Q2 Machete Edits

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Years ago I came across the Fall of the Jedi fan edits of the prequel trilogy and was very impressed. I felt they did a very good job of putting those movies into a state where they wouldn’t be as painful an experience.

Lately however I was thinking about putting Vader/Tarkin/the Death Star back into the end of the third film, but with the logic the fan edit used (watch in episodic order without spoiling Original Trilogy events) there really was no place for it. Not long after this, an old friend linked the Machete Order on Facebook. Now I’d heard of the Ernst Rister order (4-5-1-2-3-6) before and thought it was a decent idea, but wasn’t fond of the way you had to watch three bad films before Return of the Jedi. Machete order argues for the above, but gets rid of The Phantom Menace altogether, and as I read the article I became utterly convinced. It’s why Episode I is so “bad” in a nutshell; nothing important happens.

With machete order in mind, I rewatched Q2’s edit of Attack of the Clones last week to see how well it served the purpose. Mostly it worked, but scenes that were redundant with Episode I became necessary without it and had to be restored. Scenes such as the elevator ride Obi-Wan and Anakin take at the beginning, which is now the introduction of their characters. Then there’s Anakin meeting with Palpatine, unnecessary because they all just discussed doing what happens in this scene, is now the only way we know Anakin and Palpatine know each other or are close. Q2 had also removed any scenes with Darth Sidious anytime they could get away with it, but now the introduction of the character is the scene at the end with Dooku.  While I was at it, I let the arguments made in the Machete order article persuade me to restore most of Yoda’s confrontation with Dooku, which had been cut. I still cut a few shots so it looks less like Yoda is doing his best bouncy ball imitation.

With Episode II tweaked to serve as half the prequel story, I turned my focus to Episode III. All references to Vader had been removed and had to fotj3m(mostly) be restored. I was also convinced to restore the fight between Yoda and the Emperor. Without it, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s duel is uninterrupted and far more compelling in my opinion, so instead of restoring it to the way it was, I put the other fight scene into one scene as well and just had it take place first. Yoda barges in right as the Emperor’s last transmission to Vader ends, and Padme lands on Mustafar as soon as the fight is over. This makes more narrative sense anyway, since Yoda and Kenobi are at the Jedi Temple when they decide to fight the sith. Kenobi has to cross the galaxy while Yoda already has line-of-sight on his target.

I kept what I consider Q2’s stroke of brilliance, having Padme arrive on Alderaan with one of her children using footage from another film (the birth happens off screen and cuts out all the “She’s lost the will to live” crap). Not only is this what sold me on Q2’s edits in the first place, but it also fixes the biggest problem in Machete Order; seeing Padme die on camera and then an hour later into Return of the Jedi, Leia says she remembers her.

While scenes may be in a different order now I feel that they work well this way. I was amused to see that for Episode III my edit is ten minutes longer than Q2’s, but still manages to be half an hour shorter than the theatrical version. Granted, any cut scene that I put back in was trimmed at least a little, but having just watched it start to finish it felt complete and more polished despite the fact a couple of my edits had to be rougher than I’d prefer.

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“It’s true, all of it.”

Until trailers started coming out, I had only ambivalence about any more live-action Star Wars films. Really? original cast? Do they all have wheelchairs? This was Disney, who at the time had only made one decision I had seen since purchasing the IP and that was to cancel Clone Wars on the spot. Sure, take the only good thing out of lucasfilm in 20 years out back and shoot it. Nobody will mind…. Sure, Rebels is good, but killing Clone Wars to get it mid-season was still a jerk move.

And then this happened.

Hope is a dangerous thing. Until recently there wasn’t any. Now JJ needs to not screw this up. On the plus side, all indicators are that he’s going about this in all the right ways.

And then the silliness of the Boycott Star Wars hashtag started because GASP a Female AND a POC are featured prominently on the poster. In the words of Justin Trudeau, “it’s 2015.”

In other news some of the build-a-bears Bunny made for her nieces and nephews just came back to us as hand-me-downs, sans their outfits. I think I remedied the situation well… 
 

The Fall of the Jedi

I haven’t been writing much lately, what with the two big things being politics (which both suck AND holds the record for “least interesting post I’ve written”) and a game I can’t talk about. What does that leave us? Star Wars.

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If you are a human above the age of 20, then you are probably very familiar with all three Star Wars films. If you’re younger than that, you may try to claim that the last Star Wars film was released after 1983. Like so many others, I feel very sad that the prequel trilogy was such a missed opportunity and such a severe drop in quality. Lucas may have had great ideas, but without being filtered and refined by others, his work has shown to fall short of its potential. Fear not, for our savior has arrived.

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Welcome to FanEdit.org, where films that weren’t good enough the first time around get a second chance at a decent life. It’s no small surprise that the prequel trilogy features prominently here. Each edit has its own intentions and approaches, but the cream of the crop has to be user Q2‘s Fall of the Jedi trilogy. Q2 went through the films and cut as much of the badly-directed acting as he could, and eliminated as many inconsistencies with the Original Trilogy as possible. The Phantom Menace didn’t have much left of its first act once all the filler was removed, so it feels a little rushed. That’s the only criticism I have. Q2 has taken the steaming pile that was the prequel trilogy and has made me no longer ashamed these films exist.

We will never get the movies that the prequels should have been. It’s not going to happen. But Q2 has given us the closest we will ever receive. Yes, Jar-Jar is still there, but half his lines are missing, and almost all of his trying to make an infant laugh are removed. I no longer hate the character with every fiber of my very being. It’s WEIRD. The pod race now has no commentary, Jake Lloyd has no childish screams that are out of character, and characters aren’t beating trade disputes over our heads again and again. The principle of “Less is More” has been applied with great success, saving the romance story in Attack of the Clones from certain doom. I strongly encourage anyone who has ever been disappointed by Lucasfilm’s official cuts to watch these films and see what could’ve been.

The Revan Cosplay Story

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While playing SWTOR I may have had to steal a certain relic from a collector. Unfortunately my character was unable to keep it, but it got me thinking, that would look really fucking cool on my wall, and you can find anything on the internet.

Enter My Wicked Armor. This guy does absolutely amazing work. If I had Romney’s money, I would get almost everything he makes. Unfortunately I am a serf, so I commissioned just Revan’s mask. Considering my KOTOR obsession for the last decade, it seemed like a good idea and wasn’t going to destroy my wallet like the full outfit would have.

I don’t know who came up with it first, but either myself or Bunny thought of cosplaying as Revan for PAX East, and the more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it. Anyone who’s dealt with me and costumes knows I absolutely loathe to half-ass something. If I’m going to dress up as something, I’m going all out. No jedi-robe-t-shirts or dumb shit like that. Fortunately my nerd-level is high enough that I’ve been carrying around a Jedi robe for seven years. It typically lives in my trunk in case I break down on the highway.

So, now with a cloak and a mask and three weeks before PAX, can I get a worthwhile costume put together? I wanted to wear the custom robes my character always wore in KOTOR I, but that was just going to be too complicated for the limited amount of free time I had. Instead I chose to go with movie-style robes in the colors I used for the custom tunics. I found Twin Roses Designs online making tunics in the general design that I wanted, but they were too costly plus I didn’t have enough time to special order what I wanted. At this point I’d done enough research online that I was confident I could make the tabard myself, and really didn’t want to have to try and get the under-tunic right, so I bought one from them, and got the fabric I needed for the tabard at a local fabric store.

Next I needed pants and boots. I wanted to get a certain color of pants that should’ve been a pain in the ass but Kohl’s had exactly what I needed. In fact, they’re my normal work pants in a different color. I enjoyed the convenience. Bunny and I took a trip to the Army Surplus store in Salem, MA, and got boots. Now I just had to put the damn thing together…

With a balaclava and the mask and robe I already had promising results. Next I needed to make the tabard. Lots of geeks debating the best way to do it online made it easy. I cut out a rectangle the size I wanted the tabard to be, and then taped it to angle properly at the waist to lie flat. I then made a pattern from that paper and started cutting and sewing. It was even easier than I hoped.

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Now that the front pieces were done, I had to figure out what I wanted to do for the back. In KOTOR the movie-style robes looked the same on the front as they did on the back, and that drove me insane. I greatly preferred the solid back on the robes that were standard in the game. I decided fairly quickly to go with the solid back. Once I made that piece, it was time for the super-fun task of putting it all together with presentable seams.

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After a lot of effort I managed to make it work out with the tabards still the correct length and the seam line where and how I wanted it on the shoulder. This I think was the hardest part of the entire outfit. With this part assembled I could finally make the obi to finish the piece. At first I tried to use just eye hooks to hold it together but I was having too much trouble getting them anchored well with the thread so I put in a zipper for extra support.

Back when I was a lad who had a job but didn’t have to pay rent, I could afford to spend my money on silly things, like Force FX lightsabers…Image

They’re glorious toys and I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth, especially since I bought each one for half price on eBay. However I had a problem. Back when I bought these they didn’t make them with detachable blades, and I had no interest in carrying one of these around with a 3-foot polycarbonate blade that looks far less cool in daylight. And I had just as big a problem showing up unarmed. I needed a solution, and the internet provided once again. And so, at the age of 27, I built my first lightsaber (although I’ve owned 8 before building any).

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The belt I had been using to hold things together while I tested the tabard was covered in quicksilver logos, so despite it being a decent belt type for the outfit, I had to go with something else that I later regretted, but I was doing this on the cheap. After all this work, I was fairly pleased with the final result…..

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I got LOTS of people stopping me for pictures. These two were sent to me but dozens were taken. It took ten minutes to get to and from the bathroom, really messing up my time budgeting. I was really glad so many people thought it was worth stopping me for photos. The downsides? Extremely limited vision, and DAMN that outfit was warm. After about 4 hours I started feeling ill and had a migraine not long after. I retreated to the car and passed out after taking painkillers. Luckily for me I didn’t miss any panels I’d been planning to go to, and was okay to catch the Dragon Age movie. I’m still tempted to put it back on (after some minor tweaks) but I can’t think of a way to fix the overheating problem effectively. What I really should do is ditch the WOOL cloak but the head is fairly ruined without the hood. So far I haven’t found any solution I like, but maybe that will change.