Escape to the Movies: The Phantom Menace 13 Years Later

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Had to type this out, here's a link. (100 people probably did this before me, but oh well)

I think starwars just sucks in general and was never really a fan, so I wasn't really crushed by the phantom Menace as some people apparently were.

One thing that has shocked me though is that its been 13 years since that movie came out? I'm starting to feel old all of the sudden.

Right, well, I guess we can wait for this exact same point to be rehashed in The Big Picture next week, then, I'm guessing the backlash in this thread will be enough for Bob to have to try to clarify himself, again, in his other show.

Shame, because during this movie review I was hoping for an actual, y'know, review. Yes, we've all seen the movie but that just means you don't have to put up any spoiler warnings, shouldn't you kind of list what's good and bad about this movie as a stand-alone piece instead of glossing over those point briefly just to do what you could've done in The Big Picture. I'm not complaining, I get what you mean by this, but surely this review could've covered something else. Why waste it on something that you have more than ample room to say in your other show?

That's my two-cents on the matter, anyway, I'm just kind of confused as to what this is doing here and not in The Big Picture or in an article where it obviously belongs.

I agree completely. Most people watch these reviews because they want a current film reviewed by a nerdy and knowledgeable critic. If they want to hear/read Bob's opinions on Star Wars fanboys they know where to look. I was expecting a review. Not a lecture.

Yeah man, you're right. Phantom Menace isn't nearly as bad as the Star Wars Special Edition.

You should call this show The Devil's Advocate or something... jeez.

Are you even serious with that ridiculous over-analysis of the fans' respective psyches? To even allude to the idea that the fans were disappointed because they were avoiding adulthood is really rude and honestly, immature even. It's almost the same as using the fail-safe "Grow up, kid." when arguing. It's just a cheap baseless insinuation that only hurts your argument.

Also, you contradict yourself. You say that Attack of the Clones is altered to pander to the fans of the original movies (which it did a horrible job of), but then you say that complaining didn't change Lucas' mind.

I personally think the reason Episode III wasn't horrible is because of fan feedback. That movie recaptured a lot of the intensity and passion that the originals had and that the first two episodes lacked immensely.

I also personally think that the fact that you suddenly decide to switch sides and start insulting the side you were JUST ON discredits you as a journalist, and shows that you just want to argue about something.

Good day, sir.

The Phantom Menace 13 Years Later

The Phantom Menace isn't nearly as bad as you think it is.

Watch Video

Yeah, I pretty much stopped watching when you decided to paint anyone who disagrees with your opinion as a morbidly obese(*ARUUUUUGA - ARUUUUUUGA* Hypocrisy overload alert!) raging nerd(*ARUUUUUGA - ARUUUUUUGA* She's gonnae blow cap'n!).

Get a grip Bob.

Oh, and yes, it is as bad as I think it is.

Nice work Bob! Can't say I've ever really been too big on any of the Star Wars stuff (but I wasn't around for the originals). But I can see where you're coming from, and it's good to see that you're talking to the mirror as much as you were to us.

PS - I kinda got the feeling that this leant more over to your Big Picture series as it wasn't specifically about A film, more about what surrounds the film. Still, good watch.

Hm. Bob's pretty spot on, I think

Bob... THANK YOU! I am so happy that someone else came out and said what I'm sure most people are thinking. Get Over It People.

On another note, I'm calling it now and saying that "Avengers" is probably going to get bogged down by too many characters hurting for screentime and end up not as good as "Dark Knight Returns".

I wonder why no one ever examines how much the 20 year delay affects the reaction? I put much, if not most, of the blame for the angst on the delay, and consider said angst perfectly justifiable for that reason. If you wait 20 years- *twenty* *years* - for the next generation of a thing that is universally considered to have been groundbreaking, imaginative, enjoyable for its time, and the next generation is universally regarded as being less groundbreaking, less imaginative, and less enjoyable than the original, even with *twenty* *years* of advancements to help, then I hold universal disappointment and criticism (including harsh criticism) to be a completely valid reaction.

Let's proof my theory - if the prequels were begun immediately after the end of the first trilogy and had come out every two years thereafter, and they were exactly the same quality *for the times* as the real prequels were for our times, what kind of reaction could be expected? I believe the reaction would be far more along the lines of "the filmmakers screwed up bigtime, what a disappointment" rather than "George Lucas raped my childhood!".

So I don't believe the "fans" can really be blamed for over the top reactions precisely because there was a twenty year delay. If there's anything Hollywood can take away from the Star Wars prequels, it's "don't wait two decades to continue a success, because any shortcomings will be magnified in the eyes of the fans by the sheer time involved".

....... I LIKED THIS MOVIE! ... Don't hurt me.

Even though I have a soft spot for The Phantom Menace, it is quite flawed. But when I was a kid, all of the Star Wars movies were brilliant. The first three are timeless classics, but the other three have a lot of flaws, but they have a lot of great things as well.

I saw it again (not at the cinema mind you), and frankly, I was just struck by how incredibly boring I found it. The Obi Wan/Qui Gon vs Darth Maul fight is still fucking brilliant, but most of the film, most of the entire prequel trilogy is just dull.

I was surprised to find that I agreed, at least mostly. I agree that Episode 2 is worse. I even agree with most of the films you named that were superior or worse than it.

But let's be honest. The film is not "slightly below average". It's pretty significantly below average. The excellent visuals (especially the lightsaber duels, which are honestly superior to those of the original trilogy, and no I don't want to hear people yell at me about saying that, because let's be honest, it's the truth) and stellar music score are not enough to save the incredibly bland story and hollow characters. Consider for a second that the entire story can be boiled down to "a droid army is blockading a major trade route, shenanigans ensue". Now, does this happen in real life? Sure. But it does not make for exciting cinema. Star Wars's original trilogy features multiple pitched combat scenarios (ones that don't devolve into the ugly CGI that Ep 2 uses and abuses) and tells the tale of a teenager separated from his parents who goes on a grand adventures across the known universe to stop an overarching evil empire. There is a known enemy of enormous power and it seems unlikely they will succeed.

But here in Ep 1, the issue is pretty much ridiculous. The Republic, an overarching governmental body, is completely incapable of stopping a rogue planet (or small collective of planets) from blocking major trade routes? They have no standing army whatsoever? What? I'm sorry, but even in times of great peace, governments still maintain an army as a safety measure. The only reason the Republic is given no army in this movie (and the movie that follows) is because Lucas didn't want the movie (and indeed, the overarching conflict to come between the Republic and the Separatists) to end in about ten minutes when the Republic fleet warped in and blasted the blockade away, so he dragged it out over the course of over an hour with boring diplomatic negotiations, adding small skirmishes to tie us over in the action department. Consider for a second that the final battle sends several fighters to destroy ONE droid control ship, yet this is enough to render the ground army useless....even though in opening shots of the movie, we clearly see several such ships making up the blockade around the entire planet! How does that work exactly? The others were just for show, then, I guess? About the only thing Ep 1 did right was to introduce Darth Maul, a truly badass Sith Lord, and what do they do? They promptly kill him off so they can introduce, I mean Count Dooku, who honestly plays a much less threatening and imposing role....and while I know that he's a good actor, we must admit he had nothing to work with.

I should stop to avoid ranting as most of the logical points have been covered to death, but yeah, this film really is pretty awful. I'll agree it's not the worst film ever, but it's by no means close to average. Honestly, even if we lower ourselves to its level, it's still bad even at that level. Phantom Menace really was atrocious for a Star Wars film, even if it was only significantly bad overall. It doesn't hold a candle to Ep 2, but it's not winning any awards for mediocrity either. I do agree that its overblown as the worst film ever. Much like how DNF will be toted as the worst game ever made until about a decade down the road, when we have time to get perspective and realize that it's only a misogynistic, lazy, ugly, disgusting abomination of a game rather than "the worst game ever"....but, also like DNF, Phantom Menace's step down from the "worst thing ever" pedestal is not a very far step down from the top.

I remember when i was a kid. Man when i saw that movie i was star struck. At the time to me it was like the most amazing s**t EVER! I think i might have seen it one more time after that until the feb release couple of days ago here in Australia.

I went with my girlfriend and i am a huge Star Wars fan i enjoy the lore and the universe SW has. But maaaan...the movie simply couldnt not live up to my childhood expectations. Ive seen Clones and Revenge bunch of times as a teenager so i know why they sucked. But the childhood memory of the amazing Phantom Menace and the cool droid army was annihilated for me.

I found the movie slowpaced and with a weak acting nothing really made me immerse myself into the movie. There were great backgrounds and sets i could see that but still . . . the whole tatoine plot was weak and very slow i just couldnt enjoy the movie as much. And i knew what was going to happen too. . . so that ruined my experience aswell.

I think from now on ill avoid watching favorite childhood movies.

Poison...I see what you did there.

Also, thank you very much for putting up that image of SEBASTIAN SHAW as Anakin...YUB NUB!

(Although, I do think it might hurt your argument to just let it go...)

I liked attack of the clones . . . we got to see exactly how the empire was able to conjure an army out of thin air, we got to see the blueprints for the death star and the dark council, and we get to see Anakin humbled in the finale, setting up some dramatic tension for the final movie. For me, the prequels only got better and better. I find that people who hated the prequels have that mindset going into the movies, even the ones who were seeing it for the first time

Heh...of course it's not the worst Star Wars movie...that would be the Star Wars Holiday Special. But that still doesn't mean it didn't suck. It was a pretty looking film, but it was basically poo wrapped in really nice wrapping paper.h

Did you guys see the new trailer? :D

So I've seen the movie today and I've got to say, I don't really understand why everyone seems to hate this movie so much. I thought it was pretty good. Although I can agree Jar Jar was kind of annoying and Anakin's performance was somewhat wooden. The good far outweighs the bad though, and I'm really glad that this movie has lived up to what I remember it being like as a child.

And this is coming from someone who has watched and enjoyed the original trilogy. Which I just realized I still have. :)

Maybe I'm just easy to please when it comes to Star Wars who know. :/

This review makes sense while I still enjoy the film it was never gonna live up to the the star wars hype years later and removing all the hype I can sit down and enjoy it.

Nothing Bob has really said is new, but to be honest I think even he kind of undermines his overall point by saying that Phantom Menace is an average or below average movie, when by rights it should have been at least an above average one.

Your correct that Star Wars can't recapture long-lost innocence in the generation that worshipped the originals, but at the same time this was a dark, edgy prequel that was supposed to ultimatly be telling the story of the tradgedy that put all of the moments of the original series in motion. It could have grown up with it's audience in telling this kind of story.

I also notice that important points are being overlooked, it's not about failing to live up to expectations, but actively taking a dump on them. Basically all of the cutesy and kiddified elements. People complained about the Ewoks as not fitting with a serious, if campy, space opera, despite excuses made about needing to cut down Wookie costumes (which according to many sources is actually BS damage control). George not only ran with those elements which the fans made clear they did not want despite his disasters with "Star Wars Cuteness" in the form of things like "The Ewok Adventure", but actually wound up infecting the original movies with them in his remakes where he added cutesy CGI droids, muppets, and other things. Despite all of the "compromises" he might have made in the later movies, these elements were STILL present.

Honestly, I notice a lot of people saying nice things about George and Star Wars recently. I'm sure ToR has something to do with it, but he also made that speech about not doing any more because the fanboys would not be happy... you know, instead of acknowledging the stuff that pretty much everyone almost universally detests and deciding that he's going to go back to treating this stuff fairly seriously, so it came out closer to his original works whether that was his intention or not.

See, when George kiddifies the movies, when in part they appealed to kids and adults both because they weren't totally clean, that's what kills them. A bit of cuteness here and there is fine, but when it's non-stop, we have actual little kid "heroes" like a disney movie, and a flawed, badass hero like Han Solo has to be turned into a white knight (which undermines the whole character and point of the Greedo scene where he shot)... that is what slots people off. The movies might technically be fine, the FX might have been good in the day, but you have to look at the whole and people are slotted off by more than just fanboy rage.

I doubt your saying this now either because of George's comments or ToR, but honestly I think Phantom Menace deserves the scorn it gets when viewed in an overall context, there is more behind it than just the movies themselves, or the fanboy backlash, there is such universal hate because of where the movie failed and certain central desicians that should never have been made.

As odd as it sounds I'd like to see more Star Wars, but honestly I'm not sure if George should be the one to actually make them. Of course the problem is he's the original creator and finding a successor who can be seen as the new official voice of a series like this is rough, since nobody (not even Timothy Zahn) has succeeded, in part because of Lucas's voice always being there, and really he's not the man he used to be 25 years ago he might have been able to make another good Star Wars movie, but not the guy he is today who seems more interested in selling cute toys to kids (which is a big part of the hate, since the motivation for the cuteness is obvious) than turning out a worthy work of space fantasy.

Dude, I'm not watching it again.

Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite movies, and I'm into the expanded universe pretty deep. And yeah, I have an emotional attachment to episodes VI, V, and I didn't see VI until I was 14. That was seven years ago. I'm not a grown-ass adult, but I had some Star Wars VHS's when I was 5, and HOLY SHIT it was awesome.

comments tl;dr

I always loved Phantom Menace. I loved Jar Jar! Most of all I loved DARTH MAUL.
Episode One was the last acceptable Star Wars anything really. The only think I couldn't really stand was Princess Amidala and some of the CGI. People didn't like the Pod races? THIS IS A FIRST FOR ME.

Despite what fans say there were several elements of the prequels that everyone including the fans love. Such as:
Darth Maul
Goofy lightsabers (Darth Maul's double blade)
The Sith
The Force actually being strong (in the original movies the height of Vader's force power is ripping out a fridge on Cloud City. In the prequels Yoda takes down a huge droid transport ship.)
Emperor Palpatine (who really needed more time in the original trilogy)
The clone troopers and the droid army (especially in Star Wars: Battlefront)
The droideka. God damn the droideka are cool.

And if the writing wasn't so terrible the audience might have understood how awesome Palpatine's plan was and how he was playing both sides the whole time. As opposed to the audience being really confused.

I always felt that the endless bitching about the prequels actually will one day have a purpose. Decades from now Hollywood will want to make the last three films, and if they take a good hard look at the fan hate and put a competent director at the helm they can easily make an amazing film.

But let's be honest. The film is not "slightly below average". It's pretty significantly below average. The excellent visuals (especially the lightsaber duels, which are honestly superior to those of the original trilogy, and no I don't want to hear people yell at me about saying that, because let's be honest, it's the truth) and stellar music score are not enough to save the incredibly bland story and hollow characters.

Nothing Bob has really said is new, but to be honest I think even he kind of undermines his overall point by saying that Phantom Menace is an average or below average movie, when by rights it should have been at least an above average one.


Bob is only 75% right here. Indeed, I'll argue that Episode I is actually equally as bad as any of the other prequels -- that is, it's no better than whichever other one you think is worse -- because Episode I was first.

Episode I isn't terrible because it's merely a shitty movie. Episode I is terrible because it hurt canon.

Bob gets this half-right. Were fanboys upset? Yes. But here's the thing Bob missed: not all of the fanboys, or even the more mundane fans and afficionados, were upset because of lost nostalgia. They were upset because the Star Wars narrative -- the cycle of stories and related media -- just got worse.

Were you playing a Star Wars rpg? It just got worse.

Were you reading a Star Wars novel? It just got worse.

And so on. This is why the mitochlorians (sp) thing, for example, was aggravating. Sure, Lucas dropped it, but not everything went with it. Sure, you could "play your own game" and try to ignore that crap, but future, official offerings would be burdened with Lucas' bad writing.

What you have to understand is Lucas didn't create every aspect of the Star Wars universe and, ironically enough, the very best parts of the story weren't written by him. At all. So when Lucas went in and did the writing, he undermined the very thing that was carrying the entire enterprise.

It's not what Lucas did to nostalgia -- trust me, many of us aren't taken back to a Happy Place when we watch Star Wars. It's what Lucas did to the story.

Poison...I see what you did there.

Also, thank you very much for putting up that image of SEBASTIAN SHAW as Anakin...YUB NUB!

(Although, I do think it might hurt your argument to just let it go...)

Not related to the video, but can I ask you where you avatar comes from?

Well I didn't like the review because he said nothing about how the 3D has effected the film visuals.

I don't think it is the worst film ever made (that honor is held by the Room, which is, thankfully, hilarious) but re-releasing it in 3D as a cheap cash grab pisses me off. In fact, all 3D pisses me off. I don't care that Hugo was well received, the whole concept needs to die a quick death once and for fucking all.

I honestly think that there hasn't been a more explicit representation of blind greed in the history of Hollywood that cannot be better expressed by this whole 3D craze. End it now, while history still looks somewhat favorably on you. Please.

Dear god, Bob, I had almost the exact same opinion on nearly every aspect of the movie as you. Except for one thing: I absolutely, positively, HATE the script. It's constantly telling us exactly what we just saw as if it's trying to narrate itself to the blind. It's one of the reasons that some of the good parts of the movie are the parts where no one's talking.

Nearly thirteen years ago this movie came out I was 9. If I wasn't taken to the movies, I should also add as a family we have been poor and been to the theaters only three times ever and The Phantom Menace was one of those times.
If we hadn't have gone, I probably wouldn't love Star Wars today. I wouldn't have been exposed until much later and probably wouldn't have cared, but I was interested in seeing Star Wars 2. When attack of the clones came out it sparked a tangential interest and I found the original three and was blown away.

And really.. I see this as watching the movie before reading the book. I saw the crappier but not really THAT BAD prequel movies THEN I saw the original much better movies.. So I enjoyed the ride all the way through.

Not to defend the whiny fanboys, but the Phantom Menace is terrible. It isn't terrible because it's Star Wars, it's terrible in spite of that. George Lucas had the best actors, screenwriters, filmmakers, and CGI studio at his beck and call. The characterization is just awful. There isn't a single well rounded character in the whole movie - every character is either one-dimension, wallpaper, or aimlessly does actions that directly oppose it's motivations. Qui-Gon cheats and steals, abuses his Jedi Mind Trick, and leaves civilians in danger unless the plot calls for him not to. The plot is nonsense. Literally, the wise Jedis and the trade federation military leaders do nothing but make awful decision after awful decision. The fight scenes are so clean, so devoid of life and character, that it's as if somebody saw the Matrix and didn't understand the point. The movie jumps between action scenes and pointlessly dialogue heavy council scenes as if it had no idea how to structure a basic story narrative. This would be fine if this movie was low-budget, or had terrible actors, but it had an unlimited budget and Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Terrence Stamp, and Samuel L Jackson. However, they put those actors on the backburner to concentrate on bad CGI characters and a child actor who unfortunately was in way over his head.

It's not the worst movie ever made, but it is really really bad. It compares very similarly to The Expendables, a movie that also tried to cash in on nostalgia with a cast with no characterization, that tried to fill in the gaps with visual effects and fight scenes.

I understand some of the acrimony isn't deserved - there are people who seemingly blame TPM for ruining their childhood or somesuch. However, the opinion that the movie is terrible is completely accurate.

But it IS as bad as I think it is.

It fails at every point that could make a good movie...

Action: Boring and inconsequential. It just happens, there's nothing interesting about it.

Suspense: None.

Romance: None.

Characters: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Samuel Jackson are in a movie. And none of them are interesting.

Mystery: None. Whatsoever.

Dialogue: Abysmal. At best its cliche.

Story: Plinkett went through the story thoroughly. It just doesn't make any logical sense. The story moves, but the logic behind the flow is sketchy as hell.

Settings: A Faberge egg. It's pretty on the outside, but there's no substance to it. The environments are static and lifeless. It's obvious that there is no interaction between the actors and the environment. 12 Angry Men had a better environment than all of Menace and the entire black and white movie took place in 1 room.

Direction: What direction? "Stand here and talk". "Walk here while talking". "Turn around and talk". "Sit here and talk". "Fight". These are George Lucas' directions to the actors. When I think of direction done right, I think of the long camera shot from the first date scene of Goodfellas. I don't think of anything George Lucas does.

As someone who doesn't like any of the Star Wars movies (5 was ok), The Phantom Menace was a terrible movie, that made shameful amounts of money for all the wrong reasons.

I honestly think if you removed all of the voice from Episode 1 it would be a really good movie. If you could keep all the music and sound effects, and all the outstanding visual design (Naboo was really nicely visualised) without the terrible lines, it would be such a nice thing.

If someone else is paying i might go to see this to enjoy it 'Ironically' like the massive hipster douchebag i am. This film wasn't the childhood raping event that everyone likes to think it was but it was still fucking appalling; it's main redeeming quality is that it can be used to teach people what NOT to do with a movie, its a great example of something going horribly wrong in most key areas (As in everything Lucas was in charge of the armchair sitting, coffee sipping cunt)

On a side note would anyone like a Pizza Roll? I suddenly have a mean urge for Pizza Rolls.

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