The Phantom Menace 3D
February 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
By W.B. Preston
This week I was bombarded with Menace sympathizers. They seemed to pop up everywhere, emboldened by the 3D release of the first installment of the Star Wars Saga. Armed with their talking points, these sympathizers finally revealed themselves to the public as staunch defenders of George Lucas and the prequel that completed his transformation to the dark side. A transformation that began, some say with the ewoks, but i contend with the special edition changes that took place in the mid 90′s. I was 14 when the Menace was released, and was well versed in the Star Wars lore by this time. I was not versed in film technique and screenplay format or any of the technical aspects of film making. But this film marked the beginning of my realization that films were made by people, and some people made films better than others.
I had seen The Matrix for the first time only a few months prior to seeing the Menace. Truth is I had seen The Matrix 8 times prior to seeing the Menace. The Matrix opened my eyes to the fact that anything you could imagine could be displayed on the big screen. SO my anticipation was palpable in the days before the Menace was released. If the Wachowski’s, who were relative newcomers to Hollywood could do This with film, I could not imagine what the legendary George Lucas was about to expose my 14 year old mind to. SO cut to opening day of the Phantom Menace, I’m sitting midway through the packed theater with my family, at about noon. I got my popcorn and my soda and I’m ready to experience a new Star Wars adventure for the first time since I was 7. And what does the master of Sci Fi give us? A snooze fest. A boring plodding, anti climactic, soulless, trek through the deserts of Tatooine and the swamps of Naboo. This was slightly devastating, for Star Wars had been the Holy Grail of film for me up until that point. I say slightly because there was now The Matrix. A sleek, fast, action packed, psychological thrill ride that I could devour for a few years until it too was ruined by its inferior sequels.
And before you Menace apologists try to attack me with the argument that the Matrix is rated R and Menace is for kids, let me stop you there. The Matrix is amazing, not because there is violence, not because there is cursing. It’s amazing because of the focused plot and gripping storyline. Its amazing because it takes you to places you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Shows you things you didn’t think you could see. So I am completely sick and tired of you Menace sympathizers who claim that The Phantom Menace is just as corny and stilted as A New Hope. Give me a break. Sure A New Hope is not gonna win any awards for it’s dialogue, but at least it has a coherent plot line. At least it is fast paced and includes a relate-able central character whom the audience can cheer for, and fear for his life. No one gives a piss about Anakin in the Menace. We know he is going to survive, but if he didn’t, would anyone care? The screenplay is incompetent at best, and lazy at worst.
Then there’s this sentiment that the Menace contains the greatest of all Light Sabre battles. If you’re talking about choreography and technical aptitude, then you are absolutely correct. The Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Maul battle is excellence. Too bad we didn’t care about the outcome, cause we didn’t care about the characters. We knew Obi-Wan would Survive, so no suspense there, Maul might as well have been a plank of wood cause he had no character development, no story arc, and relatively nothing to do. Qui-Gon Jinn is obviously the strongest link here, due to the fact that he was played by Liam Neeson, and he was the fatherly figure of the film. You could argue that he is the protagonist of the film, but it doesn’t bode well for your script when you kill off your most relate-able and liked character. In sum, there is more emotion and audience investment in the 5 minute Obi-Wan Vs. Vader battle in A new Hope than all of the prequel trilogy combined. The audience is fully invested in Luke by that point of the movie, when Obi-Wan is cut down everyone yells NOOO! along with Luke, because we are completely on board with everything about that movie. So I would argue the best Light Sabre duel is Luke vs. Vader in Return of the Jedi, because there is just so much on the line. Of course Lucas had to ruin that scene as well, with the release of the Blu-Ray boxed set. -W.B. Preston
- Did ‘Phantom Menace’kill ‘The Matrix’? (popwatch.ew.com)
- Movie Reviews: Star Wars I – The Phantom Menace (in 2D) (mfinocchiaro.wordpress.com)
- Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) See ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3D’ (hollywood.com)
- Review: Phantom Menace Bores, Annoys (Now in 3-D!) (wired.com)
- Geeky Minimalist Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Movie Posters (techeblog.com)
- Our review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, as printed in 1999 (arts.nationalpost.com)
- Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Friday Flicks: Jar Jar Binks Is Back. In 3D. Is Anyone Excited? (newsfeed.time.com)
- About The Time That I Loved The Phantom Menace (news.moviefone.com)
- Awesome Fan-Made STAR WARS Art for THE PHANTOM MENACE (geektyrant.com)