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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1998)

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If it were the first...
Friday, May 1, 2020

If it were the first "Star Wars" movie, "The Phantom Menace" would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But this is the fourth movie of the famous series, and we think we know the territory; many of the early reviews have been blase, paying lip service to the visuals and wondering why the characters aren't better developed. How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov story "Nightfall," about the planet where the stars were visible only once in a thousand years. So awesome was the sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen. "Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace," to cite its full title, is an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking. If some of the characters are less than compelling, perhaps that's inevitable: This is the first story...

So I watched this at...
Monday, May 10, 2021

So I watched this at a midnight screening when it was released (the first time midnight screenings happened...). The blast of horns for John Willams' score occurred and the title scrawl happened, droidikas appeared - I had a buzz going. But that buzz got less and less as the film wore on. Jar Jar appeared...and then Anakin trying to crack onto Padme...Darth Maul appeared and I got excited, but the dialogue continued like a child had written it and the excitement had dissipated by the time the Pod Race started. It was the first time I had really been deeply disappointed by a movie. The came the Lego Star Wars games...and this movie became alright. Probably because Lucas had made this film for kids (hence the overly simple plot and dialogue), is why it worked so well with Lego characters miming scenes. I have watched this now countless times as a part of the 4-6, 1-3...

***Solid return of the franchise...
Friday, May 1, 2020

***Solid return of the franchise after 16 years, highlighted by Liam Neeson*** A Jedi Knight & his apprentice (Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) escape a blockade with their new Gungan friend, Jar Jar Binks, and the handmaiden of Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Upon damaging their vessel, they find sanctuary on a planet where they meet a slave boy, a gifted pilot and engineer, who may be the prophesied “Chosen One.” Meanwhile, the supposedly extinct Sith resurface, including Darth Maul (Ray Park). "Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace" (1999) is the fourth Star Wars film and the first of the prequel trilogy, followed by “Attack of the Clones” (2002) and “Return of the Sith” (2005). It marked writer/director George Lucas’ return to the popular franchise after 16 years, the previous film being “Return of the Jedi” (1983). Star Wars is fantasy packaged as science-fiction or “space fantasy” whereas Star Trek is dramatic science-fiction in a space-travel context...

A huge drop off the...
Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A huge drop off the original trilogy. I still like it, mind. I do have split feelings about 'Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace' though. One positive is the casting, which is well done. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are strong choices to enter the franchise, I enjoyed both of them. Jake Lloyd does a fine job in his role, while the likes of Terence Stamp, Samuel L. Jackson and Keira Knightley also feature. Natalie Portman appears too, but I honestly never really cared for her lot's side of the story. Ahmed Best, meanwhile, is very hit-and-miss as Jar Jar Binks. Speaking of Binks, the CGI is rather iffy in this fourth installment of 'Star Wars'. Of course it did come out in 1999, but other films from that era and beyond have aged better in these terms. The score is, at least, more than up to scratch. Overall, I'm OK...

Frankly, this film is terrible...
Friday, May 1, 2020

Frankly, this film is terrible, and the producers were obviously banking on the original Star Wars coming back all excited, and didn't bother come up with a good story. What's wrong? Well -- (1) The virtuous Obiwan Kenobi talks an admiring young boy to participate in a dangerous race so that he can bet on the boy and win the money he needs for his mission. Sounds like the later movie HUNGER GAMES, except that in HUNGER GAMES we're expected to despise people who bet on children's lives. (2) The young boy befriends a teenage girl who is presumably 6 or 7 years older. Come the next movie, they're suddenly the same age so that they can have a love affair. Are they of different species that age at different rates, or did the writers simply not plan ahead? (3) The boy's mother tells Obiwan that she gave birth to the boy without having sex...

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