I’ve watched the very much bootlegged The Phantom Edit. The editors commentary is very telling – one reason the Phantom Menace was not a great film, but a rather poor or average one, was partially because of editing. Read on for a bit of a review of it, and how editing really can work wonders on something so average.
Mainly, a lot of Jar Jar binks was removed – unneeded comedy, with lines almost in every scene, were cut (Thank goodness!) although the editor notes that, yes, he is needed within the plot – to get the Gungans to help later in the film. He had some horrible moments removed (shrieking, falling over, stepping in “poo”, etc. etc.). The editor says he removed as much as he could – in most scenes he comments Jar Jar “takes over”, and entirely ruins several scenes for no reason whatsoever. A lot of scenes were made watchable by this editing!
Battle Droids are a lot less silly too – no more “Roger Roger” which was seemingly in the film at random, worked very well.
Removing the repetition of plot was excellent, and probably made the biggest impact – nothing was repeated, things were assumed, which made it work a lot better.
And Anakin was built up into a slightly better character – less accidents, and so on, and much less annoying dialogue.
It wasn’t just cuts – re-insertion of a deleted scene, some shots moved around to cover older shots, and so on, all work really well. The editor also noted that test audiences not working and George Lucas not taking onboard others opinions is also brought up, which are fair points to why it might have turned out so poorly.
The editing is also really good – the commentary is needed to notice how some good scenes used to be so poor or lengthy, or how some jokes were removed, and other things like that. It’s professionally done!
All in all, at least 15 minutes were trimmed, which was awesome. I enjoyed watching a lot more of the film this time around, and while I still don’t think it is a great movie, it at least gets a good rating by me. Editing is proven – it can really make anything much better if done right. It can be well applied to music tracks and games stories too. Hopefully there won’t be too many cases where a directors vision overrides good editing. Editing can be paramount, this only compounds it with a really good example.