Review Detail

9.4 5 10
duelingwithfate_front
Documentary/Review March 25, 2021 2235
(Updated: April 26, 2022)
Overall rating
 
9.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I had to knock points off the score due to consistent audio issues in Part 13 (as well as the "Unused Footage" chapter), so this score could easily jump up if Bobson fixes/re-uploads that (and I hope he does!) The audio repeatedly cuts out while people are speaking, anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, making these last two chapters pretty difficult to watch. I thought maybe it was my version, but I watched on a couple different devices and I see that the other reviewer here had issues as well. I hope this is changed shortly, as it's a great doc otherwise!

As a pretty huge Star Wars fan back in '99 when Episode 1 came out, I thought I had seen just about everything there was to see on it over the years. Well, I'm not nearly as big a SW nerd as I thought apparently, since about 40-50% of this material was new to me! All the big behind-the-scenes mini-docs are assembled here, mostly in the middle bits, but there are lots of interviews and clips incorporated besides. Bobson does a great job organizing these so it feels like a flow through the development and release of the film, even thought they're mostly themed in different categories like Planets or Characters.

Quick thoughts on each chapter:
I- Really interesting to see Lucas break out his old 15-page treatment and use that next to a blank notepad to start writing Episode I on. The very opening media coverage footage building anticipation for this got a bit long and a bit repetitive for me though. It was over 4 minutes and I think 2 minutes of news anchors saying "The prequels are happening!" would suffice. Also it would be great to try to get a consistent aspect ratio across the sources, not to have them stretch or zoomed-in...of course they won't all fill the screen, but it felt like too many broad changes that a bit of editing could easily fix.
II- There was a lot of footage here on Set Design and early stuff when actors were just getting cast that was all new to me! However, I started wishing that audio levels were evened-out across sources, too. This series could really use editing to a consistent audio volume.
III- I had seen the casting session for Anakin before, but the footage here proved definitively that they should have chosen the runner-up. He was a bit more serious, a bit darker, and it added layers to many of the simple lines Anakin had. Jake Lloyd wasn't the best choice for the role, he was just a really cute kid who charmed everybody off-camera.
IV and V- These parts on model design and practical effects versus CG reveal that there was so much more being actually built and filmed than people remember/realize for this movie. I guess at the time we weren't prepared for the industry to use CG to this level on the regular.
VI and VII- The bits on Tatooine and podracing might be my most-enjoyed part, mostly because it builds on the nostalgia just right. I LOVE the podracing sequence, and you can really see Lucas and the crew all did, too. It's obvious which ideas were really resonating with people while making this film just by watching their level of enthusiasm while making it. (The enthusiasm for Jar Jar was notably absent in Part V...)
VIII- The costuming doesn't get enough credit in this film, and I always love learning more about it. Bobson made a great choice wrapping those bits up with the glamor of creating Coruscant.
IX- This is a short feature taken wholesale from some particular source, about creating the big Naboo battle. It honestly feels slightly out of place here since there are no other connections being made...maybe something on the concurrent space battle would've worked spliced in here?
X- The lightsaber fighting. I've watched all this stuff 100x and could watch 100 more.
XI- John Williams and Ben Burtt explaining how they make the sounds that Star Wars is best known for. Burtt is a mad genius who never gets enough credit, and I would watch his TED Talk any time.
XII- This part is about the editing of the film, which honestly seems like about 30% or more of the process for this movie, even more so than A New Hope, which was completely made by the editing. This feature goes a lot more into how/why the deleted scenes were edited, which is interesting, but I would've liked more on how the theatrical film was edited. I guess they just didn't have cameras in the editing room as much.... the frustration with the rough cut is apparent, with everyone agreeing the film isn't working how they wanted.
XIII- Consequently, it's a bit of a downer, but it would've flowed well to show how some fans were also disappointed by the theatrical release. I know this is a "making-of" documentary, but as Bobson chooses to have a segment about the release, it feels strange to not mention any of the controversies. Showing people react really well to the bits that we saw assembled earlier (Maul, Duel of the Fates, podracing) and being frustrated with some of the new choices (a lot more humor, Jar-Jar, so much CG) would give the documentary series a kind of arc that would be gratifying to watch.

Overall, this is really a fantastic undertaking, and a must-see I think for any Star Wars fan. Arranging it as a docu-series is really smart, and allowed me to watch about 2 'episodes' per day. I did catch about a half dozen times where Bobson (accidentally?) repeats footage across chapters, but mostly there is little overlap and it feels like a great trip into aspects of the first prequel that maybe audiences didn't appreciate until recently. I can't wait to see what Bobson does for Episode II.

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