Is It Possible? "A Phantom Edit" Makes Star Wars Prequels Surprisingly Good

Kevin Mooseles | 6 May 2015 20:00
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Last year, "That 70's Show" star Topher Grace made his own fan edit of the Star Wars prequels. The entire trilogy was slashed from an original runtime of a combined 415 minutes to a single film that ran for a quick 85. Aside from a small handful of private screenings, his version has never seen the light of day (to avoid copyright infringement).

But there are lots of other fan-edits out there. Five months ago, YouTuber Andrew Kwan released his own version of the prequel trilogy, "Star Wars I-III: A Phantom Edit," which clocks in at two hours in length. And it's pretty damn good.

Let's go over Kwan's edit and highlight how it salvages the prequel mess into something actually palatable. And believe me - it's more than just cutting back on the Jar Jar scenes.

Episode I

In The Phantom Menace, Lucas accomplished what many thought impossible: making the most fascinating galaxy ever depicted on film into something boring. Within the first paragraph of the introduction, Lucas managed to find something in his world of space wizards and astronaut smugglers that fans don't care about. And that something was the intricate nature of politics.

Real wars are mired in politics, and while I, personally, loved the depiction of Palpatine's rise to power in the Galactic Senate, political intrigue doesn't appeal to a wide audience. But Lucas prominently featured that political aspect of warfare in his story... while simultaneously insisting that the movie was meant for kids and using Jar Jar as a more racially insensitive version of C-3PO.

It's no surprise, then, that "Star Wars I-III: A Phantom Edit" all but omits Episode I. Starting near the end of the Darth Maul battle, we see Qui Gon Jin become mortally wounded, after which Obi Wan defeats Maul, approaches his dying master, and pledges to train the boy, Anakin.

And that is it for The Phantom Menace. A five minute partial fight scene. No Podracing, no Death-Star-climax-mirroring, no politics, no tariffs, no midichlorians, no awkward-age-difference-between-Anakin-and-Padme-that-haunts-you-as-a-viewer-forever, no Jar Jar, no racial stereotypes whatsoever (and between Watto, Jar Jar, and Newt Gunray there were quite a few). I can almost feel the cathartic release of the editor as he cut away all of those things from his version of the Star Wars saga.

In fact, he may have gone a bit overboard, as the entire final battle between Maul and the Jedi was pretty good, and including it would have given a little more character to the relationship between Obi Wan and his master. But the point was made.

In all truth, then, "Star Wars Episodes I-III: A Phantom Edit" is an edit of Episodes II and III, cutting them down to 1 hour each (roughly). Originally, Attack of the Clones was 142 minutes, and Revenge of the Sith was 140 minutes, but considering the treatment given to The Phantom Menace, they should consider themselves lucky. As you watch, you will come to realize that the main purpose of this particular fan edit is to make the love story between Anakin and Padme believable, and Episode 1 only damages the believability of that story.

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