2014 (1999, 2002 & 2005)
DIRECTORS: GEORGE LUCAS (ORIGINAL FOOTAGE) & ANDREW KWAN (RE-EDIT)
A fan edit making waves on Youtube, A Phantom Edit attempts to make the best of what are, whether you like the prequels or not, poorly written and conceived scripts. The execution is weak, acting and direction is clunky and too much time is spent on plot lines which defy exceptions to the point of wasting valuable screen time.
Episode III (2005) salvages the trilogy to a degree but with the first two episodes, the damage was done. In many ways, the prequels are not worthy of the disrespect that they garner, but lets face it, if they were not part of the Star Wars Saga, then they would have fallen into obscurity long ago.
It is due the loyalty of Star Wars fans that they are still so popular and efforts are made to salvage and excuse them today. And here is one of those examples.
Andrew Kwan begins his two hour re-edit of the seven hour saga by jumping straight into a swifter version of the Darth Maul duel at the end of Episode I (1999), the only scene from that movie to appear. No podrace, shame, not Naboo or Gungan rubbish, no tax issues, just a refocus of the opening crawl to imply that Maul was after the “Chosen One”, Anakin Skywalker and Qui Gon Jin along with Obi Wan Kenobi were fighting to protect him.
Then, straight on to Episode II and the focus is squarely on Anakin and Padme. Jango and Boba Fett hardly appear, which is a shame but the romance, made up here of deleted scenes as well as heavily edited theatrical cuts, is back up to a standard worthy of the trilogy.
Hats of to Kwan who has managed to salvage one of the most poorly written romances ever committed to the silver screen. He achieves this by focusing on the couple without any interruption, removing all the creepy scenes of ‘stalker’ Anakin as well as Padme’s resistance to there coupling and playing the whole affair as a straight forward loving relationship. They both fall in love, simple as that. And it works!
But there is now no wedding, which actually makes more sense. Do they need to get married?
By the 56th minute where are hovering over Courasant and Episode III (2005) begins. With the opening battle cut short, Anakin’s portentous dream is used to better effect to flashback to his arm being cut off by Count Dooku, his mother’s death and his marriage to Padme, but this is only a fleeting shot and this reference never again used in this version. The second half of this focuses on the rise of Darth Vader and the Empire, a little else.
The Clone Wars are shown as background and motivations rather than plot points. Meaning that General Greivous, defiantly one of the better characters from the prequels is missing. But like Jango, he was superfluous to the core story, that of Darth Vader so neither are particularly missed here.
All in all this is a decent work, allowing us to see what story lies at the heart of the prequel trilogy, despatching four hours of gumph and extraneous filler. Granted, not everything that has been cut was rubbish; The Podrace was fantastic and it was great to see so much more Jango/Boba Fett and the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan was alluded too more in the opening of Episode III, but even here, it is hard to find a way to show it properly, proving that even though the love story could be salvaged, The Master/Padawan relationship was still poorly developed and underwritten.
Reminding me of the old Super 8 and 16mm digests of the 70’s and early 80’s, this cut down captures the essence of the saga in a way that Lucas’ bloated and poorly realised epic failed to deliver. A story so littered with nonsense and focusing of plot points which nobody really cared about that it managed to bury its own half decent story in itself, imploding under its own weight as it were.
Here we can catch a glimpse of what could have been and whilst still working with the material which could have been shot better in the first instance, Kwan manages to salvage Star Wars Episdoes 1 – 3 with great effect, a credit to good editing.
A job well done.