It’s no secret that many people aren’t happy with the Star Wars prequels. Several have taken it upon themselves to edit the films and cut together a more a concise story. It seems like it’s coming up more often with the recent 3D re-release. Take for example, the guy who broke down his thoughts on how to improve The Phantom Menace. Topher Grace (That ’70s Show, Spider-Man) took it one step further. He edited the entire prequel trilogy down to 85 minutes—and it was good.
In an effort to learn more about editing, he decided to start with familiar territory and reshape it. According to /Film:
“He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.”
He sent out a top secret invite to a limited number of friends and press for a showing of his edit, titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. Sadly, it was a one-time only screening because of the rights issues involved but those who were there are saying that the three movies were cut down to an effective narrative. Little was kept from Episode I (going along with these notes about viewing order of the saga) and the parts from Episodes II and III were mostly focused on Anakin and Padmé’s relationship and Anakin’s fall to the Dark side. Minimal Jar Jar, no Boba Fett, no Grievous, and no “Nooooo.”
I’m not sure what it says if you can communicate the essence of 6+ hours of film in 85 minutes. /Film says he nailed it, Collider says it worked well, but it could have used a little more dialogue to help you connect with the characters. Either way, it sounds like Grace brought a fresh perspective. I wouldn’t be sad if a copy of his cut found its way to the internet at some point but, apparently, Grace has no intentions of making that happen.