Out of all the prequel fanedits out there I had only seen the Phantom Editor’s version of Episode 1 so the bar for this one was set rather high. However, L8wrtr put a lot of thought and effort into this one and it shows.
This one goes by so fast that it will be over before you realize it. A LOT was cut and the movie now goes at breakneck speed. Gone is all the excessive silliness and horrible lines of dialog; what we get is a leaner and meaner Phantom Menace with little room for breathers. Which is, ironically, the main flaw of this fanedit. Or rather I should say it has the quality of its flaw; as it was a balance between keeping some of the crap and making us cringe every 5 minutes or throwing all of it out the window and giving us a much more serious take on The Phantom Menace. In my opinion L8wrtr cut a little too much out of the movie but those wanting an all-silliness-removed version will be very pleased with this one.
On the technical side of things, the image quality was great throughout. Some of the cuts the editor made were too abrupt for my tastes but by his own admission this was a more drastic take, meant to cut deeply into the film. Some of the audio cuts and transitions could have been smoother but these moments were few and far between over the course of the movie.
As for presentation and bonuses, we get simple but nice menus. The dual-layer version gives us deleted scenes – which help us put a lot of what we just watched into perspective – and a nice commentary track explaining the editor’s views on the movie and the editing choices he made.
I give this fanedit a 7/10, which was almost an 8/10 had some of the cuts not been so abrupt and had the audio issues been smoothed out. Overall, it did get me hyped to see his take on Attack of the Clones because I think his editing style will lend itself beautifully for what is, in my opinion, the worst of the prequels.
L8wrtr inspired me to watch this edit due to a well-argued debate we engaged in, even though I vowed some time ago to not watch anymore star wars edits (at least not until some worth HD efforts). http://www.fanedit.org/forums/showthread.php?2524-The-Two-Sides-of-Every-Movie-An-Essay-by-Gaith/page2
I accepted long ago that it is impossible to make this movie more enjoyable than painful to watch, and thus accepted the Phantom Edit as the definitive version. (Episodes 2 and 3 already have perfect fanedits made in my opinion so I don’t bother with those either.)
It has been so long since I have seen the original theatrical version of this movie that it is pointless to even compare to that. Instead I will compare to my old definitive version, The Phantom Edit, which is more relevant anyway considering most all of the TPM edits are essentially edits of that edit. As revolutionary as the Phantom Edit was, I do agree with many other people’s sentiments that it could have gone much further in its cuts.
Much to my pleasant surprise, L8wrtr, your edit is a tremendous overall improvement of the Phantom Edit. There are small little bits of comedy or drama that I personally feel add to the characters and movie’s charm, however given how much of Lucas’s efforts in this regard fail even in The Phantom Edit, I can see how an editor might overshoot the mark a bit regarding cutting the fluff. The story now moves faster with steady and deliberate pace. The only problem is that I still don’t care about any of the characters or what is happening. I pray for something new and exciting, but of course there isn’t anything new. The best I can hope for is less annoyance and a faster conclusion.
Ironically you almost managed to turn me to the dark side. As I was watching and comparing it to The Phantom Edit I started thinking about even deeper cuts that could be done to yours. I started toying with the idea of doing an edit of your edit of the Phantom Edit. Maybe there is a good hour-long episode yet to be discovered amongst this rubble? Maybe this 4th generation edit of mine might prove to be the magic edit everyone thought was impossible! It was about this time that the characters returned to Naboo. I sobered up.
This edit is a great overall improvement and now my definitive TPM edit, which is a great credit to your skill as an editor, especially when one considers those great editors that have come before you with lesser results. But the movie is still rubbish. At best this movie could be made to work as an average 2-part Clone Wars animated episode. The failures of the story go so far beyond a bit of bad dialogue. There are only a handful of scenes that work and even fewer characters that do, but this is no fault of yours. You took a plate-full of canned cat food and made it almost palatable for human consumption. But I am still eating cat food when I want a steak.
My respect for your edit comes from the many little changes and general pacing. Your biggest change to the story itself didn’t impress me, but it doesn’t make it much worse either. You shift the focus to Anakin being the one who saves the day at the end, which is a cool idea except that you do it by shifting the focus even more onto one of my least favorite scenes in the entire movie where Anakin flies into the hangar bay. (At least you fixed the auto-pilot debacle of him flying out of the Naboo hangar bay!) If a couple torpedoes in a hangar bay can blow up that huge ship, then some engineering company out there had better get ready for a massive law suit from the Trade Federation! (nevermind that the scene visually looks terrible). The much more plausible interesting way for our protagonists to win is the part you cut out with the queen impersonator creating a diversion and capturing the Viceroy. “Everything depends on capturing the Viceroy.” This makes sense to me. We have already established he is a bit cowardly. Capture him and he will cave, call off the attack, and sign a new trade agreement. There is not even a need to have the ship blow up other than for the cool effect. But then again, why is Anakin there at all! Why wouldn’t he be left on Corruscant. It is all absurd, but I digress.
The video quality is much improved over The Phantom Edit.
Biggest technical issue comes at 25:20 where you have a short scene that has a sound glitch followed by a lip synching problem for a few seconds. I also noticed a small sound glitch at 54:53.
Still virgin birth. Ugh.
Pod race much improved! Pacing felt about right, though I wouldn’t have minded you keeping a couple cutsie moments. My recommendations: one sandpeople shot (not at Anakin), Jabba, and the pitstop incident with the little droid that gets sucked through. Maybe the humpty dumpty dude stuck at the starting line simply because there is a shot later that it seems like you need of the pod racers zooming by him on one of their laps. Maybe I spaced out but it seemed like I only saw them cross the starting line once instead of twice for a 3-lap race.
It still seems like there is something missing from the pod race. I noticed for the first time that there is no music in the background. That should make the editing simpler and opens up some potential for some real creativity here that I have yet to see in an edit of the podrace. The whole thing still feels a little hoky and un-intense. Anakin has one too many mishaps and I have a hard time believing that he could ever catch up and win, no matter how awesome his pod racer may theoretically be.
Jar Jar handled well.
As somebody else mentioned. Still a random “roger roger” that is very out of place.
Great improvement to the Obi killing darth maul scene, but still horrible absurdly stupid.
I missed the “I will be watching your career with great interest” line. Presumably this was because you wanted to keep Palpatine’s identity more mysterious? If so I find it hard to believe that anybody watching would not comprehend by this point that there is something ‘insidious’ about this man (what horrible character names!).
Mixed feelings about cutting the celebration at end.
Love the new text crawl at the beginning of the movie. Always hated that the Phantom Editor used that as his place to put a political message.
Overall: Strong work! Still hate the movie but now this is my new official least hated version!
Technical and story editing: 8/10
Overall I really enjoyed L8wrtr’s take on The Phantom Menace. Though some of the cuts seemed obvious to me, this could be because I’m so familiar with the original that exorcised material just stands out to me. I don’t think it’s anything technical. This version moves along at a brisk pace, a most welcome change. The ending is very well done and never gets boring like in the original. I only have a few minor gripes:
- Droid dialog removed when sent to check on the Jedi in the beginning. We still have the head nods, something I don’t think they need to do.
- When the ship is destroyed in the hanger in the beginning we still have the awful dialog, “Captain! Look!” “Shields!” IMO this should have been cut.
- When Anakin brings his guests home and they have their conversation at the table, there are some pauses that could/should have been cut to help it flow just a bit better.
- While I’m happy to see the end parade gone, the transition to the credits seems abrupt. Perhaps a fade up on the preceding music to ramp up the crash into the standard end credit music.
These minor problems aside it’s a strong cut and worth checking out.