Hi Hal, here’s my next review.
I absolutely loved this edit. AOTC is probably my second-least favourite SW film (TPM being my least favourite), as it’s just so painful to watch. But this edit simply transforms the film, and for the first time in my life, I got genuine, even considerable enjoyment out of watching Episode 2.
I’ll start with the biggest part: the romance plot. This was the biggest improvement of The Approaching Storm for me; where this romance was previously fatal levels of cringe, it now comes across as genuinely quite endearing. The largest factor to this is of course the way you re-arranged the scenes, giving the whole romance a far more belivable and compelling development. Even the cringey-but-inescapable scenes like the tick-cow ride and the floating pear dinner come across as much less painful than before because they flow much better, they feel more believable. Moving the kiss to the end of the romance arc, and removing the oh-so-infamous sand monologue, raised the sub-plot as a whole by a considerable amount. I will say that the musical transition out of the kiss scene to Obi leaving Kamino felt quite abrupt, but that’s pretty much my only problem. Although, I can’t help but notice that after the kiss at sunset, the next time we see the two is in their pyjamas the next morning…
My next favourite part was Anakin’s improved characterisation. It’s incredible the impact a few removed lines and some re-arranged scenes can have, but Anakin comes across so much more mature in TAS. I particularly loved his trimmed conversation with Padme (“Master Obi-Wan manages not to see it.” “All mentors have a way of seeing more of our flaws than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” “I know.” This just flows soooo much better, and it’s such a simple change at that) and the now wordless embrace before Anakin leaves to find his mother. It says so much more about their growing relationship, and is more emotional.
The deleted scenes sprinkled throughout were all great, particularly Padme’s Senate address, which combined with the brilliant new opening crawl (despite how many times I’ve seen AOTC I still can’t remember a single part of the crawl, but this one jumped off the screen) was a very efficient and effective opening. Padme’s family was a far superior scene to the convo with the Queen (that scene always bugged me because you can see a very clearly contemporary building right outside the Queen’s window). The brief conversation with Anakin, Padme and Dooku raised one very interesting line: “The Republic cannot be fixed.” I felt that one line adds a whole new element to the political plot of the PT; though the Separatist movement is a smokescreen for the Sith, that line is actually still completely true. Food for thought. The scene between Obi-Wan and Windu on the landing platform did come across as quite wooden, hence why it was probably excised, but it’s much better story- and character-wise than the Jedi Temple convo with Obi, Windu and Yoda.
There are too many other things I loved about this edit to list here (the more focussed third act, the clever way you cut the factory set piece to have Anakin free Padme, less grating presence of Boba, generally improved action throughout), and I can only really think of a handful of small problems: the intercut nature of the romance plot with Obi’s investigation could feel like a bit too much of a juxtaposition (though this’ll likely fade with future watches), the aforementioned abrupt musical transition out of the kiss, and I felt that the cuts to get around Yoda v Dooku were a bit (unavoidably) clunky. In short, I think this is a miracle of an edit, a permanent replacement of AOTC. Awesome work!
I hope I’m not laying it on too thick here, I just really loved this edit.