Star Wars - Episode I: Shadow of the Sith

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(Updated: August 25, 2012)
It’s been a very long while since I’ve watched TPM. This was the first Star Wars film I saw in theaters when I was eight, so it holds a lot of nostalgia for me. Maybe that’s why I never viewed this, or any of the other prequels for that matter, as the steaming pile of poo others do. I tend not to drink the Kool-Aid, so I was never really interested in Star Wars fanedits beyond Adywan’s Revisted and TMBTM’s War of the Stars. I saw the cutlist for this, and decided why not? I was a bit hesitant to see so much cut, but I dove in to see how it turned out.

And it turned out really well.

Throughout the duration of the running time, I hardly noticed things that had been taken out. Generally, this happens for two reasons: the first being that you’ve seen the movie so many times (especially if you’re watching your own edit) that no matter what you’ll always notice the changes. The second reason is that there was an issue with the editing that made the cut noticeable. The former was the case most of the time watching this, while the latter occurred a few times as well. Since I want to heap some praise on this, I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way now.

The biggest time I noticed cuts were during scenes where audio was altered (yes, that was most of it. Bear with me). The most noticeable audio alteration was the removal of battle droid voices. While technically well done, the few instances where voices were cut the droids were still acting as though they were speaking, mainly in the Trade ship at the beginning and then later in the hangar. I was also slightly torn on the wipe from “It’s working!” to Maul’s ship arriving. It seemed rather sudden, but for story reasons, in removing midichlorians, it was necessary.

Okay, enough negativity. Now for the good stuff.

As I said, most of the fat has been trimmed off so well I didn’t even notice it was gone. Basically, everything that was cut. Perfect, except for what was noted above. And while I enjoyed the Greedo scene, its placement was odd. It’s supposed to take place after the podrace and, while it worked to get around the Sebulba subplot, it creates the question of “cheated at what? wtf is he talking about?” A small quibble that is soon forgotten at any rate. The following scene at the dinner table was very, very well edited. Another scene I hardly noticed had been altered. I could list everything that had been changed that I only noticed well after the fact, but I plan on going outside at some point.

Audio was great. No hard cuts (there was one fade during the intro of the podrace I’m unsure about. That may have been in the original version. I’ll check later, which means I won’t). I don’t have a 5.1 setup, but I’ll assume the mix was good. Video I’m torn on. I haven’t watched TPM on the new TV since it came into the house two years ago, so I can’t say if the quality was the same as the commercial DVD. It was very good, certainly not unwatchable. I suppose that’s on me to get a DL version and plonk for the discs. I haven’t yet listened to the commentary, so I can’t comment (see what I did there?) on it yet. But the thought counts, so yay!

All-in-all, this is my replacement of Episode I, hands down. Great effort, great editing choices, excellent execution.

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(Updated: August 25, 2012)
I was enticed into watching this edit because of the 96 min run time, the use of the color-corrected Adywan version and the list of the edits (aka “cut-sheet”).

I agree with Stankpac, the opening title crawl was rushed, slow and a bit odd. However, with all the extensive edits and some slightly bold ideas, this movie does seem to move along at a fairly quick pace.

I, too, noticed the mix of hard audio cuts/edits and the fades were a bit too noticeable. There did seem to be a few places where the dialogue dropped to a lower volume, causing me to turn up my amp, then only to be assaulted by music or effects that were now too loud.

I watched this on a 55″ LED tv and the video looked fine; no better or worse than the original. The lists of edits that Stankpac noticed, I noticed as well. This edit is in need of a Version 2.

Okay, here’s where I usually depart from most reviewers of edits: I didn’t really care either way about the menu or the extras. For me, it is always about the edit itself. My opinion and subsequent review is never effected by menu or extras. Admittedly, I have made a comment or two about a menu, but only as a passing thought.

With all the issues that Stankpac has already mentioned, my few additional comments and because there are better Ep1 edits in existence already, I just wasn’t that impressed with this edit. If you haven’t watched an Ep1 edit in a while (or never have), then maybe this will be worth the time to D/L and watch.

**** In interest of full disclosure, I feel it is important to mention that I have reached my limit on SW Eps 1 thru 3 edits. I am not sure I can watch any more of them. ****

**** REVIEW UPDATE July 17, 2010****

Before I begin the update to my review, it is important to state that no one has asked, coerced or otherwise pressured me to update my previous review. The short history behind my update: I somehow managed to click on a low star rating when I completed my review. This, in turn, sparked some confusion and debate in the chat room and among a great many of the regular reviewers, admins etc. Typically, I am known for giving constructive reviews/explanations (whether my rating is high or low), so people were confused. I happened into the chat room while the discussion was taking place. After talking with Boon, elbarto1, Blueyoda and L8wrtr, I was able to get my star rating corrected and I thought I needed to go back and “review” my own review. Again, my relation with the editor had no or the other people l have already mentioned had no bearing on my decision to go back to this edit.

I have to admit, I am somewhat burnt out on on SW episode edits and my original review reflects that; even though I tried to ensure it did not. Also, I got a little lazy and just echoed things that Stankpac had written in his edit. I didn’t provide enough of my own information to make my review mine. So, after a great “date night” with my wife last night, I woke up with a re-charged attitude and while she still slept, decided to watch this edit again. This is the result …

As with my first viewing, it still seems to me that the opening crawl is slightly rushed, then slightly slow, then normal. I definitely liked the custom L8wrtr title. Things like this help in giving me the feel that I am watching something new/different. As did the custom credits, which I rarely watch; either in an original or edit. That feeling of watching something new/different and at the same time watching something familiar is one of the points of fan editing.

Yes, the battle droid audio edits are noticeable. Thankfully the “roger, roger” is gone (except for one spot), but the droids definitely are still acting out the dialogue. I can forgive this, because the “roger, roger” and other battle droid dialogue is grating.

As my original review, other than a couple of small audio edits (as previously mention by all the reviewers), there are no hard cuts/edits that I noticed, even the second time around. As far as my previously mentioned low dialogue, then high effects, it still seems some of that is there. It very well could be the home theater amp I am using. It has a volume correcting option on it that can be a bit testy.

The video quality is the same as my DVD. Looked as good as the original on my 55′ tv. I didn’t noticed any of the stuttering that Stankpac mentions in his review. I purposely stop at this point and watched several times. I am not sure that the color corrected version in use here would be “wow, that is really different” to the average viewer. However, there is no loss of video quality in this edit at all.

Now as I said before, this edit moves this mediocre movie along at a very good pace. As I said, the cut sheet really enticed me to watch this edit. There are some very bold edits here. And the trimmed down scenes (especially the pod race) works for me. I disagree with Stankpac in this respect. I found the announcer in the pod race to be childish and annoying, so was glad to see him/them go.

Finally, I originally said two things: that this edit needed a Version 2. I recant that with the second viewing. I also said that there are better edits of Ep1 than this. That’s not exactly what I meant to voice. Because I have watched so many SW Ep1-3 edits as of late, I think I was/am just a little saturated with these edits.

Here’s what I meant to convey:

if you liked the original Ep1 (the battle droids , the pod race, all the action [aka a showcase of ILM's cgi] and a few other things that are no longer present in this edit), then you will probably want to go to one of the other edits of Ep1. This is a different version than those.

“… in need of a Version 2″ – what I wanted to say – that all of the reviewers (and some brief PM discussions I have had), have mentioned/noticed the same issues that could be fixed. While these are mostly minor, a Version 2 would make this edit spectacular/premier.

As for a first time out edit, this is great effort and I for one would like to see L8wrtr move away from SW movies and try his hand at something else.

*** I just have never have warmed up to this movie (the original) and other than the FEs I have watched here, haven’t watched the original version on DVD since it was first released – other than to reference a scene for video quality or to verify a plot point. ***

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(Updated: August 25, 2012)
Ahh let’s see where to begin, jeez this is a tough one…..The Phantom er, um i mean Shadow of the Sith, the illegitimate child of the whole Star Wars universe. The movie that quite frankly should have never existed in the first place. For all my ill feelings towards this movie, for whatever reason people keep putting it back in the spotlight, trying to salvage something that will resemble a good sci-fi Star Wars episode. I myself have edited this film many years ago but with so many versions on this site and certain things in my head that I know aren’t quite feasible, I will have to relegate myself to just sit back and watch what others have done. With that in mind, we now have a new fan-edit of this movie from L8twrtr. Can he finally bring balance back to the force or will this movie still come up a big steaming pile of bontha pooda?!

The honest to goodness truth…….NO! The reason being, quite frankly, the original movie just isn’t that good. Period. Watchable, very much so. However, for the origin movie that sets up the beginning tale of the most iconic figure in cinematic history……it flops right on it’s face before it can even get out the starting gate.

The fan-edit itself, I along with probably many other people waited patiently for this movie to download. After reading what seemed to be a great set of cuts/changes, along with the 96 minute runtime, I anxiously awaited to watch it. The Fan logo resembling the THX logo starts things off, very nice i must say. Brownie points there. Then the really nice custom L8WRTR logo comes on, along with what resembles his version of the Lucasfilm logo. Double brownie points. Then, ohh no what happened! We come to the first technical glitch of the movie…..the tile credits. It starts off way to fast and then tries to catch up. Not good. Then the newly revised title crawl starts off with one sentence to grab the audience, when every single other Star Wars film the title crawl is written in paragraph form (2 or more sentences makes up a paragraph). Not good. For everyone that hated the title given by Lucas, as evident with this fan-edit, the title credits ends with a very cheesy homage to the original title:

“Little do they know that a Phantom Menace has been plotting revenge…”

What? I am not making this up. Still shaking my head. I will give L8twrtr some credit though because at least he put the Jedi’s names in the title credits. That always bugged me more than anything. I mean if you watch the original movie, terrifying I know, but Qui-Gon Jinn isn’t mentioned by name until Anakin introduces everyone to his mom. That is like 30 minutes into the film. Jeez Lucas, don’t you think you should let the audience know what the name is of one of the main characters in the film at the very start?! Then the movie finally starts and pretty much in the end you see a mix/match of scenes from previous edits, until you reach the conclusion. I felt there was still a lot of pointless scenes still left in the film that really needed to be taken out. I think that would have really tightened up this edit……**cough** “It’s working, IT’S WORKING!” **cough** Captain Obvious has been cut to a minimum, along with everyone’s favorite Gungan. Good job there. The Pod race is cut together pretty well, but since you eliminated the announcer it becomes a little dull and uneventful. Should have left a few lines here and there. Who said Hanna Barbara isn’t cool?! The re-arranging of the four character plot threads was handled really well. I liked the swift resolve of the Obi-wan/Darth Maul fight. Flows much better now. The ending I found fascinating, not the couple of scenes preceding it (terrible), but because of L8wrtr’s commentary I have to agree that this should have been the last scene of the movie in the first place. You for some reason didn’t fix the match-cut involving Anakin and the audio comes in a little abruptly, but overall I think you ended it very nice.

Before my brain turns into a pile of incoherent goo, let’s break down some technical elements shall we:

VIDEO: When I heard that you used a color corrected version of this movie by Adywann, I was truely excited. Then I watched and then watched again and for good measure looked at it more carefully, but in the end came up disappointed. If my eyes are bad, then I will totally apologize, but I really didn’t see that much of a difference. Also, the deleted scene with the probe droid is pretty bad. Something just looks really off. I did notice that Adywann really plummed out the reds a lot, which was a little distracting (just to name a couple):
1. When the ship docks in the command center
2. Nute Gunray’s cloak
3. Nute Gunray and Rune Haako’s eyes have a strange tint.
Overall, it was pretty average video but a little too much digital compression for my taste. Maybe needs to be encoded with a higher bit rate? I did notice quite a few hard transitional cuts that were a bit weird which made the pacing in the beginning get a little off kilter because of the removal/rearranging of some scenes (just to name a few):
1. No talk on the planet of Naboo. The transition looks very strange. Monitor goes out and then bam straight to the invasion on the planet.
2. The removal of the underwater sequence. Very pointless and useless sequence of events. However, you go from getting the Bongo, Bongo leaving Gunga City, to Nute talking to Sidious, and then bam invade the palace. No real flow. It doesn’t look right because along with the video, it makes the audio sound strange.
3. After fixing the pod, hard wipe to Darth Maul arriving.
4. After Anakin wins race. Wipes to Padme and Shimi, then bam to Qui-Gonn meeting up with Obi-Wan. Not good because of the removal of Qui-Gonn talking to Watto.
5. After Anakin says bye to Shimi, bam right to deleted probe droid sequence. Not good.

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

AUDIO: This was a very mixed bag for me to be honest. There was quite a few hard audio cuts/fades that really wasn’t that seamless. The very best example that I can give is when Anakin introduces Padme to C-3PO. At first I had to do a double take to make sure I heard what I heard, but make no mistake about it you can clearly hear the line you excised “Do you really like him?” I think if you go back and do a revision, you can hammer out all the little kinks.

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

EXTRAS: I liked the deleted scene section because it showed in nice little sections what you took out with really good explanations, Also, the commentary track was well thought out and very informative. Good job.

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

PRESENTATION: This aspect I wasn’t to pleased with, to be honest. The menus are pretty plain and they share the same aspect ratio as the movie, which for a menu isn’t good and there is no audio or anything. I wish a little more care was taken in that regard. Very underwhelming to say the least. Sorry.

Overall: 2 out of 5 stars

FIANAL SCORE: 3 out of 5 stars

In the end I can sympathize with L8wrtr, in that he wanted to create a fan-edit that for himself and possibly many others can watch without having to find the fast forward button!

I meant to say FINAL SCORE: 3 out of 5 stars. Sorry for the typo. 4′o clock in the morning. Need to get to bed. Later.

Since we now rate fanedit from 1 to 10, and giving the various ratings you gave on various aspects in your review,
this edit would be rated 6,5/10 (6 or 7 if you prefer).
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