Often, when fans say they could have done a better job than someone perceived to have ruined the object of their devotion, it’s just a lot of hot air. Unless, of course, that fan is That 70s Show‘s Topher Grace, who recently treated a group of 50 people to a screening of his pet project: an 85-minute recut of the Star Wars prequels. You read that correctly. Topher Grace re-edited George Lucas’ three prequel films – which run a collective 418 minutes – into one, coherent, feature length film. And, apparently, it’s pretty good!
In addition to slashing the running time (and in order to make those cuts and still have a coherent storyline), Grace shifted and refocused things a little from the prequels we know and argue over. Gone is all the pod racing, unnecessary exposition and obnoxious CGI characters that clutter Episode I. Instead, Grace begins his film with the end of that one: with the final showdown between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul. He kept much of the action from Lucas’ films but eliminated any lightsaber battles unless they were relevant to the actual storylines he emphasizes, which are largely the Anakin-Padme relationship and Obi-Wan’s search for the individuals trying to assassinate politicians. Scenes like the one where Padme brings Anakin home to meet her family that were deleted from Lucas’ films but shed light on characters and relationships are reinstated. Grace provides a smooth transition to the original trilogy by ending his film on the image of the menacing Darth Vader sans that much maligned “Nooo!”
It’s not without its drawbacks, of course. Cutting over 300 minutes out of a series will leave a few holes and move things at a pace that might be strange for those familiar with the originals. According to Steve Weintraub at Collider, though, Grace’s film is a thematically tight, action-packed, and enjoyable film.
Unfortunately, it won’t be coming to a big or small screen near you any time soon. Grace doesn’t have any plans for more public screenings or dissemination of the film, despite the fact that thousands of Star Wars films would probably jump at the opportunity to see the prequels sans Jar Jar Binks.