The Phantom Menace at 20: A Defense

Discussion in 'Star Wars' started by cooleddie74, May 19, 2019.

  1. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Today(May 19th) marks exactly 20 years to the day since Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in theaters after arguably the greatest buildup of anticipation for a new movie in the history of cinema. And yes, I'm including the excitement leading up to the release of Avengers: Endgame. ;)

    Two decades ago this very weekend many of us alive at the time were experiencing the first new Star Wars content on the big screen(not counting the Special Edition alterations and additions in 1997) in sixteen years. Whatever one thought of TPM after walking out of their first screening of the film the pop culture avalanche surrounding Episode I from the release of the first teaser trailer in the fall of 1998 until the premiere of the movie itself about six months later may well be the greatest and most intense media circus surrounding one filmed project in the history of entertainment and TPM forever changed the way movies were made and marketed to the audiences of this new century.

    George Lucas made the movie he wanted. We may love Episode I or think it's the most boring and misguided film of its time(and I'll leave any critiques or defenses of Jar Jar Binks for the responses) but whatever our reaction to TPM in the spring of 1999 and how we feel about it now it was George's vision executed through his own eyes and filter and was not forced(no pun intended) on him by the studio distributing and releasing the movie. 20th Century Fox gave him a wide berth and he gave audiences the Episode I he wanted to make, not a story test screened by studio marketers and executives looking at Powerpoint charts on how to reach each demographic to maximize studio profits. Fox gave George the independence to craft the Prequel Trilogy as he wanted and while some of us may feel that George's Prequel Trilogy was boring, stilted amd wooden with characters designed more to sell toys and other merchandise than to tell good stories we have to concede it was pure George Lucas being the director and producer he wanted and being true to his own creative spirit.

    Happy 20th Birthday, TPM. You may not have been the greatest movie ever but you weren't and still aren't as bad as many people would have the rest of the world believe.
     
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  2. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My reactions to all three of the prequels are a big part of why I, as I did with them, still tend to avoid spoilers for movies, keep as far away from excessive hype or specific expectations as I can.

    I rewatched the film yesterday, the parts that work best are Palpatine specifically and the depictions of and conflicts between the Jedi (even though Obi-Wan was too underused and not real impressive or likeable when he did appear) and Sith and how the Sith are manipulating others. How it generally works as the same universe as the Original Trilogy and foreshadowing and setting up what (we know and/or assume) will happen later while also feeling pretty fresh. Droid troops are pretty inconsistent but a good addition.

    The visuals were pretty great. I liked a lot of Jar-Jar but also felt he was just too overused, especially in the middle. Lloyd and Portman were uneven, some strong moments but weak at other times. I probably would have liked more if Anakin was a bit older, 11-14, and maybe had a little more dark elments but OTOH seeing him so young and innocent was at least interesting and a fine introduction to him.
     
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  3. Soong-type Android

    Soong-type Android Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It probably has the best lightsaber battle of any Star Wars movie but that's basically the only good thing you can say about it.

    At least he has one fan out there.
     
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  4. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Commodore Commodore

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    I still think The Phantom Menace was the best of the prequels; it was fun and had all the potential to push forward a nice trilogy. The highlights were Liam Neeson leading the way of this adventure and Ray Park's Darth Maul was so incredible, I wish lightsaber battles would've continued to be this intense. John Williams' music making the entire piece feel like an opera-ratic art form. It was a nice, innocent, fun Disney ride of a movie.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  5. Jax

    Jax Admiral Admiral

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    TPM has a nice pace to it with fun worlds and some great action to boot. The musical score is one of the best in Hollywood with Duel of Fates and it was cool to see the Jedi Order. However Jar Jar is a bad character and Anakin should of been older (in his teens). Ani should of been the opposite of Luke and been a brash and over confident character due to his natural abilities and harsh upbringing but still charming in a Han Solo way.
     
  6. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    The duel between Qui Gon/Obi Wan and Darth Maul might be my favorite scene of any Star Wars film. The intensity, plus the music made it really epic.
     
  7. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Commodore Commodore

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    It's what I thought I was getting when I saw the trailer for Attack of the Clones but it was a brilliant editing job by the marketing team. I was jaw droppingly shocked and disappointed how whiny Anikan was in the last two movies, completely altered my interpretation of the dark lord Darth Vader. Attack of the Clones felt like fan service gone wrong, it seemed Lucas took note of everything critics didn't like about TPM and desperately tried to please the few with loud voices.
     
  8. Soong-type Android

    Soong-type Android Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Anakin should have been the same age as Luke in ANH. I wouldn't have had Yoda, C3-PO or R2-D2 in TPM or any of the prequel films. Obi Wan should have been a lot older if it was only set 30 years before ANH.
     
  9. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, Alec Guinness turned 62 during filming on the original movie in Tunisia and the Star Wars timeline has Obi-Wan being 60 years old or thereabouts at the time of his physical death in ANH. Both Alec's and Obi-Wan's ages work out and since the latter was never said to be ANCIENT or geriatric at the time of the original film it's okay to have Obi-Wan be aging but not decrepit, still retaining a little of his darker hair from his younger years while still being out of practice and rusty after spending years in exile in the deserts of Tatooine.

    Ewan McGregor playing a 28-year-old Jedi Padawan in Episode I is just fine and the chronology jibes well with itself at least in regards to Obi-Wan's ages during the Prequel Trilogy and Episode IV.
     
  10. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    I enjoyed TPM as its own film. I just don't love it as a Star Wars films. Regardless, it is beautiful to watch and has some of the most iconic tracks in the entire saga. It introduced Qui-Gon and Valorum and Maul who are all characters that I enjoyed all the ancillary material around them. Naboo is gorgeous.

    Again, very pretty film. But, not my favorite SW film by a long shot. But, it's at least fun and beats out ROTS on that part.
     
  11. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    TPM is a lush, gorgeous movie with a texture and visceral grittiness missing from the two other films in the Prequel Trilogy. Shooting the movie on actual celluloid film stock instead of digitally helped contribute to the film feeling more "real" and tangible. Most of the settings weren't too outlandish which contributed to helping ground the movie and preventing it from becoming too campy and over-the-top. The set pieces didn't venture too much into Playstation game mode.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  12. Gavin70

    Gavin70 Commander Red Shirt

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    It's not a great movie by any standard, but that's a criticism that could be made of any of the Star Wars movies really. There were a few mis-steps (Jar Jar being the key one and I'd have preferred Anakin to be a bit older - mid-teens - and a little bit darker). But I think most of the criticisms were from adult Star Wars fans who'd had their own ideas about what they wanted and were upset when what they got didn't match up to their expectations. For what it's worth, my kids loved TPM when they first saw it and thought Jar Jar was great. The general opinion of those who were adult viewers of TPM (not the rabid fans, but the more casual ones) is not dissimilar to my parents' thoughts about ANH when we first saw it in 1977 - ok but nothing special.
     
  13. Mach5

    Mach5 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When I first saw it in the theater back in 1999 (in early October, because movies didn't open worldwide simultaneously until 2002), I was honestly blown away by how gorgeous it looked (and sounded). I must admit I did not go in with a specific set of expectations at all, which allowed me to enjoy it to full extent.

    Jon Williams' score is inarguably a masterpiece, and the feels some of the tracks give me to this day ("Anakin's Theme", "Duel of the Fates") cannot be put to words. Nostalgia is probably a factor, I concede that much.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Antonovus

    Antonovus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This post is helping see past Binksy and appreciate other elements of the film. Thanks.
     
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  15. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    EP 1 has the best music and lightsaber battles of the prequel and so far sequels.
    If only they had made Anakin older and gave Jar Jar less screen time It may have been a better movie
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Recently picked up a VHS with film cell and art book. Will post some scans later on to celebrate.

    I can still recall watching it, but the one thing that the film did for me was hooked me in to SW books even more. I highly recommend (yes, even now that its 20 years) reading the novelization and some of the junior "journal" style books, including Maul, Anakin and Padme's POV. The novel offers some expanded scenes that really inform the characters more.

    TPM was a film that I could get really immersed in to the backstory. It felt separate enough from the OT that it felt like a brand new world.
     
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  17. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I saw this in theaters when it first came out, I was not quite 9 (5 months away from 9), and I only rally remember two things: I liked it better then I do now (I was more impressed by the action stuff), but I did not like Jar Jar. I'm not saying this as a hindsight thing, I remember genuinely not liking him. I didn't hate him as much as I do now, but I know he bugged me even at age 8-9, so even when I was the age that Lucas made Jar Jar for, I still didn't like the character. Anakin I don't remember caring about either way, I know that as a kid I didn't like kids taking time in shows/movies mostly about adults. If I'm watching a cool show about heroes or space wizards or whatever I wanted to watch the cool characters, not stupid kids wandering around.

    As for my feelings nowadays, TPM is a better movie then AoTC, but its still a legitimately bad film with only a few scenes worth watching. It was a bad movie made by a guy who had lost all ability to write, and only surrounded himself with yes men, and I feel sorry for all the actors involved who had to read the shit dialog or be directed by someone who seems like he is unaware of those things called "emotions" or how real people act. I've watched the movie several times over the years obviously, and I'm sure I will rewatch it in the future, but that's more because I'm a nerd then anything.

    It really is pretty much as bad as people say, only managing to not be THE worst because of just how bad the Anakin stuff is in AoTC.
     
  18. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Anakin's Theme" is arguably John Williams' best composition since the Saving Private Ryan soundtrack.
     
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  19. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The callbacks and final overt use of "The Imperial March (Vader's Theme)" is really good and its use in the credits gives a final indication of the long game of the Prequels.
     
  20. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    It's my favorite score from any film. Ever.
     
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