Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.
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Very few of us would argue that the ending of the first Back to the Future is absolutely perfect. “Where we’re going we don’t need roads,” coupled with a flying car exploding out of the screen for a jaw-dropping cliffhanger is pretty tough to beat. But one YouTube user actually found a way, not to improve it per say, but to cleverly combine it with something else we all know and love. To say more would be to ruin a quick, well-made, clever video you’ve got to check out. Read More »

George Lucaschanges to the Star Wars Blu-ray set have drawn some ire as of late, but let’s be real — these things are still gonna sell like hotcakes. While Lucas’ alterations really will turn off some of his fans, it’s probably a safe bet that many more will shell out for them anyway, even if they’re grumbling as they do so. With that in mind, here are six ads for the Blu-ray that try to put you in a more positive state of mind about the updated releases.

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Update: Cover art for the three sets have been added.

Lucasfilm’s impressive streak of disappointment continues today as they’ve officially announced the special features for the September 12 Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga. The nine-disc set, which features all six movies in the series, actually has a number of reportedly brand new features including individual archive discs dedicated to each trilogy and several new feature length documentaries. Sounds great, right? Well, the set also contains a lot of material from previous releases and is missing several great features from those same releases. Finally – not that we were expecting anything else, but dare to dream – the upcoming box contains strictly the special editions of the original trilogy. Read the full press release and list of special features after the jump. Read More »

Thanks to the Star Wars prequels, Star Wars fandom has divided itself down the middle almost like the Jedi and the Sith. There are people who vocally condemn the mere existence of the prequels and others who know the prequels aren’t as good as the originals, but still respect them because they’re Star Wars. Like anything, though, there are exceptions to this rule. Plenty of old-school fans boycotted the movies totally, others love the prequels unabashedly and some fall in between if, for example, they think Revenge of the Sith is great, but the others suck, and so on.

Assuming that’s the case, the Bible for the non-fans would probably be the Red Letter Media video reviews of the Star Wars prequels. These epic, critical destructions of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, blend film theory and entertainment value in an almost deadly way. They’re anti-prequel propaganda at its best. The fans, though, don’t have a figurehead. George Lucas certainly doesn’t want the job and even the films themselves only contain a few moments in each that are pure Star Wars.

However, one fan has taken all the passion that once embodied a Star Wars fan and created something for prequel admirers to stand behind. A message board user named Jim Raynor has written an incendiary 108-page tome as a rebuttal to the Red Letter Media review of The Phantom Menace called Red Letter Media’s Episode I Review: A Study in Fanboy Stupidity. Download it, read some excerpts, bask in its geekiness and more after the jump. Read More »

Luke Skywalker fought one. So did a bunch of Jedi Younglings. And though Master Replicas did create a really nice prop replica, now, for only a fraction of the cost, you can build your very own Star Wars Jedi Training Remote. The best part is, unlike the Master Replicas one, yours can actually float. Check out the do-it-yourself video, as well some history on the device, seen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones as well as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, after the jump. Read More »

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