Movie Defense Force: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars week happened to fall on a week in which Movie Defense Force was not scheduled. May God have mercy on Jim Sterling's soul, for Star Wars fans have none to spare.

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Have to agree with everything said here. Especially with regard to set design, the use of CG, and the battle sequences. There may be a lot of things wrong with the movie, but at least it didn't look like complete ass (not actually a fair statement I suppose since the film actually looks quite good), and benefited greatly from having someone on set that knew what they were doing with the lightsaber scenes and choreography.

I will say that this one along with the other prequels could have been brilliant if old Georgie had just accepted some outside input.

Very good video.

Now do Attack of the Clones.

Go on, I dare ya!

I admit I probably wouldn't hate Jar-Jar as much if he had any qualities that were actually redeeming.
And his schtick in the final battle was only funny the first time seeing it.

It's rather sad that the most iconic part of this movie was essentially filler.

I guess that if you look at the movie in a vacuum then it is not that bad. But it really is very hard to do that. And while Jarjar might have a few redeeming qualities the kid has absolutely none.

I consider myself a "hardcore" Star Wars fan (except I would never use that title because blech), but I still can enjoy the prequels. Sue me. Yeah, they're not the OG trilogy in any sense, but they can still be fun to watch.

Good MDF, I liked it and agreed with just about everything.

Yeah, I'll agree on this one - even on the Jar-Jar part. The pod-racing made a half-decent game, the Darth Maul vs Obi Wan and Qui-Gon fight was fantastic and I got to see Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor as Jedi. Unlike the the other two prequels, at least I can sit down with my little cousins and enjoy the movie.

Also; fuck Attack of the Clones but the third one - I even forgot it's name - was worse.

Jar Jar was annoying but the kid was much much worse.

Somehow, Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film I ever saw. Yes, the whole thing managed to pass me by for the first nineteen years of my life.

Phantom Menace was enough to convince me that I could happily go another nineteen years without ever setting sight on such claptrap. I honestly thought Jim was going to go the whole six minutes without ever mentioning Jar Jar Binks, but dammit there he is. I had no emotional investment in the mythology (obviously I knew about Anakin eventually becoming Vader and the implications of that fact), but Anakin was the Wesley Crusher of this film, the shitty kid hero who pops up to save the day at the very end and UGH the film did not need that. That's the problem with the pod racing; it's supposed to hint at his piloting ability but ends up as just "pay attention, this will be important later" tell-not-show storytelling.

But then it did have Liam Neeson, who is usually awesome.

(Since then I've only watched Star Wars IV, and while I get that it might have been huge had I seen it at the time of release, by the time I was 26 I could only find it boring.)

I agree with Jim here, the first film is often overblown in how bad it is and it does contain merits that do mean it's not a terrible terrible film, just a very underwhelming one when placed next to the original trilogy.

And Attack of the Clones is very shit. I'm not even going to mention sand.

Now I secretly hope that you might talk about episode 3. I actually kind of like it, and it's not even for a guilty pleasure, I just kind of like it.

Calumon: Don't listen to him! He likes X-men 3 as well! D:

Worgen:
Jar Jar was annoying but the kid was much much worse.

And his role only got bigger as the trilogy went on.

Actually, a closer look at the darth maul duel shows that it's well...kinda shit too, and comically so:

And there's also the fact that the entire duel is ruined by Darth Maul, who has just spent several minutes showing how skilled he is at combat, just standing there like a clueless twat at the end. Also, the reason why the lightsaber duels were so memorable in the original trilogy had nothing to do with fight choreography.

As much as they get flak, I really really love the action scenes in the prequel trilogy. Especially the fight on Mustafar and the 2v1 in this movie.

Urh:
Actually, a closer look at the darth maul duel shows that it's well...kinda shit too, and comically so:

And there's also the fact that the entire duel is ruined by Darth Maul, who has just spent several minutes showing how skilled he is at combat, just standing there like a clueless twat at the end. Also, the reason why the lightsaber duels were so memorable in the original trilogy had nothing to do with fight choreography.

Damn, ninja'd.

But yes, it had to do with the history behind the characters in the lightsaber duels and their own tensions coming to head, in a manner of combat completely unique to these mysterious wielders of the force. Here there was no tension between the characters, and the mysterious ways of the force were at this point butchered to midichlorians.

All things considered, though...

...I mean, this was my first exposure to the series, when I was 8; I don't hate this movie and approach it with as much malevolent hatred as everyone else seems to.

i saw a fan edited version of this film, about 20-30 minutes was cut out. It made the film so much better, they had none of the underwater scene and a few others it was so much better.

I actually enjoy the prequels far more than the first trilogy. Time has not done the first trilogy and good, the acting is bad, the CGI is bad, and most of all, the action scenes are WORTHLESS, especially the lightsaber duels which is just abysmal.

I've always said, that while none of the prequel films are good from any critical standpoint, The Phantom Menace is actually the best of a collectively bad job, by quite a long way actually. I guess TPM gets singled out to be hated on because it was the first one, and when it came out people had their hopes up more than for the other two, but I've always found it fun to watch. Even when its bad I'm enjoying myself, rather than groaning and face-palming like the bad parts of AOTC and ROTS.

The Obi/Qui-Gon vs Darth Maul fight is the best light-saber battle not just in the prequel trilogy, but over all six Star Wars movies (yes, you heard me, even better than Luke vs Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. There, I said it). The battle scenes/pod racing scene are well choreographed and well shot, it's legitimately funny, and it has Liam Neeson as a fucking Jedi!

Also, no matter how annoying kid-Anniken is, I take him over Hayden Christensen every. Fucking. Day.

Finally, and this one may require a volcanic-resistant flame shield, but out of all six movies the only one that I'm pre[ared to call good without any caveats or qualifying statements is The Empire Strikes Back. A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, really aren't all that great.

DVS BSTrD:

Worgen:
Jar Jar was annoying but the kid was much much worse.

And his role only got bigger as the trilogy went on.

Thankfully Jake Lloyd only played him for one film. I mean I know he was only a kid back then but still, if Game of Thrones has shown us anything it's that child actors don't have to suck.

Yea yeah, GoT was over a decade later so it may not be a valid example but shhhhhhhhhhh!

The movie is shit, EVERYONE and their dog can agree with that, but I totally agree with Jim that out of the prequel trilogy, it's definitely the best, though it's not much saying. I definitely agree that the film is at least very amusing on it's own, the battles are great and the pod racing bit is definitely my favorite bit of the entire movie, heck, I found the pod racing game for the PS2 in a bargain bin and I bought it on a heartbeat, it's not F-Zero GX fast*, but it's a good game on it's own.

*F-Zero GX is IMO the very best racing game ever made.

To be honest I never really got what was so bad about the prequel trilogy, but then again I was never really a big star wars fan, so there's that.

Urh:
Actually, a closer look at the darth maul duel shows that it's well...kinda shit too, and comically so:

You mean that whole scene was fake? They were just actors and they weren't really trying to kill each other? And it becomes obvious when you slow it down and show the moves several times back to back?

Colour me not the least bit shocked.

The first portion of the video prior to the opening sequence says it all, Jim. If Lucas was put on a shorter leash and took more input from others, perhaps the Star Wars prequels would have turned out better.

Nice defense on the Phantom Menace, Jim. Have you considered teaming up with fellow Escapist member Bob "Moviebob" Chipman for either a future Movie Defense Force episode or another project? Just a thought.

Intro was dead-on. Of course, even Lucas doesn't seem to understand that; he accused Irving Kershner of "ruining" his film (said film being Empire Strikes Back). I'm not sure I agree with Jim on podracing 100%, though I do like the idea of it existing in the Star Wars universe. I guess it's kind of like Quidditch in that respect: a neat world-building sideshow that a novel could get past in a chapter, but tends to drag on in a movie since it ends up being filmed as if the audience were already fans of this fictional sport, and thus drags on.

EDIT: Also, Attack of the Clones can go straight to hell. I rank it by far the worst of the prequels. Most of the annoying parts of Phantom Menace were peripheral to the main story, and while seeing Darth Vader as a bratty 9-year-old does diminish his stature somewhat, most 9-year-olds are brats so I don't hold it against him. It's like baby pictures - no one looks more dignified when you've seen them as a baby. But then skip ahead a decade and it turns out he was a whiny brat for his whole life. At least now we know where Luke gets it from (at least his whining was watered down by his significantly-more-badass mother).

I don't ever argue that Phantom Menace is the worst of the prequels and I never had. I actually kinda liked it when I first saw it, though never as much as the original movies. It was only when I started analyzing it that I started to dislike it, because I think that Jim's right that there are things about it that are done well. Phantom Menace's real problems (aside from the midi-chlorians, which do earn my ire) are structural - and occasionally logical. Phantom Menace could have worked with a few changes in structure, a couple of scenes removed and a few more added to flesh out characterization.
Even Jar-Jar could have worked. I do understand that he's comparable to a minstrel show black stereotype, but consider this: A New Hope was built around the idea of telling the story from the lowest class (the droids in that case). Considering that, I think what George was aiming at with Jar-Jar was a similar idea and the fact that he becomes a hero (accidentally, but whatever) that affects a significant part of the battle undercuts the racism, or at least in Goerge's mind. The problem wasn't Jar-Jar itself as a concept, the problem was one of presentation. Of course, in theory that works, but in practice all it would do is offend people and had George had anyone willing to point this out to him, I think Jar-Jar could have been recharacterized in a way that works. That's what makes Jar-Jar so infuriating for me. He would have worked, but for the ineptitude of the execution.

Personally, I hold Revenge of the Sith as the worst of the prequels. The movie had no plot aside from "go here and kill things" and it's action was overlong and boring. It doesn't matter how impressive the CGI was, or even how well choreographed the action might have been (I didn't find it all that impressive anyway), with a plot that anemic and nonsensical, I didn't care about any of it.

The prequels had their good points; the third act in the first movie, the 2v1 jedi showdown and the battle of the frogs vs the droids, very entertaining. The arena battle in the second movie was awesome. And Yoda being a badass in the third movie.

Requires chapter selection and fast forwarding though, not a good thing.

I was 6 years old when The Phantom Menace came out. I loved it when I was a kid, it was a film I could watch again and again and still be entertained by.

Yes I realised years later how goddamn awful it was but really there's no point in still being upset about it. Once you realise it's a kids movie made to sell toys it's kind of hard to still feel angry about it. It's basically the same as Transformers or Power Rangers.

Well that was an odd episode. All the others, at least that I've seen, have argued that a generally disliked film is actually good. This one just said that a shit film may have had a few bits that weren't quite so terrible as the rest of it if you happen to look at them in the dark with the light behind them. As defences go, I won't be asking Jim to be my lawyer.

Tombsite:
I guess that if you look at the movie in a vacuum then it is not that bad. But it really is very hard to do that.

Yeah, that's the real problem with it. In isolation, it's a mildly entertaining and flashy bit of sci-fi schlock. I've certainly seen much worse. But it's not in isolation. It's both a prequel to an existing trilogy and the first part of its own new trilogy. It just doesn't make much sense to judge it without taking that into account.

The moment I saw this:

image

I was thinking about this yesterday, as someone who's not invested in Star Wars, I actually enjoyed the first two prequals even if the kid/adult they got to play Annarkin were aweful. The action is good and some of the new characters were really enjoyable, not to mention it gave us Tartakovskys series:

Also, Gungans > Ewoks, don't look me in the face and tell me that the Ewoks 'worked', they fucking didn't.

I, personally, hate the 3rd film but even that had the 'Order 66' scene, which was REALLY good.

Phantom Menace is a really horrible film, is it as bad as Star wars fans make it out to be? Not really. The film had some really good action scenes, the pod racing was enjoyable, it had Liam Neeson, one of my favourite actors and Jar Jar Binks.....well..... ok fair enough, I really hate him, but he didn't ruin the whole film

Worgen:
Jar Jar was annoying but the kid was much much worse.

Agreed, but I pretty much expect that from child actors(except the ones from Game of Thrones), but at least Lloyd was only in the first one, but I agree with Jim that at least it's not Attack of the Clones were Anakin is played by Hayden Christensen

TwiZtah:
I actually enjoy the prequels far more than the first trilogy. Time has not done the first trilogy and good, the acting is bad, the CGI is bad, and most of all, the action scenes are WORTHLESS, especially the lightsaber duels which is just abysmal.

Actually, the acting is just fine, there is no CGI, and the duels, while not very exciting by today's standards, are excellent in their own way. They're not just the huge jumbles of choreography that the prequel fights are, there's actually some emotion attached to them.

PunkRex:
I was thinking about this yesterday, as someone who's not invested in Star Wars, I actually enjoyed the first two prequals even if the kid/adult they got to play Annarkin were aweful. The action is good and some of the new characters were really enjoyable, not to mention it gave us Tartakovskys series:

That cartoon was actually one of the best star wars fight pieces I've seen in a while. The sheer desperation of the jedi and the way they fought didn't seem coordinated but rather what it would look like if someone was desperately trying to stay alive in my opinion.

One similarity I found in the previous video of the darth maul fight scene and the cartoon was in the cartoon @ 4:40 the jedi with the turban followed the video's directions of holding his saber way away from his enemy and it resulted in him getting grabbed and face planted into the ground.

Also how pathetic was general grevious in the 3rd movie compared to that cartoon. I wish we would of got something like the cartoon style fights.

trty00:

TwiZtah:
I actually enjoy the prequels far more than the first trilogy. Time has not done the first trilogy and good, the acting is bad, the CGI is bad, and most of all, the action scenes are WORTHLESS, especially the lightsaber duels which is just abysmal.

Actually, the acting is just fine, there is no CGI, and the duels, while not very exciting by today's standards, are excellent in their own way. They're not just the huge jumbles of choreography that the prequel fights are, there's actually some emotion attached to them.

Well, I feel the acting is sub par, not that the prequels have that much better acting though. I can kind of excuse the CGI (or lack thereof), but not the Ewoks and throwing stones at armored storm troopers knocks them out. Meh, the fight scenes are still boring, and the whole Light versus Dark side in every fight does not ring a bell with me.

PunkRex:
I was thinking about this yesterday, as someone who's not invested in Star Wars, I actually enjoyed the first two prequals even if the kid/adult they got to play Annarkin were aweful. The action is good and some of the new characters were really enjoyable, not to mention it gave us Tartakovskys series:

It's a shame that the fantastic cartoon here was officially retconned so Lucas could make that movie/show with Ashoka. I've heard that new Clone Wars show is good (although it's now canceled), but I couldn't get over the fact that the awesome Tartakovsky cartoon was canned.

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