Fall of the Jedi: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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I started off by watching Q2's version of Ep 3, since that's the only prequel that the infamous "Phantom Editor" (the man who started the fan edit revolution) didn't do. I really liked that cut so I decided to go back and watch his cuts of the first two movies.

While I applaud his effort and enjoyed most of his decisions, I think he went WAY too far in his edits. Q2 cut out material that may have been silly, but were still essential to the story, and took out bits that left me scratching my head (and no I don't have dandruff).

For example, he totally removed Anakin being the one who takes down the Droid control ship (he made it seem like it was some random Naboo pilot). Ok, sure, I cringed at Anakin "bungling" his way to an accidental victory, but it's still an important part of his story; without it, there is essentially no payoff to Anakin's story arc and his character becomes completely unimportant - and almost absent - from the last act of the movie. If it were in my hands I would have just tried to make it seem more like he was acting deliberately, calling upon both his skill as a pod racer and, albeit unwittingly, being helped by The Force. Like it or not, the movie still needs this to work.

Other odd choices is his removal of Subulba sabotaging Anakin's pod. Now it just seems like he has a part come lose at random. I liked the tension that was present when WE knew the pod was sabotaged, it added a strong element of suspense. I have no idea what he thought he was achieving with that cut; there was nothing silly about it and it was a major element in the setup of throwing every obstacle you can in the path of the hero's victory.

On the other hand, he left in the whole "immaculate conception" speech, which had always been a major cringe moment. And it's very easy to cut, just snip where Qui-Jon asks about his father until the end of her explanation. It lifts out very easily. So why cut stuff that isn't silly and helps the drama but leave in one of the worst moments in the movie?? Unless Q2 is a religious fellow and has personal reasons for wanting to leave that in. But once again, if you're going to leave in a moment that cements Anakin's role as a Christ figure, you can't cut out his "miracle" of saving everyone at the end of the movie!

He also chops out not just the explanation that 3PO was made by Anakin (I totally agree with that choice) but he cuts him completely out of the movie! In some of his comments he said one of his goals was to remove the droids from the trilogy as much as possible. I'm waiting for him to explain why, as we all know they are supposed to be - more or less - the heart and soul of the franchise and the only characters meant to be in every film. There are plenty of moments of stupidity that center on the droids, so I agree that a lot of R2 & 3PO moments have to go, but given their importance to the Star Wars saga, I would have made it my goal to keep as much of them as I could. I mean look, like it or not, R2 is the wonder droid that often saves the day. That's just who he is, and most of the time he does it in Ep 4 and 5 are fine and I don't think anyone has a problem with it. So while I agree flying artoo crosses the line and has to go, the pilot's comment in Ep 1 "that little droid did it!" is the very first time that R2 proves his worth and thus starts the saga-wide thread that R2 is everyone's favorite pint sized hero.

So while I applaud his success in cutting out dumb humor and tightening up story focus, he just goes too far and cuts stuff that either needs to be there or material he seems to have some personal issue with. Personaly, I think the goal of any Ep 1 edit needs to be REDUCING the elements that are so bad they pull you out of the movie, but I think Q2 got so caught up in gettjng rid of ALL of them, he lost sight of the big picture and wasn't paying enough attention to silly moments that, even if we hate them, are necessary to complete the movie. Besides, I think most of those moments, even if you have to leave them in, can be made a little better with skillful editing. When Anakin accidentally destroys the droid control ship, some good sound work could at least get rid of most of his lines like "what does this do? Ooops!" Which are the real cringe inducing moments. But cutting the whole thing leaves the movie incomplete.

In conclusion, I'd implore everyone dojng a fan edit to remember that the goal of these works is not simply to chop out stuff you hate, but to make a better movie! So when you cut those moments out, you need to pay careful attention to how those edits effect the movie as a whole. I've done some edits myself, and at some point you lose all objectivity since you get so wrapped up in the project; that's why having friends whose opinion you trust is a vital part of the process - they become your test audience and can often be a better judge of the big picture than the editor is. How many stories have you heard about the reaction of a test audience having a big impact on how the movie gets edited? Without the voice of a test audience being heard we never would have gotten "I love you, I know!" So all fan editors should make sure they screen their cuts with friends before making their final cut.

Ok, I'm done ranting. I only say all this because I care :-)
Owner's reply December 29, 2012

First, thank you for your extensive review. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as my Episode 3, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on that when once you’ve submitted it.

I just wanted to give you some insight into my thought process to help you better understand where I was coming from with this edit. Will it make you like it anymore? Probably not, but hear me out and see if it makes you reconsider your position.

The reason I cut Anakin completely from the final battle was for two reasons. I hated that Anakin accidentally saved the day. The other reason is I just don’t buy an 8-year-old kid taking down a heavily fortified ship that is controlling an entire droid army. No one is that lucky. I know other editors have successfully made Anakin actually succeed on purpose (L8wrtr comes to mind in this instance), but for me, even on purpose, I don’t see a kid succeeding where trained security fail.

You mention that the film needs this for his arch. I disagree. If Episode I was suppose to be Anakin’s story he wouldn’t have been introduced 30-40 min. into the film. This was poor writing on Lucas’s part, and if Anakin was suppose to be the focus then the film should have started with him (or at least not introduce him so late). If you do a comparison to Star Wars, Luke is introduced late as well (though not as late) but from that moment on virtually every scene that doesn’t focus on the Imperials has him an active participant. The same cannot be said for Anakin. For me, Episode I is more about Obi-Wan’s rise from Padawan to Jedi Knight. Because of this Anakin’s major hurdle is being freed and finding purpose outside of slavery.

For the immaculate conception speech I don’t look at it that way, nor do I see Anakin as a Christ figure. (And no... I’m not a religious person by any means.) This scene works for me because the payoff is in Episode III when Palpatine is telling Anakin about how Darth Plagueis learned how to create life. This insinuates that either Darth Plagueis or, more likely, Palpatine created Anakin to infiltrate the Jedi. It’s a long drawn out plan that ultimately succeeds. If this scene was not present in Episode III then the immaculate conception line would have been cut from Episode I, but because that curiosity comes full circle I left it in.

As for R2 and 3PO I disagree with Lucas’s assessment that they were the figures that cemented the trilogies together. One evening I was talking with L8wrtr and we were discussing this and his assessment was spot on. Not verbatim, but he said, “It’s like Lucas wrote Episode I without the droids and then Rick McCallum asked, “Where are the droids?” You know you have to have them in there!” That’s how they are to me, and I think it’s represented as such in my cut. When you can cut two characters so easily and not miss them (assuming you never knew they were there) then obviously they are unnecessary. If they had an actual purpose to the prequels, then by all means leave them in, but if they’re just filler then cut-cut-cut.

As for having early viewers I did, and they all provided invaluable feedback. Some I agreed with, some I didn’t, and I made many choices on edits based on their feedback. (They’re listed in the special thanks.)

So there is my long-winded explanation of why I made certain choices in what I cut. I hope it clarifies my position on certain aspects so that you, or others who read your comment, have a better understanding of my direction with these films.

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