On YouTube yesterday, a video went viral that bases its core concept on a “What if” question that most geeks have pondered for a decade.
What if “Star Wars: Episode II” was good, like really good?
This is the second time that Michael Barryte of Belated Media has asked such a question of the “Star Wars” fan community. His first “What if” took on the much-maligned “Episode I” and cast Barryte in the role of a story executive at 20th Century Fox when George Lucas was developing his prequels. Over the course of 12 minutes, Barryte tweaked, snipped, and rearranged moments from “Episode I,” turning it into an Obi-Wan Kenobi-centric film with an older Anakin, no Jar Jar Binks to speak of, and a version of the beloved Darth Maul that doesn’t die too soon.
Barryte’s version of “The Phantom Menace,” which emphasized character moments and development and thematic parallels to the original trilogy as opposed to clunky fan service, quickly became an internet sensation and even won over geek royalty like Patton Oswalt, who also happens to be one of Hollywood’s most successful script doctors.
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In the year and a half since Barryte’s “Episode I” video, the demand for a follow-up has never been far from the thoughts of his comments. “After I put out ‘Episode I,’ basically every video from that point forward, the top comment would be ‘When’s “Episode II” coming out?’ ” Barryte told MTV News over the phone shortly after his new video dropped. “So there was a good amount of demand, and I was worried that the video wouldn’t live up to the hype.”
Despite his fears, the reimagined “Episode II” seems to have lived up to the hype and the expectations set by “Episode I.” “WHAT IF STAR WARS EPISODE II WERE GOOD?” currently sits at 558,000 views with comments on the video mostly positive, but as we learned when speaking with Barryte, the second video offered a much greater challenge than his previous rewrite.