Star Wars - Episode III: Dawn of the Empire

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The current king of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith edits. It's not perfect: both Hal9000 and Kerr have executed individual moments and scenes better, but this is the best edit overall. There's some weird compression during the scene where Obi-Wan confronts Anakin on Mustafar, and a few particular decisions that I have quibbles about but this is still my preferred version of Revenge of the Sith (a movie I do have an irrational fondness for). Can't wait for V2!

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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
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Can’t say much that aready been said. This is my go to version also.
Some others fanedits are great too, but this one, while removing a lot, almost has that “Star Warish” lenght and feels like a true Star Wars movie instead of just a great fanedit.
Reorganization of the scenes is here pushed to the limit of what can be done with editing without a heavy load of special effects.
I don’t know if I’m totaly sold on the new transformation of Palpatine but it’s working okay and I like all the rest of the cuts.
Also loved rewatching it with the commentary done by L8wrtr.
I watched the AVCHD version and it was great quality.
10/10
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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
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L8wrtr’s DAWN OF THE EMPIRE.

WARNING there may be some SPOILERS in this review.

Over three years in the making.

Think about that.

Three YEARS.

wow.

The level of passion, commitment and love one must have for this material to endure and stay on track that length of time is astounding. And it shows in every choice made — every cut, every resequencing, every audio choice — it is all deliberate and well thought out. Nothing is done haphazardly or without considering all the consequences. It is clear from scene one that there is specific vision at work.

Each of L8wrtr’s Prequel edits has been an improvement over the original is terms of character and story structure. And each Prequel fan edit has been an improvement over the previous edition, as his skills and tools improved and the story became more and more focused. With DAWN OF THE EMPIRE, L8 may have created his ultimate Prequel Masterpiece. It is by far and away my favorite of his three SW edits.

When L8wrtr began this journey, he set himself some very specific goals on how he was going to approach these edits — improved pacing, better, stronger characterization, removal of anything that did not serve the greater story — and there were times through the first two edits, I wondered where he was going? SHADOW OF THE SITH and THE REPUBLIC DIVIDED are great edits (you know how hard that is for me to say, being a Star Trek guy LOL!) but through both of them I always had the sense that something was “missing”, that the “payoff” was missing. While enjoyable, and vastly improved, the first two edits left me a bit unsatisfied…though I could not put the finger on it as to why?

Well, the PAYOFF is now here! In spades! And I am now completely satisfied.

L8wrtr has smartly recrafted REVENGE OF THE SITH into a logical, dark, tragic character drama. Most of the over the top action you expect in a Star Wars movie has been greatly trimmed or completely removed — the first 10 minutes of this edit is a perfect and wonderful example — keeping the story constantly moving forward and the focus on Anakin’s descent.

Anakin’s fall is portrayed much more organically and realistically in L8′s approach. He is a victim as much of his own anger/arrogance as he is of Palpatine’s manipulations. In fact, perhaps the most brilliant story change L8 has made is the reordering/editing of the Opera House scene. It is now much earlier in the film, and it creates any entirely new dynamic in all the scenes that follow — in particular his relationship with the Jedi Council — making Anakin’s eventual betrayal all that more believable and tragic.

L8 has made some interesting creative choices throughout the edit. For example, never showing the audience Anakin’s dark future visions, only letting us hear it. The first vision works perfectly for me. It felt spot on. The second one, while still works, feels somewhat forced. But this has far more to do with the source material that L8′s edit. As the one thing that never worked for me in the original ROS, and I still have some issue with in this scene in particular, is Anakin’s sudden flashes of hostility towards Obiwan. I understand the intent of the scene, and L8 has set up the fracture in the Anakin/Obiwan relationship far better than Lucas did, but it still plays very sudden…. but again, this is more to do with the actor’s performance than L8′s storytelling. And smartly, L8 moves away from it as quickly as possible. I rectify the scene in my mind but reminding myself Anakin is falling into the grasp of the Dark Side and his emotions are consuming him in a moment of weakness.

In fact, despite this one quip, L8wrtr’s editing of Hayden’s performance is stunning. Much like his work in THE REPUBLIC DIVIDED, L8 has been able to save and even improve Hayden’s portrayal of the future Sith Lord with tons of small trims and cuts, creating a much more confident and stronger performance. Well done!!!

If I had one other completely minor quip, it would be I missed the full on Yoda/Palpatine duel. L8 completely cut Yoda’s fight from THE REPUBLIC DIVIDED (which I believe I commented on that review) and his duel with the Sith Master has been significantly trimmed here. Being a non-SW guy, I never realized there was such a dislike of Master Yoda’s spinning frog fighting style. LOL! Oh well, L8wrtr’s solution to the conclusion of the duel works well considering what he had to work with.

There is so much about this edit that is wonderful work, and much of it is so subtle that I was not even aware of it until I watched the commentary. Of which, I can easily say this is one of the BEST COMMENTARIES I have ever listened to, better than most professional efforts. L8′s thoughts are articulate and insightful. His deep affection for the Star Wars Universe really shines through. It was a great joy to listen to.

The new ending sequence — the suiting up of Vader, birth to the Twins, getting everyone in place for Episode 4 — is absolutely beautiful. It may be my favorite sequence in the whole edit. It just ends everything on a very emotional note.

Though some set-up items do get ignored — R2D2 & 3PO memory erasing and Obiwan Force Ghost thing — though this probably for the best as they felt extremely shoehorned in the original version.

Upon reflection, L8wrtr was woven a wonderful single tapestry played out over 3 very well executed edits. He has made this Star Trekker look at the SW Universe in a new light and appreciate its wonders in new ways I had not considered.

Thank You L8 for a wonderful 3 year ride!

You should be proud.

THUMBS UP!
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(Updated: September 25, 2013)
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********** This Review Contains Spoilers ************

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. DOTE is by far the best Episode III edit I’ve ever seen! It works on every level and turns this movie into one of the best Star Wars films hands down. The movie did such an amazing job of making Anikan a powerful decisive leader, it almost made Hayden Christensen seem like a good actor. I was shocked by much I really believed that he was becoming Lord Vader, and that his beliefs and ideals were turning him to the dark side as much as his anger and jealousy. L8WRTR’s vision of this movie is stunning to behold and a must have for anyone’s SW collection.

From the very beginning it was clear that this movie was going to focus as much screen time as possible to making Anikan’s turn to the dark side believable, which is the way it should have always been conceived. The initial confrontation between Dooku and Anikan really sets the tone by having him furiously avenge his fallen master. It would have been only that much sweeter if Anikan had yelled something along the lines of “no, Master” out of concern after Dooku collapses the platform onto Obi Wan.

The fight editing was superb, one of my favorite parts was Palpatine’s quick transition into what I’ll call his ‘Sith Form’ during his confrontation with Mace Windu. I thought you did an amazing job with the Palpatine Yoda fight, I don’t care what anyone says, this scene needs to be included for Yoda to have any kind of resolution. The only thing I would have done differently here was to cut the lightsaber section just a tad more so that as the senate platform rises the viewer never sees the fight from a close up angle. Otherwise I thought Yoda’s defeat and subsequent exile was terrific. I felt Obi Wan and Anikan’s fight could be shortened a bit more. Some of the scenes where they are wrestling early on just seem unnecessary and the fight is plenty long without it. Anikan’s shocking defeat at the end works so much better now. I thought that was an amazing cut!

All of the sequences leading to the birth of the rebellion are extremely well executed. A common criticism of the prequel trilogy is that they focus too much on politics, and I used to agree with that. However the way you’ve focused these scenes and removed the filler has made the political half of this movie extremely engaging. It’s important in this film to make the viewer care about what is happening on the political side because if they don’t, then Anikan’s turn and the setup for “A New Hope” doesn’t work at all.

The rest of this review is going to be nit picky, but these are just my opinions and it should be stated again that this movie is amazing on every level.

The scenes following Order 66 that show all the major players moving into position for the finale seemed a bit rushed. I don’t exactly recall how it played out in the original film, but there were just too many cuts all happening too quickly for my taste.

The birthing scene I also thought was extremely well done, I just wish you had excluded Senator Organa’s scene with Leia at the end. It is too much of a spoiler if you watch the movies in the order intended, but it works just fine if you watch the movies in Machete Order. If you leave this scene out it almost makes it seem like just the one child survived, but since that is never stated it makes it a great surprise for ROTJ.

I happily give this film a 10 out of 10. This is a great triumph of the Fanedit community and I encourage everyone who has been looking for a “definitive version” to dive into this film just one more time.

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Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Blu-ray
Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Overall rating
 
9.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
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10.0
Wow.

I have always had a soft spot for the prequel trilogy (don’t kill me!) and especially for Revenge of the Sith. But that didn’t mean I thought the films were great, far from it; but what I saw were epic films. Films with a massive scope. Films with massive amounts of characters and settings. Film with (believe it or not) complex and intriguing plots. Revenge of the Sith delivered the most on these aspects.

Unfortunately, ROTS also featured a few other common aspects of the PT: bad dialogue, acting, and humor. These things have ALWAYS made me cringe.

Well, guess what? No more! In Dawn of the Empire, they’re gone. These things are excised, and they are excised with great skill. The excision is so successful that, even though I have seen ROTS an innumerable amount of times, I completely forgot where these cringeworthy parts were, and if they ever even existed. There are some transitions that feel a little awkward but they are very easily overlooked.

But to talk as if this is all L8wrtr has done is to ignore his greatest achievement: the re-crafting of Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side. His re-ordering is nothing short of brilliant. I don’t know how I can explain this other than to say: It really works now. His fall is organic, gradual, and, most importantly, believable.

The opening is notable as well. All I could think of while watching it is: quick, and seamless. Quick is exactly what the opening always needed to be, and seamless is what the other fan edits of the opening haven’t exactly been; because when I say seamless, I mean perfect.

I only have a few qualms with this edit, and they all have to deal with the ending:
1. Padme doesn’t name the newborns. I don’t really mind this, but it means that this edit is meant to be watched as part of a 4-5-6-1-2-3 order, which, again, I don’t mind. In any other order, it’s just a little confusing, because it’s never explicably stated in this edit that the second baby is Leia. If you watch in chronological order, you know the whole time Luke has a sibling, but whether or not you know it’s Leia depends on how well you were able to pay attention and deduce from this edit. It doesn’t really work for a Machete order because, like chronological, the viewer may or may not know the other baby is Leia.
2. Removing the final scenes on Tantive IV. This creates two plot holes in the saga – force ghosts and C-3PO’s memory, and it means, because Yoda hasn’t said what he’ll do, there must be a…
3. Yoda lands on Dagobah scene. I don’t dislike this scene, I just prefer the film to end with the Skywalker family – Vader on the Star Destroyer, Leia on Alderaan, and Luke on Tatooine.
4. The final scenes seem to almost go too fast.

Just to be absolutely clear, though, the ending still works. As does everything in this edit. Everything works so well that I think if I were to give Dawn of the Empire a rating as a movie, I would give it a 9 out of 10. As a fan edit, I have to say it is with out a doubt an improvement over the original. A few months back I said, based on how the edit was shaping up, that this was “already my preferred version of ROTS.” Now that I’ve seen it, I can honestly say that my mind hasn’t changed. Because of that, I give STAR WARS EPISODE III: DAWN OF THE EMPIRE 10/10

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