Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
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Rewatching this film in preparation for the upcoming The Force Awakens was as tedious an experience as I predicted. It was the first time I rewatched this in many years and even though I've been long aware of its countless flaws, I noticed even more than I expected. Lucas' obsession with computer-generated effects overwhelm the film within its opening minutes, and it's noticeable that it was his main interest, as the screenplay displays an amazing amount of mediocrity even by his standards, the acting is equally lifeless (likely not helped by the fact that the entire cast is simply standing around in CGI landscapes throughout and Lucas' uninspired directing) and the story is downright convoluted and incomprehensible.
Jar-Jar Binks is so horrible and stupid I won't even waste more words on him, one of the most iconic villains of all time is reduced to a stupid and unconvicing kid that yells YUPI every ten minutes, Obi-Wan is just there, Liam Neeson lends some gravitas to his stubborn character only because he's Liam Neeson and he lends presence to everything, Portman looks lost, and the Jedi are demystified, instead turned into tedious bureaucrats. The countless political discussions give further proof, in case there was any doubt, that Lucas is terrible at building any sort of intrigue whatsoever.
The few highlights include the pod race sequence, despite the stupid cutaways to the commentators, the climatic lightsaber duel, despite the fact that it looks elaborately coreographed, and John Williams' soundtrack, as usual. The Phantom Menace is an incredibly tedious and dissapointing experience, given the unlimited potencial in further exploring the galaxy far far away.
Watching it for the first time since I was a kid, and it just has so many elements of a B movie. Wooden/nonexistent acting. Extras seem to be lost and confused. Immature comedy. Terrible greenscreen and cgi. And I thought I remembered Darth Maul being cool, but he looks awful in HD - you can see the solid lumps of glue at the base of his horns.
There are lots of moments of bad storytelling. Where did the battledroids that captured the queen disappear to once she was escorted to the Viceroy? Why did Qui Gon and Obi Wan seem to teleport away from battledroids near the beginning of the film, never to use the technique again for the rest of the saga? Why didn't Qui Gon wait for Obi Wan in the fight against Darth Maul?
There are also elements of the film that are a complete waste of time, such as the pod races and Anakin flying into space. And smaller scenes, like, "ascension guns!".
The film seems to have been an exercise in wasting money. It could easily have lasted an hour instead of two and a half, and it could have been much better, both for visuals and for acting quality, if less money had been spent on 1999 cgi.
I remember seeing this in theaters and being so excited to be there. I think I was 15. I loved it.
Then, I went to see it again and then I started to be worried. I went for a third time and fell asleep.
I just saw it for the first time since I was in high school and time has not been good to this film. The CG looks pretty terrible. The acting is wooden and all the comedy relief falls flat. The script is terrible and often the plot is nonsensical. It seems like they just wanted to get you from one set-piece to another, logic be damned.
This movie wasn't made for me at the age I am now. I think I would appreciate it if I was a very young child though.
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #19 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Adjusted Box Office
This movie ranks #45 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Worldwide Box Office
This movie ranks #87 in BFI's 100 Cult Films
This movie ranks #122 in iCheckMovies's Most Checked
This movie ranks #449 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time