Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace 3D Review (Part 2 – The Movie)
You know a movie is bad, when you have no idea where to start when reviewing it. That’s EXACTLY what the problem with the Phantom Menace is. It is so BAD, I feel like all the bad just cancels each other out, creating one big ‘nothing’. Really.
I think I’ll just start with the storyline because George Lucas should know better. We start out the movie with the classic Star Wars opening ‘crawl’. Basically, we learn that something is going on with the galactic trade routes, and the Trade Federation has a blockade around the planet of Naboo, stopping all shipping to the planet (sounds SO interesting, right?) Oh, and two Jedi are on their way to peacefully ‘resolve’ the matter. You know a movie’s going to be bad when even the opening is slow. Obi-Wan’s quote in the beginning of the film, “I have a bad feeling about this,” is just Ewan McGregor warning us about the turmoil ahead. After only about 3 minutes of slow-as-molasses storytelling, we finally get to see the all-mighty Jedi. You know – the slow talking, clueless type. Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi make the lamest entrance possible, with absolutely no action. They simply dock their ship, and SIT. That’s it. They SIT. And that’s what they do virtually the entire film. Even if they’re standing up, or ‘running’ it feels as though their sitting. Every single scene is just slow. SO SLOW. I just-I have no words. The rest of the plot unfolds like this – the Jedi fail, badly, at resolving the conflict with the Trade Federation. Then, they run into…dare I say it…Jar-Jar Binks (the not-so-phantom menace), then they find the Queen of Naboo (taken hostage during the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo), and while escorting her to Coruscant, they end up having to land on Tattooine. Here, they meet the slave, Anakin Skywalker (the chosen one), he wins a podrace, Qui-Gon Jinn gets him freed from slavery, leaving behind Anakin’s mother in the process. Then, they finally get to Coruscant and some confusing, uninteresting stuff happens and people sit around on cheap couches and discuss politics. Then, the Queen of Naboo decides to go back to “be with her people” and this is (finally) the beginning of the end of the movie. The Queen makes peace with the Gungans, who ‘aid’ her in the struggle to get her planet back from the Trade Federation. And then at some point, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fight Darth Maul (who makes like 3 cameos through out the whole movie). Maul kills Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan kills Maul. Obi-Wan promises Qui-Gon to train Anakin to become a Jedi, which he does…and then there’s a cheesy parade at the end where the Queen hands the Gungan leader a glowing, CGI-generated ball. Yup, there’s the entire 2+ hour film. I’m falling asleep just thinking about it.
Other than how lousy the script and plot is, the acting is terrible. In fact, there is NO acting. None whatsoever. I refuse to believe Liam Neeson was even in this film. It was actually his untalented, evil twin brother from hell, “Lame” Neeson. Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of young Obi-Wan Kenobi is weak, and he comes across as an annoying, whiny character – at least during the few times he actually gets to speak. George Lucas seems to have a habit of creating whiny characters, as this is one of the biggest problems with Anakin Skywalker in the next 2 films. Now, I have never been a real Padmé Amidala fan, but why couldn’t Natalie Portman just show a little enthusiasm for her character? The same goes for Keira Knightley, whose portrayal of Padmé’s body double could put to sleep even the most die-hard Star Wars fan. Also, who cast Jake Lloyd for Anakin Skywalker? I get that the script was awful and the kid didn’t have much to work with, but geez, he’s supposed to be the ‘Jesus Christ’ of The Force! If this is George Lucas’s idea of a ‘prophecy child’, I can’t imagine how he’d do a film based on the Bible (and no, that is not a challenge, that last thing this world needs is George Lucas’s take on religion). And, are you telling me Anakin’s mother, Shmi, is a ‘virgin mother’? She treated Anakin as if he was just some kid living in her house! Again – NO WORDS to describe this movie, absolutely NONE. And, forgive me, but Samuel Jackson as Mace Windu makes me laugh. All he does is stroke his chin. I can’t take a single scene with him in it seriously, and a “Snakes on a Plane” reference is always too fitting to pass up.
Oh, and another thing about this film. It has virtually NO genre. The Teletubbies tv show was more science-fiction than this. I have dubbed it “lifestyle” because it seems to be the only thing that will fit. This movie fits right alongside a ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ marathon on TLC. I’ve seen better acting on QVC. Did NO ONE tell George Lucas how much this movie sucked while filming it? I don’t know about you, but if my work was as bad as the Phantom Menace, I’d want someone to tell me. Anyway, I now understand why my “Star Wars” movie marathons were always so unsuccessful. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get through the first chronological film (and the 2nd, if you’re really hyped-up on caffeine and last more than 2 hours). In fact, since George Lucas likes to change things so much, I give him permission to re-do the prequel trilogy (or at least the Phantom Menace), on ONE condition – he neither writes, nor directs it. In fact, he should have no involvement at all. I don’t know why seeing this in the movie theater actually made it WORSE of a film for me, it seriously made me question my love of Star Wars. I just can’t accept this movie as real. I just can’t. I was waiting for someone to come and tell me I’d been Punk’d. I think the majority of Star Wars fans have been waiting for that moment for 13 years now. Can George Lucas just come out and tell us that this movie was all a prank? And that the actual version is yet to be released? PLEASE!