Yeah, so, since I have a little time on my hands these days (thanks, chemotherapy) I’ve decided to re-watch all the “Star Wars” movies.
As you all know, the original trilogy is my favorite, but I haven’t seen the prequels since I saw them in the theater. Perhaps that makes me a bad “Star Wars” fan, but overall I was disappointed in the prequels, and I didn’t care to revisit them. But, with the new “Star Wars” movie coming out in December, I decided now is good time to revisit all the movies.
There is a lot of debate out there on which order the movies should be watched: theatrical order or chronological order. Some people recommend watching them in the “machete order,” which is Episode 4, 5 followed by 2 and 3, ending with Episode 6 (and skipping “Phantom Menace” completely). If I was playing these movies to my son, I would show them in theatrical release order – Episode 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3. Obviously, I’ve seen all the movies, and I have decided to watch them in chronological order.
This blog post is the first in a series about my experience revisiting the “Star Wars” movies. If that’s too geeky for you, well, I’m surprised you were reading this blog in the first place.
So, let’s start with “Phantom Menace.”
I saw “Phantom Menace” in the theater three times in 1999, and I haven’t seen it since. I remember really wanting to love it. I didn’t. I always tried to focus on the parts of the movie I enjoyed (Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul), and I tried to forget the parts I hated (midichlorians, Jar Jar Binks).
This time around, I enjoyed the movie more, probably because my expectations were pretty low. The film is still flawed. The story is a bit of a yawn (trade blockades – wheee!) The dialogue is awkward (“Are you an angel?”). And some of the performances are flat (Natalie Portman talks like a droid throughout most of the film). The idea of midichlorians is stupid as hell. And, Jar Jar Binks is still terrible – really, really terrible. I’m embarrassed for the film whenever he is on screen.
I know people hate the pod race. It’s an unnecessary action scene, and it makes the movie longer than it needs to be, but I still think the pod race is kinda exciting. I liked Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn even more this time. What a bummer they killed him off in this movie. I would have liked to see more of him, but I understand that they had to set up Obi-Wan Kenobi training Anakin Skywalker in the future films. And, oh yes, Anakin, aka Annie. He wasn’t my favorite when I first saw the movie, but now … I kinda like him. However, in “Phantom Menace,” Anakin is a sweet little boy, and it’s difficult to believe he’s going to grow up to become Darth Vader. There’s nothing dark about him. He’s a good kid. I know that the actor Jake Lloyd was loathed by “Star Wars” fans, but I think he’s performance is fine. It’s not complete garbage. It’s possible that being the mother of a young boy has softened me. Also, knowing what I know about the future movies, it’s creepy that Anakin and Amidala get together. In “Phantom Menace” there’s a 10-year age difference, and they have more of a brother-sister vibe, so their eventual hook up is kinda gross to me.
Of course, the coolest thing in “Phantom Menace” is Darth Maul. He was such a badass character that they just wasted in this movie. They gave him one kick ass fight scene with Jinn and Kenobi and then cut him in half. The end. What a missed opportunity. He would have been a great character to keep around for just a little bit longer.
At first the slow pacing and the introduction of Jar Jar had me wondering if I had the patience to make it through the entire movie, but once it got going, I was entertained by “Phantom Menace.” Like I said, I think low expectations worked in its favor. I didn’t love it, and it is nowhere near as good as the movies in the original trilogy.
Up next is “Attack of the Clones.”
Have you revisited the “Star Wars” movies recently? What did you think of “Phantom Menace?”