I Can Do Better Than That
by Paul Waldowski

It’s 1997 and you’re sitting in a theater anxiously waiting for the “Special Edition” of Star Wars to roll. You haven’t seen this movie in a theater (or drive-in) since its initial run in 1977-78. You’ve heard there’ve been some updates to the special effects and the film print has been cleaned.

The lights go down. The film rolls.

Greedo shoots first.

Holy jump-ropin’ Jesus, what the fuck was that?

The 1997 Star Wars Special Edition was the first instance where I started to choose what I would accept as “authentic” and what I’d ignore from a movie franchise.he shot first I used to take what was offered and accept it as it was, but when George Lucas decided to change fundamental aspects of character development in an established, iconic film, I decided that I was not pleased with the product. I judged it against the Original Trilogy and found it wanting, so I chose to ignore it.

I did the same thing with the Matrix Trilogy. The first movie was fun, cool, and a little thought provoking. Obviously, the writers couldn’t have possibly delivered a sequel to match the imaginations of their fans, but the next two movies fell so short of the promise provided by the first movie that they might as well have never bothered to make them at all. As far as I’m concerned, they never happened.

This democratization of film-making is an interesting development and goes far beyond choosing whether to ignore differing versions of the same movie or craptastic sequels to a kick-ass film. Spurred by poor creativity and specious changes to established films, the audience is using software and their own talents to modify movies as they wish; the director no longer has final cut now that the audience can edit a movie to fit what they want to see. The audience is no longer just listening, they’re talking back.

The Phantom Edit was perhaps the first and most famous example of this new movement to take movies and make them “better” than what was released, though it wasn’t the last nor only creative expression by fans. The Grey Album by Dangermouse highlighted the ability of talented musicians to take two existing albums and mash them together to create art that was just as good as (some say better than) its constituent parts.

What does this movement mean for the future? How can an “authoritative” version of a movie or album exist when large groups of people disagree with changes made by a director to a film? More importantly, are there any examples you have of great fan-made mash-ups or movie edits? Do you have a favorite film franchise where you conveniently ignore certain elements or entire chapters?

Paul lives in Northern California where he was last seen waiting on line for the autograph of that guy who played the third ewok from the left in Jedi.



i love the grey album

and the three mashes with green day and oasis and grrrr someone else

it's really creative when someone picks up something and thinks it in. Althou sometimes I do not like the final product, sometimes it works.

You have to let people try what they want

Sometimes it sucks, but that's just what happens


My son and I have been debating where the Star Wars Transformer toys fit into the Star Wars universe and their implications for continuity overall. Greedo shooting first or second has taken a backseat to Chewbacca's new ability to transform into a spaceship.

As for the Matrix... as far as I'm concerned, only the first movie really happened. :P Every follow-up, even the Animatrix, was a huge let down and failure to adequately explore a concept that had room for many great stories.

Well... okay, there was this *one* comic where a guy got trapped in the Matrix when his ship was disabled and he had to wait around for another ship to come pull him out. That was a really good matrix story with all the elements that were cool about the original movie. ("Your leg may really be broken, but that's not *really* your leg.")

- Kory


I wasn't even too fond of the first Matrix and I still pretend the others don't exist.

Don't even get me started on Star Wars/Lucas.

I love that fans now have the ability to mash things up or edit things. You don't like the way it's done? Do it yourself. Not quite the same satisfaction as seeing Han shoot first, but it's good enough.

By the way, that first pic is one I took when I was playing a "mash up" scenario with my action figures.


In 1977 I was 15 going on 16 and I can't tell you how many times I saw Star Wars that summer.

When I heard "Greedo shot first." I just hung my head.


michele, is that He-Man?

My greatest fear is that Spielberg or Lucas will get a bug up their butts and touch the original Indiana Jones Trilogy.

It always starts out as, "Hey, let's clean-up the print and maybe update the effects a bit" and ends up with Mola Ram giving the sacrificial victim a sinister pat on the back as he's lowered into a vat of cotton candy.


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