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Lucas The Menace

  • Jun 10, 2009
No movie got more hyped up or got people more excited then The Phantom Menace. 

No, not even The Dark Knight, though it comes close.

In 1999, The Phantom Menace was talked about by everyone and before the movie opened, it's merchandising was everywhere.  Red and black Star Wars logos were on everything, toys, lunchboxes, posters, soda cans, video games, shampoo, fishing rods, charcoal, Batman toys etc.

Well okay, maybe not the last one, but I think you get the point.

The reason?  People have been waiting a good 16 years for a new Star Wars movie.  Star Wars is a cinematic force to be sure and not many movies come close to touching what it did.

Come 1999, people were left wondering what they saw.  Was it Star Wars?

Well, we got Jedi's and they're lightsabers, battles between good and evil, far off places, droids, spaceship battles, action.  Sure it's Star Wars.  What else could it be?

Well for one thing, Star Wars is first and foremost an entertainment.  (some people will say a way of life) so they were turned off by scenes of exposition, especially ones involving the movies political issues.  Almost everyone on the planet was turned off by the insufferable Jar Jar Binks, an obnoxious alien who is clumsy, talks too much and doesn't add anything but a constant annoyance.  I'll state this right now.  After seeing the other two prequel movies, I actually came to like Jar Jar little by little since he at LEAST has some kind of personality and doesn't talk in boring-keep the plot moving-dialogue.  Jar Jar also continued to get Lucas hatemail since he wans't what "the fans" wanted.  "The fans" being fan boys who think the movie is only for them and nobody else (Episode II in many respects was catering to these kind of crowds).  Isn't this a PG movie to attract families and little kids too?  Jar Jar is loved by little kids who came to see the movie.  Granted I'm a fan boy too sometimes and I don't like Jar Jar THAT much but I know why some things are in the movie.  Lucas did wise up and cut him down in later movies, down to a mere cameo by the time Episode III was out.

Many also cryed about Jake Lloyd playing a little Anakin Skywalker in this film.   Why?  Cause he built C-3PO and yelled "Yippee!" thus tarnishing Darth Vaders image.  First, ANOTHER actor will ruin Darth Vader's image in the next film and I'll admit building C-3PO is dumb.  On a scale of 1 to 10, it gets a 629.  If he bought C-3PO we could live with it.  Seriously, people got turned off by Yippee!?  HES A KID, LET HIM ACT LIKE ONE!!!

The biggest sin though is the talk of midichloreans.  If this was Star Trek, the idea behind the romanticism with The Force would need an explanation as to why it is around.  This isn't Star Trek though, it's Star Wars, they're completely different.  More or less Midichloreans has to do with molecules in your blood cells that are in touch with The Force.  The more you have, the better a Jedi you can grow up to be, not enough, and your out of luck.  Some people hate/LOATHE this plot point since it makes it sound that if not everyone can grow up to be Jedi, not even if they trained hard enough.  Hate to say it but this is how seriously people take Star Wars.  I love it but I know it's not a life I or anyone can lead. 

The story is convuluted for convulted's sake.  Something about politics with a blockade and taxes and embargoes WHAT?!  That doens't sound like a Star Wars plot!  Star Wars is heroes are in hiding and strike back at a dominating tyranical government far far away!  The rebels weren't fighting a 7% tax increase on blue milk, they fought the Empire cause they were EVIL.  The Stand in for the Empire here, the Trade Federation is being led by Darth Sidious to blockade small out of the way planet Naboo (I'm still not sure of the reason and I hate having to read source material and comics or any kind of outside of the theater medium to fill in gaps).  The Queen escapes capture by two Jedi Knights who want to take her to the Galactic Capital and talk to the senate.  Along the way, they meet a small slave boy, Anakin Skywalker who one of the Jedi's believes will do big things for the galaxy.  While it ended up sounding nice, it could have been simpler.

Now, lets get to the good stuff.  First off, I unlike many LOVE the podrace.  Anakin must win a race to win money for parts to fix a damaged spaceship.  He's never won a race and a race favorite, a cheat who hates Anakin named Sebulba is in the race too.  If he loses, they lose the ship.  How would they get home if he lost?  What methods would they use to get a new ship?  Will Anakins power in the force come through?  People just thought the scene was boring and superflouous.  I thought it looked great, it was different and is certainly something new.

Darth Maul (who is sadly relegated to a few minutes of screen time) was the face of Star Wars at the time, had a tattoed visage that looked like it was made in Hell, with razor like spikes on his head, his bloodshot eyes, his black clothing and a two sided lightsaber?  Damn if this isn't the way a villian should be.  Again, he isn't seen much but you know just by looking at him he's trouble.  His duel between our heroes at the end of the film is arguablly the best lightsaber fight in a Star Wars movie, it's certainly the most fast pased.

The climax of the film is also nice.  A gungan army (Jar Jar's race for those of you who don't speak geek) must draw the enemy army out of the city so that the Queen and her soldiers can break into the palace and capture the enemy leader, a simpering little slug of a man named Nute Gunray who is another good villian, decietful and cowardly.  The Jedi are with her but end up fighting Maul who is also in the palace.  Anakin ends up in a starfighter that goes into space to destroy an enemy command ship that is controlling the droid armies below.  The longer they take, the more people will die.  If Maul kills the Jedi, The Queen will easily be recaptured and if the Queen fails in her task, her planet may never be free.  Not quite as grand as the Death Star blowing up the moon of Yavin but grand in it's complexity and keeping it simple enough that we know whats going on.

Well there is ONE more point i'd like to bring up.  Everyone knows that Palpatine by the time Return of the Jedi comes around is in fact, The Emporor.  We see him in this movie skillfully manuever into a position of being the new Chancellor of the Republic.  SOMEWHERE between here and and the Third prequel film we would see something happen to him.  I always entertained the idea that Palpatine in fact to get ahead in his career would be seduced by the dark side of the Force via Darth Sidious to attain more and more power and that he would at one point murder Sidious.  Sadly that was not to be.

Well, I certainly took a look at this movie, found things to love and things to hate.  Got snippy in a few places,  I'll say this though, it was FUN.  I saw things I never saw before, I found much of it entertaining.  It is one of the weaker Star Wars movies, but I still rate it high for it's entertainment value.  Those who hate it though (and there are many) might find the same humor that I do in that movie Fanboys is about a group of friends who go out of their way to be the first people to see this movie.  THIS ONE.

Despite all the bad press, mixed reviews, Lucas still made a ton with this movie.  Maybe he could have made more, if not for the newest innovative and trend setting blockbuster that was released around the same time that stole some of his thunder.  An R rated one at that.  Lucas was in danger of having his seat dethroned because of his childish movie.  It took him two more movies to get it nearly pitch perfect.  The Force is with him, it would grow weaker before it grew bright again.
Peaceful palace on Naboo Jedi's against Darth Maul in the hanger The Queen and Jedi's retake Theed Palace Sebulba, pod racing champion and enemy of Anakin Obi Wan gets in Darth Mauls face during their duel Escaping Naboo in the Queen's ship

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October 21, 2010
Didn't like these as much as the first three.
June 10, 2009
Another great Review John! It's funny because this is the film that got me into Star Wars! It had the same effect on me that I'm sure the new Star Trek film had on new comers. Just so you know you can post your awesome reviews onto Facebook and Twitter using the "share" box at the top of your reviews. Great Stuff!
June 10, 2009
Thankyou, but to be honest, I don't have a Facebook or Twitter or even a My Space. Glad you enjoyed it.
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review by . July 12, 2009
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review by . October 04, 2004
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review by . August 09, 2004
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review by . February 08, 2000
posted in Movie Hype
The acting in this movie was very bad. My favorit charictor in the movie was Jar Jar Binks, but even his ears went through people because the acter's never even stoped to look at how to do this. A discrase to Star Wars.
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John Nelson ()
Ranked #5
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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"I have a bad feeling about this," says the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) inStar Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menaceas he steps off a spaceship and into the most anticipated cinematic event... well, ever. He might as well be speaking for the legions of fans of the original episodes in theStar Warssaga who can't help but secretly ask themselves: Sure, this isStar Wars, but is itmy Star Wars? The original elevated moviegoers' expectations so high that it would have been impossible for any subsequent film to meet them. And as with all theStar Warsmovies,The Phantom Menacefeatures inexplicable plot twists, a fistful of loose threads, and some cheek-chewing dialogue. Han Solo's swagger is sorely missed, as is the pervading menace of heavy-breather Darth Vader. There is still way too much quasi-mystical mumbo jumbo, and some of what was fresh aboutStar Wars22 years earlier feels formulaic. Yet there's much to admire. The special effects are stupendous; three worlds are populated with a mélange of creatures, flora, and horizons rendered in absolute detail. The action and battle scenes are breathtaking in their complexity. And one particular sequence of the film--the adrenaline-infused pod race through the Tatooine desert--makes the chariot race inBen-Hurlook like a Sunday stroll through the park.

Among the host of new characters, there are a few familiar walk-ons. We witness the first meeting between R2-D2 and C-3PO, Jabba the Hutt...

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Director: George Lucas
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: May 19, 1999
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: George Lucas
DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
Runtime: 2hrs 11min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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