I love the level of thought that’s going into this. It’s fantastic that you have L8WRTR’s and HAL’s excellent versions to mull over and help inform your own changes. This definitely feels like the first of the ‘third generation’ of prequel fanedits.
This might be too much of a tangent for your thread, eyepainter, and it’s certainly not a request for you to make this change, but I wonder if you’ve got any insight into the idea of removing the Naboo ground battle between the Gungans and droids altogether.
It’s something I’ve been considering for a while, and like I say not a request of you, but since you’ve been interrogating the movie so completely lately I’d be interested to know if you think it’s workable (in any edit, not necessarily yours).
For me, the ground battle always takes me out of it, firstly because we have no emotional investment in any of the characters there, but secondly because it’s so CG. The landscape itself looks fake and unnatural to me. I wonder if the sky battle and Maul fight, with the threat that the droids are in Theed, could be sufficient to close out the movie.
To quote the X-Files, I want to believe. I don’t want to say that it’s impossible or that it can’t be done. Yoda would disapprove of that mindset. But getting rid of that battle and re-editing things down to the situation you’ve described above would require some Adywan levels of editing. We’re talking about throwing in CGI, removing major lines of exposition, and re-structuring the ending altogether. You might even need to get some soundalikes who are willing to record their own voices for the edit.
One of the biggest downsides of being a fan editor is that you’re limited only to whatever footage is on the DVD, blu-ray, 4k UHD (If you have the tech), and whatever deleted scenes are available for the public. The actual movie, however, might have run about 4 to 4 1/2 hours when it was first assembled in the editing room (Lucas and company have said that Lap 2 of the pod race was originally 25 minutes in length, and the opening action sequence in Episode III was roughly an hour long. They had to reduce a lot of footage from both of those scenes). Now, I do not have 4 to 4 1/2 hours worth of Episode I, so I can only work with what’s around. But based on what I can get, I see four major obstacles.
The first obstacle that springs to mind is how to explain Amidala’s plan. In the theatrical version, Amidala’s decision to send the gungans out to fight the droids is a response to Panaka’s concern that they can’t win the battle against the droids due to how massive the army is. Taking out Amidala’s line “The battle is a diversion. The gungans must draw the droid army away from the cities.”, would be a major challenge. You could try and find someone who sounds exactly like Natalie Portman to dub some lines, but that’s a lot of trouble. Plus, I’m as introverted as a person can be, so that option is out of the question on my end.
The second obstacle would be to remove a lot of major stuff. By taking out the gungan/droid confrontation altogether, everything involving the gungans becomes useless, so having Amidala unite with Boss Nass would have to go, as well as Amidala asking Jar Jar for help. Those two scenes alone are heavily embedded in the plot, so taking them out becomes a major issue, since they could break the story’s structure.
The third obstacle is geared more towards my edit and l8wrtr’s. The train of thought used in l8wrtr’s re-edited ending is that the destruction of the droid control ship gives the gungans free passage to Naboo due to all the droids being shut down. This is how Amidala is saved from Nute Gunray (The part where the decoy distracts Gunray and Padme forces a negotiation on Gunray doesn’t exist in either of our versions due to logic). Taking out the battle creates a serious plot hole.
The last obstacle that comes to mind is CGI. Even if you manage to find a way through the first three obstacles, you’re still gonna have to make the droid army larger at the Theed palace. I’m thinking something similar to Adywan’s ANH: Revisited when he added more CGI TIE fighters to the death star climax, adding more tension to the ending of the film. Except in this case, it’s a bunch of droids. I’m no expert in CGI (although I am learning how to make a donut thanks to Blender Guru), and given what I know about it, it’s likely gonna be a pain in the neck to make those droids. This alone is why I say you’re gonna need some Adywan level editing to pull it off.
So, those are my two cents on the issue. It’d be nice if someone found a way to get rid of the battle, but you may have to be a serious talent to accomplish it.