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Friday, May 22, 2009

Five Things I Hate About "The Phantom Menace" (That Don't Include Jar Jar Binks)

If you're like me, you were really excited to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I mean, it was the first Star Wars movie in over 15 years, how could you not be? Also, if you were like me, after seeing the movie you were thinking to yourself, "What the hell is up with that orb?"
I suppose it's telling of the movie overall that my lasting impression from Episode One was questioning the relevance of a random inanimate object. Soon after that I realized that I had no idea why the two sides were fighting in the first place! I suppose what I'm saying is that I've always felt that The Phantom Menace was a bit of a jumbled mess.
So, since Teebore is Mr. Positive and I am Mr. Negative, I suppose it's only proper that I'll be presenting you with the five things I hate about "The Phantom Menace" (that don't include Jar Jar Binks).

Anakin Skywalker Is An Annoying Kid: I mean...seriously? When people wanted to see the prequels and learn of the origins of Darth Vader, were they really pining to see him in diapers? Think how much better this movie could have been if Anakin was of an age where he could actually do something meaningful...and not by accident. (At least put him at an age where you can cast him with a competent actor...although I guess that really didn't work out either.) Watching an annoying kid stumble around with cheesy lines...I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

The Good Guys Win Via Buffoonery: Speaking of doing things by accident. Two thirds of the final climatic battle involved characters bumping into things and accidentally helping the republic. You've got Jar Jar Binks slapsticking his way to accidentally releasing explosive orbs that end up destroying many of the droid enemies. Meanwhile, out in space, Anakin Skywalker accidentally flies a hijacked starfighter into the droid control ship and seemingly randomly presses buttons on the starfighter and inadvertently destroys the control ship and saves the Gungans. Apparently, it's better to be lucky than skilled.
I suppose you could argue that the force guided Anakin's button pushing but that's still lame. I'm sure when a Jedi has to take a dump the force will guide them to a bathroom but I don't need to see it. I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Pod Racing: You know what pod racing is? A big snooze fest. I don't watch Nascar, so why would I want to watch this? All pod racing was was a bunch of filler to showcase special effects. Couldn't George Lucas come up with an easier, less boring way for the Jedi to obtain Anakin's freedom? I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Darth Maul Dies Like A Chump: I don't mind that Darth Maul died in principle. (Although, considering he was replaced by Count Dookie the decision does seem suspect.) But Darth Maul died like a pansy chump. They give us a bad ass light saber duel, but how does it end? With Darth Maul being mesmerized by a flip and just standing and watching as Obi Wan slices him in half. Couldn't Darth Maul put up more of a fight? There's ways for him to die and not look like an idiot, right? I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Natalie Portman Didn't Get Naked: First of all, anybody who has read my movie reviews know that I always prefer nudity to non-nudity. But beyond that, after George Lucas wrote this script he must have said to himself "Wow, this the worse thing I've written since that crappy martian Indiana Jones screen play that would ruin the franchise if it was ever made into a movie." So knowing that this was D+ work, shouldn't he have tried to spice things up? What better way to spice things up than a little nudity? How much more fondly would this movie be remembered and how much more rewatchable would this movie be if Natalie Portman got naked in it? All I'm saying is that I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.


  1. Good points all around. It's really sad how much the movie would be improved if Anakin was just like four years older.

    Making him, say 14 (an age at which he can still be innocent and miss his mom when he leaves her), makes the whole Padme/Anakin "romance" less creepy, and they could have upped Padme's age a bit too so the whole "14 year old Queen" thing wouldn't be as odd.

    If he's 14, then he could be a real pilot when Obi-Wan meets him, and not a souped up Nascar driver.

    That way, when they get to Naboo, he can willing choose to get involved in the space battle because he's a good pilot, and he can actually take out the control ship, on purpose, because he's a good pilot. Not just because he's a good pilot (for a kid) with a lot of luck.

    That right there cuts out half of the "win by buffoonery" from the final battle.

    But Darth Maul'll still die like a chump.

  2. Have you guys ever heard of or seen the so called "Phantom Edit" of episode I? Somebody apparently went through and recut the movie removing all of Jar Jar's stupid moments, Anakin's stupid moments and a few other details. It was supposed to have been a pretty big improvement over the version we all know and love (?). Never seen it myself but would love to get my hands on a copy to see how it is.

  3. Sounds interesting, I wonder if the story still makes sense?

    Although, I'm sure there's still pod racing....and no naked Natalie Portman.

  4. Not sure about the pod racing, but you could splice in scenes from that movie where Natalie Portman played a stripper to take care of the naked Natalie Portman stuff. You could even break into the studio and get the stuff where she is totally naked that they left out at the last minute.

  5. I have seen that "anti Jar Jar" edit for sale at conventions before, being sold by those dealers that specialize in bootleg DVDs and whatnot.

    Though I have no idea how it plays as a coherent movie. My guess is it doesn't, the creators' argument being that a choppy, nonsensical movie is better than one with any Jar Jar in it at all. Which isn't quite true.

  6. It doesn't remove him completely I don't think. It just takes out his little slapstick moments for the most part. And if you think about it most of those could be removed without it making the movie look like it was missing anything. I mean does it really need Jar Jar getting farted on by some pack animal at the pod race? Or him stepping in the crap in Mos Espa? Don't get me wrong it wouldn't turn it into the best movie in the series but it would be a little improvement.

  7. Natalie, naked...she's 14 in the first movie. I forgot about your love of young girls...

  8. But those are Naboo years...which is like 22 in Earth years.

    And to be fair, she was 18 when the movie came out...although, that may make her 17 when the movie was actually filmed...which would be dicey. However, Hollywood actresses always shave 3 years off their age, of course, Natalie may have been too young to do that yet.

    My point is, Natalie Portman was approximately the same age I was when the movie came out thus it wasn't weird that I'd prefer to see her naked. But perhaps we should play it safe. The nudity should wait until Attack of the Clones...Natalie Portman clones!

  9. I think, that you are not right. I am assured.

  10. Wished I'd stumbled on this post earlier, but agree with you totally. Would love if you could visit my own post and comment here on how I would fix the prequels:

  11. i hope you people know that there are 10 year olds who watch star wars too. Along with the fact that portman was a teen at the time, if they acually put nudity in the film, not only would kids be upset that its PG 18 or R, kids who managed to see it would be scarred for life. George lucas is smarter than that so he wouldn't think about it (unless he was thinking of doing a porn remake)

  12. @Anonymous: i hope you people know that there are 10 year olds who watch star wars too. Along with the fact that portman was a teen at the time, if they acually put nudity in the film, not only would kids be upset that its PG 18 or R, kids who managed to see it would be scarred for life

    At the risk of speaking for Dr. Bitz and Opalnan, I can say that most of our clamoring for naked Natalie Portman is born of jest and tongue-in-cheek-ed-ness. We're all well aware that no Star Wars movie could actually feature nudity.


  13. Dr. Bitz: I wonder if the story still makes sense?

    ... What do you mean "still"?

    For the five things I hate about The Phantom Menace, you just basically subtract a few minutes' worth — if that — of rad lightsaber battle and the initial coolness factor of Darth Maul (great look, great moves), divide the remaining running time into five equal segments, and voilĂ . If you wanted to group them by theme, I suppose that [1] Jar-Jar, [2] Anakin, [3] the midichlorians concept, [4] the bitter disappointment of the leaden dialogue in general (with Sam Jackson's Mace Windu at the Jedi council in particular), and [5] everything else would be the way to do it. There's no point in splitting hairs, though, unless it's Obi-Wan's ridiculous little braid.


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