Finally, due to popular demand, the "Star Wars" films will be reviewed here on Blood Brothers. So naturally, its only fair to start with the first episode (not the first film mind you) and thusly I was to revisit the cinematic atrocity that is "The Phantom Menace". Although "Star Wars" fans are sure to enjoy it just for the sake that its a "Star Wars" film, this one is by far the worse. Why is that you ask? Let's hit the synopsis then work our way down the list.
Two Jedi's in the future are sent to resolve a trade dispute. Obi Wan (McGregor) and Qui-Gon (Neeson), our two Jedis, suddenly find themselves hunted down and in the middle of an invasion of Naboo. With the help of a new friend Jar Jar, a native of the planet, Queen Amidala (Portman), and of course a young Anakin Skywalker (Lloyd), the shambled crew plans to thwart the invasion and uncover a larger conspiracy just in the initial stages.
Alright, lets start with what worked in "The Phantom Menace". Firstly, the visuals are kind of cool. Combining guys in suits like the older trilogy and the new state of the art CGI work (in 99 it was state of the art anyway), the film really has a sleek visual style combing the old and the new. Lucas, as a director had a knack for the epic visuals and he brings those to the table in some stunningly cool action sequences. This part of "The Phantom Menace" is pretty damn cool.
Secondly...unfortunately, that's about all that this film has going for it. There is plenty that DOESN'T work for the film that I could rant and rave on for eons. So I'm going to just simplify my review down into the top 10 things that suck about this movie.
10. Darth Maul: the potential for this seriously scary looking Sith bad ass who carries a double barreled Light Saber, speaks no words, and is played by Ray Park should have been amazing. What we get with the hype is a handful of minutes on screen and one cool fight towards the end that never really fulfills my need for a good villain in the film.
09. Finding out Jedi powers come from random life forms called midi-chlorians that live in cells: Talk about taking the mystery out of the damn picture! It's a half assed explanation to where the powers come from for certain people that really explains nothing. They didn't tell me anything expect that there is a reason and that reason is unexplainable even though its a reason that science can detect through a blood sample. WHAT?!?!?!
08. The awkward relationship between Amidala and Anakin: It's pretty easy to figure out (at least if you saw the original trilogy) that this is the relationship that produces our heroes in the later films. With an adult woman in Portman (who was 18 at the time, which is basically an adult) and Lloyd (who was 10) supposedly blossoming into romance, it just sits wrong in many ways by my social standing. Makes for some seriously awkward scenes.
07. CGI monsters and 'exciting moments': This goes along with the next item on the list, but it has to be mentioned that just because you can CGI in giant fish eating each other (multiple times) doesn't mean you should. Too much of this hinders the time that could be spent on real things like...I don't know...characters, perhaps?
06. Random scenes that mean nothing: Watching the Hutts flick a CGI small animal off the ledge of a tall building during the Podrace means nothing to me. In fact, it means nothing to the film at all expect to have a random scene that is completely irrelevant. Most of the scenes are meant to be humorous (the two headed announcer anyone?) but fail at that most of the time. Thusly, adding nothing to the film.
05. Leaps of logic for the sake of time: Yes, the two Jedi's travel by submarine through the center of a planet in minutes to the other side without a map, without any idea of the planet's structure, or with any supplies. This is just the first of MANY times this film bypasses logic (even in a fantasy/science fiction plane) for the sake of keeping it going.
04. The pacing: The first 20 minutes of this film is like a serious sprinting of plot leaps that leaves the audience in a flurry of trying to catch up. It then dive bombs into serious doldrums of too much talking and drug out character work that leads NOWHERE only to end in a massive action sequence with no plot work.
03. The acting: With the stunningly solid ensemble cast of Academy Award winners and cult icons, this should have been a no brainer. Yet, somehow Lucas is able to make all of them feel forced and stiff in all of their work onscreen. How the hell do you screw with Neeson and make him seem bad? I don't know ask Lucas. Some of it does have to do with a few other items on the list, like....
02.The dialogue: If there was ever any proof needed that Lucas needs to go to script writing school, it's this film. Combined with the God-awful acting, the dialogue is atrocious at best. It's awkward. Faulty. Oddly timed. And just plain silly more often than not. Trying to follow it takes quite a bit of effort and saps some of the fun out of the film.
01. You knew it was coming. JAR JAR FUCKING BINKS. With his horrible dialect, CGI awkwardness, and irritating scenes of stupidity that repeat over and over and over and over and over again, by his second scene on screen I was borderline suicidal. And homicidal. I was ready to kill anything associated with the damn character. Of course, he's one of the main characters of the film...so...yeah....that ruins most of the movie.
As you can tell, I have a severe distaste for "The Phantom Menace". Luckily, most of the films get better from this moment on but if you're wise you only watch this one for the sake of watching all of them. Otherwise, I suggest skipping this one.
DARTH VADER'S BAD ASS MOMENT OF THE FILM: The fact that Anakin Skywalker not only uses his spare time to build Pods and robots, but that he uses it to make USELESS robots is pretty bad ass. Who the hell wants C3PO around? He does nothing useful like sweep, clean dishes, or do the labor for the slaves. Nope, Anakin is such a bad ass he says 'you know what? I'm so smart and bad ass, I don't need logic to build my shit'. That. Is. Bad. Ass.
Written By Matt Reifschneider