Fan Edit Review: Paradise

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Original Films Directed by Ridley Scott, Prometheus Written by Jon Spaights and Damon Lindelof, Alien: Covenant Written by John Logan and Dante Larper
Fan Edit by JobWillins
Category: FanMix

JobWillins’ Derelict was quite the experience, combining two Ridley Scott films separated by over three decades into a coherent and suspenseful single storyline. After Alien: Covenant was released, I suddenly had a spark of inspiration; why couldn’t Prometheus and Covenant be combined in a similar way? After all, both films feature a central character in David, the murderous, disturbingly creative android, so why not give it a go myself? Well, little did I know that JobWillins was already on it, and let’s face it, he was always going to do a better job than I would.

As it turns out, JobWillins had conceived of the Paradise idea long ago. From his Tumblr:

“When I edited Derelict a couple of years ago, combining Prometheus & Alien in black & white, it was mainly because I found Prometheus unsatisfying as a standalone film.  Its ending promised (and begged for) a sequel, but that sequel kept falling behind other Ridley Scott productions.  With a sequel in doubt, I tried to use material from both films to make a single experience that felt more like a satisfying whole.
“We eventually did get a sequel 5 years later in Alien: Covenant.  Half of it felt like a Prometheus sequel and the other half an Alien prequel.  In my opinion it didn’t fully succeed in either role.  I enjoyed parts of Covenant very much as I did Prometheus, but also much like Prometheus, it ended on an intriguing promise of a sequel.  That sequel may never come thanks to its relatively poor box office performance.”

And so, here we are with another expansive, 2.5 hour sci-fi epic!

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Opening in the all-too-familiar black-and-white style of Derelict with the ominous Peter Weyland TED Talk, Paradise shifts into full color with the excellent prologue of Covenant, David’s first day of life in the company of his father. However, the prologue stops short, giving us the new title as the Prometheus flies through space. Throughout the film, this prologue will return periodically, as if to punctuate the themes of creation and godhood with increased clarity as the narrative bounces between time frames.

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While the transitions aren’t quite as good or numerous as those witnessed in Derelict, JobWillins covers this with a restrained hand, ensuring to keep both films at least thematically-synced. Probably the best example of this would be Covenant‘s backburster scene, intercut with Holloway’s agonizing death in Prometheus. As Ted Kurzel’s brilliant score pulsates away, the horror of both Shaw and Oram seeing their spouses’ deaths is compounded nicely. A lot has been cut from both films, including some of my favorite bits, like Milburn and Fifield’s run-in with the Millipede and various snippets of the Covenant crew’s first trek across Planet 4, but again, this is all in the name of ensuring the finished project isn’t so long that viewers check out for other offerings.

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As before in Derelict, several deleted scenes from both films are used, as well as some of the online viral content from Alien: Covenant. Major props to JobWillins for his beautiful rendition of the ‘Crossing’ prologue. As for changes wholly his own, some may or may not like his musical choices for the beginning and end of the Covenant storyline, but I for one enjoyed them.

For this review, I watched his full-quality offering of the edit from Google Drive, which at a file size of 9.62 GBs, is plenty enough for home theater viewing. The video bitrate is a little lower than Derelict‘s at 8 mbps, but this allows for the inclusion of both stereo and surround audio tracks, and I honestly didn’t see any video quality loss, at least on my 1080p equipment.

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While Derelict seemed to emphasize the mystery and intrigue of the films it sought to combine, Paradise is an edit more preoccupied with the grander themes at work within Ridley Scott’s mind: themes of creating life from nothing, of going against the natural order, themes more reminiscent of Shelley than Lovecraft, which is something I picked up from Covenant that I’m sure most viewers either didn’t see or didn’t appreciate. JobWillins certainly did, and that’s just one of many reasons why I love Paradise. I’m still thinking of doing my own Prometheus/Covenant fanmix, but not because Paradise was inadequate. On the contrary, if I never got around to it, I wouldn’t feel that bad. I still have this gem to come back to.

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Maestro Update, September 10, 2017

You may have noticed that there wasn’t a Maestro’s Picks this past Friday, my apologies. This week hasn’t allowed me much reading, as I had my wisdom teeth pulled and have been in recovery for half the week, and working on Godzilla: Resurrection for the other half.

It will definitely be made up for however this week. I plan on seeing It tomorrow night, so expect a review for that Tuesday as well as a few more, and a trailer for Godzilla: Resurrection. Stay tuned!

FAN EDIT REVIEW: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Revisited

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Original Film Directed by Irvin Kershner, Written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan
Fan Edit by Adywan
Category: FanFix

The home video history of Star Wars and of the art of fan editing itself are heavily intertwined. Beginning in 2000 with Mike J. Nichols’ The Phantom Edit, the resultant “remix culture” that has surrounded George Lucas’ more controversial 21st Century fingerprints on his magnum opus has now ballooned into a complete community as extensive as cosplay culture. Needless to say, there are now tons of Star Wars fan edits out there, and are as varied as the selection at a Baskin-Robbins; you have Harmy’s Despecialized Edition restorations of the original unaltered trilogy, grindhouse mixes like The Man Behind the Mask”s War of the Stars, Christopher Nolan-style time-benders like Star Wars: Renascent, and you have your basic fanfixes, like The Phantom Edit.

Emerging in the late 2000s with several restorations, editor Adrian Sayce–better known as Adywan–soon established his own indelible mark upon the Star Wars fan editing nation with Star Wars Revisited, a massive reimagining of the modern state of the original trilogy. While seeing the merit in the concept of a Special Edition, Adywan set out to heavily alter Lucas’ re-edited versions, in an attempt to produce “what the Special Editions should have been.”

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Adywan’s Revisited version of Episode IV – A New Hope was released in 2009, and quickly became a popular edit with its intricately-crafted new visual effects, massive color regrading, and subtle fixes to stupid mistakes that Lucasfilm should have repaired long ago (Obi-Wan’s lightsaber changing to a dimly-lit pole comes to mind). After 7 years of hard work, his long-awaited followup, The Empire Strikes Back Revisited, is finally here, and it was so worth the wait.

As of this writing, it is only available as a 720p x264 file at a size of around seven gigabites, but even on this relatively shrimpy format the edit is simply stunning. Even a cursory scroll-through of the screenshots from the x264 version reveals a picture far superior to even the official Blu-rays. While liberties are taken with many elements in order to bring the film in line with Adywan’s vision of a functional director’s cut, ESB-R is second only to Harmy’s Despecialized Edition in fidelity to the original theatrical image.

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Even the majority of his changes seem to minimize the shock inherent to seeing an altered version of a movie so many remember so well. For example, Obi-Wan’s Force ghost on Hoth is no longer lacking the characteristic edge sparkle it and all the others possess, but Adywan keeps the brightness on it down low enough to not break the mirage-like effect that particular ghost was always meant to have. Many other changes, while substantially more noticeable, always make sense: the Battle of Hoth now contains more AT-STs to offset the out-of-place original occurrence of the vehicle; the swamps of Dagobah are a little more crawling with exotic creatures; the asteroid field is even more intense with an expansion of the field on the z axis. Every change is not forced or full of nonsense.

Like with A New Hope Revisited, the film has been through a complete color re-grading, although this time it seems less noticeable, no doubt due to how screwed up the previous film’s color palette was by Lucasfilm. In addition, various technical gaffes and limitations have been fixed, including all new starfields and smoothed out jump cuts. Lightsaber and blaster effects have all been completely rotoscoped by Adywan.

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Not every change is perfection, however; in what I believe will be his most controversial, Adywan has used CG to further animate the Yoda puppet’s mouth. In some scenes it works, in others it’s just distracting. Hey, at least it’s not a full CG Yoda, right?

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With ESB-R, Adywan has reclaimed his place at the top of the fan edit mountain. With picture and sound even better than the official blu-rays, and additions and fixes that, for the most part, greatly improve upon Lucas’ own hair-brained ideas, The Empire Strikes Back Revisited should be in everyone’s fan edit collection.

HOW TO GET IT:
Visit Adywan’s how-to-download page for details on getting the 8gb .mkv. DVD-5, DVD-9 and Blu-ray versions will be available sometime in the future.

 

Maestro’s Picks – August 25, 2017

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for Maestro’s Picks!

Because this is the glorious(?) return of my first on-going series, I’ve decided to go with two picks this time around. Also, because I just couldn’t pick one of them. This time, both are from the illustrious and bottomless world of Tumblr!

First, as you may or may not know, I am working on my first full-length fan edit, and a major factor in this finally happening is the excellent editor Red Menace, of RedMenaceOfficial on Tumblr. Specializing in HD reconstructions, Red Menace has delivered the kaiju goods on multiple occasions, bringing back to life such lost American versions of Godzilla films as Godzilla 1985, Destroy All Monsters, and Monster Zero, in addition to a fan edit series of Neon Genesis Evangelion. He is currently working on several projects including a hotly-anticipated Godzilla vs. The Thing reconstruction, and of course, makes tons of shitposts. Check him out!

Second is the interesting newcomer Alien Covenant: A Gothic Fiction in Space. My recent rewatch of Covenant has convinced me of its merits as a great science fiction and horror story, and this Tumblr came along at the right time to help form words to my exploding thoughts regarding Ridley Scott’s newest piece. Prerusing the table of contents post reveals an expansive attention to the details of Covenant, analyzing everything from character motivations to specific, indelible images that link Scott’s film with the greatest gothic fiction of the past, including, yes, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Give this one a serious read, even if you weren’t a fan of Covenant. You just might change your mind.

And now, here comes the second half of Maestro’s Picks: where I share one video and one image which I found myself drawn to this week: Presenting:

The new poster for Blade Runner 2049, opening October 17 of this year and starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and Jared Leto:

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Medley Weaver‘s mashup trailer for Godzilla (1954), featuring the music and editing of the 2014 film’s famous trailer:

Well, that’s all for today! Stay true, believers!

New Fan Edit – Godzilla: Resurrection

The time has come, folks! Time for me to embark on my own fan edit!

For my first project, I’ll be tackling a fanmix of The Return of Godzilla and its Americanized recut, Godzilla 1985. While the original Japanese version of the film is still the definitive one, I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for Raymond Burr’s scenes in 1985, and had always wondered what the final film would have been like had he been present in the Japanese cut.

This re-edit seeks to accomplish just that, while also streamlining the slower pacing of the original cut with suggestions from 1985 to combine the best of both worlds. The film will still be highly critical of both the United States and the Soviet Union, and will work to marginalize the more humorous aspects of the added Pentagon scenes. Finally, this cut will feature a brand new opening to the film, one that seeks to definitely tie the new Godzilla to the original beast in an eerie and unforgettable way.

To read more about the project, please visit my official page on it here, and keep your eyes peeled for a trailer on YouTube and Vimeo, coming soon. Until then, enjoy my custom poster!

Godzilla Resurrection - Coming Soon Poster

Godzilla: Resurrection will be available for viewing and download this fall.

New Video Series: Short Fan Edits

Hey there, true believers!

I have just launched a new video series on my YouTube and Vimeo channels, Short Fan Edits! Sometimes I feel the need to restructure just small portions of my favorite films; while the piece at large is fine just the way it is, perhaps one scene or two could be changed, either for the benefit of the narrative or just because it’s fun. This is the aim of Short Fan Edits. Each video will be a small sliver of a full fan edit, in many cases, probably the only change I would make to the film.

The first installment is my version of the deleted “bank robbery” scene of Escape from New York, placed before the opening credits to create a more natural flow. Check back on my channel, Temporal Productions, on YouTube and Vimeo for more!

Maestro’s Marathons: Star Wars Day 2017

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Rejoice, fellow denizens of that galaxy far, far away! Star Wars Day is once again upon us!

A now-recognized official fandom day by Twentieth Century Fox, Star Wars Day originally began as little more than a pun, “May the 4th be with you.” As these things tend to, it quickly spiralled out of control, becoming a day when Jedi and Sith, Rebels and Imperials alike celebrate perhaps the greatest cinematic saga of all time. This year, however, holds special significance, as it is the 40th anniversary of the original Star Wars film, and of the saga itself!

And so, in anticipation of this glorious day, I’ve prepared a special marathon for you all, revolving around the original 1977 film and its era in keeping with the 40th anniversary. Keep in mind, many of these suggested viewings are fan edits and preservations, so it will take some online hunting to acquire them. But don’t be discouraged, as it isn’t that hard of a feat to accomplish. After all, if Luke could blow up the Death Star…

Star Wars Begins: A Filmumentary by Jamie Benning
Beginning the marathon (pun intended) is one of Jamie Benning’s excellent ‘filmumentaries.’ What is a filmumentary? According to Benning himself, it is a format in which a “viewer can watch a film whilst additional material appears on screen including: deleted scenes, alternate takes, on set audio, text facts and information, audio commentary from cast and crew etc.” Far from being a rehash of previous Star Wars documentaries, Star Wars Begins includes such rare material as bloopers, an alternate opening crawl style, previously unreleased on-set video, in all a truly unique experience in behind-the-scenes archives, playing very much like a branching video commentary to the film.

How to get it: Simply visit Jamie Benning’s channel on Vimeo and watch away!

Star Wars: Puggo Grande


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Once you’ve finished expanding your behind-the-scenes knowledge, it’s time for sheer entertainment! But since this is a special Star Wars day, we have to do something different. My recommendation is the Puggo Grande, a homemade preservation of two 16mm prints of the original Star Wars film. “Puggo,” already well known in Star Wars fandom circles for his preservations of two 8mm condensed prints, was able to acquire two 16mm prints, an American print most likely struck for educational purposes, and a Swedish print which he used for the audio and several shots during the Trench run, which were too damaged to recover from the American print. Scratchy and dirty, this version is nonetheless extremely charming to watch, and includes some little key differences in audio from most commonly available versions. I like to imagine myself in a grindhouse theater, or a library screening room whenever I watch it. Pure, cinematic magic.

How to get it: This one is a little tougher, as it is only available as a DVD disc image, meaning you will have to burn it to a disc. To find it, you will have to search through downloads, mostly torrent sites.

Decision Time! Let’s inject a little variety into the proceedings. Once Puggo Grande reels off the projector (cheesy, ain’t I?), pick any one of the other main saga Star Wars films. My pick:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I’m going with The Force Awakens, due to its narrative and spiritual similarities to A New Hope, and because, well, Rey is just about one of the best things to happen to Star Wars in ages. It also works as a great metric to see just how much has changed since 1977. Other than this one, I would usually go for either Empire or Jedi, but hey, I won’t diss the prequels today. There’s plenty of room for even them on Star Wars Day, plus, now that I think of it, Revenge of the Sith might be another good choice. The birth of Vader leading into the first introduction of Vader….Gah, I can’t decide! You could even really change it up by remembering that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is hitting theaters soon, and throwing in the first Guardians. Sure, it isn’t Star Wars, but it comes pretty close to being the Marvel remix of it, so why not?

How to get it: Uh…own them.

Decision time again! Your choices are:

The Star Wars Holiday Special
Image result for star wars holiday specialReleased on primetime television during the Christmas season of 1978, the Star Wars Holiday Special is quite the anomaly, seeming more an excuse to broadcast Bea Arthur and Art Carney skits than to advance the world of Star Wars. However, being the first “official” spinoff and hailing from the early era of the franchise, it makes sense to see what all the hubbub’s about. Just be warned; it’s as zany a Star Wars experience as you’ll ever find, with half of the cast appearing high as a kite, loads of reused visual effects shots, a plotline that more follows Chewbacca’s weird (and frankly creepy) family, and Carrie Fisher singing. Yes, she sings. No, it isn’t wonderful. Come to think of it, this one would be a hell of a basis for a drinking game. Note to self….

How to get it: It’s actually available on YouTube!

or

Star Wars: Droids


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If the Holiday Special is too crazy for your blood, then I suggest you try out a few episodes of the Droids animated series from 1985. Acting as a loose prequel to A New Hope, Droids depicts the early adventures of C-3P0 and R2-D2, that most lovable robotic duo of the galaxy, as they navigate the treacherous new Empire, and serve several different masters. Some noteworthy episodes to consider include “A Race to the Finish,” which features Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett, and the Roon arc of episodes that finishes the series.

How to get it: The entire 15-episode run is readily available on YouTube.

Double Feature:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story / Star Wars
Star Wars Day 2017


Close out Star Wars Day 2017 with a truly epic double feature: Rogue One, and the original 1977 version of Star Wars! Click here to check it out in full.

How to get it: For Rogue One, go out and buy it!
If you don’t own or wish to use a VHS copy of Star Wars to view the original version (since it is unavailable officially on DVD or Blu-ray), I would suggest tracking down either Harmy’s Despecialized Edition, an HD reconstruction of the original theatrical version, or Team Negative-1’s Silver Screen Edition, a preservation of a real, 35mm print of the original cut. The Silver Screen Edition will be the harder one to acquire, as it is only available as a disc image that one must burn to a BD. Harmy’s Despecialized is available in several different packages; refer to this guide to acquire one.

And that would be a wrap! Now, of course, these are only suggestions, feel free to mix and match or go against the grain. Even if you cannot acquire some of the fan preservations here such as Puggo Grande or the Despecialized Edition, that’s okay. Star Wars even at its lowest point is still Star Wars. So enjoy the day, and May the Force Be With You!