finds a frightened villager hiding there, too. He stares her down for a few seconds, blaster rifle pointed at her, but after a few seconds of labored breathing, he lowers his gun to let her escape.

How important is this scene? - 1 out of 5

It reveals a little bit more about Finn's motivations and personality by showing that he is reluctant to kill innocent people, but it tells us nothing that the final cut didn't say already.

A report from Jakku

This brief scene reveals a little more of what the Resistance is going through while Poe Dameron is off on Jakku. A report comes in, and the communications officer relays to Leia Organa that the operation on Jakku has gone south, with Dameron's X-Wing destroyed by First Order troops. There's no sign of BB-8, but Leia remarks that you should "never underestimate a droid". She then calls on pilot Snap Wexley to help find BB-8, because their "future may depend on it".

How important is this scene? - 3 out of 5

It's always great to get more Carrie Fisher on-screen (or Greg Grunberg, for that matter), but again, there's nothing new in this scene that isn't already revealed throughout the final cut of the film. Plus, by revealing Leia earlier in the film, it would have severely lessened the impact of Han and Leia's eventual reunion later on.

Jumping to lightspeed

This scene is about 17 seconds of footage that show Dameron and his squadron initiating a jump to lightspeed with their X-Wings.

How important is this scene? - 1 out of 5

Unless you want more Greg Grunberg (and who doesn't?) this whole scene is 17 seconds of unnecessary fluff.

Kylo Ren boards the Millennium Falcon

First Order troops are sniffing around the Millennium Falcon, which had landed on Starkiller Base moments before. Kylo Ren enters the scene, walks into the cockpit, and looks around briefly before muttering "Han Solo…" to himself. He exits the ship, and looks at the incoming Resistance force entering orbit above him.

How important is this scene? - 2 out of 5

This scene shows Abrams' talent for setting a proper mood in such a brief amount of time. But like the other deleted scenes, nothing truly important is learned or gained in this sequence.

A snowspeeder chase

Finn and Rey are evading First Order troops on Starkiller Base with a snowspeeder, and aren't really doing such a great job of it. After getting rocked a few times by enemy fire, Finn hands the pilot controls to Rey, while he grabs a rifle and takes the enemy pilot out with a single, impressive shot.

How important is this scene? - 2 out of 5

The visuals look pretty bad - likely because the scene was cut before final CGI work was done on it - but even if it had gotten the final cut touch, it would still feel kind of bland and pointless. The snowspeeders are both driving in a straight line across flat, snowy terrain, the reason why Finn and Rey are being chased in a snowspeeder (or how they got one in the first place) is never explained, and the whole thing is over in about 45 seconds.

Rey worries about an injured Finn

Rey looks on as Finn lies unconscious on a hospital bed back at Resistance headquarters. A swarm of doctors and droids surround him to check his vital signs. A Resistance doctor pats Rey on the shoulder, smiles, and says "Your friend's gonna be just fine." And scene.

How important is this scene? - 1 out of 5

Sigh. Next.

Han and company get caught by First Order troopers (digital exclusive)

Han Solo, Finn, Chewbacca, and Maz Kanata are trying to evade First Order troops on Takodana, but stumble across an entire regiment on their way to the exit. What follows is about 30 seconds of banter, as Han, Finn, and Chewie hand over their weapons while generally hamming it up on screen.

How important is this scene? - 3 out of 5

Watching Harrison Ford channel his finest work in the series (opens in new tab) is always a treat, but it feels like this deleted scene was cut way too soon - like there's about another few minutes of footage here that, for whatever reason, wasn't deemed important enough to include. And so it just kind of… ends.

Final verdict?

And that's it. Seven scenes (one of which is exclusive to the digital version of the film), totalling around six-to-seven minutes, none of which really add anything of vital importance to our understanding of the film's events or the moments leading up to its beginning.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Deleted scenes are usually deleted for a reason, whether they're redundant, destroy the film's pacing, or otherwise aren't needed. But deleted Star Wars scenes are different. They've been incredibly rare, offering tiny, additional glimpses into a fully realized universe and its many interesting characters - and the deleted scenes for The Force Awaken offer none of that. Hopefully, that just means Abrams' final cut said all that needed to be said, and Disney isn't holding back on some kind of special edition double-dip this holiday that will include the scenes we actually want to see. For my sanity's sake (and my wallet's), I honestly hope it's the former.

Image credit: Lucasfilm, Ltd.

David Roberts
David Roberts
David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.