February 13, 2014
After watching Hal's edit of Episode 1, I was bracing myself for a repeat of my opinion on his last edit; a nice tightening-up that couldn't save a flawed movie. But I was pleasantly surprise. He actually tricked me into enjoying this film, which is a downright miracle given the circumstances. This is a tour-de-force in the art of less-is-more. The best way I can describe it is like this: James Rolfe (aka the Angry Video Game Nerd), in an ironic twist of fate, actually went really easy on the prequels in a video he did on them, and in this video he describes Attack of the Clones as an "average summer blockbuster". I don't agree with him on the original movie. But with this edit, that's a much more accurate description. Hell, that may even be underselling it a bit.
The love plot is the most notable fix. I was downright flabbergasted at how much he improved it. It's still somewhat saccharin since there isn't a proper emotional setup to it, they just find each other kinda pretty then started dating, but dammit it almost had me smiling in a few places, and even if it made me feel just the tiniest smidge of a hint of emotion, it accomplished hell of a lot more than what the original movie did. It's paced well, full of smart trims and omissions, and Anakin's creepy obsessiveness and occasional maniacal rants are cut off cleaner than a skywalker's hand.
Anakin straight up came off as a terrible person in the original movie, what with his endless whining and the above-mentioned rants. He was awkward in a creepy way, and straight up supports fascism and is okay with massacring a village of sand people. Perfect marriage material. This is, of course, all trimmed. He and Obi-wan seemed like enemies in the original, but with all the antagonism gone they actually seem like good friends. I had genuinely forgot that there were a good few lines of decent banter between the two, despite how little time they spend together. But despite that Hal manages to retain the fact that Anakin still has some problems with Obi-wan's teaching, but it's gentle enough that you know that it isn't going to get in the way of their friendship. In fact it seems normal for a growing student like Anakin.
The addition of the two deleted scenes featuring padme are beyond essential. It actually blew my mind that the scene where she addresses the senate at the start wasn't there originally, it seems so essential for her character. The scene with her family does wonders for the pacing of the love story. These two added scenes are minor but they go a long way towards making padme seem like a main character.
Of course there are the usual trims to the over-bearing political drama. This edit is a step up from cloak of deception in this regard. There was a slight hint of it going a little too fast and having not enough information in that edit. Here, the thought that there was more than what's included in the movie is crazy. The flow and pacing of the movie is gorgeous, really feels like the original trilogy and not the slog that was the original. Kenobi's part of the story flows well too. Dex's diner actually comes off as pretty fun in this edit with the huge trim, and the whole investigation gets right to the point without being too overdrawn. One hitch is that I didn't fully understand how Kenobi found out how to get to Kamino between finding out the archives are incomplete and talking with mace before setting off. I kind of just assumed mace knew and told him directly, but it wasn't very clear. Didn't bother me too much though, because it at least had to the courtesy to be paced well.
The whole edit isn't too deep or amazing, but it turns a once agonizing slog into an entertaining flick that's really easy to watch. I once considered this my least favorite star wars film (Phantom menace eventually took that mantle), but now it's been turned into an inoffensive and even enjoyable addition to the star wars series. Good on you Hal.