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9.2 21 10
FanFix May 02, 2012 24920
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L8's Episode III is a masterpiece. I see the entire saga in a new light and it helps fit in much better with the OT than Lucas ever tried to accomplish.

The version of Anakin that was in Lucas's head but never portrayed on screen is in this cut. I never thought that I would care for Hayden as Anakin, but here, with thoughtful editing, is a nuanced performance. Much like in Episode II, which was a revelation for the character, Anakin's outbursts are much more restrained towards the Jedi. It obvious that there is something mentally wrong with Anakin. He's almost autistic is in his dealings with people and his strict desire for conformity and following strict order. Anything that disrupts that can be seen as a threat and his previous alliances may go by the wayside in support of a specific order.

Gone is almost all of the unnecessary humor aboard The Invisible Hand. It's a lean-mean action sequence that tells its story and gets the job done. There's no messing around with R2, no obvious Palpatine is evil beats, and the saber battles feel more at home within the OT than ever before. This does bring up the one slightly odd edit in the film, which is the truncated introduction of the Jedi to Grievous. There are a few cuts that don't quite work, but I ultimately have no great issue with them. By the time you realize something is off, we're onto the next action sequence.

L8 is a master of pacing and putting the Opera House scene much earlier in the film helps solidify Anakin's actions early on in the film. He's a man who is being pulled apart in multiple directions and it is a careful ballet at work here. He has a vision that his wife will die in child birth and he seeks to save his future because he couldn't save his past. At the same time, he is aligning himself with Palpatine because the Chancellor is the only man who can help save Padme. While the Jedi are telling Anakin to basically be glad that his wife will die in childbirth, they also want Anakin to spy on the only man who seems to care for Anakin's plight. At the same time, the man who gives him this mission is his near-brother, Obi-Wan. There are so many power moves at play that Anakin ultimately chooses his love for his wife and family, all the while not knowing that Padme is making behind-the-scenes plays to end the rule of Palpatine.

That's right, Padme Amidala is a founding member of the Rebel Alliance. George Lucas is a moron for having something so surprising and so profound and then eliminating it from his movie in support of having a woman stay at home and make babies. Wow.

I never thought that I would say this but the politics are what really make this Star Wars film for me. Something that was so confounding and boring in the theatrical versions are molded into a piece that is not only understandable, but interesting! It really helps ratchet up these prequels into a more adult fare.

There's too many changes to count here and since it has been years since I watched the theatrical version of Episode III, it was really difficult to see what was cut. The Jedi Purge is handled very well. It's slightly difficult to understand what exactly happened to Yoda, but you can connect the dots. I understand that L8 wanted to save the Yoda has a lightsaber reveal for the Palpatine fight (which plays much better in this version), but his defensive move against the Clone assassins is one thing that I do miss.

Mustafar is just plain amazing. The very odd banter between Obi-Wan and Anakin is gone and only the critical lines remain. Sure, some of it was Ewan McGregor's best work in the series, but it is ultimately not needed. That final blow by Obi-Wan is shocking in its execution. It's unexpected, even by someone who has seen the film before. I would love to see that moment with someone who has never seen Episode III. You would jump out of your seat by how brutal the cut is.

That's what I really came away with from L8's Episode III. Brutal. It's an unforgiving film that is by far the darkest the series has to offer. There's very little levity here and that's almost all gone by the end of the first act. Through a master edit, Episode III comes away as Lucas's best film since the original theatrical Star Wars in 1977. It's too bad that he didn't see what he had and chose to muddy the waters with too much dialogue and removing sequences that are critical to his saga.

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