So, anyway, a brief introduction since this is a little new. I do want to continue working through the 111 Star Wars Stories You Can’t Live Without list, just because it is a fun list (mainly because it’s so often totally wrong-headed). But the creation of the new “real” canon is intriguing to me, so I’ve decided to kind of start exploring that as well. Even as I continue focusing on the “Legends” stuff and building my own personal canon out of it, I thought it would be fun to slip in reviews of the new “Canon” material. So, I’m starting on the timeline of Canon Media on Wookieepedia and every ten reviews (or so; depending on what I figure out for that 111 Stories list) I want to look at an entry on that list as a way of kind of grappling with what Star Wars is becoming currently.
I don’t know if this makes sense. Mainly it’s a way for me to be able to go ahead and jump into some of the later entries on the timeline (the 111 Stories list is kind of the same thing) and talk about them with you guys without having to wait years and years to actually get to them in the chronological journey. Anyway, I hope it’ll be fun and spark some interesting discussion.
So, this is a repost/edit of a review I wrote previously about the first entry on the list, Episode I. This was, interestingly enough, one of the, if not the very most, controversial reviews from the original thread. Some prequel defenders even argued I shouldn’t have reviewed the movie at all since it’s an actual Star Wars movie and not part of the EU. I mean, that’s just dumb, but a lot of prequel defenders really disliked this review and understandably so, since I hate Episode I. But anyway, it’s the first entry in the True Canon or whatever it’s getting called these days. So here it is. Enjoy (or not).
*So, yeah, I saw this movie twice back in 1999; didn't like it at all and haven't really seen it since. So, it'll be interesting to revisit.
*So, here’s an Editor’s Note: when this review was originally posted, I had actually reached The Phantom Menace chronologically, so I’d been spending a lot of time building up to it. So, I talk in this review at great length about how reading all the pre-TPM EU improved the movie in a lot of ways and really brought home just what a big moment TPM is in the GFFA chronology. Since I’m jumping ahead and reposting this review early, we, of course, haven’t spent all that time talking about the build-up. But all that stuff I say is such a big part of the review that I really just have to leave it. So, this review, unfortunately, references a lot of stuff we haven’t talked about at all in this thread. Probably, you’ve read a lot of it though so you should be able to follow along. Okay, back to the original review.
*But here’s a profoundly mythic moment. To date we've had really four major plot threads: Anakin on Tatooine; Naboo's political upheaval; the Jedi; the Sith dealing with the Trade Fed.
*Over the past few months (timeline), we've seen King Veruna and Sate Pestage meet for clandestine reasons; we've seen Veruna indicted for treason and then die; we've seen the rise of a new queen. And we've seen Ric Olie state the obvious.
*We've seen the Sith make deals with the trade fed. We've been following Sidious and Maul for twelve years now, from their first meeting in Hate Leads to Lollipops to the various training exercises of stories like Marked and Nameless. We've begun to see a final overarching plan: Saboteur had Sidious and Maul doing their part for the Trade Fed. The Trade Fed is firmly in their pocket, in the person of Nute Gunray, who was suddenly and shockingly elevated to a position of greater power and influence in Cloak of Deception. And then we saw Maul chase down a traitorous Trade Fed member in Darth Maul and Shadow Hunter. Finally, we saw the Trade Fed and Sidious and Maul working toward a shipment of battle droid spaceships in the Episode I Adventures.
*The Jedi of course we've followed for millennia, but pertinently, we've followed Qui and Obi for eleven years of oil and water relationship.
*And now suddenly, all these things are colliding; Qui and Obi are on a collision course with the Trade Fed and, where else, it's over the skies of Naboo.
*So, yeah, the EU helps; it actually makes this feel rather mythic.
*I'm reminded of the humorous version that involved a line approximate to: "I sense an awful lot of fear surrounding something so boring to this movie's eight year old audience as a Trade Federation Blockade."
*I'm sorry, the Neimodians just look stupid.
*Well, that's about as blatant a steal from Forbidden Planet as you can get . . .
*Damn. Jar Jar's still annoying.
*Seriously, two minutes he's on screen and I'm grinding my teeth.
*"Ye Gods, what is mesa sayin'?" The first of several moments that made me literally feel like crying and screaming at the same time.
*I'd forgotten how hilarious Ric Olie actually is. "There's the blockade."
*Go watch the 1997 Ivanhoe miniseries; Ralph Brown is a fantastic Prince John, utterly chilling. Wish he'd had a better part here.
*Humorous version: "Captain, what is this droid's number and be sure and read it as though you've never heard it before."
*Wow, Portman just isn't even trying in that scene with Jar Jar. "You're a Gungan, aren't you?" just comes out of her like she’s a pull string doll.
*And now we enter the realm of Jake Lloyd, worst child actor ever.
*"I'm a person and my name is Anakin." There's that 'wanting to cry and scream at the same time' feeling again . . .
*Best scene in the movie: "Republic Credits will do fine." "No, they won't." "Republic Credits will do fine." "No, they won't."
*How bad of an actor do you have to be to be eight years old and still make "Yippee" sound fake?
*Jira, the underground railroad lady!
*Threepio and Artoo meet. A suitably iconic moment.
*Kudos to Liam Neeson for making his lines better than they should be: "No one can kill a Jedi." "I wish that were so."
*Right, midi-chlorians. I don't feel like getting into it, but, still, a stupid, stupid idea.
*Best line of the film: "Patience, my blue friend." I laugh every time. What a great line.
*More Liam Neeson greatness. When Shmi asks if Anakin's nervous, Neeson could have been sympathetic, but instead he snaps, "He's fine," like he was telling a dog to get the hell out of the way. Great work.
*Well, the podrace bores me stiff, I have to say.
*Those Sand People are hitting the pods . . . right. Stormtrooper template should have been one of them, obviously.
*"Many things will change when we reach Coruscant. My caring for you is not one of them." WHAT a terrible script.
*"Look, the Chancellor's shuttle. And there's Senator Palpatine, waiting for us." I'm dying over here.
*Can we all just agree that Ian McDiarmid is a God among men?
*The Lisa Kudrow MTV Movie Awards spoof of the Jedi Council scene is way better than the actual scene: "He's like really old, like eight hundred."
*God. Jake Lloyd. Just flat sucks.
*That look of 'surprise' Lloyd has when he discovers Padme is the queen actually looks more like disgust. I don’t even want to know what that might mean.
*That first scene of Maul with Gunray and Haako makes Ray Park look like a midget.
*In what universe would these comedy antics during a big climactic battle actually work?
*The battle of Grassy Plain (hey, it has a name?!) looks pretty fake, really.
*Williams' score is more or less wallpaper music here, but Duel of the Fates is a knock out piece of music.
*And the Qui/Obi/Maul duel is absolutely stupendous.
*Note that, in the EU, this is a clash of epic proportions. We've been with Qui since he was a padawan, with Obi for eleven years, with Maul for twelve. This is a disaster; the big showdown and we should really be on the edge of our seat, frankly.
*Why the hell doesn't Panaka just go out the window right behind him?
*This is so stupid; why wouldn't they have sent Anakin up in the first place, since he is the best pilot in the galaxy, demonstrably? Instead we get this ludicrous coincidental thing.
*"No ship could get through our shields." Except you left the HANGER BAY WIDE FREAKING OPEN.
*Man. Qui-Gon's death is still a stunner.
*Qui-Gon's been in something like thirty-six stories to date, in all of them a major player. Maul has been in about eight. We were first introduced to Qui-Gon forty-three timeline years ago. To this point, if the saga had a main character (at least since the fall of the Sith Order under Bane), we would have said it was him. We've had a lot of ensemble pieces and a lot of pieces that focused on characters as varied as Jango Fett, Mace Windu, Ki Adi Mundi, Micah Giett, Aurra Sing, etc. But we keep coming back to Qui-Gon.
*Get me; we just killed off the MAIN CHARACTER.
*And in Maul, what I would call the main villain.
*From a chronological standpoint, this is staggering stuff, a moment of real climax.
*And now, oh, joy, we get to look at all twenty-one adaptations of this movie . . .
*No, literally, twenty-one adaptations.
*Neeson, MacGregor and MacDiarmid notwithstanding, this is quite a bad movie. Lloyd sinks it worse than Jar Jar, frankly.
*CANONICAL STATUS: Despite recent attempts to canonize this as a serious historical text, this is best viewed as a mostly fabricated retelling of true events. Featuring completely fabricated characters, rearranged chronology, outright distortions and numerous factual errors, this work is NOT RECOMMENDED as a historical resource.
*Warned against 1 ½ stars.
*Okay, well, next time, we’ll hop back into our regular chronology (assuming the thread hasn’t been burned to the ground by prequel defenders). It’s our second solo RPG: Jedi Protector!