One of the many things 'The Phantom Menace' can be blamed for is starting the whole downloading movies from the internet trend. In 1999 VHS had not yet lost all of it's power and every movie did not immediately get a DVD release. So in the two years it took for Episode I to appear in digital form, there were rumors it might feature a Pre-Visualization version of the entire film. No such luck. By the time "Attack of the Clones" came out, the DVD market and file-sharing had become so overwhelming that they had to release it on disk within 6 months of the premiere. This rush job again meant there was no time for a separate movie track, but we did get this short feature. Since this is Star Wars, it's all about technology, not the actors. It's doubtful they would have many anecdotes to tell anyway, with all the sets made up of blue and green.
Each major FX sequence gets it's own little chapter, starting with the "Coruscant Speeder Chase". The temp version cobbled together by Ben Burtt (doing all the voices) features behind the scenes people in Luke's original Landspeeder and looks like a really cheap fan film. P-V supervisor Dan Gregoire seems to be working hard on his own George Lucas double chin, while The Maker himself actually looks quite trim in this documentary. Next up is a scene they never should have added during pick-up: the "Droid factory" chase. Sure, those deleted scenes of Padme and Annie on trial (shown elsewhere on the DVD) were no good either, but nobody needed this Super Mario stuff, even if they did take great care figuring out exactly which part of what droid the different machines were supposed to be working on.
Much more interesting is the work that went into the "Clone War" battle. We get to see some vehicles left on the cutting room floor (that eventually ended up in Episode III), as well as some rather violent ideas like Clone Troopers using Geonosians for target practice before being run over by Tank Droids themselves. Rick McCallum comes along to claim they skipped the storyboard phase in favor of the animatics, but he obviously went to the Lucas school of contradiction, for the paperback novelization of the film has all the storyboards with an introduction by the Rick-meister himself. The fact that this sequence was also added late into the production might explain why a temp track from earlier Star Wars films accompanies these scenes in the finished film instead of new music by Johnny Williams.
The final chapter, "Georges' Science Experiment" is the customary groveling in the dirt bit, where all these computer nerds are basically reapplying for the next episode (except for Doug Chiang who had already moved on). Lucas brags about pushing his people further than they thought they could go and 'if they don't make it this time, there's always the next film'. This still does not explain why all these animators think a shaking camera makes a digital shot look more authentic.
6 out of 10
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