As a fan of both Tarantino and Star Wars, I found this concept both entertaining and fascinating. It was great to see Empire in a new light, and with such damn style too! Great inclusion of the animated scenes from "Clone Wars", and Vader's montage introduction was stunning (of course, each montage was pretty damn impressive). Soundtrack was great, although I could see one or two songs that Tarantino would never touch himself. This edit is definitely going to stay in my collection!
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyJuly 29, 2014
Cheers for the review rantus! I think I know which songs you mean ;) I got a little self indulgent in my choices there at times. Thanks for watching!
This edit was everything I could have hoped for. I really enjoyed the beginning and end of the movie. The middle felt a bit like empire was just re-organized but the audio effects reminded you that you're watching an edit. I thought the animated scene was a good touch, the introductions to all of the characters was fantastic and the ending was spectacular. Overall this edit was amazing and I highly recommend watching it.
The opening of this edit really surprised me. Opening a Star Wars movie in medias res is a new one - and it fits the Tarantino style perfectly. I actively felt myself wondering how we got here. Even though we already know, the movie forces you to look at the narrative in a new way. Probably the best opening scene to a fan edit I've seen yet.
The majority of the film is pure QT style. The music choices and editing style are a near perfect match, and provide a take on Empire that's equal parts humorous and legitimately cool. Some portions of the film feature an abundance of slow motion and montage - the purpose appears to be to maintain sync with the musical choices. It may be a tad jarring in places, but the artistry of these sequences is very good. They may disrupt the pacing a but, but in and of themselves, they're quality. The use of title cards and a nonlinear narrative really complete the experience. The way Yoda was handled was nothing short of inspired.
But the real standout of this edit is the ending. The Empire Stikes Back has one of the most powerful endings in the history of cinema. I like this version better. I don't say that lightly. The way in which it is presented here adds a tremendous emotional punch that surpasses the original film. I was amazed. I sat in silence, jaw agape as the credits rolled.
You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't set some time aside to watch Pulp Empire.
So right off the bat I want to say that this edit is utterly incredible and such an intensely cool way to reimagine a classic and make it fresh and interesting again. Pretty much every positive thing I could say has been said already.
There were just a couple of choices that really jolted me. First, and this is the more minor one: why didn't Lando get a cool funked-out montage? I mean, Fett gets one and Lando doesn't?
Second, and this was the bigger deal to me, was the way the final scene played out. The Neil Young song felt more than a bit on the nose, while at the same time not quite hitting the appropriate note musically or lyrically. What was meant, both in the original film and in the edit, as a moment of utter despair, ends up just feeling like...not much, really, because all we have is this sort of lazy, plodding classic acoustic-rock track. And lyrically, it seems simultaneously like an extremely obvious choice (old man/young man, father/son, etc.) and like an incorrect one. After all, it's Vader pointing out that the two men are father and son, that the two men are not dissimilar, not Luke.
I also might have liked to see some reference to the Dark Side cave in this scene. I understand not including it in the Dagobah chapter, but I kept expecting some form of flashback to it. Without any indication that Luke experienced anything other than a hallucination of his father as a young man, Yoda's request that he not bring his weapons with him, and his subsequent disappointment, don't make a lot of sense.
I have to admit, I've seen the poster for Pulp Empire on this site a few times and I immediately dismissed it thinking "Huh? That'll never work." But I ended up stumbling across a few clips on Vimeo tonight including the entire last chapter of the edit and being a fan of both Tarantino and Star Wars, and being intrigued by njvc's choices in the clip I saw, I decided to watch the whole thing.
One of the things I always find most entertaining about Tarantino's films is his oddball choice of music, the bizarre yet genius mix of Motown, surf music, and the occasional Ennio Morricone track that has come to be known as "the Tarantino sound".
Njvc has taken this signature sound and applied it to a cut of The Empire Strikes Back that we've never seen before. It's an arrangement of the narrative that is so unique, even if you were to take away the Tarantino-fied soundtrack, it could be watched on its own merit alone.
What njvc has created here is not quite a Tarantino film and not quite The Empire Strikes Back, but something entirely strange and new, and beautiful. It's very akin to the feeling I get when I watch The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" playing over it. It feels at once both familiar and alien.
I love radical edits. This kind of fearless fanediting is what I admire the most and it's the type of thing I always endeavored to create when I was editing. It's the concept of "Let's do something completely different with the material..." And njvc has done that successfully.
There's so much I loved about this edit: The non-linear narrative, the character introductions, the split screens, the animation in the cave vision. All inspired work.
But the part that I found to be most improved by this edit (ironically) is widely considered the best and most important in the entire saga. The "I am your father" scene, which is now juxtaposed with Neil Young's "Old Man". The way njvc handled it with the scrolling flashbacks...the father/son parallels. It was just so well done. It even evoked some emotion in me, reminding me of my own relationship with my father and I think that's when art is it's best, when it acts as a mirror for the viewer. So in that way, you've taken THE scene...the most important scene in the entire saga, injected it with an emotional power that elevated what was already there and created a version that surpasses the original (for me), even as iconic a scene as it is.
It's worth the download for that scene alone.
All of that being said, if I had to name a weakness in this edit, it's John Williams. Though he's been relegated to the back burner reasonably well by njvc, it seems the white-bearded maestro keeps trying to creep back in at every opportunity. At times, it sounds like there are two or even three pieces of music playing at once. Not for long, mind you. But it's enough to keep this from getting a perfect audio editing rating.
To be fair, I was wearing head phones while watching, so it may sound better on a TV. It's a tough subject because I know how very, very hard it is to deal with that center channel music in one of Lucas' or Spielberg's films. There's nothing you can really do about it.
Having done 100% audio rebuilds of protracted action scenes, I can tell you, it isn't any fun. It's the same thing that killed my Star Wars: Reborn edits, the frustrating plague of John Williams encroaching into the center channel, ruining something that you know could be so great if only he wasn't there. I always said the greatest gift someone could give to the fanediting community is a clean, music-free audio track with only dialogue and effects for all six Star Wars films...and maybe Indy 4.
But, I know a LOT of work must have been put in by njvc to making Pulp Empire's audio as good as it is at this point.
All in all, you did an amazing job, njvc! I really enjoyed the unique experience you delivered with this edit and I'm hoping you'll do "Inglorious Clones" with Samuel L. Jackson, the ultimate Tarantino/Star Wars connector. There's always the play on "Jango/Django Unchained" you can pilfer too. ;)