Friday, December 8, 2017
STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE MOVIE REVIEW
Today begins my marathon of reviews for Star Wars Episodes 1-7 leading up to The Last Jedi. We begin with The Phantom Menace which is a very touchy subject with a lot of Star Wars fans basically the prequels in general because a lot of people hate the prequels. If you like the prequels it is like committing an unforgivable crime to these people. So this review is going to be a bit controversial. I enjoy the prequels. I grew up with both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy so I don't have that hatred that a lot of the other fans do. So this is going to be a little different it's not going to be the usual "George Lucas raped my childhood" bullshit that you are used to. Warning this review contains SPOILERS! The story begins as two Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-wan Kenobi are abroad a ship where they are about to have negotiations with the Trade Federation over some concerns. The Trade Federation they find out is about to invade the planet Naboo because of some treaty that Queen Amidala is not singing. They stow away on the droid ships and they go down to Naboo where they encounter Jar Jar Binks. This is one part of The Phantom Menace that I have agreed with everyone on for years I hate Jar Jar I hated him when I was a kid I hate him even more now. I can see why this thing ruined the movie for some people. I find him to be very childish, annoying and I don't think the character is funny. Jar Jar takes them to the Gungan city underwater and they are told no we don't want to be allied with the Naboo. The planet Naboo has always been one of my favorite Star Wars planets. You can hate on the prequels all you want because of how much CGI they used and they did use a lot of CGI. I like that the new trilogy is using a lot more practical effects, but in terms of the world building that these special effects helped with it just looked great and it added so much to it. The planets in the prequels are beautiful. Although a lot of this movie takes place in the Naboo palace it still looks really good. That underwater sequence looks breathtaking for 1999. I will say that the underwater chase with the giant fish I found cool at times, but then they would make stupid jokes like there's always a bigger fish. Eventually, they join up with The Queen and her royal guards at Naboo they flee they go to the planet Tatooine because the ship is damaged and they encounter a little boy named Anakin Skywalker who as we all know grows up to become the evilest man in the galaxy Darth Vader. He's nine years old in this. Unlike most people I don't think Jake Lloyd is terrible he just did what George Lucas told him to do. What I do think is terrible is his dialogue. The first thing he says to Padme is are you an angel. I literally almost threw up when I heard that. Here on Tatooine is actually where a lot of the best parts of this movie happen for me. They really captured Tatooine perfectly it still felt like the same planet from the original trilogy just about 30 years beforehand. You get to see a lot of recognizable characters Jabba the Hut shows up for a little bit. There are a lot of similar species of characters like Greedo and sure it might seem a little forced, but it helped capture the spirit of the planet. Then we get to one of my two favorite scenes in this movie the pod race. Recently I've heard a lot of people say it just over-relies on special effects and it doesn't feel real and I was worried that watching it again I would also feel that way. There were times when yes the effects are pretty bad, but overall I enjoyed the pod racing scene more than I liked it as a kid. I absolutely love this scene from start to finish, except for Jake Lloyd's random quips while he's racing that was just bad. I don't understand why George Lucas put those in the script. That whole scene was very suspenseful it felt like I was watching a sporting event and you wanted this little kid to beat that son of a bitch and he did. Qui-Gon frees him from slavery than they leave Tatooine and during this, we have what's going on in the background. Senator Palpatine is trying to convince The Queen to put a vote of no confidence on Chancellor Valorum who isn't helping with the invasion of the Naboo. During this we also have the Trade Federation encountering Darth Sidious (spoiler they are the same person) He introduces us to the greatest and most undervalued Star Wars characters of all time Darth Maul he is badass. You can hate The Phantom Menace all you want, but Darth Maul is badass. Before they leave Tatooine you see him briefly he had probe droids following them around and he gets a quick dual with Qui-Gon. I remember this being longer when I was a kid, but it's only about 45 seconds. I forgot to mention during the whole time they are on Tatooine The Queen disappears and her "servant" Padme joins them as well. We later find out that she is, of course, the Queen. I always saw this twist coming, but I forgot how hard they hinted at it every time Qui-Gon would say The Queen agrees with me Padme would say I'm not so sure about that. Another thing I just found out The Queen's decoy is Keira Knightly I found that interesting. So they leave Tatooine and go to Coruscant which is my favorite planet from the prequels I love how it's just one giant city. So you have the political rumblings with The Queen and Palpatine and she's eventually convinced to give the vote of no confidante to Chancellor Valorum. Eventually, they decide to leave Coruscant and go back to Naboo. Qui-Gon is trying to train Anakin because while he's on Tatooine he finds out that Anakin is incredibly strong with the force and the Jedi Council is refusing to let him. Now we come to another issue that people have with this movie and that is the concept of midi-chlorians they are these microscopic life-forms inside of all living beings that determine if they are strong with the force or not. People hate this because it ruins the mystical feeling of the force from the original trilogy. I'm sorry guys I am not with you on this one. I've never been bothered by this cool there's a reasoning behind the force. Am I supposed to be upset by this. It doesn't bother me, I don't think about it that much and this is really the only movie where they bring it up frequently so why is this such a big deal. So they are not training Anakin in the Jedi arts. They decide to go to Naboo and retake the palace. This is where Padme reveals herself as The Queen. The Gungans than form an alliance with Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and the Naboo and they try to take back the palace. So you have Padme, Captain Panaka and a bunch of other people trying to take down the Trade Federation. Jar Jar leads the Gungans into battle with the droids and I hate this scene so much. The one cool part is when all the droid ships lead out the droids and they all assemble and start shooting that still gives me chills that part alone I love. The battle, in general, is just bad I hate the Gungans and I don't like the droids so together they make the scene almost unwatchable. R2-D2 and Anakin are in a Naboo star-fighter. Anakin sends himself up into space and takes down a droid control ship which aside from him making quips like let's try spinning that's a good trick it's a cool scene. Then we get to my other favorite scene in this movie Qui-Gon and Obi-wan vs. Darth Maul. The fight is incredible. I absolutely love this lightsaber battle. A lot of people say it's too choreographed who the fuck cares it's a movie fight scene it's always choreographed. I do not give a shit if it looks more elegant than the original trilogy where it was more brutal and stuff. Then we get to the part where everything is basically flipped on its head. I remembered Ewan McGregor having a lot more of an important part in this movie than I did when I was watching it again. Basically, Obi-wan doesn't have an important role until the last 45 minutes. Until then he's just in the background as Qui-Gon's apprentice. Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon is essentially the main character of this movie and Maul just strikes him down kicks his lightsaber away and stabs him. Obi-wan is screaming because he's behind that little shield thing and yeah the no is cheesy, but it's effective. Then Obi-Wan starts fighting him. Maul knocks him down. He's hanging off the shaft thing. Obi-Wan uses the force grabs Qui-Gon's lightsaber jumps up and Cuts Darth Maul in half. I always hated it that Lucas killed him off after one movie. I also hated that Qui-Gon was only a one movie character. Then we have a very effective funeral scene for Qui-Gon. Then we have the ending celebration where if you listen closely it's the Emperor's theme in a different tone and higher pitch. Palpatine's elected Chancellor and all is happy in the galaxy, but no it is not because the most powerful Sith in the galaxy just got elected Chancellor. That's the story honestly I don't hate the movie. There are definitely some issues, but their's a lot of redeeming qualities that make me enjoy it a lot more than most people. I'm in the minority here I know that, but I'm defending my opinion here. so let's get into some more specifics. The biggest complaint with the prequel trilogy and I will agree with you here is the dialogue. Lucas should have let people help him with the script. Some of the actors did the best they could. Liam Neeson did a great job. Ewan McGregor did a great job. I forgot to bring up C-3PO and R2-D2. I like how they were used. I like how a lot more backstory was given with C-3PO he was built by Anakin, he wasn't completed in this movie and he's just left there on Tatooine and we don't see him again until Attack of the clones when he is a bit more finished. R2-D2 he didn't really do much he was just there, but they need to introduce him. I don't like how it was Jar Jar that introduced him by accidentally bumping into him in the back of a Naboo ship. The effects for the most part still look really good for a movie made in 1999. I was absorbed in the worlds, but there were some things that didn't hold up. With Jar Jar it is very obvious that he is not there, also the droid ships the big ones that would deploy the droids when they were rolling around that looked fake. The space combat scenes were great, but some of the other effects looked dated. That's really the only negative thing I can say about the special effects some of them don't hold up as well as others. I loved the lightsaber fights. I loved Padme and the guards fighting the droids. I did enjoy watching this movie. I don't hate The Phantom Menace, but I'm not blinded by nostalgia I did point out some flaws. I hear some people say well it's not as good as Empire Strikes Back so I hate it. Nothing is going to be as good as Empire Strikes Back except hopefully The Last Jedi. I do feel extremely in the minority knowing I am one of very few people not only in my circle, but on the internet that enjoys the prequels, but you know what I don't care it makes me unique. I'm going to give Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 4 out of 5 stars.