I have no real love for the prequel trilogy, as discussed in the past. However, with Episode VII coming out in December and Ha having never seen the prequels, I wanted to find tolerable versions of the films that I could watch alongside her.
Enter the Fan Edits! In the past, I have seen the Phantom Edit, Mike Nichols’ edit of The Phantom Menace. However, he never released Episode III nor did HD versions of his edits, so I looked for a complete series in HD. After some research on Internet Fan Edit Database, I decided to check out l8wrtr’s set. The three edits are generally well regarded, receiving 8.9 / 9.0 /9.3 out of 10 from the community with at least 26 votes for each.
Having not seen the any of the prequels in, likely, at least 5 years, my memory wasn’t battling, trying to remember things that were taken out or adjusted.
- They are all quite good. I kind of feel Episode 1 (renamed Shadow of the Sith) is a bit short, but as I discussed about the Phantom Edit 7 years ago, if you do not have additional content to work with, as the real director would, it can be difficult. The pace in Episode 1 is particularly quick; it feels like you’re going from intense scene to intense scene with no time to relax. This is true across all the episodes, however. E I and II are each 96 minutes, while E III is 112.
- Try to watch them without seeing what is removed or changed. After watching Episode I, I looked through the notes to understand the changes. This was a bad idea as it reminded me of all the negatives I hated. It’s better to enjoy these as the true versions and not know what else is out there (as Ha now does).
- They are rewatchable. In fact, I am fairly certain I will be using these as my definitive versions of the movies if I ever want to watch the prequels again.
I realize this isn’t quite a detailed review of what makes the edits good or not good, but it is hard to have such a discussion without spoilers. I think you are better off just watching them for yourself, assuming you are like me and find it difficult to watch George Lucas’ versions. Highly recommended.