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Star Wars – Episode I, The Phantom Menace

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 25-10-2010

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Begin your STAR WARS DVD collection with STAR WARS: Episode 1 THE PHANTOM MENACE. Packed with over six hours of additional material, including exclusive documentaries and never-before-seen deleted scenes, this 2-disc set provides the perfect showcase for the incredible detail and breathtaking scope of George Lucas’s first episode in the mythic STAR WARS saga.Amazon.com
“I have a bad feeling about this,” says the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) in … More >>

Star Wars – Episode I, The Phantom Menace

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Comments (5)

I saw this film on theatrical release in and was very disappointed. Of course, alot of the disappointment initially had to do with the incredible hype build-up that accompanied the new trilogy. Nothing could have lived up to the public’s expectations.

That having been said, The Phantom Menace is disappointing not so much because it stinks, but because, I fell, with some additional tweaking, it could have been much much better. Its almost as if Lucas got the plot ideas and character concepts developed to a schematic level and then sort of lost interest in them and did not develop them any further.

Specific gripes:

1. We never really bond with or understand Qui-Gon’s character or his relationship with young Anakin. He states that he thinks Anakin may be the chosen one, but that is not really sufficient. We need to see an emotional bond or some kind of identification between the two, but it just isn’t there.

2. Not to pick on Jake Lloyd (he’s probably a great kid), but Lucas or whoever just did not get a good performance out of him. Plus, there is no hint in young Anakin at this point of character traits or flaws that might later foreshadow his fall. Yoda says he sees anger and fear in Anakin and the Jedi Council make vague predications that he may eventually be dangerous, but we as audience members just don’t see it. We are supposed to infer that Anakin is somehow damaged by his life as as slave and subsequent separation from his mother, but again, we don’t see any of this. His life as a slave doesn’t seem to indicate any hardship; his big scene saying goodbye to his mom is not particularly moving (mainly due to wooden acting by Lloyd; Pernilla August as his mom does a good job thought). Also, if he’s a slave, how does he have time/resources to build robots and pod racers? Just not very true to life.

Perhaps if we had seen Anakin and/or his mom subjected to some sort of abuse or exploitation we would have a better indication both of the fear and anger in Anakin and also a potential emotional reason for why Qui-Gon wants to rescue Anakin. When I reflected on it, I thought it would almost be better if Anakin were like the feral boy in Road Warrior II: an unkempt, unclean, and agressive character that had to be somewhat tamed and civilized by his Jedi rescuers. We don’t see any character flaws, any little hints of selfishness, anger, fear or frustration. As is, young Anakin is just an average cute kid; we don’t see any depth to why he wants to escape his life as a slave or run off to join the Jedi so we don’t really care.

3. Source of humor: The original series had a mix of humor based upon the droids 3PO and R2D2 and also with the human characters (primarily interactions between Solo, Leia, and Luke). In TPM, the primary source of humor is generated from droids and Jar Jar Binks with little or no humorous banter or interaction between human characters. This has two effects: 1)relying on computer-generated characters for humor means the primary form of humor becomes physical slapstick, which is one of the main complaints about the Jar Jar charcter; and 2)the interactions between the human main characters, when deprived of humor, makes their relationships seem dry and mechanical, another source of the shallow characterizations.

The one humorous moment that stands out is when, after being ambushed by the Trade Feds at the beginning, Obi-Won says to Qui-Gon with a wry smile: “Well, you were right about one thing Master….the negotiations were short!” This one moment stands out because it is one of the few jokes between human characters and it works and expresses some of Obi-Won’s personality. It also effectively echoes some of the banter and attitude that made Solo’s character so liekable and crucial to the original films, an attitude and sensibility that is lacking in TPM. As is, we are stuck with Jar Jar’s pratfalls for yuks, and it just doesn’t work unless you are 5 years old.

4. The shallowness of Darth Maul: Similar to other problems with character depth, we don’t know enough about Maul. He says early in the film that at last he will have revenge on the Jedi. Revenge for what? We never know beyond vague notions that the Sith and Jedi are ancient enemies. That is not enough. We either need to be shown more back story on this or have some reason for Maul’s motivation. His fight scenes with the Jedi at the end are dynamite and clearly the actor is very skilled in martial arts and projects a menacing attitude with only minimal dialog or screen time, but we never really know anything about him other than “he is a bad guy” and that is not enough.

5. Plot goofiness. As others have pointed out, all the midi-chlorian business is a red herring of mumbo-jumbo that takes the mystical mystery out of the Force and reduces it to a medical condition. The Jedi are supposed to be wise, powerful seers, but them seem oblivious to the presence and intentions of the bad guys over and over again. Having young Anakin build C3PO is silly and seems like a forced “cricle closer”. Further, having Anakin start out on Tatooine doesn’t seem right and seems liek another circle closer that is forced. Wouldn’t he remember all this years later as Darth Vader in Episode 4? Wouldn’t there be some result of this coincidence? As noted above, having a slave that doesn’t seem to be deprived or suffering and has the time/resources to build robots and pod racers as a hobby seems goofy too.

Again, it seemed to me like Lucas got the plot and characters to a certain point and then quit on them. With only a little extra effort or different emphasis on certain elements, the movie could have been much improved and the audience would have had more insight into the characters and identified with them more. As is, the lack of character development combined with wooden acting makes it hard for the audience to care. The special effects set pieces are spectacular, and the computer generated elements are pioneering and well executed, but without a reason to care about or like the characters, its hard to get too excited.

Again, not a horrid movie, but frustrating because with just a few changes or extra effort, it could have been so much better.

Rating: 2 / 5

When I first heard about these prequel stories back in 1980, I have waited since for this movie to come out. And now…here it is-here it is, indeed… Well, I must confess this Star Wars installment dose not have that same “edge” if you will, that the Classical Trilogy has. The acting by Jake LLoyd and Natalie Portman was not up to par-hardly. I think much more screen time should have been given to the evil Darth Sidious and Darth Maul- and less screen time given to Jar Jar Binks. Truth be told, this movie has more of a Disney look (shudder) than being a Lucasfilm. Now, with that said, there are redeeming factors to this motion picture as well. Clearly, the Pod Race scene was fantastic, cut straight from the grandiose cloth of Ben-Hur. The Lightsaber scenes-Federation Trade battle droids, Tatoonie desert, and finally Darth Maul on Naboo-were Magnificent. Also, the underlying plot with Senator Palpatine subtly manipulating the circumstnaces so he can position himself to become Chancellor was also impressive-an area which Mr. Lucas should of have greatly focused on. Finally, the scenes with Jedi Master Yoda(Frank Oz returning as Yoda’s voice) were very welcoming. With those redeeming characteristics, I give The Phantom Menace 4 stars in the overall sense. And it must also be kept in mind that this movie is the set-up movie for the rest of the Star Wars Saga. Now as we go into Episode II, everything is now in place: Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious, if you ask me)is Chancellor. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are starting a friendship while the seedlings of romance with Anakin and Amidala have been planted. Just as the trailer pitch said “Every Saga Has a Beginning…” That is exactly how one should look at this movie-A beginning; a set-up story for something larger to come. Yes, Episode I dosen’t own up to the substantial quality of the Classical Trilogy, that is certain. However, with everything taken into account, it does serve it’s foundational purpose for those movies and the coming Episodes. Watch it as it is-the opening story to a larger saga-and enjoy.
Rating: 4 / 5

OK OK I was expecting so much more. But let me tell you this,Alot of the Pre-Reviews I bought into.OK it cost alot of money to makeand Hype this Movie.I went by myself to see it and the one thing that stuck in my head from the reviews was hate Jar Jar.And I admit by myself he got on my nerves.(could be I was paying to close attention)and the thought of him being computer generated Oh well that did it. What an idiot I was two weeks later when I took my5 year old and 3 year old to see it. News Flash Jar Jar is COOL! I hardly watched the movie because I could not take my eyes off my boys. They loved it and so did I.Lucas is a genius. I have already ordered my copy. The story line is perfectthe eye popping effects are the best. it moves just fast enough to get you hooked and ends just in time to leave you wanting more. For my kids sake I hope they bring Jar Jar Back. Hey if you really hated it try it again with some kids around. See what happens, I loved the effect.
Rating: 4 / 5

You’ve already seen the movie by now, and if you haven’t, the 500+ comments already posted here will probably give you all the info you need. My comments are about the video itself.

Spend the extra ten bucks or whatever it is and GET THE WIDESCREEN VERSION. We all know that with pan and scan, you lose almost half the picture. That’s fine if you’re watching, say, The Runaway Bride. However, there’s a *lot* to see in this movie, and watching the stuff in the background is half the fun; if you get the pan and scan to save a few bucks, you’ll be getting less than you paid for.

Oh, and don’t blame poor Jake Lloyd for Anakin’s stilted dialog (especially the egregious blobs of exposition he spouts on Tatooine). Blame Darth Lucas… and hope the next script is edited by someone with a better track record.
Rating: 4 / 5

After watching the devoid-of-any-charm-sleep-inducing-travesty-of-a-movie known as the ‘The Phantom Menace’, I dropped to my knees and prayed to God and every saint that I could remember that Mr. George “Quasi-Genius Turned Marketing Whore” Lucas hands the writing and directing duties of the next two films to another party (dramatic-overstating,but I’m just making a point here, folks). Maybe in the hands of people like Lawrence Kazden (who wrote the script for ‘Empire’-the best of the orinal trilogy) and Frank Darabont, we’ll get some inspired film-making. Something that the Star Wars myth legacy deserves (even though the trilogy didn’t deserve ‘Jedi’ either, but…). But if it stays in Lucas’ hands?…YEESH! Do we really need ANOTHER “VILLIAN TUMBLES DOWN A BOTTOMLESS CHASM” scene, or ANOTHER “BIG-BAM-BOOM SPACE STATION” scene, or even ANOTHER “CELEBRATION FINALE” scene? THere is no doubt, to me anyways, that Mr. George is a great ‘Idea Guy’, and he used to be an inspired all-around filmmaker. But with ‘Phantom’, all he seemed inspired to do was show some ILM muscle and create a two- hour commercial for the new line of Star Wars Dolls.
Rating: 2 / 5

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