Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Old School Movies: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

The year was 1999, I was in grade 10 and a new Star Wars movie was about to be released.  Boy the excitement was almost too much to handle.  2 years earlier they had just re-released the original trilogy to celebrate 30 years since A New Hope's release.  So the thought of Star Wars was still fresh with everyone.

So as a teenager I rush off to the movies to see The Phantom Menace and as the credits rolled I sat in my seat and grinned as I had just watched a brand new Star Wars flick and it was one heck of a ride.  It wasn't perfect or as good as the original trilogy but it was Star Wars so it got a free pass.

However, as I get older and the more I re-watch this movie, more and more about it bugs me.  I still think it's a decent enough popcorn summer blockbuster but it will always be compared to the original movies and will always pale in comparison.

I won't bother recapping the storyline as I'm sure you've seen the flick if you are reading this review.

So lets begin with what worked:

Jedi Fucking Knights!  We finally get to see these bad asses of the galaxy in action at the prime of their existence.

Brilliant lightsaber battle
Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn is a masterstroke.  Dude can certainly act (definitely not his best work here but he hasn't got much of a script to work with) and if Oskar Schindler comes after you with a lightsaber you better do what he says.

John Williams.  Probably the greatest movie composer ever and he once again does an amazing job here.  Duel of Fates is brilliant.

Quantom: Na naaaaaaa. Ya na naaaaaa. NA NAAAAAAA. YA NA NAAAAAAA.

The pod race.  Probably the second best part of the movie.  Great effects and great action.  Still holds up to this date.  Only annoying part is the two headed race announcer.

Great point Jables. Probably one of the best creations in the sequels. Pod Racer on Nintendo 64 was baller.  J: Shit yeah, I loved Pod Racer on the N64.

Best part of TPM is obviously Darth Maul and then his duel with Obi and Qui Gon.  This is why we love Star Wars and it definitely delivers everything you would want in a lightsaber battle.  Maul is easily the best thing about Menace but then this leads me into what didn't work.

Double lightsaber like a boss
What didn't work?  Quite a fair bit.

Killing of Darth Maul.  Why would you?  The best character and a great baddie.  Why not have him in at least the sequel?  Big fail.
Jar Jar Binks.  The most offensive character I have ever seen on the silver screen.  An obvious cash grab attempt to sell more toys to children but ended up back firing when the comic relief character isn't funny and is just plain annoying.  Too much time is spent following this stupid slapstick character around and at times he appears to be plain racist.  Is it the actors fault Jar Jar is so terrible?  Maybe not but there is probably a reason why Ahmed Best hasn't acted in any other movies.

No words can express how offensive you are Jar Jar

Other terrible characters.  Asian Nute Gunray, any of the Gungans and the bloody annoying battle droids.  More pointless comic relief that shows you that George was only making this movie for kids.

Relying too much on special effects.  It makes it hard for the actors and it definitely pulls you out of the fantasy when the effects don't quite look right.  I'm all for showing off your great special effects team but not at the expense of believability.

Turning Darth Vader, the baddest cat in the galaxy, into the little shit kid from Jingle All The Way.  I understand that George wanted this to be the story of how Vader become Vader but fuck me, did we have to go all the way back to when he was an annoying little turd?  Who the fuck says "Yippee" anyway?

This little turd will kill all the Jedi?  Doubtful
George's terrible writing.  He can't write to save himself.  Terrible dialogue throughout this movie and a lot of it is from Jar Jar and Annie.  "It's working! It's working!"  No it really isn't.

A few WTF moments were the lame space battle that Annie just happens to find himself in and win and also the crappy looking Yoda.

And last but not least.  Midi-chlorians.  Why George why?  Couldn't we just continue on pondering the mysteries of the Force and leaving us with the fantasy that there is something out there that grant people super powers?  No?  Well fuck you George.

What even are midi-chlorians? Like bugs in your body? I still don't get it and it's dumb. God damn it George.

So when it comes down to it, it is still Star Wars.  It is still fun and it certainly would be a big hit with the kids.  But does it being Star Wars excuse it from having so many terrible parts?  Probably.

The fun and exciting pod race
I give it 5 Yippees out of 10.  Easily the worst Star Wars movie but still very enjoyable.  This DVD definitely doesn't get as much use as the other ones though.

I think you're being generous.

Well I am a Star Wars geek after all.  I would prefer to watch this again over Transformers 2.


  1. Ok, dude, everybody is born as a child... Also Anakin or Darth Vader. Some comments I agree, but come on... What did you expect from a 9 year old boy? He didn't born with the Darth Vader mask on him. The whole story is about a nice innocent boy becoming a evil Sith Lord. Thats the whole story... It's really weird how some Star Wars 'fans' don't get that. And something else.... George Lucas IS Star Wars, if you don't like his ideas, you don't like Star Wars, because Star Wars is what he has in his mind. The rest I agree with you. Especially Jar Jar.

    1. Oh I "get" that he wanted to show how an innocent person can turn to the dark side. That's fine. The only problem with that is George can't write to save himself and Jake Lloyd is a terrible actor and thus turns Anakin Skywalker into a little turd.

      Also, to say that someone doesn't like Star Wars because they don't like ALL of his ideas is just plain silly.