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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace


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#61 Thom Wade

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:39 PM

Avatar has bumped everyone down a notch, too.)


(fists raised in agony)CAMEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!

#62 Timothy Zila

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:21 PM

I actually think Ep I stands up better as the years go by; certainly compared to AotC (which I have sentimental reasons for loving, but which is still bad, bad, bad) and RotS (the first and last twenty minutes are the best Star Wars movie ever, but the middle commits the greatest sin imaginable--that of being boring).

I dunno. I think the first twenty minutes of ROTS are mighty "meh," and the last twenty have some momentum, but also have enough doses of awfulness to keep me from thinking they make it anywhere near greatness.


Not to overstate, it but after seeing Phantom Menace again in theaters, I have to say this is patently false. Even on the small screen, AOTC is significantly better. In Phantom, Ewan McGregor has nothing to do but quarrel with Qui Gon in a subdued way. Compare that to the opening scenes of AOTC, where at least there's banter. Is the dialogue bad? Sure, but McGregor is coming into his own, and actually gives a pretty good performance despite some obvious limitations.

At minute 15, we get the speeder chase. 15 minutes later, Obi Wan and Anakin have split up. The movie moves really fast compared to Phantom, and overall the result is a much 'funner' film. It's still heinously bad at parts, but at least we get lots of cool stuff throughout (Kimono, the Geosians, etc.) whereas all the cool stuff was crammed into the last half hour of Phantom (with the exception of the pod race).

#63 SDG

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:13 PM

Not to overstate, it but after seeing Phantom Menace again in theaters, I have to say this is patently false. Even on the small screen, AOTC is significantly better. In Phantom, Ewan McGregor has nothing to do but quarrel with Qui Gon in a subdued way. Compare that to the opening scenes of AOTC, where at least there's banter. Is the dialogue bad? Sure, but McGregor is coming into his own, and actually gives a pretty good performance despite some obvious limitations.

At minute 15, we get the speeder chase. 15 minutes later, Obi Wan and Anakin have split up. The movie moves really fast compared to Phantom, and overall the result is a much 'funner' film. It's still heinously bad at parts, but at least we get lots of cool stuff throughout (Kimono, the Geosians, etc.) whereas all the cool stuff was crammed into the last half hour of Phantom (with the exception of the pod race).

I was with you right up to the final parenthesis.

I think I still prefer AotC to TPM, notwithstanding the fact that both of them are fundamentally misconceived. For me, though, TPM is at its best on Naboo—i.e., the first and last acts—whereas on Tatooine it pretty much grinds to a halt and on Coruscant it absolutely ossifies. The pod race on Tatooine is basically dead time as far as I'm concerned.

I more enjoy the highlights of the first act—the visit to the Gungan city, Boss Nass, the journey to the planet core ("There's always a bigger fish" and all), the Naboo capital (Theed or whatever it's called), Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan easily taking out battle droids, protecting Amidala and so forth. At least it feels epic in a way that the pod race doesn't, to me. The attempt to out-Ben Hur Ben Hur was an epic miscalculation. What makes the chariot race in Ben-Hur thrilling is the personalities and the emotional stakes, and Lucas completely fails to establish anything comparable. Pudu!

Edited by SDG, 20 February 2012 - 09:13 PM.


#64 NBooth

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:47 PM

For me, though, TPM is at its best on Naboo—i.e., the first and last acts—whereas on Tatooine it pretty much grinds to a halt and on Coruscant it absolutely ossifies. The pod race on Tatooine is basically dead time as far as I'm concerned.


I think Naboo is one of the few unqualified successes in the Prequel Trilogy, and the fact that it figures so heavily in TPM is a point in the movie's favor. Naboo--unlike Geonosis, Kamino, or any of the other planets in either trilogy--feels more real, somehow. Other planets are "the bug planet" or "the desert planet"--Naboo is Naboo (or the Italian planet, I guess).

I more enjoy the highlights of the first act—the visit to the Gungan city, Boss Nass, the journey to the planet core ("There's always a bigger fish" and all), the Naboo capital (Theed or whatever it's called), Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan easily taking out battle droids, protecting Amidala and so forth. At least it feels epic in a way that the pod race doesn't, to me.


Yep. I read an article somewhere talking about how bizarre Phantom Menace feels now, with its slow build up and the way it postpones the really big action stuff until the end.It's not slow--it's methodical, which gives everything that happens in the first third or so much more weight than the speeder chase in AotC.

Edited by NBooth, 20 February 2012 - 09:53 PM.


#65 vjmorton

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:18 PM

The pod race on Tatooine is basically dead time as far as I'm concerned. ...

I more enjoy the highlights of the first act—the visit to the Gungan city, Boss Nass, the journey to the planet core ("There's always a bigger fish" and all), the Naboo capital (Theed or whatever it's called), Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan easily taking out battle droids, protecting Amidala and so forth. At least it feels epic in a way that the pod race doesn't, to me. The attempt to out-Ben Hur Ben Hur was an epic miscalculation. What makes the chariot race in Ben-Hur thrilling is the personalities and the emotional stakes, and Lucas completely fails to establish anything comparable. Pudu!

As a non-Star Wars geek (only saw the first two films, only the first more than once) and a man who cannot abide Lucas's writing, my not giving a crap about the characters was a given. So ONLY the chariot race works, because only it even had the superficial adrenaline thrills to temporarily jolt me awake.

#66 SDG

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:24 PM

As a non-Star Wars geek (only saw the first two films, only the first more than once) and a man who cannot abide Lucas's writing, my not giving a crap about the characters was a given. So ONLY the chariot race works, because only it even had the superficial adrenaline thrills to temporarily jolt me awake.

Characters aside, the pod race is dead wood because it doesn't feel like anything's at stake or progressing. Oo oo, here it is in a tweetable sound bite: The spectacle on Naboo at least feels like the stuff of epic; the Tatooine stuff, including the pod race, feels like the stuff of video games.

Edited by SDG, 20 February 2012 - 10:25 PM.


#67 Rachel Anne

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:55 PM

There is, I think, a fundamental miscalculation in the use of a child character (as Lucas does here) as an "audience identification character" for children in the audience. I think that the adult heros in stories like this ARE the identification characters for children, in that they are aspirational characters: adult role models, the sort of people the children aspire to be when they grow up. The addition of a child character who is also supposed to be an audience identification character muddies and confuses things, leaving the movie without any obvious center. The original Star Wars clearly had Luke Skywalker as the identification character and the movie was his story. The Phantom Menace is nobody's story.

Edited by bowen, 21 February 2012 - 03:07 PM.


#68 Timothy Zila

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:05 AM

Not to overstate, it but after seeing Phantom Menace again in theaters, I have to say this is patently false. Even on the small screen, AOTC is significantly better. In Phantom, Ewan McGregor has nothing to do but quarrel with Qui Gon in a subdued way. Compare that to the opening scenes of AOTC, where at least there's banter. Is the dialogue bad? Sure, but McGregor is coming into his own, and actually gives a pretty good performance despite some obvious limitations.

At minute 15, we get the speeder chase. 15 minutes later, Obi Wan and Anakin have split up. The movie moves really fast compared to Phantom, and overall the result is a much 'funner' film. It's still heinously bad at parts, but at least we get lots of cool stuff throughout (Kimono, the Geosians, etc.) whereas all the cool stuff was crammed into the last half hour of Phantom (with the exception of the pod race).

I was with you right up to the final parenthesis.

I think I still prefer AotC to TPM, notwithstanding the fact that both of them are fundamentally misconceived. For me, though, TPM is at its best on Naboo—i.e., the first and last acts—whereas on Tatooine it pretty much grinds to a halt and on Coruscant it absolutely ossifies. The pod race on Tatooine is basically dead time as far as I'm concerned.

I more enjoy the highlights of the first act—the visit to the Gungan city, Boss Nass, the journey to the planet core ("There's always a bigger fish" and all), the Naboo capital (Theed or whatever it's called), Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan easily taking out battle droids, protecting Amidala and so forth. At least it feels epic in a way that the pod race doesn't, to me. The attempt to out-Ben Hur Ben Hur was an epic miscalculation. What makes the chariot race in Ben-Hur thrilling is the personalities and the emotional stakes, and Lucas completely fails to establish anything comparable. Pudu!


I wouldn't disagree with that, per se. When it comes down to it, I just don't find much of anything to like in Phantom. Seeing it in 3D, the visit to the Gungan city was stunning. But that's, what, a couple of minutes? The set design is excellent, as are the visual effects (in a slightly outdated way), but the film itself is pretty much crap from start to finish. The best parts of the movie are purely incidental - like getting to look around the Queen's palace when the trade viceroys are talking to Sidious.

In AotC, I find that I can actually enjoy the film. Moments like Obi Wan landing on Geonosis capture what I think Lucas wants to capture - that sense of thrill. These movies are, after all, based on Flash Gordon, and the second film does a much better job capturing that fun (if corny) quality than Phantom.


#69 vjmorton

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:21 PM

As a non-Star Wars geek (only saw the first two films, only the first more than once) and a man who cannot abide Lucas's writing, my not giving a crap about the characters was a given. So ONLY the chariot race works, because only it even had the superficial adrenaline thrills to temporarily jolt me awake.

Characters aside, the pod race is dead wood because it doesn't feel like anything's at stake or progressing. Oo oo, here it is in a tweetable sound bite: The spectacle on Naboo at least feels like the stuff of epic; the Tatooine stuff, including the pod race, feels like the stuff of video games.

Sure ... but it succeeds at being a video game. #65characterstogo

#70 SDG

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:29 PM

There is, I think, a fundamental miscalculation in the use of a child character (as Lucas does here) as an "audience identification character" for children in the audience. I think that the adult heros in stories like this ARE the identification characters for children, in that they are aspirational characters: adult role models, the sort of people the children aspire to be when they grow up. The addition of a child character who is also supposed to be audience identification characters muddies and confuses things, leaving the movie without any obvious center. The original Star Wars clearly had Luke Skywalker as the identification character and the movie was his story. The Phantom Menace is nobody's story.

::bow::

#71 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:55 PM

When it comes down to it, I just don't find much of anything to like in Phantom.

I think that the adult heros in stories like this ARE the identification characters for children, in that they are aspirational characters: adult role models, the sort of people the children aspire to be when they grow up.

Horribly written lazy dialogue, a CGI'd Planet Naboo, Jar Jar Binks/racial stereotype, baby Anakin, some alien/Jewish stereotype slave owner, force mumbo jumbo about the "chosen one," pod races ... bleh. There's one thing and one thing only the kids I saw this with years ago talked about, constantly remembered and acted out afterwards, and that's the light saber duel at the climax. The identification characters are the Jedi Knights with the light sabers fighting against Darth Maul.

Edited by Persiflage, 21 February 2012 - 02:06 PM.


#72 NBooth

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 12:53 AM


When it comes down to it, I just don't find much of anything to like in Phantom.

I think that the adult heros in stories like this ARE the identification characters for children, in that they are aspirational characters: adult role models, the sort of people the children aspire to be when they grow up.

Horribly written lazy dialogue, a CGI'd Planet Naboo, Jar Jar Binks/racial stereotype, baby Anakin, some alien/Jewish stereotype slave owner, force mumbo jumbo about the "chosen one," pod races ... bleh. There's one thing and one thing only the kids I saw this with years ago talked about, constantly remembered and acted out afterwards, and that's the light saber duel at the climax. The identification characters are the Jedi Knights with the light sabers fighting against Darth Maul.


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). My own feeling, though, is that TPM's world generally coheres within itself far better than the scatter-shot approach of the other two prequels.

But yeah. All the kids cared--care--cared about was the fight scene.

#73 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:18 PM

bowen wrote:
: There is, I think, a fundamental miscalculation in the use of a child character (as Lucas does here) as an "audience identification character" for children in the audience. I think that the adult heros in stories like this ARE the identification characters for children, in that they are aspirational characters: adult role models, the sort of people the children aspire to be when they grow up. The addition of a child character who is also supposed to be an audience identification character muddies and confuses things, leaving the movie without any obvious center. The original Star Wars clearly had Luke Skywalker as the identification character and the movie was his story. The Phantom Menace is nobody's story.

That's a pretty succinct distillation of Red Letter Media's 70-minute video essay on this film. (See, e.g., 1:55-6:50 in this clip, or 8:10-9:00 in this clip.) :)

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.

#74 SDG

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:46 PM

: 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.

What Peter said.

It's a strange comparison, but on the face of it, the line from A New Hope is at least vivid and pictoral, and gestures toward a valid insight about the limits of totalitarian force and the dynamics of resistance, or something. The line from The Phantom Menace is merely exposition at its most wooden and functional.

Beyond that, the New Hope scene is far more dramatic. Leia is a prisoner who has just been condemned to death, boldly defying the man who just condemned her. She's allowed to be expressive, and shows some attitude. We admire her spunk, and want to know what Tarkin's reaction will be.

Amidala is merely engaged in the first of the prequel trilogy's endless committee meetings. The stilted court manner was a dumb idea, and it makes a bad line worse by ensuring that the actress doesn't sell it with emotion. And it's the last line in the scene, because nobody cares what anyone else thinks of what Amidala has just said.

So I think the difference is pretty striking, actually.

#75 NBooth

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 11:02 PM

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.

#76 Timothy Zila

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 12:45 AM


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, 23 February 2012 - 12:45 AM.


#77 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:44 AM

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.

#78 Thom Wade

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:52 AM

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

#79 NBooth

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:18 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgICnbC2-_Y

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, 24 February 2012 - 05:22 PM.


#80 Tyler

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:50 PM

Catching up with Jake "Anakin" Lloyd.