There are plenty of people out there who are not fans of the Star Wars prequels. We’ve all played armchair quarterback and argued about where George Lucas went wrong and, of course, what we would have done differently. One among us decided to take that speculation to the next level: actor Topher Grace infamously merged footage from all three prequels into a single 85-minute cut dubbed Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. Now Grace has shared the trailer for the project on his website, and it’s not half bad.
Word of Episode III.5 first popped up a couple of years back, when Grace showed off the project to small group that included Collider’s Steve Weintraub. In his story, Weintraub said:
His combined prequel trilogy moves quickly and omits huge [chunks] of story in favor of action and streamlining the narrative events of the prequels. Gone are the politics, General Grievous, Jar Jar Binks (except for one shot), the clone army, and about 99% of the first movie.
It definitely sounds intriguing, but the bad news is that most of us will probably never be able to see the thing. The screening Weintraub attended was said to be a one-time-only kind of thing, and it’s remained a bit of mysterious Hollywood lore ever since. Sadly, the video isn’t available for embedding, but you can check it out over on Grace’s Cereal Prize website.
I like that the trailer incorporates not just footage from the prequels, but from the original trilogy, giving the entire saga a more cohesive feel. It’s also a reminder that there were some genuinely exciting and epic moments in the prequels, it’s just that they were dragged down by horrible scripts and Lucas’ mutant directorial ability to conjure awful performances out of otherwise talented people. Grace also pulled in some material from deleted scenes to help shape the narrative he was forming. From the sound of things, Grace’s re-edit was all about finding the jewels among the dross. Case in point: the climactic lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul from Episode I? That’s how Grace’s prequel cut starts. That’s a far cry from tedious trade negotiations.
Here’s Weintraub on where Episode III.5 goes from there:
After the quick start, Grace’s version of the prequels focuses on a few things: the Anakin/Padme relationship, Obi-Wan trying to figure out who is trying to kill the politicians, and a ton of the action. But while there are some well-choreographed lightsaber battles in Lucas’ version of the prequels, Grace cut them unless they fit into his version of the story. It was an interesting choice, but it worked.
Grace also cut out Vader’s “Nooooooooo!” so that earns him plenty of brownie points in and of itself.
Hopefully one of these days Episode III.5 will find its way onto the interwebs, but in the mean time please take these parting gifts: a long “post-game” video with Weintraub and other journos talking about Grace’s re-edit, and then a Star Wars-themed Japanese tuna fish commercial, because why the hell not?