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IFDB Review: Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Lone Gungan Edition):
#1
Notable fan fixes usually get quite good reviews on here, but I've not found most prequel fan edits to really be good enough. Streamlining, trimming, minor changes or only cuts, that is what they mostly consist of. So I was expecting it again here. But the number of changes here just exceed any version of the phantom menace I have seen yet. The visual editing was without any noticable errors, but the musical editing was phenomenal. It was great to hear those old musical cues again. They single handedly saved a bunch of scenes for me. This is really the first time I was surprised at the amount of changes, and the quality of the production, in a fan edit. Now, the reason I didn't give the narrative or enjoyment a higher score has nothing to do with the effort of the editor, but the abysmal state of the original movie. And having seen the movie already a few times didn't help either, and certainly stops me from being emotionally invested barring some really big changes to the flow of the story, and the story itself.One of the biggest flaws structure wise in phantom for me, is how little it is connected to the two other films. Lucas apparently wanted to do a kind of stand alone story, like a new hope. To blow up the evil thing at the end and then have some kind of happy ending. But simply trying to do something like before does not guarantee anything. The problem goes hand in hand with the all too present yet all too broken narrative of naboo. So much of the film is focused on trying to save naboo and yet we have no reason to care, and it has no connection to anything else in the film. The gungans are silly, and the naboo are dull. That is, in the original version. Obviously in this one only the naboo remain. But because of the way the original movie was set up, there is no real tension or drama between two opposing forces. The neimodians stay on their ships and take over the planet with their silly droids, then comes tatooine, and then the naboo go back to the planet and remove them. That's really all there is. With a new hope there was a real feeling of desperation concerning the rebellion. Inspired by real life revolutionary and rebellious movements, we get that sense that the rebellion is the underdog. But not here.Sad to say, I didn't feel like this edit improved that narrative "oomph" enough for me, because of the weak source material. I suppose I'm just demanding of movie narratives. It's still the best edit of the movie I have seen yet however. It basically takes out all of the really insulting factors. The biggest help in this is the fact that with new subtitles, the neimodians are less scared and weak, and more in control and far more evil. Instead of telling a silly droid to process the queen, he orders them imprisoned. And in his little chat with the "invasion guy" he orders his top people shot. That's the kind of grittyness the original trilogy had, and the new ones missed. If I were ever to make a fan edit, I would surely ask to use this version as a basis for mine.Personally I think that with some improvements, this movie could be on the level of what we expect for TPM: Revisited.What I thought was missing or odd:-A new opening crawl would be nice.-Jar jar is the gaurdian of the forest? Not a problem for the story, but odd. Personally I'd just have him tag along with qui-gon because of the life debt and leave it at that. -The Terminator Salvation shot was quite obvious.-Not removing sidious downplays the neimodians and loses the mystery surrounding him and palpatine.Some suggestions and ideas of my own I would implement myself if I could:-Remove the trade part of trade federation. To tie it into the sequels, make them the beginnings of the seperatists. The Federation was evil, yes. But I feel that that change is only bolstering a weak part of the movie (these stand-alone villains) Personally I would say that it is more imperative to tie this movie to the sequals.-Perhaps one could even latch onto a crazy idea of mine, and have the Federation as the good guys and the jedi council and republic as the villains! Not entirely, but a certain moral grey story. Check it: Qui-Gon Gin makes bad decisions all the time, right? And what is he responsible for? The training of vader. Of course he couldn't see that specifically, but he was arrogant about it. The sith? EXTINCT for a millenia. Not in apparant hiding or weakened. Extinct. In a world like that were the only force users are jedi, what would balancing the force mean? But no, Qui-Gon and even the council are oblivious to that. That arrogance could be played up to give us a morally grey story. It could be about Count Dooku and the seperatists being outmatched by the influence and power of the galaxy's regime. Like the rebellion that follows, only this time they lose. It would add to the death of Dooku in part 3. The Federation could be attacking Naboo (replaced here with Alderaan) as a political statement, a desperate effort to fight the regime of the republic. But I'm rambling right now, and this is more of an overal trilogy idea.Overall, great edit, great work!

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