Honestly, this is about the best one could hope for when it comes to Prequel edits. Darth Awesome has put together what is, by far, the most bearable version of the narrative I've seen. "The Empire Begins" removes the fluff and gets on with the story, and the results are impressive, most impressive.
Visual and sound editing are solid. There are some hiccups in the musical score where cuts are made, and there was that one awkward transition between Anakin and Padme's reunion on Coruscant at the beginning of "Revenge of the Sith." Otherwise, the editing was technically superb.
"The Empire Begins" opens with the Kenobi/Jinn/Maul fight from the end of "The Phantom Menace." That is to say, the scene comes before the opening crawl. It's a creative way to begin the movie, and it would've been more effective had the scene added anything to the story. Unfortunately, none of the material from "The Phantom Menace" is necessary to include in the tale of Anakin Skywalker (not only does Qui-Gon being Obi-Wan's master contradict pre-established canon, the outright exclusion of "The Phantom Menace" would warrant cutting that silly scene from the end of "Revenge of the Sith"). This is a striking way to begin the film, but an unnecessary one.
The Padme/Anakin romance is cut down to the least cringe-inducing scenes, and the story of their love is told mainly visually. And it's actually pretty engaging. Though it comes off as a bit rushed, it's the best that could be done, given the material, and the inclusion of the scene at the Amidala home was well-implemented in fleshing out that subplot. Honestly, I thought it couldn't be salvaged, and Darth Awesome has surprised me. Well done.
Past the opening crawl, the pacing gets a little clunkily, and the character introductions aren't really introductions. Characters are just... there. It's clear by the way the scenes are shot that the audience should already know who these people are, which, in many ways, can't be helped. The first time Jango Fett appears, Obi-Wan is rushing out the door, swinging a lightsaber at him, and the audience is sitting there thinking, "What? Who?" Again, this is largely because many of the character introductions are tied up in dialogue that is either awful or deals with plot elements that have been removed or altered. A minor issue at most, though, and, for the most part, a necessary evil.
Probably the most satisfying elements of this edit was the transition from "Attack of the Clones" to "Revenge of the Sith." Phenomenal. Simply beautiful.
The problem with fanedits is that editors are working with material that the audience has already seen. Nothing is new. Often, even if an edit makes for a better movie, it's hard for the viewer to feel really satisfied because they're just watching the same thing they saw before with a few parts removed, and maybe rearranged a little. Perhaps the aim of a fanedit shouldn't be to make a better movie, but a different one. For example, "Pulp Empire" took "The Empire Strikes Back" and turned it into something drastically different. New music, new voiceovers, a completely different tone and a significantly more cohesive story. Njvc's fanedit is a model to aspire towards.
Darth Awesome's transition between Episodes II and III was something drastically different. It was the most striking, memorable, exciting, and emotionally connective moment of the film. The rest just felt like the same poorly-written schlock that I've been watching for the past ten years, and that's not Darth Awesome's fault. I've analyzed and re-analyzed them and cross-analyzed the Prequels with the Original Trilogy and repeated the whole damn process, and I'm sick of them, I'm sick of talking about them, and I'm sick of thinking about them. It's hard for me to enjoy a Prequel edit because I think the movies are unsalvageable garbage. However, Darth Awesome did just about the best anyone could, and I did enjoy his fanedit.
All in all, great job, Awesome. Keep up the good work. You took some of the worst movies in cinema history and made them into something watchable, something I can emotionally connect with and enjoy. Well done. You've taken your first step into a larger world.
This is by far the best 3 in 1 edit of the prequels. Narrative wise it hits the right notes. The awkwardness of the Anakin/Padme romance is mostly gone due to them getting together early so there's not that back and forth bullshit that's in the originals. Weirdly enough though the wedding is shown and Anakin has his mechanical hand. The Separatists have a decent reason for succeeding from The Republic now. You also handled Shmi dying perfectly. Also not having Anakin tell Padme he slaughtered children made the scene in which he did slaughter children work. I'm glad someone actually attempted this. Aside from that a lot of the super cringe worthy dialogue has been removed , the pacing is decent and you handled introducing Vader in his suit perfectly.
There are a few things that troubled me during me watching it though. I'm not a fan of having Sidious and Yoda duel. I would rather see the scene picked up when Sidious is throwing the senate chairs at Yoda. Also the fact that Padme dies for the exact same reason that she dies in the original PT bothers me to no end. The Obi vs Vader duel should have been shorter and I think Padme being the reason Anakin turns to the Dark Side should have been downplayed a bit when Anakin is actually turned.
All in all this edit is fantastic though the source material holds it back.
I really enjoyed this edit. As a disclaimer, I'm not a massive Star Wars fan. I like the original trilogy and have probably watched the prequels once since I picked them up years ago. I've watched a few edits over the years but that's about it. I watched this hoping it could be a really good concise version and that's exactly what it was. The visual editing was really well done. I thought the wipes were very well done. Despite being pretty rusty on the nuances of the story, I got it just fine. Actually, better than I remember since Anakin makes a lot more sense. There are problems (such as Hayden Christiansen being horrible at conveying emotion and downright laughably bad dialogue) but they are pretty much with the films themselves. Most of my problems with them are minimized here. There was a weird black frame as Dooku approached around 58 minutes and at 1:08 the music swells then dies super quickly. These are the only things I noticed and they are very minor in the grand scheme of things. The editing was really well done and this is my preferred version of the prequels now.
This is the best 3-in-1 edit I've seen. The transition from the Episode 2 to Episode 3 material is a revelation. As is the elimination of Greivous. There are areas I still feel have been done better elsewhere. The confrontation between Windu and Sidious has worked better in other edits where the screen has darkened to hide the transformation from Palpatine to Sidious.
I was really disappointed to see Yoda with a lightsaber in this edit. Maybe it's warranted on Kashyyk, but I don't like that the Yoda/Sidious duel was left in this edit.
Also in the Anakin/Obi-Wan duel, I've seen edits that show Anakin and Obi Wan leaping from the tower to the "shore" for the final confrontation. That works better, IMO, as I hate them dueling on those stupid lava-surfing bots.
This works as a single movie, though it lacks a strong sense of three distinct acts.
There are still many issues that keep it from being a great film, not the least of which is the poorly realized villians. At least there is one less in that Greivous is gone, but Dooku is now a throwaway as well. One might say this keeps the focus on Sidious as the villian, but he is unknown through a majority of the film. This isn't necessarily bad, but it doesn't feel Star Wars-y to not have a clear baddie throughout.
Overall I'd rather watch this than any version of the trilogy I've seen so far. Sadly that's in large part because it's relatively brief. That isn't a criticism of the editor, but rather a feeling that the prequels are mostly a lost cause. It could be better by making some of the changes mentioned above., but it is still recommended for anyone that wants a prequel, but really hates the original prequels.