A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 65 – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – May 4th, 2010

Okay, so, it’s May 4th. And I was informed by several places that May 4th is Star Wars Day. “May the fourth be with you.” Get it? I’m a sucker for a good pun. My family has pun-offs every holiday dinner. So I asked on twitter and on my LJ if we should abandon our plans to watch South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut tonight in favor of starting our week+ of Star Wars movies. And the answer was yes. Yes we should. Now, this means we’ll be doing Episode I tonight, and then the rest of the prequel trilogy, and then the original trilogy, and then the two Ewok movies. So, eight days. Week+. Like a sandwich made of bacon in the middle, but with a soggy bun on the bottom and cheese on top instead of bun. Fuzzy cheese.

There is so much wrong with this movie. So very much wrong. And the saddest part is that it could have been so awesome. It had such potential, and then Lucas decided to make it a kids’ movie and that was like the first domino of fail. No subtitling meant more opportunities for horrific accents that don’t just border on racial stereotyping, they march boldly into it. “Kid-friendly” comic relief meant Jar Jar. But why the hell would you make a movie targeted towards kids (and no, I won’t argue about this – I firmly believe it was meant to attract not only the original fanbase but their kids and grandkids – and the marketing done at the time did not contradict this) and then make the majority of the plot so damn boring? Trade disputes? Political maneuvering? And then they went and tried to explain the Force with Midichlorians. SIGH. Sure, Lucas, suck all the fun out of it.

Now, let’s talk potential. Queen in exile/hiding? Sure, that works. Beautiful planet about to be ravaged by heartless oppressors and their mechanical army? Okay! Ruthless and mysterious enemy and his snarly and dangerous henchman? Bring. It. On. Hell, even the podrace is fun to watch if you ignore the commentator and don’t mind how long it takes. If only it fit into the movie cohesively! More potential? The cast! Ewan MacGregor! Liam Neeson! Natalie Portman! Brian Fucking Blessed! Poor wasted Brian Blessed! And if you don’t know Brian Blessed, I highly recommend looking him up, because he is awesome like no other. And poor wasted Terence Stamp. Man, I weep for him. I want more Terence Stamp in this movie. And they didn’t even let Ray Park use his own voice. He is my favorite thing about this entire movie and they dubbed over his few vocalizations. Why? With all the other hideous accents in here, they couldn’t stand his voice? Seriously?

Okay, I got off track. I was saying, this movie had such potential. No, there was no way it was ever going to live up to the original movies or surpass them, but it could have come close and it didn’t. It missed the mark in so many ways. It’s not just the offensive accents or the bizarre patchwork plot or trying to figure out why Naboo has an elected sixteen year old queen. It’s everything. If you can ignore Jar Jar and the Trade Federation and turn off your brain, the movie does have some fun parts. I mentioned the pod race. And Darth Maul (okay, I admit, I have one of the double-bladed lightsaber toys). And the visuals are lovely. There are bits and pieces and moments, so it’s watchable-ish. We saw it twice in the theater, but now I’m struggling to explain why. I know I wanted to enjoy it so very much. I wanted it to be better than it was. I tried to defend it to people. With more viewings and time, however, I just can’t keep it up. You’re probably better off buying the RiffTrax for it, watching the Robot Chicken parody sketches, or, if you want a D&D take on Episode I and much of Episode II, reading Darths & Droids. I highly recommend Darths & Droids. It’s my personal meta canon.

I can’t give this movie the “it stinks!” tag. It’s really really really tempting, but I can’t. I’m reserving it for when I can come up with one or less redeeming feature, and this movie has a couple (including a Wilhelm), so it’s saved by a small margin. But I’m not making any promises for tomorrow and Thursday.

May 4, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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