Publisher’s Note: In lieu of an open thread this weekend, George — the angry, jaded, high-school wunderkind Eloquent — has instead provided us with this review.
I first watched Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, when I was only four or five, back in 1996 or 1997, and it blew me away. Everything about that movie hit me in the right places, and I still watch it and the sequels regularly. I love Star Wars, and ate up it, its sequels, and its merchandise like fresh peaches off a newly discovered tree. I still frequent that tree, and have been known to bite the head off of anyone who suggests that a bad fruit has come off of it. Lucas made the perfect bottle of champagne in film form, and the people drank the sweet with joy.
But thanks to the box office, and the extra champagne Lucas wanted to pour, a sequel was inevitable: so back in 1999, the long awaited Phantom Menace was released to the public after years of anticipation. It was as if Axl Rose released Chinese Democracy, and people still actually gave a shit about Axl Rose. I saw it, and it was one of the best experiences of my young life; I would be lying if I said otherwise.
But it barely matters, because as much as I loved this movie, many people out there absolutely fucking hated The Phantom Menace a million times over my love. I find this incredibly stupid, seeing as how these same people made these movies worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and cite facts about the movies that could only be garnered from someone who watched the film multiple times. I have absolutely no sympathy for them and neither should you, dear reader. They’d eat a shitsickle if Lucas made it, even if they knew they’d hate it. Fuck them.
However, I’ve watched this movie again recently, and to quote Brian Prisco from his Postal review: “What makes Postal so painful to watch is that it is like catching your ex-girlfriend giving a handjob to another guy: it would have been so much better if it was just in someone else’s hands.” Now, Phantom Menace plays in a much different field than the 2 hour, un-lubbed ass rape that was Postal, mostly because George Lucas has actually been able to direct films, unlike Uwe Boll; but as much as I hate to admit it, it’s true, it’s really true. Just replace the titles, and the same words hold dear.
The movie opens with Qui Gon Jin (Liam Neeson) and Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) entering a freighter owned by the infamous Trade Federation to try to negotiate with them over their continuous fucking in the ass over the people of Naboo. Showing all the kindness you would expect from a ruthless group of billionaires, they try to kill Qui Gon and Obi Wan as a fuck you to the Republic and the Jedi’s for getting in their business with the young prodigy and leader of the people of Naboo, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). The two Jedi sneak down to Naboo using their stealth, and wind up meeting the third most reviled character in Star Wars history, (with the first being Lucas, and the second being Ashoka from the movie Clone Wars), the poor man’s C3P0: Jar Jar Binks. I won’t mention the actor’s name for the sake of the last remaining shred of dignity of whoever had to play him.
Jar Jar was obviously an attempt for comic relief, which is needed in a movie like Star Wars to prevent it from going up its own ass, but it’s a disaster. His voice is a mess, and makes it thoroughly impossible to gain any comedic enjoyment without ungainly aggravation and the feeling of having your soul sucked dry. What the fuck George Lucas? You knew exactly what you were doing with Han Solo and C3PO, but this? Who the fuck told you it was a good idea to have that voice on Jar Jar Binks?
But more than anything else, I’m sick of hearing about Jar Jar Binks! He’s gotten way too much attention as the mere embodiment of Phantom Menace’s problems, and we really should stop acknowledging that he ever existed. Hey Lucas, give him a new fucking voice in your inevitable special edition! It really wouldn’t be so bad otherwise. At least then the super nerds all over the net will stop bitching about the special editions, those cunt pickles even more annoying than Binks, shut them up you fat, big chinned bastard.
A bunch of stuff happens, and Qui Gon, the Queen, and Obi Wan all wind up on Tattoine, where they meet the future Dark Lord himself, Little Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). A lot of people really seem to hate this kid, but my only grudge against Lloyd is that I didn’t get his part. I would have sold my soul to whoever bought Lucas’s for that opportunity. Truth be told, he’s actually not too shabby as an actor. In fact, he toned the irritation levels of normal people his age down. Have you people actually met 9 year olds? They make you want to crawl inside your own ass to escape the pain of being around them.
An excellent pod race scene follows the introduction of Lil’ Vader, although my mother thought the scene went on for too long, and through a series of gambling deals and force powers, Qui Gon frees Anikin from slavery. We then first encounter Darth Maul, who is probably everyone’s favorite part of the movie, despite being underused. We then fight him, and leave for Couroscant.
They then speak with the Jedi Council and Galactic Republic, which is probably my least favorite part of the film due to Lucas’s poor ability to write serious dialogue becoming painfully apparent and relentlessly hammered into your head for the entirety of these scenes. Then we head back to Naboo for the final battle. I won’t go any further, as I wish to save your time, but the finale of this film is incredible. The Star Wars prequels all have excellent battle scenes, and I kept fantasizing I was Jake Lloyd in that cockpit blowing shit up, it made me feel ecstatic, and rekindled my original childhood love for this film.
The main reason this film is so reviled is that The Phantom Menace is like champagne without bubbles. It was left open and alone for too long, and while the flavor remains, the spark, and what made it really special is gone. People by then had to have been used to disappointing (Godfather III), and sometimes downright contemptible sequels (Alien 3 and 4) to great films, but this was motherfucking Star Wars, the best blockbusters ever made. It really hurt more than anything you’d feel if you were thrown into the Sarlacc pit. It’s not that it’s bad, but it missed the mark in a way no man of Lucas’s level should have.
The acting is actually great, probably the best in Star Wars history, and has some real high level talent (McGregor, Neeson, Ian McDermond, Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, even Lloyd did good.) and the effects and battles are spectacular. But the bubbles are gone, and they are sorely missed. With the original Star Wars films, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts, but for the prequels, the inverse is true, and nothing can change that. The actors were not given much to work with in terms of script, and that can lead to some painful moments. But I blame Lucas; he always wrote the scripts for Star Wars. Lucas also just messed up the execution, like a delectable cake that fell on the floor thanks to a dumbass presenter. No one criticized him due to his limitless wealth and power, and Phantom Menace missed greatness thanks to that.
But you know what, nothing I say really matters, because you’re all going to think differently, and that’s why I wrote this. I want you to say what you really think, because the Pajiba mission is to laugh at the incompetent, and to save the functional from permanently lodging their head up their ass. Lucas is too far gone; his wealth brought him down, but somewhere out there, a film maker with the next great science fiction or fantasy adventure is working on his magnum opus. That man needs to know how to learn from the mistakes of his forbearers such as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, and I call upon you to guide the way dear readers. We will not let the bubbles go wasted again.
George is a high school student from New Mexico. He loves movies, and insulting Dustin Rowles with lengthy posts with poor grammar, and hates homework and Carlos Mencia. He hopes this will get posted due to it being a slow news period, and would like to review the upcoming atrocity Dragonball for this site. He couldn’t bear to have anyone else subjected to it.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace / George
Film | February 28, 2009 | Comments ()