I have viewed this edit multiple times and have updated my review to provide a more unbiased critique.
I loved this edit simply for it's refreshing idea, originality and uniqueness. My initial viewing was done on Vimeo as individual chapters were released. After viewing the entire edit in one sitting, I would recommend breaking it up into chapters.
During multiple viewings, I found myself becoming bored anytime Luke or Vader weren't on screen. The entire plot of Han and Leia in Cloud City became tedious and repetitive. There's an over reliance on slow motion, Tarantino uses slow motion but this edit has it in a large abundance.
There is also an over reliance on music. The edit is almost filled end to end with musical cues. Much like the slow motion, there is a large abundance present and sometimes the music overpowers the dialogue being spoken. Dialogue is a very important part in Tarantino movies and rarely uses musical cues during those scene and if he does they appear near the end for dramatic effect.
From a narrative aspect, the story is told in a non-linear fashion similar to Tarantino's style. However, during the final act there is a flashback to the Cave of Evil where Luke chops Vader's head off revealing his own head in the helmet, which doesn't make any sense. During the actual scene in the movie that scene was replaced by an animated segment from the original Clone Wars cartoon. So having a flashback to a scene that never took place was confusing.
All that being said, I still thoroughly enjoy this edit. The Luke and Yoda scenes are very enjoyable and are perfectly scored, even the training montage. The Vader introduction is masterly executed and the final fight is a joy to watch. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Tarantino movies, likes Star Wars, or is just looking for something that is fresh and unique. The sound overpowering the dialogue is why I gave the audio editing a 9 and the flashback is why I gave the narrative a 9.
Pulp Empire, while a product of NJVC's imagination, is really an insight into how much Tarantino has affected and influenced modern cinema. It is unmistakeable of who this edit is trying to invoke. Imagine, though, an edit that was trying to invoke Polanski, Spielberg or PT Anderson. Tarantino's style is so unique unto himself, and so culturally penetrating, that all it takes is a certain font or a music cue to bring up cherished film memories and impart them over the goings in this edit of Episode IV.
However, while this is a tribute in many respects, this edit isn't just hip music accompanied by a "You like that, didn't you" smirk. This is a legitimate effort in making an autonomous film experience.
Divided in chapters like Kill Bill, scored like many in Tarantino's ouvre, and sprinkled with character title cards ala Inglourious Bastards, NJVC pulls from every Tarantino cliche (an unfair word, I admit) in order to induce the filmmaker's special touch. Of particular fondness for myself was an animated sequence that followed Luke's walking into the forest sequence. NJVC even finds himself adding to the Tarantino reference pool by including a few choice soundtrack additions that, in another Universe, I think Tarantino easily could have found room for himself.
However, it's in this dedication (or is it reluctance?) of constantly using Tarantino's previous styles that starts to get in the way. After a brilliant opening with character introductions and unique editing styles used throughout the Hoth fight (preceded by the film's first chapter of Luke arriving in Dagoba), it seems like NJVC ran out of ideas. The film begins to lumber in its third chapter never regaining the momentum and excitement from the opening 20 minutes. A few slo-mo shots are added with some choice music which helps initially, but NJCV returns too often to this "fix," only to wear out its effectiveness over time. The animated sequence helps pump new blood into the edit, but again, the editing style from then on begins to weigh down under the expectations of something more. With only a 90 minute run time, a heavy drag in the film throughout its second act is a problem.
It's difficult to say specifically what would improve this film through the bulk of it's second act. Generally, what it would benefit from would be more stylized editing choices that don't reference Tarantino's work, as much as they are inspired by them. I feel like NJCV has the creative potential to do this, considering his choices he made in the film's closing chapter.
The final chapter answers the promise of ambition sparked by the film's opening. It has unique editing choices that I haven't seen in a Tarantino film, but feels right at home in his arsenal. It also echoes the strange juxtaposition that Kill Bill vol 2 had of entertainment and tenderness. This effect, perhaps more than anything, warrants high praise for this edit.
In all, this is a fantastic piece for the fan edit community. NJVC demonstrates how effectively a film can change in the right editor's hands. Indeed, his technical prowess in manipulating the score and audio tracks leaves me baffled. Reluctance aside, everybody should give this a viewing.
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyFebruary 27, 2014
Thank you for the great review beezo! Much appreciated :) I agree the ideas were not as strong in that middle section. It was a big challenge to find ways to keep it fresh throughout, but I'm pleased that you felt the overall experience was enjoyable.
I have to confess two things up front. I am a big fan of njvc's previous work, but despite that, I was very skeptical that he could pull off his stated goals or that they would work for my personal tastes. I am pleased to report that for the most part I was wrong on both counts.
This is a very ambitious edit from an audio and visual standpoint, and from a technical fanediting standpoint.
njvc is a master with audio work and soundtracking. so I had high expectations at for this part, and he did not disappoint. There were a couple beautifully scored scenes. One that really stood out for me was the animated scene.
The animated scene is also just one of many examples where he demonstrates great visual and storytelling creativity that I absolutely loved. The character montages and the use of ANH and ROTJ footage was also wonderful.
This whole edit is just so fresh and fun that any technical issues at the end of the day just don't matter very much or ruin the overall experience.
That said, there were a handful of moments where technical things did momentarily pull me out of the scene. The most problematic IMO is the use of slow motion. The use itself is not the problem. In fact it is quite important stylistically. The problem is the inconsistent use of different types and some video glitches in a moment or two. The worst glitch that I can remember is in a land speeder scene on Hoth. In fact this scene really stood out in my mind as the worst usage. There were also moments in this scene when I began to feel as if the slow motion was over-used and unneeded. Lastly and perhaps most importantly regarding slow motion, there were really two different styles used and they visually clashed with each other a bit. There was normal smooth slow motion, and then there was a choppy slow motion that looked like it was shot with a 14FPS camera. Stylistically, I really loved the choppy slow motion and would have preferred a more consistent use of this look throughout.
There were a few other minor issues I had. While I absolutely loved some of the fades njvc creates (so beautiful!), fade transitions were over-used a bit IMO for certain intra-scene quick camera cuts. Yoda just didn't quite work for me either.
I really enjoyed this edit. I think that njvc was able to accomplish exactly what he set out to do. The fight scenes and sequence between Vader and Luke was amazing. I would highly recommend this edit to any star wars fan. This community never fails to amaze me, keep up the great work.
Yes, I read other reviews before I got this. And no, the slo-mo did not bother or distract me. The multi panel shots were terrific. Battle of Hoth was a standout sequence.
The loose narrative structure applied quite well to grindhouse cinema of the 70s, which is what Tarentino has made built his career aping. The new jumps in plot also kept me on my toes throughout. I did not notice plot holes so much as missing characters. Uhhh ... Wedge? That was acceptable, however, as it kept the focus on lead characters, and a couple supports. Really nice job juicing Boba Fett's role, by the way.
Music was hit n miss. Sorry, but that last song should have been tossed.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and gave nice reviews on several forum boards, including a link for the trailer.