June 05, 2014
Just when I thought everything that can possibly be done with Star Wars has been done, T-Bone has delivered something wholly new.
Primarily sourced from Blu-Rays and high quality DVD releases, this 720p release looks great. Some high resolution but unrestored deleted scenes are also included. Some less-than pristine footage from DVD and archival sources is used as well. However, the editor has incorporated them in a very natural manner, adjusting the adjacent high-quality footage to ease the transition to and from such footage. It is obvious what’s sourced from what, but it is never (unintentionally) jarring. Some slow motion sequences use artificial frame interpolation to create the illusion of high speed photography. Whether this is visually unappealing is subjective. I wasn’t bothered by it. The stereo soundtrack is mixed well. One early sequence may seem to be problematic at first listen, but it’s actually a rather clever intentional alteration for artistic purposes. I won’t spoil the reason for and meaning of it, however. It’s much more fun to think about it, let it click for yourself.
Good skills on display here. Besides successfully combining a variety of sources, the editor has combined and altered many film sequences in a variety of ways. It’s always convincing, and handled more than competently. There’s one particular moment that was so seamless that I didn’t realize how significantly it was altered until after the revised scene had played out. My brain just accepted it as a natural sequence of events, when it most certainly wasn’t in the original film. Also, there’s at least one chilling subliminal message I caught in there. There may be more.
Very good work here. Smooth crossfades when needed. Almost flawless dialogue replacement in a few spots. No obvious music bleed, if any. A few instances of well-executed music replacement.
This is where the project really shines! This is a radically different story. “A long time ago, in the not too distant future” – indeed! The galaxy is a very different place than the one we’re used to. Technological gaps vary from planet to planet. There are some nice lore references in the location names. If you know what Korriban is, you’ll get just a bit more out of this. If you don’t, you won’t be missing out, either. The primary motivation for the conflict appears to remain religious, but no longer between the Jedi and Sith. It would seem that at some point Earth got tangled up with the Galactic Civil War. And that point happens to be the mid 20th century. Rasputin’s influence is present. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type when talking about Star Wars! Furthermore, it would seem that the Axis Powers are Imperial puppets in this world, with the Allies siding with the Rebels. Also, I’m pretty sure Obi-Wan is a Communist in this version, disillusioned with the Alderaan monarchy. It isn’t entirely clear – in a good way. Much like George Lucas, T-Bone has crafted a large story in an even larger universe. There’s a much bigger story that we’re only getting glimpses of. However, the glimpses make sense. In terms of plot, thematic elements, and imagery everything has meaning and joins with the Star Wars elements in a way that that shouldn’t work, but does. Eventually. Clocking in at just under three hours, this is a slow paced project. Slowly paced – but not poorly. Everything serves a purpose, and pays off in some way. However, it doesn’t become recognizable as version of A New Hope until about the ninety minute mark. You’ll need patience for this one, but it is most certainly worth it.
The setting has changed. The plot has changed. The sequence of events has changed. The characters have changed quite a bit, both in terms of backstory and personality. Star Wars is a sci-fi/fantasy adventure influenced by pop culture of the mid-20th century. Star Wars: The Epic Picture is a war movie, influenced by the tragic history of the mid-20th century. It isn’t deathly serious, of course. It carefully balances just the right elements of humor and levity with the heavy stuff.
It really feels like watching something new, for the first time. That’s what this is all about. Strongly recommended.