I've been wanting to type this up real quick...
Jim was able to see to it I got a copy of the SW: A New Hope Fan Edit, and I appreciate that tremendously as it's a really neat thing to have. Here are my thoughts on the edit and what I liked and didn't like...
-I enjoyed the overal clean-up of the film. There still seemed to be sound quality issues, and I think only maybe LFL could clean that kind of stuff up, so nothing held against the editor for that. I do think he did a fantastic job on just generally cleaning up the movie in general. The halls of the Tantive IV are crisp white, the Death Star looked remarkable, the streets of Mos Eisley looked great, the skies were extra blue on Tattooine... I was just impressed with this aspect, as it's something LFL should've done and lazily didn't. It almost makes you offended you paid for a copy of the films and they sort of screwed you on it.
-I LOVED the updates to graphics... Small, but a HUGE thing that again I think LFL should've done. The pre-flight briefing on Yaving IV? It's spectacular. It meshes completely with the PT now, it doesn't look like technology was backwards in the universe... Again, how could LFL not do this stuff? Lameness on their part.
I think the cockpit graphics were nice on the Falcon, very updated... I thought the TIE and X-Wing cockpit graphics could've been better, but were updated enough to look far superior to their original designs. I would've dug maybe seeing him try to match the video game graphics for the fighters HUD systems and stuff... It would've just been neat, just from my personal love of the video games, but regardless these were big (though apparantly not difficult) updates. The Yavin IV briefing is really, really neat now... The little things too, like "bringing up the lighting" at its conclusion was a nice touch too. Also the in-battle following of the fight via holographic table was insanely cool as well, and much-needed.
The Death Star also got some in-battle graphic updates so their countdown looked normal...
-I didn't necessarilly like all the edits in Mos Eisley... Namely the removal of Jabba's Docking Bay 94 sequence. I felt that added to Han's character more than detracted from the story flow. I don't see a need to remove it honestly.
I also felt cleaning up the streets of Mos Eisley wasn't always good... I personally liked the Swoop cutting off the Ronto. It added, I felt, to the busy nature of the streets and things. I can see cutting out the ASP-7 smacking the mini-probe droid, and I liked the removal of some of the animals as Luke/Obi drive into the outskirts of town, but really I felt removing the Swoop and Jabba were mistakes IMO.
-Han shooting first... How can you complain about this? Han's back to being a cold-hearted killer now. I like that about his character's early basis, and so I like seeing it back in.
-Alderaan extended scene... To see the extended Alderaan sequence is to almost have a tear come to your eye. First, it kind of visually gives you the method by which the Death Star actually destroys a planet. It's like it drills its beam into the planet's core, and overheats the core till it explodes outward, thus blowing the planet into a nice new asteroid ring (more onthe ring in a minute). I loved this, but it's an "extra" on the DVD and not part of the actual film. I would've liked seeing it actually in the film personally... The final moments with Organa and Jar Jar were neat.
-The extended and updated flight from the Death Star is great... The fighters are doing more daring maneuvers, they're coming from all angles and it almost seems like there's more than 4 now. Also the Falcon is diving, weaving, and being something more like we see in ROTJ than what it was in ANH originally... Which this reminds me too on something else...
-The extended exit from Mos Eisley... The Falcon's doing maneuvers, and the Destroyers are now actually trying a real looking maneuver to pin the Falcon in with their large ships, and tractor beam it. It escapes based on the ship's maneuverability and speed, so that makes the Falcon escape that much cooler now.
-Added Hyperspace Tunnels... Very cool, plus the cockpit of the Falcon's dimly lit with a blue hue now. Very small, but really nice touch.
-Deaths are more violent... More "explosive" blaster hits are a nice thing to see. The "toned down" crap LFL decided to do sucked, so it's great seeing them made violent and big blasts when guys get shot. Yay.
-The Yavin Battle...
How can you describe it? Hmmm... Fantastic? Glorious? Beautiful? All of the above and more? It's everything I would've done short of adding a couple early-model A-Wing fighters to tie it slightly to EU ("Arrowhead" fighters are at Yavin according to EU, which ties to the X-Wing games, and Arrowheads are the original A-Wing design).
They added dogfighting all around the background, lots of TIE's and X-Wings and Y-Wings are duking it out in the background of any given sequence. The TIE Fighters arrive in a huge, grand fashion too. The brief cut of deep Imperial March music plays as a literal SWARM of fighters arrives to the battle to unload a huge 50 gallon drum of whoopass on the Alliance... Guns can't do it? **** 'em, we're bringing in the entire Imperial Fighter Corps at our disposal!
There is high-altitude fighting going on, there are teams of ships working in little tandems like real fighters would try doing (wingmen). You see Y-Wings diving the surface while X-Wings are dodging and weaving throughout. There's men getting shot down left and right on both sides... It looks like a real furball up there going on, rather than the old edit's somewhat ho-hum limited fight. The Alliance looks like THEY can dish it out, and so does the Empire. It looks like I always envisioned it.
-Luke & Biggs... This is really something not many seem to mention about it, but this made a huge impact with me... Luke actually reacts to Biggs getting hit! Yes, the cold-heart of Luke Skywalker is gone and he no longer silently lets Biggs fall behind and croak. Now Luke cries into the mic after Biggs is shot down, "Biggs? Biggs!?" while Leia and the other staff look on with their concerned faces knowing that Luke's friend and last line of defense from the pursuit fighters has died... Luke says this over the mic, so you only see the command staff's faces, not his, till it cuts back and he does look concerned. That always, always, always bugged me about that scene, and now it's fixed. I love that. It may be my single favorite "little" fix.
-Now, the one thing I really didn't like, but did like at the same time... The duel with Vader and Ben. I love the upgraded duel edit because it speeds it up slightly, but believably... THe sabers are fixed and colorful, Ben's death is updated and great, but I don't dig the music. The editor REALLY crowbarred the Duel of the Fates thing from ROTS and their last fight. I don't like it at all.
I don't like it because, even though the editor has made their duel more "speedy", it's still slower than Ben and Vader went at it on Mustafar... The pace of the music doesn't match the pace of the fight despite it being increased.
Now, I love the duel... It's improved 100%. Vader and Ben really seem more capable, both of them, but they still aren't back at Mustafar levels of ass-kicking which is nice because Ben is older now, and Vader's a more slow/lumbering but physically dominant character. I look back at the Mustafar duel as two men in their primes trying to kill one another, and those days are gone, so I like that this turned out just as I would've dug... But I wouldn't have had that music. That music is paced to those characters, and not their future selves which are invariably slower and which I would've used the old music I think. That's me though.
So, to summarize...
I like 90% of the edits, more or less... I think the 10% I don't like are annoying, but I love this edit and it's, to me, the new definitive ANH. That said, it's obviously not canon, but to me in my mind it always will be the way Star Wars "is", if that makes sense. I'm pretty much spoiled now on the LFL cuts and don't want to watch that copy of ANH anymore.
I'm incredibly anxious to see the other two films... ESB's next year I think. I can only imagine they're going to be impressive as this was.
And again thanks to Jim (Rebeltrader) for the help, otherwise I'd have been looking for a copy I could buy somewhere (a guy at the Toy Show is always selling them and a bunch of bootleg crap, i'd have likely bought there).
Get a copy of this, it's well worth it!