Whereas I believe HAL9000's TPM and AotC are the definitive go-to edits of the PT, somehow he really dropped the ball on RotS, and his final effort doesn't even come close to what L8wrtr accomplished with the same material.
The biggest problem is that this edit is where HAL9000's philosophy of maintaining continuity with the OT really fails him. The whole edit is overall inferior to L8wrtr's, but most of the problems occur at the end. Leia mentions in passing in RotJ that she retains memories of her mother from when she was young. Thus, HAL9000 bends over backwards to make it so Padme lives, and he literally breaks the movie in the process, going so far as to add footage from an entirely different movie (The Other Boleyn Girl). Unfortunately, even the few seconds or so that he uses is completely jarring because the respective films look and feel nothing alike. Also, in the theatrical release of RotS, and illustrated even better in L8wrtr's edit, Anakin joins the dark side to prevent Padme from dying, yet his descent is what ultimately leads to her death. This powerful irony is completely lost in HAL9000's edit. I'm sorry, but an enjoyable film experience is more important than continuity in this case. In the end this is George Lucas' movie, not ours. Making nips and tucks is one thing, but changing the overall plot of the story is not the job of an editor.
HAL9000's edit also includes Vader's "NOOOO!!!!!!" at the end and him throwing a hissy fit, whereas L8wrtr's scene is much more graceful and subdued...perfect, really. The original ending of RotS had a bloated ending and didn't know when to quit, and HAL9000 kept too many of these elements. On the other hand, after the climax in L8wrtr's edit, he ties things up nice and quick.
HAL9000's effort is noble but misguided. It is an okay edit, but there is nothing it does that L8wrtr's doesn't do better. Perhaps the problem is that with L8wrtr's edit of RotS, there really isn't much room for improvement, whereas with the other two prequel films, there was still a lot that needed fixing. I wish I could say that HAL9000's three PT edits constituted the definitive trilogy, but I can't. I recommend watching HAL9000's edits of episodes I and II, and L8wrtr's edit of episode III if you want the optimal experience watching the PT.
This edit gets a 4.0 largely for breaking the movie, which I find unforgivable, although there are a few niggling problems with cuts not being as seamless as they could be.
EDIT: I feel like I need to say more to defend why I gave this edit such a low score. Perhaps the fundamental problem is that the editor's efforts come from a place of contempt, not love. HAL9000 has said on the forums: "I think the prequels would be utterly forgettable were they not Star Wars films. They're obligatory more than anything else." I feel completely differently. I love the PT. I love the pre-empire universe created by it. I love The Clone Wars TV series. I would take Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan over Luke, Leia, and Han any day (yes, you read right). I was a teenager when the PT came out, and warts and all, I'm willing to embrace it as the Star Wars of my generation. I hope HAL9000 comes to realize that his efforts are important, not just to those who value the original trilogy, but to those who treasure the prequel trilogy as well. That's why I think breaking RotS in service of RotJ is such a travesty. RotJ is still good regardless of whether or not Luke and Leia's mom dies in childbirth. The challenge RotS faces is that everyone knows how it ends...Anakin ultimately turns to the dark side. So George Lucas re-indroduces the element of surprise by injecting a dose of irony in that Anakin inadvertently causes the very thing he's trying to prevent, i.e., Padme's death. I like Anakin because he's actually George Lucas' most nuanced character (despite giving him terrible dialogue at times). He's a good guy, but he can't endure loss, which runs contrary to his Jedi training. He loses his mother--yes, she DIES--and he vows not to let it happen again. He's so determined not to lose Padme, that she actually DIES AT HIS HANDS as a consequence of his efforts. This irony is so fundamental to the story--GL starts to set it up in AotC in fact--that I can't believe HAL9000 would do this. Sheer contempt, it seems.
Thank you for the very fair critique. You're appraisal of the edit's philosophical orientation is correct, and your opinion hanging on it is not without merit.
I would argue, however, that there is a different sense of irony to be found at the end of LOE from ROTS. The original irony still exists, but is relegated merely to Anakin's perspective. While we believes that Padmé is dead and that he caused it by trying to avoid it, the audience has been primed to appreciate the newly contrived dramatic irony that Palpatine is profiting from the strings he's been pulling and lies he's told Anakin. (The edit trades situation irony for dramatic irony, in ROTJ's favor.)
I've talked elsewhere about my reasons for keeping the "Nooo" scene, but suffice it to say that certain things about the edit were dictated by other choices I'd made. Things like that sort of ''have'' to stay, given the way everything else has been set up.
Again, I offer a sincere thank you for the insightful review, and for investing your brainpower into interacting with what I've done with this project. One of the benefits of having so many prequel edits is the freedom to mix and match, as you suggest. As far as I can tell, L8wrtr's and my edits can be hot swapped without discontinuity.
I have watched Stankpac' version a few years ago and more recently L8wrtr's. So I tend to compare these two against each other.
HAL keeps the buzz droids sequence from the beginning of the movie. L8wrtr eliminates it and I think it works better. Get to Grievous ship already. HAL keeps Dooku's exchange with Anakin about fear and anger. It's a nice parallel to Ep VI with Luke and the Emperor. Missing in L8wrtr's version but it does flow faster, IMO. Overall, in comparing these two edits side-by-side, it appears to me that L8wrtr is more ruthless in deleting one-liners than HAL is.
Here is one of the most egregious examples of that: HAL keeps the "Hold me Anakin, like you did on Naboo, when all we had was our love." This atrocious line is in HAL's version and not in L8wrtr's and to be honest, that alone is major minus points for me for this edit.
This version is improved from the theatrical release, no doubt.
The biggest thing L8wrtr did for me was something really cool with Anakin's and Obi-Wan's fight at the very end, and it worked very well and my eyes popped open when I saw his solution. No "high-ground" chatter and it made complete sense in terms of action and what these characters would do. Obi-Wan jumps from the floating device on to land and Anakin's jumps a second later after him and Obi-Wan cuts him up. Effin' brilliant.
HAL made an interesting creative choice in having Padme survive and use footage from Natalie Portman from another movie, crying and holding a baby. So that is brilliant in terms of undoing Lucas' destroying continuity in SW VI. But my question as a viewer was: Padme just allows the kids to be separated? Dramatically that seems off, I think in a movie you wouldn't skip the scene where that drama unfolds.
So based on what I saw in L8wrtr's edit of that moment, his is my go-to version for Ep III.
There are singular moments in this fanedit which I like better than the same singular moment in L8wrtr's version, for example, HAL has Obi-Wan cut off one of Grievous' hands right off the bat and it worked well. But overall, there are more noticeable edits that I think work better in L8wrtr's Dawn of the Empire than what HAL chose. I suspect he may be more attached to the original prequels than either me or L8wrtr, based on how old he was when watching the prequels when they first came out and being familiar with them before the original trilogy (I assume).
So to summarize: Ep I: L8wrtr, Ep II HAL9000, Ep III L8wrtr.
These are the versions I will show friends from now on who want to see Star Wars for the first time. Or whenever I rewatch them.
Thanks for the very fair review. I was fifteen when this film originally came out, and enjoyed it, though I was definitely a more OOT-minded fan. (I bought a LaserDisc player the year before in response to the SE-only '04 DVDs.)
One note about the "hold me" dialogue: I felt that scene was important, given the political tensions I was attempting to boost in this edit, cheesy dialogue though there be. I'm looking at whole scenes telling a shifted story, and sometimes individual bits that didn't work in their original context can contribute to the re-edited version of the story. (See Jar Jar in Cloak Of Deception.)
Again, thanks for the great review; light criticism, fair comparisons, and ultimately a positive rating.
But now, Labyrinth of Evil has taken over the title of best edit of Episode III. Why?
The Audio/Video quality is great, so is the editing. The narrative was similar to Dawn of the Empire (that's what I like about this) but better. And of course, MUCH better than the original. The only problems I had were,
1) The removal of the Yoda/Palpatine fight. The fight has a point. When he warns Luke “Do not underestimate the power of the Emperor”, he is speaking from experience. When he goes to Dagobah to hide without the fight people would say "Why doesn't he stop the Emperor?" When he does and fails, he goes into exile. Many people complain that Yoda having a lightsaber contradicts and destroys his character, and they argue that Yoda represented a character that someone didn't need to be physically strong but strong in the heart to be powerful as shown in the Empire Strikes Back, which is correct. And according to them Yoda having a lightsaber destroys his character because of this. But think about it this way; the lightsaber is no laser sword used with physical strength, the lightsaber is a force weapon used by force wielders. The stronger you are in the force the better you use the lightsaber as well.
Did you play the Knights of the Old Republic games? Well in the second one your Master, Kreia, talks to one of your other companions, Atton, and says "Take the greatest Jedi Knight, strip away the Force, and what remains? They rely on it, depend on it more than they know. Watch as one tries to wield a blaster or a lightsaber, and you will see nothing more than a woman, or a man. A child."
We can easily ignore the blaster part because Jedi don't use blasters anyway, except only on dire situations like at the end of Obi-Wan vs Greavous, which also ends with Obi-Wan saying "So uncivilized." But the important part is the lightsaber part. This time it's the opposite. Other than Jedi and Sith, people are never able to use lightsabers properly, why not? Because you need the Force in order to use the lightsaber, which proves that a lightsaber is more than just a laser sword. That is why in my opinion there is nothing wrong with Yoda having a lightsaber.
Ugh. It's still there! I couldn't believe it. The most laughable moment in the prequels that isn't meant to be laughable.
That being said, I prefer the removal of the fight and "NOOOOO" over the continuity issues (Padmé's death, C-3PO, force ghosts) and universe shrinking (CHEWBACCA!!!).
Thanks, HAL9000 for giving us all a go-to Episode III.
I knew it would an unpopular choice to keep the "Nooooo" scene, but it had to be kept. Because Padme lives in this version, this scene is essential in selling that as a legitimate plot point. We see that Vader believes she is dead, Palpatine profits from lying to him about it, and the loose threads are tied up. When we see Padme on Alderaan with Leia, the unsuspecting audience is none the wiser. If I were to remove this scene, the edit would suffer.
I did try to work with the scene to lessen the hilarity of the Frankenstein walk and shouting. I tried, but was unable, to use the "Nooo" line from the 2011 BluRay of Return Of The Jedi instead. Ending the scene earlier didn't work either. There was no satisfying way to transition from that scene to the next, which also had to stay in the film for similar reasons. I'm glad you enjoyed the film, even if your least favorite moment had to necessarily be retained.
And I'm with you on the Chewbacca thing; I wish I could have removed him entirely.
The fundamental change to the plot is that in Hal's version, Anakin's main motivation to turn to the dark side is political, while love for his wife is secondary. If you think this would improve the movie, then you'll love this version, as V5 is an impressive technical accomplishment in fanediting. If you're like me, however, and think that this fundamental change weakens the plot, then this is probably not the version you're looking for.
Interesting to notice that the way this edit's structured is how Lucas first structured the movie, but feedback from people he previewed the picture to made him change his mind and make Anakin's love for Padmé the primary thing to turn him to the dark side.
Regarding the new ending: it fixes a gigantic plot hole - that Leia remembers her mother - by having Padmé survive! Technically seamless, it strengthens the six movie saga, but weakens the prequel trilogy as a trilogy in a way: it takes away the tragic irony of Vader doing everything he can to save his wife only for him to be the one to kill her, in the awesomely edited ending of the original film.
Besides the fundamental creative difference I have with the editor in regards to the plot, this is another very good edit by Hal taking away most of the stupidity and cheesiness and crafting a much more enjoyable experience in that regard from the original film. Palpatine's incredibly cheesy moments during his fight with Windu/when Anakin turns are highlights. Still, I think he takes away a tad too much from this one.
Thank you for this review and the other two for my SW prequel edits. I’m pleased you enjoyed 1 and 2, and that you enjoyed the ‘craft’ of this one, if not necessarily the resultant film itself.
Your review encapsulates my advice to people seeking edits of this film: if you want Padmé to live, hopefully my version executes that idea well. But that doesn’t mean this film in and of itself is made stronger or better for it.
If you have, now or in the future, a fan edit of Episode III which you enjoy alongside my I and II, I invite you to recommend it here in your review.
So I'm willing to forgive Hal if I'm torn on whether or not he's fixed Anakin's fall to the dark side. (Before I get to much into it let me say Hal's handling of everything else in this edit is exemplary, so I won't talk about that stuff.) Anakin's fall as presented in the theatrical film is clearly flawed. Is he really seduced by the dark side, or does he just want to save Padme? Does he really believe the Jedi are evil, or does he just want to save Padme? Does he actually have any reason to turn to the dark side besides saving Padme?
Hal9000 has a smart way to answer yes to that last question. By playing down the Padme dying in childbirth angle, it definitely feels like Anakin has some ulterior motivation for turning to the dark side, with the Padme thing being more of a subtle push to bring him over the edge. But what is that ulterior motivation? We suppose it's because the Jedi are tricksters and keeping Anakin out of everything. Whether or not there's enough here to support that, I'm not sure. Hal does the best he can with what he's got (we all know it's really Lucas to blame for this). Ultimately, either way, it's clear that Anakin has turned to the dark side because he has become disillusioned with the Order, so nice work by Hal for that.
He accomplished what he set out to do in regards to the Anakin debacle, so in that case I'd say Hal has done a great job. There's a nagging part of me that says L8wrtr did this better, but I'm not sure if that's true. To be honest, I'm getting kind of tired of these movies (which is why I've spent most of this review on a digression of sorts). The more I critique the less I enjoy it seems. So even if Anakin's fall didn't totally work for me this time around, I know it did when I viewed this edit's work print the first time around, and I wouldn't be surprised if it worked for me the next time I watch this. Even if it doesn't, the other aspects of this edit are enough for me to say this has become my go-to Episode III. Thanks Hal9000, for making my preferred prequel trilogy!