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Peter T Chattaway

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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NBooth wrote:

: I'll bridle at Naboo, but can't really deny the rest (though the "force mumbo jumbo" is really no worse than it is in A New Hope, really--nor is the difference between "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers" and "I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war" really all that great).

Oh, you're going to have to find a better example than THAT to persuade me that the original trilogy is just as bad as the prequels. I've always liked that "tighten your grip" line, going back to when I was a kid. But I do concede that the STAGING of that scene is just as, um, stiff or whatever as some of the scenes in the prequels.

I didn't say it was just as bad--just that the difference wasn't all that great. But I'll admit it was a less-than-ideal choice. Far better would have been contrasting the "Force is what gives a Jedi his power" speech with Qui-Gon's midichlorian speech. Guinness sells his speech as much as he can, but it's nothing but an immense slab of exposition. And, honestly, last time I watched A New Hope, all I could think was how much explaining everyone does. The Prequels may be worse in this regard--indeed, they are--but they're on a similar wavelength.

I've always been struck by how slow and explanatory A New Hope is in general. I think The Empire Strikes Back does a much better job of handling exposition though (probably, in large part, because it had other writers - namely Lawrence Kasdan, and because Kershner took over the directing duties).

It'd also argue Aotc and RotS generally handle exposition better than Phantom - particularly RotS which actually is a legitimately good film, if not a great one.

Edited by Timothy Zila

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NBooth wrote:

: Far better would have been contrasting the "Force is what gives a Jedi his power" speech with Qui-Gon's midichlorian speech. Guinness sells his speech as much as he can, but it's nothing but an immense slab of exposition.

It's exposition, but it still allows for a certain kind of mystery and invites Luke (and thus the viewer) to imagine a bigger world of possibilities. Qui-Gon's speech just reduces everything to technical details that don't even get referenced much in the rest of the prequel trilogy.

: And, honestly, last time I watched A New Hope, all I could think was how much explaining everyone does. The Prequels may be worse in this regard--indeed, they are--but they're on a similar wavelength.

Sad but true. I was watching the "filmumentary" Star Wars Begins on my phone while riding the bus tonight, and I was struck once again by how incredibly clunky some of the original ideas for that film were -- and by how clunky some of the deleted scenes are, too. So many bullets were dodged in that film's case -- but I don't think many of us quite realized how much dodging was done until Lucas finally got back into the director's chair and made the prequels.

And I'm afraid I can never hear the word "friend" in that film now (Obi-Wan calling R2-D2 "my little friend", Tarkin telling Vader "You, my friend, are all that's left of their religion", etc.) without hearing Emperor Palpatine growl the words "my little... green... friend" at Yoda in Revenge of the Sith.

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When her boyfriend suggested they go see the re-release of THE PHANTOM MENACE…

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via Topless Robot.

Now, when it starts, you're going to think he's just stealing Plinkett's criticism of Episode 1, but he very quickly moves from criticism to solutions, and explains the benefits of each change.

NSFW language, btw.

Edited by NBooth

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FWIW, I got around to seeing the 3D version a week or so ago, and, uh, wow, I had forgotten just how disappointing a film this is.

I mean, sure, I had watched Plinkett's 70-minute video review and I had watched The Phantom Edit, etc., but this was the first time I had seen the entire film (without edits or commentary) since probably its original theatrical release, and it was striking to be reminded of just how flat and dull (and childish! especially childish) this movie is.

It was also interesting to watch this film in light of the fact that we now know what would go on to happen in Episodes II and III, whereas I don't think even Lucas had all that good an idea back then.

Personally, when Palpatine and Anakin have their one brief encounter in this film, I was curious to know whether Lucas had informed Ian McDiarmid (the actor who plays Palpatine) that Palpatine's mentor had actually CREATED Anakin (a fact that Palpatine all but spells out in Episode III). There are various ways to read McDiarmid's smile in this scene, but then, there were all sorts of ways to read Alec Guinness's hesitation when Luke asked Obi-Wan how his father died, too. (And Alec Guinness certainly didn't "know" that Vader was Luke's father back then, because Lucas didn't know that either at the time!)

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Philip Sandifer does his thing.

Quote

I thought, as someone who readily grants that the prequel trilogy’s pretty crap but is inclined not to think the rest of the series is anything too impressive, I feel like I can offer a take that’s not going to get hung up on the banalities of whether the movies are any good or on arguing for their secret and intricate genius. As far as I’m concerned, Star Wars is a deeply and systemically flawed work that’s nevertheless interesting in its pathologies. One thing I will be doing, if only to force the discussion further away from the banality of comparing the original trilogy to the prequels, is to, as I said, treat the work as presented: a seven part and counting story. This doesn’t mean willfully ignoring the fact that The Phantom Menace came out twenty-two years after A New Hope (or, for that matter that A New Hope wasn’t originally called that), or doing some sort of silly narrative game where we ignore future installments entirely, but it does mean accepting that The Phantom Menace is intended to function as a beginning despite the fact that in practice the entire audience knows that Jake Lloyd’s character grows up to become one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history.

Right. Prolegomenon sorted, let’s dive in. As mentioned, I’m not going to pretend that The Phantom Menace is a good film. Its narrative logic is, charitably, bizarre, its sense of humor moronic, its acting as flat and artificial as its CGI, and very little of it comes off in a meaningful sense. Nevertheless, it’s a film that gets a ridiculously harder time than is actually justified. One of the most common refrains about it, for instance, is that it lacks a protagonist, which is nonsense on stilts. Its protagonist is clearly Qui-Gon, a fact that’s seemingly lost on people unable to imagine that the film might not focus on any of the characters it inherited from the original trilogy. The film very clearly follows Qui-Gon’s path through his final mission as a Jedi knight. This isn’t unduly tricky in the least.

He's got one coming on Attack of the Clones, but right now it's only available to Patreon subscribers.

Edited by NBooth

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