Star Wars - Episode I: Shadow of the Sith

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I was always of the opinion that the prequel trilogy was a complete mess and pretty much beyond redemption (with a few exceptions) but L8wrtr's edits for each of the three prequel films has proven me wrong and I couldn't be happier about it!

It can't have been an easy task to try and salvage "The Phantom Menace" but this edit goes a long way to restructuring the narrative of the film to make it far more cohesive and in large part makes more "sense". The film gets going much faster and has cut out a lot of the gripes fans had with the prequel such as the overlong podracing sequence, the clunky dialogue and of course Jar-Jar in general. Not to mention all the stupid over-the-top CGI scenes and that awful parade scene at the end of the movie. All gone!

Even the title is far superior. "The Phantom Menace" was a really weak title but "Shadow of the Sith" fits better with the overall story that the Sith appear to have made a return. I recommend this edited version to all my Star Wars friends as a way to try and redeem the Prequel Trilogy and I am happy to say that it has changed their opinions of them after watching these edits.

I would definitely recommend this edit!

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9.8
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10.0
One of my favorite fanedits of all time.

With a full grasp of the story that needed to be told, there was an enormous amount of thought and research that went into all 3 of l8wrtrs trilogy. Every single edit has a reason behind it in support of pacing, story, and characters. Underneath the phantom menace, L8wrtr proves there is an interesting story. L8wrtr transforms a terrible film into an interesting and enjoyable first entry into the Star Wars Saga. This trilogy as a whole makes watching the saga in order (1-8) worth your time.

This is the quintessential edit of Episode 1.

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AVCHD
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Overall rating
 
9.6
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9.0
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8.0
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9.0
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10.0
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10.0
Are you burned out on Episode I fanedits? First off, quit your complaining, because no one has seen as much of this movie as I have. But beyond that, you need to see this edit. It may just restore your faith in the potential of the prequels.

The big difference between this edit and all the others on the site is the editing of the four-way final battle. I’ll get in to it more later in the review, but L8wrtr’s editing choices and restructuring of the different components of the battle make this a brand new experience, one that worked for me on every level.

Before I get to the actual edits, I’ll mention that video and audio quality are in general excellent. Using adywan’s color-corrected version of the film as a starting point works very well, although there were a few spots (mainly the open of the film when the Jedi land on the Trade Federation ship) where colors seemed a little too washed out. The only other really noticeable issue with the color is during the probe droid deleted scene, but beyond that the video quality is very representative of the DVD quality.

I watched the edit twice, in both 2.0 and 5.1. The 2.0 sounded very crisp and clear. The 5.1 (my preferred choice by far) was also very good, although there were a few brief moments here and there where front music levels seemed a tad low.

The DVD presentation is very nice. Along with the movie itself, we get deleted scenes and a commentary track by L8wrtr. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the commentary yet, but I sampled it very briefly and it sounds like it will be entertaining. I am particularly looking forward to hearing the justification for not cutting the very few items I would have liked to see cut – and believe me, the list is very small.

With the tech out of the way, we’ll move on to the edit itself. I didn’t notice any hard cuts and transitions were well done. The edit is fast-paced and aggressive, with even some quick parts of the Obi/Qui-Gon/Maul duel trimmed (something I’ve never seen before). If you are looking for an edit with as much Jar-Jar and Ani removed as possible, this is it.

The one thing that may trip some people up is that Ani’s virgin birth is left intact. If I’ve understood correctly, L8wrtr left this in because he plans on maintaining the idea that Sidious created Anakin using the force. However, rest assured that midichlorians are completely removed from the edit, making the virgin birth idea less specific and more palatable.

The dinner scene on Tatooine, where Lucas ssssllllllooooooowwwwwllllllyyyyy gives us a ton of exposition (as well as some horrible Jar Jar hijinks), is now lean and efficient. We get the information we need quickly and then move on to the next scene. It’s a scene I always dread, and now it’s actually bearable.

The podrace is really well done – the focus is now solely on Anakin and Sebulba. No Greg Proops announcer, no wacky secondary characters, just Ani vs. Sebulba for three quick-but-enjoyable laps.

The scenes on Coruscant are probably the least touched scenes, but we still lose a lot of the slow and lame bits. I do wish that the aliens in the senate could have been cut out (ET’s family, really?) but otherwise this section of the film satisfies. I was especially pleased to see Anakin’s lines to Yoda cut down to almost nothing – no feeling cold, no vocalizing his feelings about his mother, no being petulant, etc.

And so we come to the big battle finale. The order of events is completely changed and it works great. First of all, the Gungan battle is cut away like nothing I’ve ever seen. The Gungans engage the battle droids, they lose their shield, and they’re captured. That’s it. Not a single Jar-Jar antic remains. You barely even realize he’s in the battle. Amidala and the troops have a quick firefight in the hallway with the droids but never use their ascension guns (no more poorly done practical effect), then are captured and brought to the viceroy. So the Gungans are captured and the Naboo troops are captured. All looks lost, but Anakin saves the day. He destroys the droid control ship, which frees both the Gungans and the Naboo troops. He is truly the sole hero in this version, rather than just part of the victory.

And yes, the Jedi still fight Maul, and the editing is very well done here too. Of special note is the way Maul no longer stands there like a punk waiting for Obi-Wan to flip over him and take him out. It happens in a blink of an eye like it always should have.

Finally, we wrap things up and end on the last shot of Palpatine, a much more satisfying ending than the horrible celebration of the Gungans with the unexplained science experiment. And for those of you who aren’t satisfied with the transition from Sidious to the standard Star Wars ending fanfare music, be sure to try the alternate music ending option L8wrtr has provided. I prefer the original music myself, but it’s nice to have both options.

So what’s left to say? I have seen every Episode I fanedit available on FE.org, and L8wrtr’s version comes the closest to what I envision as my perfect cut of the film. I can’t wait for his versions of the other two movies. This falls just short of a 10 rating, but I’d give it a 9.5/10 if I could. As it stands it gets a 9/10 and two thumbs up from Neil Patrick Harris.

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Yes
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Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Pretty good edit. I enjoyed it. Limiting Jar Jar, the senseless battle scenes and the pod racing are all good ideas. I would have preferred some dubbing for Jar Jar and friends, but it's not too bad.

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Yes
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Digital
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(Updated: October 17, 2017)
Overall rating
 
9.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
My go-to edit for this monstrosity of a Star Wars movie....I do like having as complete as possible a Star Wars chronology; it is interesting that the majority of the films in the chronology are fanedits! L8wrtr has made two films in that chronology I deem essential go-tos (this one and Republic Divided); his Hobbit edit is also one of my absolute treasured miracles of fanediting.

Alas, completely salvaging "The Phantom Menace" (my suspicions on the new Star Wars movie began with this title), short of re-shooting, is a mammoth task. Adywan has stated he will no longer attempt to tackle the prequels, and that's fine. Making this film into something that could eliminate 100% the absurdity is just not going to happen, EVER. The tendency for performances in Star Wars movies to be second-tier priorities began in ROTJ, continued throughout the prequels, and was thankfully jettisoned by JJ Abrams.

But l8wrtr has made something here worth noting. I don't even remember how much awfulness permeated TPM, since I've been watching only fanedits for years now and comparing them.

What do I like about this one compared to others to recommend it first?
1 - no announcers at the podrace. I don't know why people think this is innocuous enough to be left in; it is Lucas at his most shameless. Now, the podrace, sans music, announcers, and in its entirety, is thrilling by any standard.
2 - Gungan City is a necessary component for the movie. It introduces the Gungans, who obviously play major in the final act, and also gives us an explanation as to why the hell Qui-Gon allows Jar Jar to follow him around. Too many fanedits eliminate this scene; here it's kept in and tastefully recreated (although the TMNT Nintendo game antics of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon swimming in the water are still there). Now we 'get' Jar Jar's need to be around and "me-so" everything.
3 - Anakin is, yes, less annoying (not Jake Lloyd's fault - this is pure Lucas shlock)....and the way the final battle is edited, with Anakin as the catalyst for success against the trade federation (minus his own commentary), is fantastic.
4 - The final scene, at Qui-Gon's funeral, is very, very effective. Leave it to Yoda and Windu to have the final exchange.
5 - The streamlining of the film does indeed make it fast, exciting, and ineffably itself. More on this below.
6 - Jar Jar's antics. Although I do tend to look at Jar Jar with different eyes since all of this Jar Jar as Sith Lord insanity has come to light in forums, either way, he has never been as charming as "goofy Yoda" will always be.

What could have been salvaged, but wasn't?
1 - I'm no expert at fanediting, but some things could have been trimmed/changed further - first off, I have seen some very effective fanedits that dub Jar Jar and the Trade Federation dudes. And that work is really, really well-done. Could such work be used here? Sure!
2 - Some of Any's mom's dialogue is beyond inane, and left in. The 'divine birth' has no real bearing on the story, and is as expendable as midichlorians. The one line, however, that still galls me is "my life is here, my future is here". While I can understand a mother saying such things to her child in a situation like this, the film's utter lack of self-consciousness about the line is what bugs me. Her "future" as a slave? okaaaaayyyyy.....
3 - "take this!"

What CANNOT be salvaged -
1 - the performances. Ewan gives the film's lone performance worth anything. Liam looks like he'd rather be back in Poland in the snow than in this movie. But the twin terrors of Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley represent the ultimate nadir of the Star Wars universe. One's worse than the other. ANYONE who found worth in Portman based on this performance deserves to be commended, because she is utterly unsalvageable.....but Knightley, seriously....every time she opens her mouth I look for an icepick to jab into my ear, because it would be a far more pleasant, rewarding, and enjoyable experience. I've seen more life looking at my toaster - when it's off. Short of re-shoots (Adywan, where are youuuuuuuu?????), you can't do anything about this. The 'twist' with the decoy and all that is also unnecessary and silly, but if you're going to have the ending play out logically, you have swallow and endure it.

***On a side note....it is interesting to watch the film and notice the pacing. At 96 minutes, this is a fast, streamlined Star Wars. I'd like you all to imagine GL releasing this exact version in the theater in 1999. First off, there would be a LOT of talk about the runtime. 96 minutes would indeed match GL's retrospective dismissal of TPM as a "jazz riff", but would the narrative ***flow***? I would imagine there would be a lot of talk of lack of "padding", those obligatory shots professional directors and editors need to establish "down time" between characters and build relationships. This edit moves so blindingly fast that we have little time to process all of these new characters, vision, and scope...but that's a good problem to have! If people want more, you've succeeded on some level (check "Raiders" or "The Maltese Falcon" for ultimate examples of success along these lines). An edit like this would have been received certainly with a high amount of excitement and bewilderment, and since the cheese is gone there wouldn't be too many distractions (Knightley aside).

Still, what could a faneditor do with the ultra-cheesy source material? Everything that has been eliminated is necessary to make TPM watchable. I think any self-respecting editor understands the value of these scenes - certainly L8wrtr gets it when it comes to his beautiful, immaculate Hobbit edit. I've introduced my 2-year old daughter to Star Wars via a lot of fanedits, and this is another. She loves the pod race. This kind of approval is where it's at, as far as I'm concerned. L8twrtr, thanks for these continuously enjoyable gifts. Star Wars is too much fun and, dare I say, important, to be left in the doldrums of the original cuts.

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