Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Note: So here’s how these are going to go this week, At 10 AM and 2PM I’ll post my thoughts on a Star Wars movie.

Here’s something that I didn’t remember about this movie before watching it again, it’s really boring.

But let’s start with the good stuff.

Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are great, when they’re together, which is only about 20 minutes of screen time.

Not nearly enough.

The final lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul is ridiculously epic and entertaining. And the scene where they have to pause because of those guard shields is brilliantly staged. Obi-Wan breathing heavily and impatiently, Qui-Gon’s meditation, Darth Maul’s rageful pacing. It’s amazing.

Natalie Portman is much better than I remember her here. She’s definitely green and a little awkward but it works. Also in a post Kataang world, I find Padme and Anakin’s relationship a good deal less creepy. That Sister/Mother/Friend/Romantic? chemistry between an older girl and a younger boy has been a little bit normalized. (Thanks Avatar, I guess? I don’t know how I feel about it.)

Now everything else.

Episode I has a lot of hate thrown towards it, but unlike Episode II, it’s always been more general, “This is terrible” stuff than specific transgressions. The thing is, there’s a good, or at least charming movie in there somewhere. But everything is too long.

But especially The Pod Race, which is often cited as the movie’s saving grace. (This is incorrect, the saving grace of this movie is Liam Neeson…regardless of how bad everything around him is, he’s captivating, in this performance.) But OMG that scene is sooo long. Way too long. Cutit by about 3 minutes and it would for sure make watching this whole mess worthwhile, but as it stands, no.

And then there’s Jake Lloyd, I hate adding to the internet din on everything that poor dude has gone through, but there must have been like, Little Boy version of Abigail Breslin or Dakota Fanning who could have had that role? He’s just, not good, you know? But Mary had a big crush on him at that time. (My sister is farrr nerdier than any of her external characteristics would lead you to think…)

Mace Windu is not in this movie nearly enough. When Samuel L. Jackson is on screen you PAY ATTENTION and that’s what this meandering movie needs.

And then there’s the Jar-Jar of it all. I’ve never been on the Jar-Jar hate train. Sure, he’s annoying but so was C-3P0 you know? But watching this movie again, as an adult, after years of teaching myself how to critique movies I don’t think annoyance is the great sin of Jar-Jar Binks, it’s a tonal problem. He doesn’t fit, Jar-Jar belongs in a far sillier franchise than Star Wars which pretty much plays it straight.

Anyway, see you later for talk of Episode II…ooh boy…

 

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3 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

  1. I remember what a big deal this was when it came out – we went on an end of the year field trip to see it actually (we were what, 6th? 7th grade maybe?). We were all SO EXCITED…. and then half of us like, fell asleep halfway through. So disappointing.

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    • You’re the second person I’ve heard reference seeing it on a school trip. (We did a Sunday afternoon with Dad!)

      It’s a bafflingly slow movie. Especially considering how kid oriented most of the content is (fourteen year old sovereigns and 10 year old Jedi savants and all) it’s very strange

      Like

  2. Pingback: Midichlorians, The Duel of Fates and ZZZZZ | The Fangirl's Dilemma

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