After watching Hal9000's fantastic edits of Episodes I & II, I finally was able to conclude a prequel marathon that I thoroughly enjoyed with Siliconmaster's masterful edit of Episode III!
I have not seen many Episode III fanedits, as I would always give up after disappointing experiences with I & II, but Hal9000's edits of I & II changed that. Seeing what Hal9000 accomplished in I & II without significant restructuring or too much cutting, I decided to go with Siliconmaster's edit of III as it seemed to be even lighter on the changes and cuts, and I feel III is the strongest of the prequels in its original form. Now even stronger, as the best elements have been reinforced and strengthened (the characterization and motivation of Anakin in particular).
There may have been a transition or two where I noticed a cut, though nothing memorable enough to detract from the experience. So insignificant, in fact, that it may have just been my knowledge of the original made me notice them at all. In any case, this edit was of the highest quality and only gets a point off for enjoyment due to personal preference concerning 1 or 2 brief scenes that I personally would remove if I had these editing skills.
As with Hal9000's Episodes I & II, Siliconmaster has elevated this film (and the prequel trilogy) to a place I never though possible: a worthy companion to the original trilogy!
I always liked the "Revenge of the Sith" and Hayden Christensen's Anakin always worked for me (in the "attack of the Clones," too). Sure, there were some quibbles with ROTS. The slapstick was not great, nor were the Jar-Jar cameos, but these were not a deal-breaker. It was, I felt and still feel, the best of the PT movies.
For me the problem in ROTS was not Anakin, or Padme, or Palpatine, or Jar-Jar. It was always the Jedi Council, as it waffled and whinged and seemed unable to see what was going on in front of its collective nose, leaping off to far-flung star systems at the drop of a hat, while ignoring the threat across town and the Sith Lord who pops in for chats. To be fair, this problem did not start in ROTS, but it seemed more starkly obvious in the context of the ROTS narrative, which exuded dread and doom. It's hard, reading the script again, to find exactly the exact words and moments when this image of the Council emerged. Perhaps it was partly the result of the bloated exposition that dragged the film to a crawl at times. Perhaps it was partly a carry-over from the preceding prequels, where no one seemed to get a sense that Anakin's problems went a lot deeper and were a lot more serious, than a dash of fear and anger. After all, Luke had both in spadefuls, but they did not translate into paranoia, rage, jealousy, massacres, almost strangling a pregnant wife etc. The whole "Chosen One" narrative was never an adequate cover for this ongoing inability to read the situation -- something everyone does at times, but not altogether what you might except of a powerful military-mystical order with thousands of years of experience, an endless war with a dangerous rival, top-ranking military generals and a big dose of precognitive abilities.
Well, this fan-edit nails the problems. It pounds along at a relentless pace, it's clear upfront and from day one that the Jedi know Palpatine is a serious danger and don't trust Anakin, and are actually taking action. There is more silence, more brooding, less spelling everything out in triplicate. Palpatine is more subtle, Anakin is darker from the start, Yoda and the Council are more dynamic, Padme is tragic. The descent of Anakin is more subtle, too: his fears entail far more than the possible loss of his wife and child, his motives likewise are more complicated. Rages and paranoia burst out of him, and are clearly framed as way more than a doting dad-to-be worried about his wife's upcoming labour or someone with a bit of work stress, and passed over for a promotion. His descent includes thinking, really believing, that what he does in the end -- an apprenticeship, a coup, massacres of friends and children and allies -- is necessary but still awful. It is not just a means to an end. This complexity and contradiction, also on display at times in the OT, makes him more than a cartoon villain. He is sincere in his horrors.
Last, the spectacular set-pieces stand out with crisp cutting ... and let me say here, wow, this is a smooth edit, immersive, really just incredible.
What can I say, I loved this version! Miss it at your peril! Now if only I could see the "Sanded Down" AOTC fanedit, which some have called a worthy companion to this masterly job.
This is it, folks. The definitive edition of Revenge of the Sith. A bold pronouncement, but one I believe in unflinchingly and wholeheartedly.
With the Skywalker Saga just months away from coming to an end, I'd recently endeavored to find the very best fan edits of the Star Wars movies as part of my quest to have a definitive, cohesive, enjoyable, and consistent Saga that can be viewed in chronological order as one complete 9-part story. Once I got to ROTS, I sampled a variety of edits, but ultimately settled on ROTS Rebalanced v 1.4 by Noah Bronstein/Siliconmaster.
Why is this the definitive version of ROTS?
I think ROTS is not only one of the best of the prequels, but in fact of the better Star Wars movies overall. From beginning to end, it has just the right amount of action and drama, and the space battle at the beginning is one of the best openings of any Star Wars movie IMO. Nevertheless, there's plenty that's *off* about the film.
Rebalanced takes the best of HAL9000's excellent edit, and steers the film in a direction that's both fresh and true to the original. Living up to what's advertised, NOTHING in this edit appears like an edit at all; every change is 100% "invisible" in that regard.
What really stands out (beyond brilliant dialogue trims and tightening up the story and action) is the way Anakin's fall is so fundamentally shifted. Despite subtle edits, this version gives us a VASTLY more satisfying Dark Side seduction for Anakin than the clumsy, implausible version we got in the original film (Anakin becoming a murderous villain for no other reason to save Padme always rang hollow). In this version, we get a much better characterization of Anakin from the very beginning; there's no hesitation to kill Dooku, no unrealistic whining in front of the council. In this truly clarifying edit, Anakin's fall is about his own desire for power, his sincere belief that the Jedi are using him and seeking to take power via a coup, and his alliance with Palpatine. It's Palpatine's promise of power combined with the Jedi betrayal that puts Anakin across the threshold more than anything else. In this version, it's ultimately about power, not love; Even the vision of Padme's death and Palpatine mention of "saving his wife" can ultimately be seen within this context.
Of course, there's so much more; you can look at the change list yourself. Suffice it to say that these edits are fantastic, without exception, and make ROTS a much stronger film. From my perspective, the most important thing I can convey is how much more satisfying, believable, and coherent Anakin's fall is here. Watching ROTS in the context of the 8 films we have so far (watching all my chosen edits back-to-back in chronological order) makes for a far superior transition between Episodes III and IV.
My only minor quibbles:
- The scene with Vader, Palps, and Tarkin watching the Death Star under construction is just cringey and has nothing whatsoever to do with the events of ROTS. Always hated it and was disappointed to see it kept here.
- The robot saying that Padme is "medically, perfectly healthy" (or whatever) is extreme cringe. I think it would have been much better to just trim it to "She's dying" or even "For reasons we can't explain, she's dying."
Nevertheless, this is the best version of ROTS available.
It can't be emphasized enough. You owe it to yourself to see this.
Fantastic edit! Love this edit most of all others. Drastic reediting making this movie a totally new experience surrounding Anakin and his very emotional journey to the darkside. Many expressionistic scenes re-cut and re-ordered create a whole new vibe to this movie. Highly recommended.