Review Detail

9.7 49 10
FanFix February 25, 2014 31110
(Updated: February 03, 2020)
Overall rating
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Visual Editing
The concluding movie in Hal's revamped prequel trilogy really packs a punch. I don't think it's as polished as his episode 2 edit, but this was a damn banger of a conclusion to a trilogy of edits which somehow conjured up some goodwill in me towards these movies.

In my reviews of the previous edits I said that these were more conservative edits in the sense that they kept the same continuity as the original movies and that they shouldn't really contradict any of the currently existing expanded universe/legends material. Basically, they're not radical edits. While that is still true, I've since devised a more accurate description, one that will need a bit of a tangent to explain.

A new hope's rough cut was disastrous. Lots of completely useless, slow scenes with agonizing dialogue, some terrible effects, and awful pacing. It's not hard to compare it to the prequels, really. But, in a pleasant twist of fate, the editors of that film took Lucas' beast and crafted a masterpiece, and now all these awful scenes are merely a curiosity to gawk at. Cringworthy dialogue was trimmed, scenes were rearranged to allow a satisfying flow of information, and the plot was tightened and even enhanced (fun fact: the plot point where the death star was preparing to imminently attack the rebel base during the battle of yavin was completely invented by the editors, and is only implied through edited-in visuals and off-screen voices). It's amazing what a job they did.

This is what Hal's edits feel like. They don't feel like radical alterations that are the products of years of hindsight, fan backlash and other fanedits. They, of course, are exactly that, but they don't FEEL like it. They feel like the original editors had all the footage in front of them and, free of Lucas' control, they took an objective, unobstructed view at what the movies were and improved them as far as humanly possible in an even and smooth way. They aren't looking to satisfy fans or an expanded universe or a higher up, it's just an earnest effort to make treasure from trash.

Anyway, on to the actual review. As i said in the intro, i prefer the episode 2 edit, because that just felt like a fun romp through the galaxy without any glaring distractions. This edit is more technically impressive, but it does have a few holes. It might be a byproduct of the original movie being too ambitious; instead of just a fun adventure story, it was trying to be a dark character study and political drama, without being written or acted well enough to pull it off. The structure is too heavily embedded in these genres to make it truly feel like another great star wars story, but hal polishes it to the best of his ability, not as a star wars story, but the best possible episode 3 that it can be.

Anakin's motivations are simultaneously my biggest problem and the greatest achievement of this edit. The political side of his motivations are so spot on it hurts. The jedi counsel is both just but also does some questionable things; their treatment of Anakin is sometimes justified but also sometimes unreasonable. Palpatine is kind of obviously evil but nevertheless it is believable that his promises would tempt Anakin. Anakin's political fall to the dark side is very believable, gradual and well paced. My problem with it is the other side of his motivations; his love for his wife. While it's true that the political elements of this edit are actually pretty engaging, in a stark contrast Padme's impending death is not emphasized enough.
The biggest problem with the original movie is that Anakin goes from a good jedi to child-murderer pretty much overnight and that's even less believable with all the emphasis that the movie puts on Padme's imminent death, but this edit goes too far in the other direction. Palpatine constantly tempts Anakin with the power to save his wife, but with a single brief nightmare scene early in the movie I had long forgotten that Padme dying was ever a consideration, and I was so invested in the drama with the Jedi counsel that to spend so much time talking about Padme felt kind of irrelevant. I feel that some of the Padme dying stuff could have been reinstated to make the narrative better, because in order to remove that plotline too much good stuff would have to be removed, if it was even possible.

As for a lesser problem, C3P0 and R2D2's role was trimmed too much. I hate their inclusion in this trilogy, but I kept thinking how odd it was that they were in this movie, because it wasn't adequately explained. 3po and r2 removal was executed very well in the previous edits, but it was in this edit that I just couldn't parse why they were here and what their role in the movie was. Even if it was just for arbitrary reasons or nostalgia reasons, some of these scenes should have been retained for narrative clarity. This might just be a personal thing though, so your mileage may vary.

As with Hal's other edits, this is paced beautifully, never getting boring, never going too fast; it's a dream. Like with his episode 2 edit, trimming so many bad scenes and bits of dialogue elevate the rest of the movie. The opera house scene, the scene of anakin finding out padme was pregnant, the scene of anakin just silently thinking in the jedi chambers; there are so many wonderful scenes paced so beautifully that this movie just about achieves that same phenomenon that the original trilogy achieves where all the weird bits of shoddy acting practically fall into the background unnoticed because the whole experience is so smooth and seamless.

If there was a singe thing that I could switch back to the original version of is Padme's death. I'm in the camp that thinks that padme should have died rather than lived. While editing wise, it's integrated seamlessly, I really believe that the dramatic irony of Anakin killing the one he set out to save is far more beneficial to the movie than a single plot hole with a small bit of dialogue from the OT. In fact, this new ending brings up an even bigger and more distracting plothole; why did luke get seperated from padme when she was perfectly fine to raise leia on Alderaan? I get that they were seperated for safety during order 66 but if she was going to keep one then why not just stay with them both on a remote planet or send both away? The whole point of separating with family is so that even if they find one of you the others would live, and keeping leia kind of destroys the purpose of that. Again, ymmv on how annoyed you are by this but it's at least just as big plot hole as her dying.

Even if this review was filled with complaints, they really are just nitpiks of a fantastic edit. I only prefer episode 2 more because that was a simple star wars adventure without any huge narrative holes or weird genre/style changes in it in the first place. With a more complex narrative comes more complex problems, but Hal manages not only to make a good movie from a bad one, but makes it good through it's own style and merits, rather than bending it into something it isn't. Good on you Hal, I can now watch the prequels without the existential dread of this series never being good again.

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