Film Micrœview #257: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
12.05.2015 § Leave a comment
Recently a friend and I were disagreeing on the prequel trilogy. He liked 2 & 3 alright and detested 1. I detested all three but had a fond nostalgic place in my heart for 1. Well, I’m still not sure if I can agree with him that there is any, even relative, merit to 2 & 3, but I can certainly say that the nostalgic place I had for 1 is gone.
If you had asked me before I looked this up, I would have guessed that the prequel films followed each other in more rapid succession than the original trilogy. The original films came out in 1977, 1980, and 1983, three years apart. I figured that with the more industrialized and evil corporatocracy behind Hollywood in modern times that studios would expect things to come out more speedily, since they want more money sooner and audiences’ attention spans are short. But it turns out the prequel trilogy films came out in 1999, 2002, and 2005, three years apart as well. That means, notably to me, that 1 was while I was in middle school, 2 was while I was in high school, and 3 was while I was in college. Over the most rapidly changing / formative years of my life. I feel I was a more more different person when they came out than I could have possibly been for any other trilogy. I don’t know what that means, really. Notably the sequel trilogy films appear to be coming out in half the time apart from each other – a year and a half between (and only a 10 year gap between 3 and 7 as opposed to the 10 year gap between 6 and 1).
Most people complain about the story making no sense, about midichlorians ruining the magic of the Force. Sure, there’s that. And Jar Jar is indeed annoying (though it was fun to think about him as being a Sith lord the whole time, Darth Darth Binks). And the CG is awful (well Yoda was actually alright, but Jabba was awful… and at least there’s less green screen here than in the next 2). And there’s a fucking fart joke in there. And weird POV shots from C3PO and Anakin. And racism runs rampant from Watto to Gungans to Neimoidians. The acting was awful (they really couldn’t find a better child actor for Anakin, and even Natalie Portman is doing something weird and lame here?). But more than anything, by far far far far far, is the dialogue. The greatest hope I have for Episode 7 is Kasdan. Star Wars with alternately pointless and cringe-inducing dialog is hell.
I used to love the 4-part simultaneous climax. As I was rewatching, I felt this strange flicker when the droid army fired upon the shields for the Gungan army. I realized that the first time I saw that, when I was in middle school, I had nearly jumped out of my seat. It had been a literal nerd/child-gasm. This time I felt nothing, nothing at all. Darth Maul used to get me going but now whatever. Goodbye forever Episode I. You really are as pathetic, disappointing, and cruel as they all say.