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

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Mahoshonen:
That's not the point he was making. In comparison to the originals, the lightsaber duels in the prequels lacked weight.

Thank you for assuming that I didn't get the point he was making. The video still had no real relevance to it.

That's why I think the duel between Vader and Obi-wan in Ep IV is actually better than the one in the prequel. The emotional baggage of everything between them, which at the time was unelaborated, hangs tensely over the scene, and makes the slow pacing actually improve the scene rather than detract from it. And more importantly, it knows when to wrap up instead of dragging on for 20 minutes or so.

Yeah, sorry, no. I won't deny that the original Episode IV battle had more emotional weight behind it, though not for the reasons you seem to think. By that point in Episode IV they'd done little but quickly gloss over the relationship between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. It wasn't really until the later movies that the relationship between the two received more than some cursory development. The only reason there was any emotional impact in that fight was because Obi-Wan's old and nearing the end of his life anyway, and has to face down a man who supposedly hunted down and killed the rest of the Jedi, and all of this happens after you spend the movie growing attached to him and seeing him guide Luke down the path to becoming a Jedi. His relationship with Darth is really secondary at that point since it had next to no real development and was really more of something they simply stated then moved on from as quickly as it came up.

But even acknowledging that it had more emotional weight because of the connection to the characters (a connection which they at least tried to somewhat replicate with Qui Gonn if we're going to be honest for a second), it's still a terrible battle in every other way imaginable. You think it looks like they weren't even trying to hit each other in the Phantom Menace? Well at least they weren't standing around doing more talking than actual fighting and every now and then smacking their lightsabers together to remind you that something big is supposed to be going on but really isn't. There's a lot of staring each other down, waving some glowing sticks ineffectively, and not much else. There was no real drama or tension there, and it made these supposed masters of their weapon look like complete morons. Trying to watch that scene now that I'm not five years old anymore is honestly kind of painful and I usually wish they'd just skip to the part where Obi-Wan dies so they can get back to things actually happening. It's an awful fight, poorly paced, and with very little actual tension because nothing ever actually happens and they take a long time getting to that nothing ever happening.

The emotional impact may not be there in Episode I, and some of the choreography is certainly a bit sketchy in places, but at least there's an actual battle happening, and it really is quite well paced as Jim said.

I don't find the prequels too terribly bad, although they certainly aren't "OMG amazing" or anything. Attack of the Clones is by far the weakest, with only the battles near the end sort of making up for it. Revenge of the Sith is my favorite actually, and is the best of the 3 that can come across as an actual Star Wars film if it had some slight tweaking here or there. Phantom Menace is...OK for me. Its not bad, its not good, its just OK. While Jar-Jar is annoying, the stuff he does in the end make up for it like you said. Darth Maul was pretty kick ass, and shame about what they did to him. I pretty much agree with all of your points, but I still think ROTS is the best.

All my opinion of course!

Yeeeeah. Can't agree with yah on this one Jim. Good points all, I just don't agree. I find the film to be unwatchable. I'm no uber Star Wars nerd, but I do love the original trilogy something fierce. The prequels were terrible and I think they don't challenge children at all, even though they are supposedly, "Kids movies". You're quite brave to take this stance though bruthah! Kudos. (I do thank god for you btw. You're a good egg, sonny jim.)

Xathos:
I don't find the prequels too terribly bad, although they certainly aren't "OMG amazing" or anything. Attack of the Clones is by far the weakest, with only the battles near the end sort of making up for it. Revenge of the Sith is my favorite actually, and is the best of the 3 that can come across as an actual Star Wars film if it had some slight tweaking here or there. Phantom Menace is...OK for me. Its not bad, its not good, its just OK. While Jar-Jar is annoying, the stuff he does in the end make up for it like you said. Darth Maul was pretty kick ass, and shame about what they did to him. I pretty much agree with all of your points, but I still think ROTS is the best.

All my opinion of course!

I kinda agree, i just wish Maul's death wasn't utter BS seriously, what stopped him from using his Lightsaber when Obi-Wan was flip-floping all about the precious air? And though i liked the fights scenes choreography, it lack all character till that beam wall separated them that was for me the best part and spoke mountain about each character. Saying That though AotC did have better lightsaber scenes :)

I've actually maintained in the past that the Phantom Menace is an almost passable film in general if you view it through a vacuum. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist in a vacuum, it had predecessors and they did it much better, so it's really not much of a defense.

And yes, Jar-Jar IS that infuriating. But not because of Episode 1. Because of Episode 2. Why? Well, because the rise of the Empire, the main bad guys of the original trilogy....they only rose to power because of Jar-Jar pushing to vote Palpatine "emergency powers". Yes, the mighty and seemingly unstoppable Empire had to rely on this dipshit to get their foot in the door. WHAT THE HELL?!?

As much as Episode 1 gets wrong, Episode 2 goes much, MUCH further....not only providing a much worse movie in general, but it goes so far as to destroy many major elements throughout the entire vast and interesting universe that Star Wars had created.

AHAHAHA, Yeah, he's trolling us now, but in a good way.

Actually, I have to say, that fan made edit actually does make this movie watchable. As Moviebob says about such things, the fan had to "rip out its guts" to do so, basically re-scripting nearly half the darn movie.

Still, it's funny how such basic, yet masterfully done, edits were able to take a movie I hated and make it quite watchable. I now understand those behind the scenes docs about how editors had issues with Lucas way back in the day.

Good try Jim, but for the first time ever I disagree with everything you have to say. This movie really don't have any redeeming features at all.

Personally, I prefer Clones to this one simply for the fact that I found Obi-wan's subplot where he's following leads to find the source of the assassination attempts very intriguing and more captivating than nearly all of Menace's decent scenes put together.

I could never understand why Epp1 got so much hate, grated it came out when it was 9 and I loved it then because, well because to my little 9 year old self though it was epic and wasn't really looking 'deep' into the movie. But having watch it many times since, i still find it an entertaining, funny (at time) and generally a cool movie. But i think even if it was the epic movie all the die hard fans were expecting people would still hate it, why? Because expectations are always greater than the actual thing, you see this with movies such as Star Wars and games you have been waiting for years for (except Duke Nukem, that was just shite). So i guess i love/ed the movie so much is because at 9 years old i was not expecting a awesome, epic, the empire strikes back movie spectacular but instead was just excited to go to the movies. And i dont care waht people say, Jar jar was awesome. But i do agree with you Mr Sterling, attack of the clones, completed and utter shite!

I will concede that out of all the prequels, Episode I is the only one I tolerate and will watch if I'm given enough liquor.

Jar-Jar annoyed the hell out of me and almost ruined every scene he was in. The fight scenes were pretty awesome, and that's about the nicest thing I will say about them.

i pretty much agree with everything apart from the jar-jar thing. it just got on my nerves from the moment he was introduced and he joke wore thin way too fast. i saw him purely as a 'lets introduce a wacky character for the kids to up toy sales numbers'

I saw Phantom Menace when I was 6, and loved it. Bearing in mind, I was 6, and the most I'd seen of the original trilogy at that point was the first 30 or so minutes of the original.

I was obsessed with the film, having the lunchbox, some of the toys, even wanting to call myself Anakin for some arbitrary reason. It is the best film of the prequel trilogy, but watching the film again after having seen the original trilogy...it's not saying much.

Also, Jar Jar is a metaphor for how big a dump George Lucas was taking on the fans. No more, no less.

Jim Sterling and Jar-Jar, kissing in a tree.

It's OK to admit it Jim, we know you fantasise about hot Gungan sex late at night. Yousa gettin' horneee!

I'll concede to your final point, it's not Attack of the Clones. And the fight between Obi Wan, Quaigon Jin (sp?) and Darth Maul actually affected me at the end. Liam Neeson just shouldn't die! Give me Rob Roy back! But I cannot watch the film again. Not because I have an overwhelming love of Star Wars that has been damaged beyond repair, but because I think, unlike you, Jim, that it was a terrible film. A few highlights can't make me watch it again.

Looking forward to Movie Defense Force: Attack of the Clones now! ;)

ron1n:

Jasper Kazai:

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.

Clone Wars was very much hit and miss, with some downright awesome episodes and some horrible filler.

I thought by the end though, it had really matured and there were some genuinely awesome characters and character developments. Not to mention it had some amazing big set piece battle scenes and duels:

The main thing that held it back was the obvious demographic considerations. Was all over the place. One week they'd have multiple deaths, battle scenes and intrigue. Then they'd waste the next three-four episodes following around some lame comedy relief droid group. The amount of 'teach the kids' Captain Planet style morality crap got old.

I couldn't bring myself to give it a chance, I didn't learn about it until after the Pacifistic Mandalorian episode, and a huge Republic Commando fan like me just couldn't let that slide.

Phantom Menace was a film I first watched when I was eleven years old. I was, I think, the target audience George Lucas tailored the film toward.

Phantom Menace was so enjoyable for me at that time that subsequent viewings have always been shrouded in the pink mists of nostalgia. For that reason I find myself blind to its flaws and entranced by its shiny colours, smiling stupidly while waiting for the next scene with Natalie Portman.

Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are trash; plain and simple.

I loved Episode I aesthetically. It's really the only time you see the Star Wars setting not engulfed in intergalactic war (that and the first half of AoC I guess) and that has its own merits. It's also visually unique as far as the prequels go because of the format change that took place after it.

trty00:

That's not the point he was making. In comparison to the originals, the lightsaber duels in the prequels lacked weight. The video points out that it never seems like any of the comatants are aiming for each other. But more importantly, there's no emotional connection between Maul, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gonn. If you go back to the original trilogy, the memorable bits are the storys the fights told, not the choreography. That's why I think the duel between Vader and Obi-wan in Ep IV is actually better than the one in the prequel. The emotional baggage of everything between them, which at the time was unelaborated, hangs tensely over the scene, and makes the slow pacing actually improve the scene rather than detract from it. And more importantly, it knows when to wrap up instead of dragging on for 20 minutes or so.

Well, they are literally fighting with weightless weapons. As for the Flynning, it could be explained with the same reason they can deflect blasters - they can sort of see it coming and start blocking before the attack comes. Of course that's all justification for it after the fact rather than them having it in mind while making the movie.

Jasper Kazai:

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.

As far as I know, the cartoon's canon status is intact, or was rather. You'll notice that nothing happens in either that really conflicts directly. Of course what really threatens its place in the timeline is the new Disney trilogy.

I'm a frequent prequel-basher (and in fact was just doing some earlier today!) but I agree with Jim here in that just about everything he talked about does make The Phantom Menace a bit less shit than the other two.

Especially Darth Maul... he didn't do anything but fight and had a lot of wasted potential as a villain, but fuck, he looked cool. It makes me wish even more so that lightsabers in the prequels were wielded more like in the original trilogy (as if they are heavy), but left him just as fast and agile. I found him pretty threatening the first time I saw the movie because of that, but once the other guys started spinning and flipping around too, the threat dissipated. There's a really awesome comic collection called "Visionaries", created by conceptual artists who worked on the fims, in which he comes back with mechanical legs and attempts an assassination on Luke as a child...

Anyway, I digress. Good on you, Jim, for speaking up.

Dascylus:
So, here is how I tolerate all the crap surrounding what the prequels did to the saga... And it's thanks to more creative and thoughtful individuals than me...

First up, The Phantom Edit.
Fan made edit of Episode one that removes alot of the unnecessary crap that made it so hard to watch at points.
Can't remember where I found my copy (Place might have been called buccaneercove.no or something) but it's worth looking out for as a good example of what a little restraint can add to the tone.
He kept in the "Are you an angel?" line and possibly the "Spinning is good" but most of the pointless lines are removed...
One thing I liked that Jim might disagree on is that the speech of the droids is edited to be quite minimum. They keep their same character but now they trade looks and pretty much just say "Roger roger".

Secondly, The Machete Order.
I think I first heard about this on an escapist forum somewhere but it's also pretty easy to google.
It describes an ideal viewing order for those of us looking to introduce someone to the complete saga for the first time without spoiling either the "Father" or the "Sister" surprises.
He even points out that skipping Episode 1 sets the story better.
Read it and see if it doesn't sound like a tasty method.

http://www.nomachetejuggling.com/2011/11/11/the-star-wars-saga-suggested-viewing-order/

Interesting line that stuck out to me in that article was he doesn't feel the series should be about Vader because he's not a relatable character. I'm calling horseshit on that one. His story's a lot more complex and personable than Luke's, albeit moreso in the prequels than the originals. But, when the overall story of his life is looked at, it's just so much more interesting than the standard hero journey Luke goes through, especially if you submit to the Prophecy theory.

For those who don't know, the theory goes that everything Anakin does was fated to happen, even his redemption moment with the Emperor, because of the Prophecy that he would "bring balance to the force". The Jedis misinterpreted that to mean there would be a great jedi who would destroy the last of the Sith. However, it's more literal. There are far, far more Jedi than Sith in the prequel world. Meanwhile the Sith are so few that the Jedi don't believe they exist anymore. Therefore Anakin becomes fated to fall to the dark side and help exterminate the Jedi until there's only two Jedi and two Sith (fuck you extended universe, I mean in the limits of the movies) left. Then, the force is imbalanced again after Yoda dies, leaving Luke as the last Jedi. That's why Vader couldn't defeat him when they fought on the new Death Star, and it's why he turned on the Emperor. After all the redemption doesn't really make sense that Vader would turn so easily just because his son was being killed. He was trying to kill Luke not two minutes earlier, and he chopped off his son's friggin' hand in the previous movie. Why would his love of his son kick in then of all times? Because the force didn't require "balancing" before. It makes Anakin a tragic hero enslaved to fate and destiny, a helpless instrument in the face of greater forces than himself.

irishda:
For those who don't know, the theory goes that everything Anakin does was fated to happen, even his redemption moment with the Emperor, because of the Prophecy that he would "bring balance to the force". The Jedis misinterpreted that to mean there would be a great jedi who would destroy the last of the Sith. However, it's more literal. There are far, far more Jedi than Sith in the prequel world. Meanwhile the Sith are so few that the Jedi don't believe they exist anymore. Therefore Anakin becomes fated to fall to the dark side and help exterminate the Jedi until there's only two Jedi and two Sith (fuck you extended universe, I mean in the limits of the movies) left. Then, the force is imbalanced again after Yoda dies, leaving Luke as the last Jedi. That's why Vader couldn't defeat him when they fought on the new Death Star, and it's why he turned on the Emperor. After all the redemption doesn't really make sense that Vader would turn so easily just because his son was being killed. He was trying to kill Luke not two minutes earlier, and he chopped off his son's friggin' hand in the previous movie. Why would his love of his son kick in then of all times? Because the force didn't require "balancing" before. It makes Anakin a tragic hero enslaved to fate and destiny, a helpless instrument in the face of greater forces than himself.

That's interesting. Though I don't think being a slave to fate necessarily negates Vader's redemption. I never interpreted it as a sudden turn that he makes at the very end; I've always seen it as a choice that he's struggling with thoughout ROTJ and the end of ESB. His path to redemption actually begins when he tells Luke that he's [OMGFUCKINGSPOILER] his father.

Vader's motivations for pursuing Luke actually aren't made all that clear. Of course he's under orders from the Emperor as a literal motivation, but what he specifically wants out of it for himself becomes less clear from his dialogue with Luke in ESB and ROTJ. ...Does he want Luke to join him and overthrow the Emperor? Does he want Luke to replace himself as the Emperor's apprentice so he can be free of him, even if dead? He seems to have no qualms with trying to kill his own son, so does he want that? Is he just gleeful to be doing whatever the Emperor bids? ...I think it's because even he isn't really sure, and is likely juggling all of those aspirations in his head, as well as acknowledgement of the possibility that Luke may the key to his salvation.

Ever notice in ESB how Vader, who has been force-choking all of his failed subordinates throughout the movie, leaves Admiral Piet alone after his failure to capture Luke and Leia at the end? He's like, "Oh gosh, I just don't feel so evil today. [sigh]"

Stormtyrant:
Very good video.

Now do Attack of the Clones.

Go on, I dare ya!

Actually I think Attack of the Clones would be easier to defend.

(Easier to defend, not a better movie)

Attack is easily the worst thing with the Star Wars name on it.
But if you take a step back and watch it, not as a Star Wars movie, but an academic study of how not to tell a story. It's pretty amazing in the sheer depth of how wrong it is.

Phantom Menace does just enough right to miss the "So bad it's good" classification.

I'd say the hardest one to defend is Revenge of the Sith, and I'd like to see him take a stab at that one.

"At least its not attack of the clones"
Agreed....

I agree that Phantom Menace isn't Attack of the Clones, but that's not exactly in it's favor IMO. Could somebody remind me, why is Attack of the Clones so terrible again? I actually really liked it, it has quite a bit of Jengo Fett in it, which basically means it has quite a bit of Boba Fett in it. Christopher Lee makes for a cool and formidable villain. It features some cool monsters and the largest land battle in the entire Star Wars saga, even if it is mostly all CGI.

While Anakin is kinda a whiney little bitch he's still less annoying than in Phantom Menace, and I think Obi Wan makes up for it with his humorously sarcastic condemnation of almost everything Anakin does.

You even get to see Yoda in a lightsaber battle, yes it's silly, there's nothing wrong with silly if it's cool silly, better than Jar-Jar Binks silly.

I feel guilty(ish) for saying it but Jar-Jar WAS that bad. I'd forget about him and then whenever he showed up it took me right out of the movie. Having a stupid character is forgivable, but if they don't get much screen time or we at least get the catharsis of watching them die. It would have been better and less disruptive if they put the Three Stooges or Benny Hill in the film. Hell, that might of even made it an instant classic.

I liked how episode 3 of he sequels had Anikin 'I act like a moody teenager' Skywalker. Seriously was it meant to be a comedy?

Gatx:
I loved Episode I aesthetically. It's really the only time you see the Star Wars setting not engulfed in intergalactic war (that and the first half of AoC I guess) and that has its own merits. It's also visually unique as far as the prequels go because of the format change that took place after it.

trty00:

That's not the point he was making. In comparison to the originals, the lightsaber duels in the prequels lacked weight. The video points out that it never seems like any of the comatants are aiming for each other. But more importantly, there's no emotional connection between Maul, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gonn. If you go back to the original trilogy, the memorable bits are the storys the fights told, not the choreography. That's why I think the duel between Vader and Obi-wan in Ep IV is actually better than the one in the prequel. The emotional baggage of everything between them, which at the time was unelaborated, hangs tensely over the scene, and makes the slow pacing actually improve the scene rather than detract from it. And more importantly, it knows when to wrap up instead of dragging on for 20 minutes or so.

Well, they are literally fighting with weightless weapons. As for the Flynning, it could be explained with the same reason they can deflect blasters - they can sort of see it coming and start blocking before the attack comes. Of course that's all justification for it after the fact rather than them having it in mind while making the movie.

Jasper Kazai:

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.

As far as I know, the cartoon's canon status is intact, or was rather. You'll notice that nothing happens in either that really conflicts directly. Of course what really threatens its place in the timeline is the new Disney trilogy.

You're misquoting me, I never said that. That being said, you're still missing the point. When he says 'weight,' he doesn't mean physical weight, he means emotional weight.

Nope. Sorry, Jim, I'll grant you that there are some points in there, but not all points are created equal and its flaws still render the movie an unwatchable trainwreck.

I primarily disagree with your assessment of Jar Jar Binks. It's not just that he's annoying, but rather that his speech, mannerisms, and behaviors are all a coat of face-paint away from having been straight lifted from the old highly-racist blackface comedy routines of the late 19th and early 20th century. Whatever else his presence may bring, knowing that blackface existed, the almost word-for-word similarities between it and Jar Jar's existance made the movie, at best, uncomfortable to watch. He literally forced me into a position where I had to ask myself "is it possible to present a racist performance in which the race of the performer were changed to a fictional alien?" Where is that line? How close can you skirt it without being called on that? Are you allowed to take any racial stereotype that exists, change the characters appearance, and thus avoid any criticism for using it? I don't know, but it's not the sort of question a toy mascot for the primary school crowd should be drawing, is it? The Viceroy and trade federation alien characters also arguably act, speak, and imitate Asian racial stereotypes, but those are, in my mind, less obvious. If that were somehow a point in the movie, to present that question, I'd let it slide, but it's like Lucas just started writing down every racist stereotype he could think of and then made up an appearance as an afterthought so no one could say anything, and I don't think I'm out of line to mention that this seems inappropriate.

i always really liked attack of the clones. honestly, i didnt realize it was actually hated. i knew it wasnt liked by most people but i always figured most people just thought of it as not good or bad enough to talk about

If I had to watch a prequel, it would be Phantom Menace. However ideally I wouldn't want to watch any of them at all.

Now I'm wondering if Jim could do a MDF about The Room.

Vivi22:

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?

Colour me not the least bit shocked.

That the actors can actually kill each other with fake weapons gives it a good excuse to have a crappy looking fight scene?
image
Where do I even begin to say what's wrong with this statement?

Also,

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Fangface74:
But Jim!

Who was the main protagonist?

Who is the main protagonist of Pulp Fiction? Inglorious Basterds? Crash? Sin City?

There are such things as ensemble films, wherein there is no singular main character, but a cast of main characters. And there is no reason why an ensemble film can't be as good or 'legitimate' as a film revolving around a single character.

What were the defining characteristic traits of ANY of the cast???

Qui-Gonn: the older teacher with a rebel streak who goes against traditional thinking.

Obi-Wan: the snarky student who, underneath his dry humour, is much a much mroe by-the-book Jedi.

Anakin: homesick young kid thrown way out of his depth

Amidala: young girl trying to deal with the weight of having to protect an entire planet

Shall I stop, or would you like me to continue?

Too much basic 'film making 101' missing for anything redeemable to shine through

Too much parroting Red Letter Media and taking their word as gospel, without wondering if perhaps counter-arguments exist :P

My issue with the film is more structural than with the characters, still it would have been nice if some of the characters had actual arcs and if Jar Jar binks wasn't such a heavy focus for the film. I almost wonder what the thought process was for J.J.B.

I can fully accept that if you look at the film as objectively as possible, it's far from the worst film in the world, but there is a vaaaaaaaaast amount of space for improvement in a variety of areas.

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.

This video makes me laugh every time.

every. time.

Hedgehog Gun Scorpions are now the new name for Droidekas by internet law.

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