Continuing on from L8wrtr's wonderfully watchable "Shadow of the Sith" comes my 2nd go-to in the ever-elusive "perfect SW prequel fanedit series " search. I like L8wrtr's takes on the first two films more than any others; they fit right in with Lucas's "jazz riff" comment on the significance of the first two movies, but now they actually do feel like jazz riffs, lead-ins. If you follow the canon chronology of Star Wars, after this film comes the "Clone Wars" TV series (some fine edits from smudger9 to be found over there) and, with that, a lead character we actually grow to understand, care about, and find worthy of the title of ANAKIN SKYWALKER.
...and with that, let's discuss what fanedits of "Attack of the Clones" have in common - they're all trying to outwit, outrun, and otherwise nullify, neutralize, and make a persona non grata the CHEESE, the CORN, the serious stupidity that forever marks the prequels as their own worst enemy. Lucas had the world in the palm of his hand, and he blew it.
But not entirely. There's a reason why we care so much - there's so much mythology that Lucas filled in, probably more than we give him credit for. We were all rather clueless before the prequels "me so"-d themselves all over the damn place; now that the cat is out of the bag we forget how mysterious it all was the 16 years of waiting between ROTJ and TPM. Attack of the Clones suffers from almost as much clawing-your face-in-horror idiocy as its predecessor, but we live in an interesting era where, truly, the best criticism of a movie is to make another movie. That L8wrtr has done.
What's improved enough to recommend this one over all others?
1 - the usual first act scenes eliminated - esp. that diner. Right from the get-go this film was in trouble with that opening line - "We made it!" Now it's gone. Love how restrained Anakin is w/ Padme.
2 - Many fanedits take some really unorthodox approaches to that Naboo courtship horror. This edit takes the simplest approach - just eliminate the "sand-speak." No need for day-for-night, or halfway editing the dialogue - just jettison the obvious. I do enjoy the left-in waterfall fascism silliness - just two kids slugging out half-baked political ideas. The fact that Padme and Anakin is the focus of the story arc is exactly right.
3 - all action-based set pieces - Obi-Wan's visit to Kamino, the asteroid chase, the droid factory - they're all edited in order to keep the excitement there, but not outright deleted.
4 - the Battle of Geonosis is the diamond in the rough from Attack of the Clones. This entire sequence - from arena-execution stuff to the final chase across the dunes - is astonishing. L8wrtr gets the appeal and keeps what is necessary, allowing it to feel like a rich, full climax - the first battle of the Clone Wars. We are very far away from the juvenility of the Naboo battle in the first movie.
What could have been fixed (these are nitpicks. I'm so happy with the edit I don't really care about these that much, but I'll mention them anyways).
1 - there are a couple of edits that feel really abrupt - the Kamino translation-death scene, the lone couple of shots of the fireplace sequence, etc. The scenes really rocket and the Lucas-wipes are a little overwhelming as we cut between Naboo and Obi-Wan.
2 - the opening chase could have kept some of the good-natured banter between Obi and Anakin. I think the lead-up to the eventual betrayal (esp in context w/ the entire Clone Wars series) must include the nature of their closeness, even in it's corniness.
3 - There are some really, really forced moments on Geonosis between Padme and Anakin. Lucas, you must show, not tell - and having Padme say "I love you, truly, deeply" or whatever instead of us being able to feel it as naturally as the weather is really evidence of GL's waning abilities. Watch David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" - expository dialogue between the two leads on their love for one another serves to reinforce what we already know and feel. Here, it's as if GL is panicked we don't get it (which we don't, at that) and needs Padme to try and shove some feeling into this stone robot of a romance. The KISS that follows, when Anakin saves her on that beast-thing, is in a handful of "worst moments of all time" in Star Wars. A lot of this stuff could have been jettisoned. Isn't it OK for us to know and feel how crazy-in-love Anakin is for Padme, but not necessarily the other way around? Couldn't "not knowing" Padme's feelings be part of the insecure streak that causes Anakin to gradually lose all rationality? I mean, regular, non-Jedi teenage Earth boys are basket cases when first romances come around, largely due to not knowing truly and fully the other's feelings. Leaving the dialogue and the KISS in there isn't bad (again, this is a nitpick), but it would certainly keep Padme's entire character, personality, and motivations just a tad on the secretive side. If that makes the story seem more like "Raging Bull", well, so be it! Maybe Padme would need another scene or two removed in this film and the third to continue that arc of possibility. Perhaps the build-up of having her emotions distant and removed would add another angle, and a believable one, at that, to Anakin's 11th-hour choke-hold.
What cannot be salvaged -
Only one point to make, the obvious one: Like TPM, AOTC is awash in amateurish performances. On the good side, Natalie is still Natalie, though it clear her acting chops are getting better. Sam Jackson has a big role, nothing wrong here....Ewan is as reliable as ever. But Hayden's acting is the not-so-white elephant in the very small room. His irritating and embarrassing scenes are thankfully minimized, but it's quite telling when an ANIMATED series makes you feel like you're finally meeting the character. Seriously, the way the series handles the character is just fantastic (great voice acting). Here Hayden couldn't act his way of a potato sack, and the god-awful attempts at acting post-lessons or whatever in the third movie are just that - attempts at "acting". There is no character here, just a symbol. Maybe that's enough for some people, I don't know. Anyways, L8wrtr has gone a long ways towards trying to find essence of personality here (that's why i like the waterfall talk), but, good god, the kid doesn't react AT ALL to getting his ENTIRE ARM CHOPPED OFF. And no, I don't believe he is using "the force" to control his emotion. This is just BAD ACTING. And, yes, a weak central performance can kill the entire film. While L8wrtr clearly has that in mind, how can we ultimately hope to get around this? Shot of reshoots, we can't. For comparison, just look at Mark Hamill's brilliance in Ep. 4 & 5 - his ability to control emotion or express it in any way makes us totally forget WHO LUKE IS - a supremely cocky and arrogant kid who, by ROTJ, has some pretty strange perceptions on what being a "Jedi" is. We just picture Luke as the hero of heroes. That's what a great performance can do - create layers of contradiction, emotion, and mystery. Here, it's just the empty-shell symbol who doesn't like sand and 'slaughters them like animals'. It's about as deep as a puddle of spit.
Anyways, we got a movie worth seeing here after all's said and done. That battle of Geonosis is just amazing to behold, and I appreciate being able to not think about it's impending arrival - that means what I'm currently seeing onscreen is worth something. As I mentioned in my review of Shadow of the Sith, this one feels like what GL should have released if wanted us to get another snapshot-jazz riff experience before the real heart of the story came to be. Can you imagine the furor and feelings that would have flown about if he had released this exact version in 2002?
All I can say is WOW. I can't believe I actually enjoyed Attack of the clones! If you are someone like me who just wants to see better Star Wars films, look no further. This is a FANTASTIC edit. I only have minor gripes
Full disclosure: I'm in the middle of downloading L8's Episode I and III, but haven't had a chance to watch them before viewing Episode II. This review is only regarding L8's Episode II against the theatrical version and another fan edit, Attack of the Phantom.
Given the limitations that L8 had with Attack of the Clones and uncompleted deleted scenes, he really has done something quite grand with his edit. The only other fan edit I've seen of this film was Attack of the Phantom. It's difficult to completely say which one narratively is better because both have their pros and cons. Technically speaking, L8's version is leaps and bounds beyond what The Phantom Editor had at his disposal. There's a few audio bits that pop up, but for most viewers, they will not notice.
L8 has a better eye than Lucas for what needed to be in the film. The deletion of Anakin/Padme with Padme's parents in Naboo not only worked from their relationship, but it also humanized Padme in a way that the entire theatrical trilogy failed to do. By not having this scene in the film, there's a huge hole in her character and she begins the trilogy as a strong-willed Queen of the people to a battered housewife. Quite unfortunate. Also necessary was the inclusion of Obi-wan and Mace on the landing platform. This scene works better than what was in the original film, and it also shows a bit more of the technology of the time with the warp ring on Obi-wan's fighter.
Even in The Phantom Editor's cut, I never cared for Anakin. L8 did the seemingly impossible and made him an interesting character (on par with the presentation of Skywalker in later seasons of The Clone Wars). He's very quiet and has issues interacting with other people, but genuinely cares for people. He's much more of a follower who finally becomes proactive when he murders the Tuskin Raiders. Also, the confession that he makes to Padme later in the film is brilliant. It's short and sweet and he's asking for help from Padme. Rather than blowing up in emotion ("I slaughtered them like animals!"), he is trying to keep it all in. It's more of a nuanced performance that exists inside of a very one-note original characterization. Quite surprising.
Also surprising what how much of Padme and Anakin on Naboo existed in this cut and how effective it all is. There's a definite give-and-take between these two people who are subtly trying to decide whether to follow their heart or their duty. If only Lucas would have given L8 more to work with, this would have been even more effective. More on that later.
Removing the mystery of Kamino works well. It's no longer a missing system, but a planet that is well-known like any other. It makes sense that Sidious wants the Jedi to discover the Clone Army because it is crucial to the final plan. Removing the system of the Jedi Archive never made sense. This flows much better and I never had any confusion as to what Obi-Wan was doing. The assassin (via subtitles) mentioned Kamino and Obi-Wan goes to figure what the heck is going on over there. It's simple and grows more complicated as the cloning facility is discovered, without any spoiling of it from Dexter.
Thankfully, L8 kept the asteroid chase in the film, which was removed by the Phantom Editor. L8 small cuts work wonders here.
Once everything comes to a head on Geonosis, it's hard to see anything really sticking out as missing. Like Attack of the Phantom, L8 removes 3P0 and R2 from the droid factory (thank you!), so the focus of the action is solely on Anakin and Padme, with Anakin saving Padme instead of R2. Seamless, in my opinion, and truer to character. Sure, we didn't see every monster get killed in the battle arena, but honestly, I didn't miss it. Once the droids come out, it would make sense that the creatures were either moved away or stayed out of the battle. It never crossed my mind. The edit is tight, everything moves quickly, and there isn't much time to think about anything that is missing.
Some may dispute the shorted action sequences across the board on this cut, but in my opinion, L8's cuts help Episode II fit within the world of Star Wars in a way that it hasn't before. The Jedi rarely feel like over-powered gods, Yoda doesn't pick up a lightsaber and he stays on his walking stick, and there's much less flipping around from non-Jedi characters. Jango Fett fells more like an actual human being here in that he's not at the fighting level of the Jedi. He ran from Obi-Wan and fought from a distance. In his shorter fight with Mace, he never stood a chance.
What's not so good?
Thankfully there isn't much here that is weak, but what is there will stick out. Quite frankly, the fireplace scene is very odd. It lasts about 10 seconds and Anakin and Padme look at each other (in reverse motion to make the choreography work). That's it. It's meant to imply that the two slept with each other, but it isn't necessary. This is one place where the Phantom Editor's version is more successful. In his edit, Anakin and Padme go to Naboo and kiss by the lake (Padme never pulls away) and the following morning Anakin is at the same balcony when Padme comes up and tells him that she heard him have a nightmare. That really worked for me. In L8's version, Padme and Anakin are insinuated to have been intimate but never kiss until the final act, instead he just touches her back while they're at the lake, they talk, and then sleep together. It's a little odd.
I would have preferred the sequencing to be a bit closer to the Attack of the Phantom version, while still adding the talk on dictatorship but removing the dinner scene where Anakin uses the Force to help Padme cut her dinner. That dinner scene is ultimately unnecessary and only sets up the "aggressive negotiations" line near the end, which works just fine without it. Plus, we've seen three dinner scenes with Anakin and Padme almost back to back to back. It makes the timing of the story just a bit muddy.
Other than that, this is a great way to watch the film and definitely worth the wait to download! Great job and I look forward to seeing the other episodes of L8's trilogy.
In my opinion, This is the best edit of Attack of the Clones that exists. It is my current go to version. Awesome job.
This is the greatest edit of Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Some people may argue it's Q2 who has done the greatest Episode II edit but I disagree. I think L8wrtr done it.
The quality was perfect, and the editing was great, it felt like it was never edited in the first place, except in the very beginning, where after the L8WRTR FANEDIT screen with Fox fanfare, a frame of the Fox screen comes out. Other than that, it was great.
The narrative was so much better than the original. And, I really enjoyed it.
EDIT: Changed my mind about the best edit. It's now Hal9000's edit that is the best. However, this one is still an amazing fanedit.