Rayzor’s Review: Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Phantom-Menacebb

I love Star Wars and before the Force Awakens is released on December 18th, I am going to spend the next two weeks and look back at the films the have come before.  These posts will go up on Fridays, Mondays and Wednesdays.  The Phantom Menace December 4th, Attack of the Clones on December 7th, Revenge of the Sith on December 9th, A New Hope on December 11th, Empire Strikes Back December 14th and Return of the Jedi on December 16th.  That will lead right up to the Force Awakes review on December 18th.

With the Force Awakens due out in a matter for days, my love affair with Star Wars is at an all-time high.  Even if it will be close to 60 years after the Phantom Menace, I wanted to go back and watch Star Wars.  But this time around, I will have my best buddy, my son watch them with me.  So we started at the beginning of the series, well chronologically anyway.  He is 6 and has seen Star Wars and is a big fan of the Clone Wars and even bigger fan of the Lego games.  He dressed like Kylo Ren for Halloween this year and as I write this, he is waving his lightsaber around fighting droids.  Because kids love the prequels.  So here I am, in full on Star Wars mode and I feel like we need a review of the Star Wars series and why not one year before The Force Awakens.

Set 30 years before Episode IV, A New Hope, the film picks up during a trade dispute between the Trade Federation and the planet Naboo.  The Jedi come to negotiate from the Republic and all kinds of fun happens.  We meet the Queen, Amidala and two Jedi, including Obi wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.  Eventually the Jedi help the Queen to escape Naboo and they head to the capitol of the galaxy, Coruscant.

From there on, we see a crappy podrace, we meet Anakin the annoying kid and Darth Maul, who was awesome.  Let us not forget the terrible puppet, Yoda.  In the original trilogy, the puppet looked great, in this it was terrible and on the blu ray edition, the puppet has been replaced with a CGI Yoda and looks a lot better.

Darth-Maul_632eb5af

My Opinions

Most of the people who know me know I am a huge fan.  When people ask which Star Wars film is my favorite, I have a hard time deciding on which.  Really in my heart, I know The Phantom Menace is probably the worst of all 6 films released.  Here is what I think.

I loved the Phantom Menace when I saw it originally and I have a good story to go a long with that.  But, the acting makes it tough to watch and who is worse to watch Anakin Skywalker or Jar Jar Binks?   I do not have an answer for that, I 12detest the pod racing scene and hate that it was made longer for the home video release.  The film is saved by some hints at the future and a few cool characters, the Jedi, Obi wan and Qui-Gon and then there is Darth Maul.  Queen Amidala/Padme, when she was on screen it was hard to watch, especially the scenes with Anakin, who I think was casted too young.  Making the first film 10 years before the following was a huge mistake.

If I were in charge and wrote the prequel trilogy, Episode I would have been Episode II and I would have had a more Clone Wars type film for Episode II.  I think Anakin should have been closer to Luke’s age for anyone to care, not to mention the Clone Wars were a big part of how Obi wan knew Anakin.  I assumed they met in the Clone Wars and fought together, not 10 years before the Clone Wars.  I of course would not have added such a silly character like Jar Jar Binks, I do feel some of the things with him kinda ruined the film, but a different Gungan, because the under water visuals of the Gungan city were really cool.  Jar Jar is probably the worst thing about any of the Star Wars movies and for many ruined the Phantom Menace and the rest of the prequel trilogy.

1999 Review

downloadWell, looking back to when I saw the film, I thought it was amazing.  If it were not for things like R2D2 and C3PO showing up, this would not have felt like a Star Wars film.  Back then and still today, I do not hate the battle droids, only the way they look, they just don’t look Star Wars to me.  The Jedi were cool, because we got to see pretty much all the different powers of a Jedi and a true duel with a Sith, rather than a broken down old Jedi vs a half man and machine or the kid who barely knew the force vs the half man and machine.  So it was cool and the highlight of the film for me.

In 1999, I was so excited for the release of Episode I, which to me was odd that the episode number was so important, looking back it was better than hearing, “Star Wars part 1″.  At the time it was released, it met and exceeded my expectations and opened up an entirely new Star Wars galaxy for me and others.  It certainly has its place, even if fans think it is the worst Star Wars film of all time.

Where does it fit for me?  I will give a best to worst in Star Wars films after I review the rest of the series.

Theater Experience

Star-Wars-Episode-I-The-Phantom-Menace-3D-Darth-MaulI waited in line 2 weeks prior to the release of this film at a place called the Quad 4 Cinema in my home town.  At the time it was my favorite place to go and it was dying out thanks to multi-pex theaters.  I believe they knew they were dying out and Episode I was a huge deal to prove they could compete with the big boys.

So the night of the film, it was of course a mid night showing of the film.  Well everyone was excited and when the logos popped up on the screen we all when crazy and there was a standing ovation from from crowd when we heard the theme.  This was one event for the ages for me.  Things were great, for a lot of the fans, we had not seen Star Wars in the theater, unless we go back to 1997 when the trilogy was release as a special edition.  So this was huge, almost a “where were you” moment for geeks.

The movie started and I was glued, watching Obi wan and Qui-gon tearing through battle droids and when the got the “bongo” for Boss Nass and were on their way to Theed, the palace where Queen Amidala lives.  The sound started acting up and finally just stopped.  We still had picture, but the sound was gone.  Come to find out, the Manager of the building announced the sound system had just been upgraded that day and it hadn’t been tested.  He offered to refund the money to people or we could wait it out and see what happened.  I decided to wait it out.

A little after 2 a.m. me and the friends I was with were hanging out in the lobby when the other theater was released and of course, spoilers were flying left and right and some restless Star Wars fans took offense and there was some action.  I took my drink and popcorn back in and sat down when the manager came back in around 3 a.m. to let us know, it was time for one last shot.  The sound worked and the movie played and I loved it.  Even if it were near 6 a.m. when I got home.

On a side note, the Quad 4 Cinema did not make it to the year 2000.  It was a shame, I had seen so many movies there.  When they opened a 10 and 15 cinema in my area, all the smaller theaters died out.  It is a shame, I loved the smaller 2 or 4 screen theaters.  The Wild Wild West, with Will Smith was the last film I saw there, I believe it closed its doors that summer.  It may have made it to 2000, RIP Quad 4 Cinema 1966-2000.  Oh by the way nearly 15 years later, the building is still there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *