Saturday, March 19, 2011

My review of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

This is an old review of mine. I re-watched it to write a better review of it.

i can tell you that as the target audience, I loved this one. I was 6 when it came out which is the perfect age to enjoy a film like this. Knowing more about it though, I shouldn't have enjoyed it then. I certainly didn't enjoy it now.

Acting/Characters: Everyone is so...blank...stoic..dry...expressionless. Considering some of the stuff that the cast has done, you would think it would be better. Particularly Liam Neeson. he should have won Best Actor for Schindler's List. If you compared the performances, you wouldn't know they were the same person. Also, Natalie Portman...if you told me, that within 12 years she would win the Academy Award for Best Actress, I would call you a liar. You could tell that Lucas cared more about moving the 'story' along then character depth. There is none. Plus, the RedLetterMedia review of this made me realize that THERE IS NOT A MAIN CHARACTER IN THE FILM!!!! There is no one that the film gives us to relate to. The one character, who is remotely bearable to watch is Darth Maul. He was freaking cool!!! Dressed in black with those Sith tattoos and the dual-bladed lightsaber. Nice. Bud don't even friggin' get me started on Anakin and Jar-Jar. They were the worst characters in most of film. They wouldn't be out of place in Troll 2. More Darth Maul, no Jar Jar. Of course, I must cut the actors some slack. The characters are incredibly poorly written. Plus all of the aliens are racial stereotypes. 1/10

Plot: I mentioned before that now that I know more about the film, I shouldn't have liked it back at a young age. Why? Well, let me put it this way: The first Star Wars movie was about a young boy thrust into a galactic war where a brave rebellion is battling the evil Empire and he must lead the Rebels to save the galaxy. This one is about the taxation of trade routes.... WHAT THE F*** IS THAT!?!?!?!? TAXATION OF TRADE ROUTES!?!?!? WHAT!?!?!? WHOSE F****** IDEA WAS THAT!?!?!?! A bunch of the scenes, particularly when they got to Coruscant, were boring diplomatic/political dialogue. People go to law school for that nonsense Don't put it in a Star Wars film. Put lightsaber duels and big battles in a Star Wars film. It just made no sense. Plus, the Podracing scene was scene for scene pretty much the Chariot race from Ben-Hur. One of the better scenes in the film is completely ripped off of another movie. .5/10

Screenplay: None of the dialogue made sense even when it wasn't boring political dialogue. Plus, George Lucas made the dumbest mistake he ever did: HE EXPLAINED THE FORCE!!!! WHAT!?!?!?!? HOW DUMB CAN YOU BE!?!??! JUST SHOOT THE FRANCHISE IN THE HEAD!!! OH WAIT YOU ALREADY DID!!!!!!! A lot of the lines were absolutely cringe-worthy. I found myself laughing at their 'serious' scenes. Man, he failed with this script. Good thing Darth Maul didn't have many lines or I might hate him as a character too!!! Epic fail. .5/10

Likableness: Jar-Jar and Anakin were the worst parts of the film by far. I hated seeing them onscreen. From what I understand, everyone did. It had its moments. The Duel of the Fates scene and the Podrace were entertaining. That's pretty much it. Nothing else. You could totally tell that Queen Amidala had no purpose other than to show off how good the makeup and costume people were. It got ridiculous very fast. the costumes were good but it got dumb fast. The visuals were great of course but it served no purpose other than, like the queen's costumes, show off how good they were at CGI. It looked too fake and pristine and generally unrealistic. The film had cringe worthy dialogue, horrible characters, a boring plot, it just went all wrong. 2 and 3 were minor improvements, but anything would have to be. 2/10

As a final note, The Gunguns have this great army but their military tactics absolutely sucked. When the Battle Droids are being deployed from the large carrier ships, they just sit there waiting for the Droids to come to them. But any military commander worth his salt would fire on the enemy while they were vulnerable. It would save a lot of trouble.

BTW, here's the RedLetterMedia review I mentioned. It can be tasteless when he veers away froom talking about the film, but overall it is hilarious and makes excellent points.

Final score: 4/40 10% (S)

TRIVIA TIME: Cameos: Sofia Coppola as handmaiden Saché.

Warwick Davis who played Wicket in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, is sitting next to Watto during the pod race scene. He also plays Anakin's friend Wald, a Rodian child.

Rick McCallum the producer appears on the right in a floppy wide-brim hat when Queen Amidala meets Senator Palpatine.

Ben Burtt the sound engineer appears to the left of Rick McCallum (with goatee).

John Knoll the visual effects supervisor at ILM plays the Naboo pilot who gets killed during the space battle with the Trade Federation. It happens after Ric Olié says, "The deflector shield is too strong."

1. Sets were built only as high as the tops of the actors' heads and computer graphics filled in the rest. But Liam Neeson was so tall that he cost the set crew an extra $150,000 in construction.

2. Director George Lucas has said that there are a couple of shots in the movie that were "filmed" on digital video instead of 35 mm film. He also said that he dares anyone to try and figure out which shots these were.

3. Natalie Portman's voice was digitally enhanced to distinguish between Padme and Queen Amidala. In scenes where Padme and Queen Amidala appear together, Natalie Portman is Padme, while Keira Knightley is Sabe, one of the handmaidens disguised as the Queen.

4. The sound of the underwater monsters growling near the beginning of the film was made by the main sound technician's three-year-old daughter. The sound of her crying was recorded, and the frequency lowered to obtain the sound heard in the film.

5. Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi, is the nephew of Denis Lawson, who played Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

6. Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala) missed the premiere party in New York because she had to go home to study for her high school final exams.

7. In the German language version of the film, the collaborating Trade Federation leaders have a French accent, while in the Italian language version they have heavy Russian accents. They also have Russian accents in the Czech version, except for the Viceroy, who speaks fluent Czech for reasons unknown.

8. The words chanted during the "Duel of the Fates" are from Robert Graves' poem "The White Goddess". "The White Goddess" is a translation of the original version, "Cad Goddeu" or "The Battle of Achren", an early Celtic work of great antiquity also known as "The Battle of the Trees," which was originally composed by Gwion and is found in the "Book of Taliesin", a Thirteenth Century Welsh manuscript . John Williams had the lines "Under the tongue root a fight most dread, and another raging, behind, in the head" translated into Sanskrit. The translation sung in the movie is as follows: "Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Rahtamah Yoodhah Korah Korah Syahdho Rahtahmah Daanyah Korah Keelah Daanyah Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Korah"

9. Benicio Del Toro was originally set to play Darth Maul. Del Toro left the film after George Lucas took most of Maul's lines out of the film.


  1. The case can be made that the American war for independence 'started' due to taxation so I don't think that this film's particular premise is absurd like you do. Also the Star Wars universe is based upon Rome so the pod racing is an allegory to chariot racing. That Ben-Hur sequence is considered one of the best in film history and while I do this scene is referenced, I do not think it is plagiarized. Other than that I completely agree that this film should never have been made

  2. Well, the premise is ridiculous when the target audience is 6-12 year old kids. I didn't necessarily say plagiarized, it's just that if you compare the two scenes they are almost exactly the same. And yes the chariot race rocks.