Reading tonight/reappraising Star Wars: THE PHANTOM MENACE

I’ll be reading at Flights of Fantasy Books in Albany, NY tonight at 7 p.m. If you’re local, stop on by!

And on an unrelated note: I was watching STAR WARS Episode One again last night, and realized something about it. Which is: the first ten minutes are pretty much perfect. The Jedi diplomatic mission, the double-cross, the frenetic pursuit through the corridors of the trade federation ship . . . that stuff ROCKS. In fact, the movie continues to rock until they invade the planet and we encounter Jar-Jar. I know a lot has been said about that guy, and believe me, I’m not going to offer any incredibly insightful revisionism re his role. You’ll find no new interpretations here. In fact, I’m a staunch traditionalist on this front:  because if I’m right about the first ten minutes of PHANTOM MENACE, then Jar-Jar didn’t just wreck the movie.  He wrecked an awesome movie.


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11 Responses to “Reading tonight/reappraising Star Wars: THE PHANTOM MENACE”

  1. Joni Says:

    Yes, I agree with you how the beginning of the movie was very good, even awesome and went downhill about all the way from there. On the other hand episode 3 had the best ending as Darth Vader (one of the best antagonists ever, IMHO) was born :)

  2. Wired Says:

    The whole story after the first ten minutes became ridiculous and was a slap in the face of all those who adored the first three movies. And Vader’s transformation wasn’t worth watching the following two movies either, as it destroyed one of the coolest villains ever by making him into a petulant whiny emo boy. That’s my basic criticism of the movies: Anakin was far too young, the story was far too cartoony coloured and far too filled with lacklustre comedic relief and beebly-boobly droids. It failed because it was written with an audience of ten year olds in mind.

  3. David Louis Edelman Says:

    Um, I dunno. The problem I had with the first ten minutes — and with those Nemoidians in general — is that I had no idea who the heck this Trade Federation was and why they were blockading Naboo in the first place. It’s never even remotely explained. Nor are we given any reason to care.

    To top it all off, Darth Sidious’ plot doesn’t make any sense, even after you see episodes II and III. If the dude had gotten his way, the blockade would have gone on, nobody would have protested, and he wouldn’t have gotten elected Chancellor.

    Honestly, the problem with Jar-Jar is that he seems like he’s in a different movie altogether. That, and the fact that you can’t understand a word the guy’s saying.

  4. David Williams Says:

    I’m with WIred on this: I think Anakin’s transformation to the dark side wasn’t “epic” enough because when the hero falls, it has to be a serious FALL. Anakin never attained the summit in the first place: he never really transcended his essential pettiness (petulant is a good word to describe it), and to the extent that III was unsatisfying, I think that’s why. IV-VI totally nailed that Campbellian arc; I-III, less so.

    At any rate, I’m (re)watching I-III over the next few days, so I’m sure I’ll have some more thoughts/reappraisals.

    and @ Dave: yeah, we did get the inevitable Lucasism of “I want you to understand these trade federation guys are evil/greedy, though I’m going to give you nothing about the broader context or how I arrive at these judgements.” But I was willing to buy into the Jedi mission and grant him some license on that . . . those first 3 paras don’t leave much room for nuance.

  5. Joni Says:

    Maybe the fall was not epic enough but at least it didn’t destroy otherwise good movie, on the contrary.

  6. David Williams Says:

    would agree that it didn’t wreck the third movie the way Jar-Jar totaled the first. III was entertaining, and let the trilogy end on a strong note.

  7. Wired Says:

    You know, there was an article somewhere on the internet a few years ago (wow, really specific, I know :-p) that pretty much argued that the Empire were in fact the good guys. Without seing I-III I would have found that interesting, but only amusing. Having seen those three, I think the guy makes a good case…

    Ah, here it is. The title even *is* “The Case for the Empire”…

  8. David Williams Says:

    That’s a great essay, thanx for posting.

    This Robert Sawyer material is pretty good too, once he gets to the issue of droids as slaves.

  9. Buford Sorell Says:

    I have to obtain the recent star wars theme on my Tom Tom GPS. Seems like It’s cool!

  10. Marcie Schuttler Says:

    I like the recently released star wars adidas film. It definitely made me laugh.

  11. Wynona Hannaway Says:

    Did you hear about the thief in NY dressed as Darth Vader who held up a bank? Seems like the start of a gag but it was genuine!