Topher Grace's 85-Minute Star Wars Prequel Fan Edit Pwns, Too Bad You Can't See It
Thanks to the magic of DVD and editing software, Star Wars fans have had their way with George Lucas's space saga for years now, re-editing bits and parts of the films into fan cuts to celebrate their favorite parts of the franchise (and fix its most cringeworthy bits). So why should famous fanboys be any different? Like, say, Topher Grace, who this week hosted a one-time only screening of his Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back, edited down from the prequels into an 85-minute cut that leaves most of the snoozey old space politics (and Jar Jar Binks' screen time) on the cutting-room floor. To the blogs!
Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta was one of a handful of bloggers invited to see Grace's film, which is unlikely to ever be seen on the interwebs or in public, so you'll have to take his word for it. A few snippets from his recap:
It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.
What's most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. What's better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.
Grace (wisely?) did away with Jake Lloyd's Anakin Skywalker, clone drama, Boba Fett, and Trade Federation blah blah blah, and focused on the Anakin-Padme love story, which still apparently suffers from the clunky dialogue and delivery. Sciretta signed off with his seal of approval, as did eyewitness reports from Collider and First Showing, but they all admit it's difficult to see the cut objectively without virgin eyes.
Now, is there any difference between Grace's edit and a fan edit made by some not-famous Joe Schmoe Star Wars fanboy with an editing yen? I don't see why there would be, unless those years on That '70s Show gave Grace some special insight into the storytelling mindset of Lucas in his prime. As far as hobbies go this is a pretty wonderfully nerdy one to have, although according to reports, Grace has his sights set on re-editing Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind next. If it's Phantom Menace, be my guest. But if it ain't broke...