If Topher Grace had directed or edited Episodes I through III in the “Star Wars” narrative, they would have been much shorter. How do we know? Because Grace has apparently done his own edit of the “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” turning that nearly seven-hour viewing experience into one, 85-minute film that is devoid of Jake Lloyd and, for the most part, Jar Jar Binks.
A select group of filmmakers and media friends were invited last night to a private screening of Grace’s remixed version of the “Star Wars” prequels. Peter Sciretta of /Film was there and has a detailed rundown of what’s in the Grace edition of the George Lucas movies, dubbed “Star Wars: Episode III.5 — The Editor Strikes Back.” The blogger has called this iteration “the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.”
Among the things missing from this new version:
— Jake Lloyd, the boy who played a young Anakin Skywalker in ”The Phantom Menace”? On the cutting room floor, along with the vast majority of that entire film. Grace apparently leapfrogged right to the big light saber battle between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. This means the pod-racing scene is gone, which is a bummer. Otherwise, not much is missed.
— The C-Span-esque Galactic Senate meeting scenes? Also reportedly nixed. Nice move, Grace. How am I supposed to nap during the “Star Wars” prequels now?
— Don’t worry about those troublesome midichlorians anymore. Qui-Gon Jinn doesn’t explain them, which means that, thanks to Topher Grace’s version of “Star Wars,” you can go back to believing that The Force is simply some sort of special energy field (as Obi-Wan Kenobi says in Episode IV) and not something based on the existence of weird microscopic entities.
— Jar Jar is gone! Actually, he has one line of dialogue, according to the /Film report. But that’s still an awful lot less Jar Jar than there was before. Meesa thinksa that’s a good idea.
Now, before you get excited and wonder when you, the average person with no connections to Topher Grace, will get to see this cut of the “Star Wars” prequels, please be aware that you won’t get to see it. Grace supposedly has no plans to leak it online (allegedly) or screen it, and surely can’t do so without George Lucas’s permission.
So why did he bother with this exercise? To get revenge on Jar Jar (understandable)? Prove he has a better sense of pacing than George Lucas (also understandable)? Redeem himself after his involvement in “Take Me Home Tonight”? (Wow, these are all really good reasons.)
Actually, Grace reportedly wants to encourage this small group of Hollywood insiders to pursue similar re-edits of other films. It’s unclear why, unless he just wants his colleagues to think more carefully about which elements of a script are truly needed to tell a powerful cinematic story, which could be a valuable exercise.
Evidently the former “That ’70s Show” star already is planning a Grace-ified version of another sci-fi classic: Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” I would argue that movie doesn’t need nearly as much tweaking as the “Star Wars” prequels. And I’d also note that if Grace cuts out the references to Goofy Golf, he is making a massive mistake.