Star Wars - Episode I: Shadow of the Sith

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Shadow of the Sith review

Ok, I just geeked out and watched 3 Phantom Menace fan edits in a row. The Phantom Edit, followed by JasonN’s Attack of the Federation and finally L8wtr’s Shadow of the Sith. For a while I considered Phantom Edit to be the definitive version, but having rewatched it tonight I came to see a lot of the problems that have been previously highlighted by others. I didn’t feel like JasonN’s cuts went nearly far enough, while the emperor’s cloaked face seemed quite clumsy. Finally, I viewed L8wtr’s edit, which I have had on my laptop for a while but never ventured more than 20 minutes into.

Well, blow me away, I now have a definitive Episode 1 for my collection. *But* – and this is a massive but – there are a couple of problems that I feel should not only be highlighted, but if at all possible edited. L8wtr, I hope you’re listening! :P

First and foremost, the ending. I can understand you cutting the celebration: personally I’ve always enjoyed it, I love the music and I think its shot well, it’s a highly enjoyable end to a movie which is as much an old-fashioned adventure as anything else. But I think ending on the funeral also works: it’s a beautiful scene and it also perfectly mirrors the ending to Return of the Jedi… however, the final cut of the film into the credits DOES NOT WORK. It has three major problems.

Firstly, while the scene is good, the final shot of lingering of Palpatine is too heavy handed. The PT is pretty clumsy with its reveals; its not clear at what point the audience is actually supposed to realise that Palpatine is Sidius, but to anyone with the slightest understanding of film language, the pyre scene makes it abundantly obvious. Within the original film I dislike how the shot stops on Palpatine (I feel it’s one of the scenes that should be edited) but at least it is immediately followed with the street celebration scene and the audience is just left with a pretty major hint. But to make it the very last scene of the film is simply too heavy handed in my opinion. The fix to this would be to try and make the shot linger less, or to use a different final shot. (This ties to the third problem, but I will get to that.)

Secondly, the use of the standard star wars music doesn’t work. Somebody else has commented on this, and I see you have provided the option of an alternative score. This would be fine, except for…

The third and final problem, is the cut itself. The timing is too abrupt, and the use of the circular wipe just doesn’t match what is in the frame. I know this is the standard way to end the films, but just as you are willing to change the music, I would strongly suggest you consider a different wipe. In my opinion, the best cut would be simply to either fade or cut straight to black. I know this isn’t very ‘star warsy’, but it does fit the film itself.

I adored your edit from start to (almost) finish, but that last second of film really left a sore taste in my mouth. I would beg of you to consider either tightening it or changing it for a slightly different climax, by changing the final shot, timing or wipe and keeping either Duel of Fates or another score that is different to the original.

Now, I will briefly mention the other (lesser) issues I had with the edit, before moving onto praise.

The opening crawl
The dialogue is good, but the crawl itself isn’t great. There is too much space between the letters and it just looks slightly cheap. The other edits I have seen – including the Phantom Edit – had scores which could be mistaken for the original if it weren’t for the altered text. Also, the timing and speed of “STAR WARS” seemed a bit off.

Within the film itself, one of the droids says “roger roger” as mentioned by another viewer.

The probe droid deleted scene
The colouring is very apparent. I don’t really mind this, but anything that could be done to lesser the contrast between this and the other scenes would be good.

The timing of almost all the subtitles could do with tweaking, they tend to appear too early. Also, perhaps using a smaller font would make them seem more natural.

Things I missed: Padme’s pouty “Well I don’t like it” and “You assume to much”. I don’t mind their absence, but I do like the lines.

Finally, the only other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of (and this is simply an opinion) is the inclusion of the “chosen one” subplot. It could be dropped entirely from the prequels and we would be left with a more grounded tale of a man’s corruption and its terrible consequences. However, its not really a problem and I’m jumping complaining about nothing now. 

Now, this is where the film excelled:

The crawl. Yes, the actual graphics need changing, but the dialogue is probably the best fanedit TPM opening crawl I’ve seen. It’s both concise and interesting, and I for one don’t mind the TPM reference at all.

The dialogue: all of it. You have done excellent editing throughout, although of particular note were:

Boss Nas – I didn’t think I’d like this change as Boss Nas’s ticks are pretty central to his character in the early scenes and I felt the altered dialogue would be too abrupt. However, I feel it works very well and you succeed in your goal of presenting the Gungans as being genuinely dangerous (quite an accomplishment considering the material).

The ship escape – removing all the horrible references to R2 makes these scenes considerably better. No cleaning, no naming of R2, etc.

Anakin’s mother – This is the finest editing I have seen of this entire part of the film. Removing Qui Gon explaining the he couldn’t free his mother adds intelligence and emotion to the scene. Similarly, I have been waiting a long time for somebody to clean up Anakin’s goodbye and remove his reference to “returning to save” his mother. Brilliant stuff.

Also, the dialogue during scene at the dinner table is really well edited. The removal of the horrible “I die everytime…” line is very well done; now all the characters appear stronger and more likable. Again, the emotion you managed to get out of Anakin’s separation from his mother is incredible: I was genuinely moved by his loss. You also highlight a great deal of the humanity lost in the PT, Qui Gon now comes across as a wise, kind and caring – yet still dangerous – individual. Anakin is now a scrappy and slightly volatile yet fundamentally decent kid, which is exactly what he should be. Bravo!

If I continue highlighting dialogue I’ll end up discussing almost every scene in the film, so I will move on.

Anakin’s fight – great inclusion, it works really well, showing a violent side to Anakin that isn’t normally shown. Removal of his friends also improves the Tatooine scenes considerably.

The Pod Race – less is definitely more. I was sad at Jabba’s removal, I like him in TPM, but you manage to present the pod race as a genuinely dangerous and thrilling race. Its shorter length definitely adds to the effect, it feels less like an endurance and more like a no-limits drag race.

The final battle – I questioned your inclusion of making Jar Jar a general. It seems an unnecessary scene, especially as *all* of Jar Jar’s actions in the final battle are horrible slapstick. As it turns out, you didn’t include any of them – which is excellent – although I’m still not sure if making him a general is necessary. I was also unsure about making Anakin’s destruction of the Control Ship the focus when I read it, but you’re right it works perfectly. The sense of loss when *every* plan fails really works. I did miss the conclusion to Padme’s capture, I wondered if the throne room scene could be re-edited, but I suppose its conclusion is easy presumed and I probably miss it most because I’m so used to seeing it.

All in all, this is a truly excellent edit, by far the best TPM I have seen. You manage to capture a sense of danger, excitement and emotions that the film has never shown before. However, I would truly implore you to change – 1) the opening credits to one that looks more official, and 2) the final few seconds which really undermine so much of your good work.
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10.0
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10.0
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8.0
L8wrtr's Episode 1 is my preferred version of the movie. The editing is flawless, story beats/choices expertly mapped out, and the pacing feels natural. L8wrtr takes great care to make his presence invisible, while at the same time being ruthless with as many poor aspects of this terribly flawed movie as possible.

This is the version of Episode 1 I hope to show my future kids.

*8/10 for enjoyment, as compared to 3/10 for the original.
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(Updated: August 25, 2012)
Enjoyment
 
9.0
ok, heres my review of mr L8wrtr’s Shadow of the Sith v3. note that I mean no disrespect to the editor and offer my views as constructive criticism as an objective audience only.

!!!SPOILERS ABOUND!!!

The film:
very nice. I am not a huge PT fan and havent watched very many Ep1 edits but this is my favorite of the lot. The pace is brisk and well thought out. everything that could be cut has been in my opinion and the result is a decent version of a film we all hate. Jara Jar has been minimized to a great extent, anakin is tolerable and most of the characters no longer fill you with hate from their silly dialog or questionable actions. This is IMO, the best TPM edit I have seen.

a few really cool areas I’d like to comment on:
-The 20th century fox logo has been replaced w/ a custom L8wrtr graphic as has the Lucasfilm Ltd, both look very slick and are a nice addition.
-The custom crawl was very cool as well, with a new title and new text setting up the film. well done.
-Almost complete battle droid voice removal is a great touch. those guys annoyed me to no end.
-The removal of clumsy jar jar in watto’s shop and at shmi skywalker’s dinner table was exceptional.
-additional scenes such as greedo fights anakin and quigon smashes probe droid were very nice and allowed the editor to remove more garbage scenes in favor of these additions.
-anakin is now a hero during the 3rd act which makes the movie actually make sense.
-removal of the ascension guns, thanks. why were they included originally?
-custom credits very nice.
-bonus commentary is greatly done and is very interesting, explaining many subtle choices that I hadnt even picked up on.

However there were a few minor issues that I noticed, thankfully none really disrupt the enjoyment of the edit:
-slight image stutter on a few wide pans, nothing terrible, hardly worth mentioning
-deleted scene #2 (probe droid) has a slightly different aspect ratio than the film for an 8 second segment.

A few personal opinions where I was not in agreement w/ the editor (not a problem and doesnt effect my rating)
-droid says one roger roger still around 1:14:00. why?
-the dramatic ending of the films tone is completely shattered by the abrupt crash into the typical star wars theme. I understand that this is “the proper way” to end a star wars film traditionally but IMO it just deflates the ending in every way. I think Duel of the fates would be much more appropriate here since we are coming out of a variation of that theme and it is a somber scene foreshadowing the entire saga to come. BANG! Happy Music. It was the only thing that doesnt work for me in this edit, but I respect the editors decision to “stay true” to the ending of all the other films.

The extras:
Theres a fantastic commentary track that spans the feature, explaining what was cut, why, and gives alot of insight into the editors mind and passion for the material, very well done, clear and interesting. I wish more edits featured commentary as its much cooler than studio released commentary IMO.

Deleted Scenes reel, this is a nice inclusion but only angered me after being reminded what I had managed to forget over the last 10 years. The scens are divided up into characters w/ text explanations setting up each reel. a nice addition even if I hate all of this footage:)

Video: 8/10 this color corrected version from Adywan’s source is very nice, black levels are pristine and overall its nice to look at. The deleted scenes vary in quality from 7/10 (almost unnoticed) to 5/10 (wow, thats different) but are of no fault of the editor. the deleted scenes were not in nice quality to begin with and look fine here despite the obvious drop in fidelity.

Audio: 5.1 surround is here although I cannot rate it as the review copy I watched was 2.0 stereo. The stereo sounded great (albeit a bit low) so I really doubt the 5.1 sounds “worse”

Editing: 9/10 exceptional skill from a first time editor. a new viewer would not notice his presence (even if star wars vets cant miss it since we have all seen this film multiple times). no hard cuts/etc. a fantastic first effort. I cant wait to see ep 1 and 2 by L8wrtr.

Entertainment: 10/10 I have never been so entertained by TPM. I actually liked this movie for the first time.
at 96 minutes, there is nothing more that can be cut. As of now, this is my go-to replacement copy of TPM.

DVD: 7/10 simple but well authored, intro clip into a static menu w/ the options: play film, commentary and deleted scenes.

Final Average: 8.5 rounded up to 9/10. a great effort from a new talent. well worth any jaded star wars fans attention.
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