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This review was written by Joshua Griffin
Published on June 18, 2001

The Phantom Edit Review

If I was ever going to edit The Phantom Menace, these guys are on the right track. Legality aside, the concept of removing what you don't like from a film is appealing.

You simply edit it out.

And that is the premise behind The Phantom Edit, an edited version of George Lucas' Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Gone are many of the annoying Jar Jar antics and scenes that many fans found less than appealing. Right from the opening crawl, the editor lets us in on their little secret. Less is more with Jar Jar.

And while not being nearly as ambitious as the Phantom Re-edit (see last week's review of it by clicking here), the intent is still clearly the same. These fans have decided to edit the movie to their liking, despite possibly criminal activities in doing so. The Phantom Edit has been dubbed the LA version, the one that has arrived a bit later but has been given more than its fair share of press. Arriving in my mailbox in the middle of last week, this copy isn't exactly all that pristine.

Aside from the simple sleeve the film came in, the quality of the film is less that desired. Although intact and playable, I would surmise this is at least third generation quality. The picture quality is lacking, the sound blurred, but that isn't the real intent of the project anyhow - what 20 minutes of the film was cut out?

Show me the edits.

The opening scroll has been completely redone and seamlessly integrated back into the film. You would hardly see a difference in quality, but you do see it in the words running up the screen:

"Anticipating the arrival of the newest Star Wars film, some fans, like myself, were extremely disappointed by the finished product. Being someone of the 'George Lucas Generation,' I have re-edited a standard VHS version of 'The Phantom Menace,' into what I believe is a much stronger film by relieving the viewer as much story redundancy, pointless Anakin actions and dialogue, and Jar Jar Binks, as possible."
The scroll goes on to apologize in advance for those offended and to Lucas himself.

Jar Jar is still in the movie far more than I anticipated. Figuring from the hype that the Gungan was completely excised, I was very surprised to see him figure quite prominently in the film still. Of course, his most contested scenes were AWOL, but he is still very much a part of Star Wars. The dinner scene where Qui-Gon grabs his tongue is now a deleted scene, and Jar Jar doesn't smell Eopie gas either now in this new version. He is though, still very much a part of this movie. Don't think for a minute that he has been completely removed to any degree.

There are quite a few minor edits, many impossible to detail no doubt without them running side by side and some lengthy sequences removed as well. For example, the bongo scene goes from leaving Ootha Gunga to splashing on the surface of Theed. Before there was this huge escapade with several sea creatures and all of that commotion under the sea. But most of the edits are subtle, and the latter half of the film moves at breakneck speed.

One edit that totally caught me by surprise and I think is absolutely brilliant is when Qui-Gon is walking up to the droids after the rescue the queen on Corusant. He walks up to the droid, and the droid asks "Where are you taking them?" Qui-Gon says "Corusant" then totally slashes up the droid in half. So unexpected and without warning - stunning! They removed the complete repetition of the "Where are you taking them" and the "Um, this does not compute" and made it really cool. I never understood that pacing or dialogue and this version nailed it.

All in, all this isn't nearly the film I had imagined it would be, I expected this to simply cure all of the typical Phantom Menace woes. For everything it was hyped up to be in editing out Jar Jar and the less motivating scenes I was expecting more, but I suppose you do have to consider that this person was editing someone else's film. The twenty minutes cut from the film moves the pacing of the film along quickly and certainly adds a different tone to the whole project. This is by no means Lucas' definitive vision, we saw that in the theater in May of 1999.

After reading both reviews (click here to read the other one), which do you think is the better edit? How do you feel about the fan-edits? Before you email us, be sure to read our Ask TFN answer on where you can get a copy.

Feedback welcome


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