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To start, the most maligned of the bunch. And before we all pile on, I wanna really dig into this movie because after rewatching, I find myself far less inclined to anger and the Dark Side in general. Before we get into the movie itself, a few words about atmosphere, history, and critical analysis:. There are fans who are attached to Episodes I-III because they were young when they were released, or because they have fond memories of going to see them, or because they love all Star Wars in every form, and I empathize; no one is wrong to feel that way.
But the prequels are still objectively terrible films. When this movie came out I was only twelve, and being a kid, I adored it. The first new Star Wars movie since before I was born—why would I bother to critique it? I read every snippet of background given out by companion books and the Star Wars Insider.
I was spoiled for the plot and then some well before opening night. Whatever, this shot is gorgeous. A lot of specific shots in this film are.
When I got a bit older and gained a better understanding of what constituted quality… I just phased the prequels out of my rotation. These days, I only watch them to jog my memory, which is fine. I have the Clone Wars television series available to be all the things I wanted the prequels to be.
Vehemently hating Episodes I-III is counterproductive to me; I will always love Star Wars, and the prequels are still responsible for many things about it that I enjoy. So I did my best to watch The Phantom Menace with a clear head. And here is what I think of it, fifteen years later:. At least an hour could be cut from this film and we would lose nothing.
There are too many characters to juggle, and the movie somehow manages to have a dozen sub-acts shoved into the standard three-act structure. Revving up for the pod race? Cut this part too. In fact, cut the whole opening sequence, and start the movie with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan landing alongside the droid army on Naboo.
I could really go into the nuts and bolts of why so much of this film should have ended up on the editing room floor, but it boils down to the same thing it always does: And having so much filler in The Phantom Menace robs this opening chapter of all its gravity. More importantly, it distracts the audience from what is actually interesting about the film. Forget galactic politics—you do not create the bond between Padme and her handmaidens and neglect to exploit that for all its worth.
Imagine how different the world would be if the movie had been titled Episode I: The tragedy here is a child who tells Qui-Gon Jinn that he dreamt he was a Jedi who came back to free all the slaves on Tatooine, then growing up and enslaving countless others.
A boy who wants to help everyone he meets corrupted by an order that tells him his emotions are wrong for the job. The final act of the film is a raw, choppy mess of a thing. It makes the end of the movie a slog, which is such a shame. For all that it was such a big deal in to watch Jedi in their heyday fight with lightsabers, the stunt choreography in this film is remarkably slow.
The flow of action these days errs on the ultrafast side, impossible to follow, but this is an awkward opposite to that; when the fight is so easy to track with the eye, it makes every move look over-staged.
The choreography is instantly better in the brief splice after Obi-Wan slices the thing in twain. The pod race is commonly derided, but I enjoyed it more than ever during this watch.
It takes up time, sure, but it feels like it belongs in Star Wars even with all the goofy CGI aliens. I live for every new headdress, for the beading on each robe. You could play it on mute without the context of the rest of the film and it would still hurt in all the right places. When all is said and done, I keep waiting for fandom to get over Episode I.
Because there is too much going on here, too many discussions to be had about craft, about filmmaking, about myth building, and we miss out on them all by screaming into the void the instant the film is brought up.
I enjoyed this rewatch, whatever flaws the film has and it has so very many. And I find it far more rewarding to engage with it, then to throw it out entirely. But I will still end on this incredibly absurd screenwipe because it is ridiculous. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr , and read more of her work here and elsewhere.
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Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful. Before we get into the movie itself, a few words about atmosphere, history, and critical analysis: But… but the battledroids are useless! Why is this guy always talking? I want to be here all the time. But seriously, who cares about this? Star Wars on Tor. Episode I The Phantom Menace. More Comments Check for New Comments.
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