In A Galaxy Far Far Away – The Phantom Menace

I’ve wanted to do a Star Wars nerd explosion for a while now, and Star Wars Day was this week, so I figured, why not now? So, let’s go through the saga in order! It’s gonna be fun. I promise. I’m not going to include the TV series (EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM!) because I’ll probably go through them via my Tumblr which is terrible and you should totally follow it.

So, let’s look at The Phantom Menace!

Stop complaining! Stop it!

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Episode Number: 1 — Released: 1999 — Production Number: 4

Star Wars Returns

So, like, I remember the crushing disappointment that accompanied the release of this film…but I also remember the insane ubiquity of everything that accompanied it. Remember that podracer game? That was pretty sweet, right? And Darth Maul was amazing! And every marching band ever either played or wished their could play “Duel of the Fates” (which is a SUPER nerdy observation, but I was in marching band at the time, so sue me…but don’t, because I’m broke).

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I don’t remember people getting super excited for any future Star Wars films until the end of Attack of the Clones. But I think this movie, for all its faults, kept Star Wars relevant. It created a bunch of new fans who were totally OK with Jar Jar and the insane CGI battles who then grew up and fueled the insane fan reaction to The Force Awakens. This movie was totally necessary.

I would also like to state for the record that I like Jar Jar. If you wish to take my nerd card away, so be it. But I will not be deterred!

So Much CGI

One of the things people complain about is the use of CGI, but like this movie is freaking beautiful, you guys.

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It’s huge and sweeping and the characters are amazing and everything’s pretty. So. Very. Pretty.

So what if there are an uncomfortable number of “Yipee’s” in this film (seriously, they’re everywhere…). And I could have done without Panaka the Wet Blanket (I’m much more of a fan of Captain Typho in AotC). But this is a fun movie and it looks great and it sounds great, so all of you whiners who can’t follow a plot that contains animated characters, you just sit yourself down and give this one a re-watch, because it’s actually aged pretty well.

(in Palpatine’s voice) Do it!

Guardians of Peace and Justice

Hands down, the main contributors to this one’s awesomeness factor are the Jedi. Yoda’s cool, but he won’t hit his high point until the next one. Ditto with Mace Windu. But like, Qui Gon Jinn is probably the biggest bamf in the galaxy and I’m super depressed we don’t get more of him.

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Also, you could legitimately just re-write the entire Taken series and insert Qui Gon in there and have him carving a (cauterized) murder swatch through hordes of bad guys in search of the folks who kidnapped his padawan (maybe the one before Obi-Wan because Obi-Wan doesn’t really strike me as being especially damselly).

Red and Black

Also, Darth Maul is basically the coolest bad guy ever. Like, he’s so amazing that if he was sent to murder me in my sleep (because I dunno), I would be legitimately honored and would probably just let him do it.

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It makes me sad that he gets knocked out of the picture at the end, BUT, it’s OK because he has a pretty amazing arc in The Clone Wars and Rebels, so we get closure. Also, even the complain-iest of complainers will have to admit to experiencing a rush of fanatical giddiness when Maul revealed that his lightbaser had two blades. Like that’s just iconic right there and if you don’t like it, you’re dumb and I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.

“Are you an angel?”

OK, so perhaps Itty Bitty Anakin was too fresh-faced and happy and wholesome for most folks. I get that. I wished he’d been a bit less squeaky clean myself, but you can’t help but cheer for him. And though it’s literally the most pointless scene in the movie, dammit, I love the podrace sequence. Like, it’s just so well edited and cool and awesome and exciting.

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And then we have Padme, who will forever be marked at That Girl That Had Terrible Taste in Men, but this movie shows us how awesome she is! She’s naive, but she grows up and goes from Hedging Figurehead to Activist Soldier. And her wardrobe gives me life. I would die (and not of suffocation or heatstroke, either!) to get to wear something even half as grand as she.

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*dreamy sigh*

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*another dreamy sigh*

Every single one of her dresses (except maybe that dour gray number she wears when she decides to return to Naboo, ugh) deserves an Oscar. I mean she deserves an Oscar too, because she’s wonderful (have you seen Black Swan!?!?) but her dressmaker deserves to be buried in awards.

Cityscapes

I know most of this serves no NARRATIVE purpose, but I am completely addicted to those sweeping establishing shots that introduce every planet. Even that one from RotJ that’s just a bunch of green trees on Endor. I love it.

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And sure it’s computer generated, but like…how else would one do it? Flat matte paintings are fine, but digital matte paintings are just so much deeper and richer! Like, I know the name Theed is kind of weird, but LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS!

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And Jar Jar’s city is awesome enough that it ALMOST (but not quite) beats out Cloud City as my favorite Star Wars locale ever.

Greedy Squabbling Delagates

So, I know everyone was kind of all “politics, ew” when they first saw this, but I totally recommend you read Darth Plagueis.

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I think it was written JUUUUST as Lucasfilm began retooling their canon of novels (which had gotten super huge and was full of contraditions) but it doesn’t really fly in the face of anything that’s been established, so it still COULD be considered canon. Anyway, it does such a good job of explaining why the taxation of trade routes being in dispute could send the Republic into turmoil that I was literally in awe that economics and politics could ever be so interesting. Granted there’s Sith involved, but you know what I mean.

But even so, I love the political maneuverings in this one. We’ve got Palpatine whispering in Padme’s ear as he pushes himself into position to become chancellor, which is one of my favorite scenes.

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You get a sense of just how ridiculous and over-inflated this political system is that you kind of want Palpatine to rip it to pieces… I mean, I don’t condone fascist dictatorships that take away people’s freedoms, OBVIOUSLY, but if you don’t KNOW that he’s evil just yet, you do root for him.

Which reminds me, how did i know in 1999 that Senator Palpatine was obviously the Emperor? He’s never called Palpatine in RotJ… Mysterious… I guess it would have been the novels…

Anyway!

Conclusion

You are allowed to not like this one. That’s valid and I won’t judge you (much). But you should totally give this one another go.

If for no other reason than to enjoy John Williams’ sublime score and Padme’s amazing wardrobe and Qui Gon’s bamf-ness and the podracer sequence. Seriously, there’s good stuff here.

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So, I will leave you alone for now until I assault you with more incoherent nerd ramblings next week as I revisit Attack of the Clones!

In the meantime, what is your favorite thing about this one?

Or, because I like starting fights on the internet with strangers, what didn’t you like about it?

Or, if you don’t like opinions that could lead to disagreements (you pacifists, you), what kind of lightsaber is your favorite (and if you say anything other than a double-bladed red lightsaber, you’re wrong).

I told you I like starting fights…

Ciao!

 

What Have I Seen This Week?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is pretty cliche-ridden, but the characters are intensely likable and the humor is amazing. Three out of Five Stars.

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4 thoughts on “In A Galaxy Far Far Away – The Phantom Menace

    • I’ve actually written a Marvel by Numbers post for it, which has been added to the queue! I wanted to give it a couple weeks, so as to avoid spoilers since its difficult to discuss certain categories without giving stuff away. But it’s coming!

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  1. I know this movie is far, far from perfect but I love it. It holds a special place in my heart, I remembered being swept along back in 1999 in all the hype and loving every minute. G

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