What if? The Phantom Menace – Special Edition

More Darth Maul please

Episode 1

Here at Pink Bantha we’ve previously discussed that Disney/Lucasfilm ought to take a break from producing a film per year for the good of the franchise.

But were they to listen to the sage words of the Bantha they might want to consider a Star Wars Episode I Special Edition to appease the fans during any prolonged break.

Context is always important

Many of you will remember the successful Star Wars Special Editions that featured in movie theatres back in 1997.

The digital reworking of the original trilogy coincided with the twentieth anniversary release of A New Hope and helped to rebuild the fanbase ahead of the 1999’s release of The Phantom Menace.

A Special Edition release this time around would serve as a break from the main saga rather than be a precursor to a new release.

A new movie per year is clearly possible for six years. These would include three saga movies and three anthology movies. (Admittedly we don’t know what the third anthology is yet) But can we really expect such a release shedule to continue indefinitely?

A Special Edition of the Phantom Menace could be released two years after the sixth film in the new Disney/Lucasfilm partnership and two years before a new cinematic release from either the saga or the anthology series.

This would create a four year window for the new franchise to mature and provide enough of an interlude for fans to absorb the recent releases. A gap of four years would also refresh the fanbase and ensure the Star Wars galaxy didn’t run the risk of becoming predictable.

The risk of too much Star Wars is ironically what might ultimately cause the franchise to run out of steam. So a vacation of sorts from the main event might be what’s required.

Phantom Menace 2.0

So what might an Episode I Special Edition look like?

Firstly it would have to be canon. That’s not a problem. The story could however be told from a slightly different perspective yet still be canonically accurate.

Green screen

Amazingly the green screen work of Episode I looks incredibly poor compared by today’s standards. Some of the aerial and space shots still look good but most of the Nanoo scenes could be rebuilt to dramatically enhance the believability of the movie.

Again this is why the original trilogy has dated far better that its younger cousin, with the use of practical effects a trash compactor full of garbage looks like a trash compactor full of garbage even today!

Jar Jar

OK let the controversy begin!

Well, maybe not as it happens. Fundamentally Jar Jar’s character is fine. He’s the Jedi’s link to the Naboo and the honest character that is manipulated by Sidious in the Senate.

The problem was always is reliance on comic buffoonery, the sound of his voice and his vocal/speech inflections that carried a hint of racist undertones.

But this is easily fixed.

An edit that removed two of Jar Jar’s more infamous scenes could reduce the impact of his character massively. You could also go so far as to choose another voice actor to completely rework his voice. Not in a way that would remove it from canon but enough to make it less grating. His dialogue could also be reworked to remove some of the possibly racist inflections used.

Jar Jar is canon. No one can change that. And he’s an important character in the saga and a  character whose role is expanded in the clone wars series. So Jar Jar isn’t going anywhere.

But a film where Jar Jar is less obviously silly, would be a massive improvement.

Clunky dialogue

Again, we’re working here within limits of what can be done after the fact. But Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson are all still available to revoice key scenes. Whether spoken out of shot or recut with a new cutaway shot, new sections of dialogue could be added.

Obi-Wan

Here at Pink Bantha were big fans of Obi-Wan. As Jedi go he’s clearly one of the greatest. We could go into more detail but let’s save that for another blog.

Surely there’s scope to bring greater excitement to this role. Whether it’s digital or practical hopefully more can be done, including the shocking hair-piece used my McGregor in reshoots.

Maul

Where to begin with Mr Maul. It’s safe to say that Darth Maul was the Boba Fett of Episode I. He immediately became a fan favourite with his pitch perfect design and epic Sith skills the fans had been waiting years to see.

So part one would be to keep all his scenes. Part two would be to add in any scenes where Maul was cut. Could there be more great Maul moments waiting to be discovered?

Director’s cut

The Special Edition would effectively be a Director’s cut. So the choice of director would be key. As I write this post news of Trevor Trevorrow’s departure from Episode IX is breaking which again raises troublesome questions about just what exactly Lucasfilm want from their directors.

More on this to be sure, but check out our post about why Kathleen Kennedy was right to step in and remove Lord and Miller as directors if you missed it.

There was much to enjoy about Episode I, Maul, the podrace, the return of Obi-Wan, Palpatine and so on. In fact I think it was the last fun Star Wars movie until the Force Awakens recently arrived in cinemas.

So a creative director that would tighten up the script, re-build the special effects, find more of the good stuff and reduce Jar Jar’s impact would surely have a box-office hit on their hands.

Conclusion

Not only has Colin Trevorrow been removed from Episode IX but at the time of posting the rumours of the third anthology movie being about Obi-Wan are gaining credence on social media.

So in a time of great change perhaps a heartwarming return to an old friend might not be such a bad thing. And it might make loads of money.

What if?

If you haven’t watched the excellent ‘What If’ series from Belated Media that suggests story changes that would make the prequel trilogy good, then do check them out. You may not agree with every point but the breakdown of each film provides a fascinating insight into each film.

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