My question to all the talented fan editors on this board is.... can the film be salvaged? Could the raw footage be turned into something as good as the Magnolia Fan edit of Ep I or dare to dream, Episode III? I'm convinced there's a great film in there somewhere. Lucas had some good ideas. And the screenplay looks a lot more exciting on paper than how it ended up on film.
Some ideas for the editors:
The most annoying things about Ep II, IMO are:
- the pacing: it's poorly edited. Lucas takes for ever setting up scenes. We get these overly long "reveal" shots of planets and buildings. Ep III had these. But they were really short and quickly panned over by the camera. This kept the momentum of the story going. From the opening frames of "Clones," we are tortured by painfully long sequences that do nothing more than show off ILM's CGI work.
- the dialogue: watching "Attack of the Clones" can be an exercise in tedium because the dialogue is so repetitive and unnatural. The thing that makes repeated viewings torturous is the repetition of characters titles and names. "M'Lady," "Senator," "Master," "Anakin," "My young apprentice," "my Padawan," "Your Excellency," "Chancellor," ad nauseam. I mean, how many times is Padme called My Lady or Senator in the movie? And it doesn't help that "My Lady" sounds absolutely stupid in a science fiction film. (What is this, Shakespere?) The original screenplay for "Revenge of the Sith" (if you read the EBook) actually suffers from the same problems. Luckily writer Tom Stoppard went through and polished up the script. And thank god, editor Roger Barton eliminated a lot of the repetitive phrases and use of names for the final film. Or "Revenge" could have ended up equally as corny as AOTC. The best thing about Ep III is that about half the dialogue from the original screenplay doesn't show up on screen. And the movie still makes sense. It's a shame Lucas couldn't have done the same with Episode II.
- the acting: The acting is lackluster all around, and the performances are even more wooden than in "Phantom." And it all pales in comparison to the much improved acting in Ep III. One of the most painful lines to read in the "Making of Ep III" book is when Dialogue Coach Chris Neill admits he's nervous about working on the film because he's filling a position that wasn't used on any of the other films. Just think if Lucas would have used Neill (or anyone to work with the actors) for Ep I and II.
I don't know what can be fixed and what is irreparable. I think the film could be more tightly edited. The problem is synching the changes with the music. John Williams score is what drives the prequel films emotionally. So it would be hard to trim or change anything without making the movie sound disjointed. The dialogue could definitely be improved. Again, eliminating the constant exposition would help. Again, my main gripe is the "M'Lady's" and "Senators" in referring to Padme. And scenes like outside the nightclub where Anakin refers to Obi-Wan as "Master" about 9 times.
Not much can be done about the acting. I do think a tighter edit could increase the emotional impact of some of the performances. As far as the dropping and adding scenes I'm not sure. I thought Natalie's acting in the "Address the Senate" deleted scenes was her best in the film. The droid analysis scene was kind of cool in a "THX 1138" sort of way. The family scenes are good, but are poorly edited. The rest of the deleted scenes are pretty much worthless.
It'll be cool to see what people come up with. I've tried to edit Ep II for my own amusement, I still found the thing unwatchable.
It's funny to look back at the last 7 years: Before Episode I came out, I was convinced it would be the best film ever. Amazingly, it turned out to be one of the worst. In the build up to Ep II my feeling was Lucas couldn't possibly do any worse than "Phantom." I was wrong. Since "Attack" makes "Phantom" look like a rip roaring good time. And Ep I was actually redeemed by the phantom edits. Since 2002, I was convinced Episode III was going to be horrible. Yet it turned out to be great.
Of course, part of me is still waiting for Lucas to actually release the follow up to "Empire Strikes Back." The correct one.
The prequels brought balance to the saga. 3 good Star Wars films, 3 bad.