Every other week Jack Reda, The Script Doctor, tells the powers
that be in Hollywood why they should listen to him. You decide
if he's right.
STAR WARS EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE
As a life-long
fan of Star Wars, I tried to play along, but I can't tow the party line
anymore. The Phantom Menace could have been SO much better.
Looking back at
the Star Wars franchise, I now realize that I only really love the first
and second movies (by which I mean chapters 4 and 5... if you don't
understand what I mean, stop bothering to read any further). Return
of the Jedi, while not bad, didn't live up to my expectations any
more than Episode 1. I want to say that it was just the Ewoks (certainly,
they were nothing to hoot about), but there was plenty more. But whatever,
let's look at the Jar Jar one for now.
There have been
a few underground edited versions of The Phantom Menace, but
they are largely attempts by fans to improve the product from what was
already shot. Some problems go back further than that, and could have
been fixed in the script. With almost twenty years to work on it, we
all agree George Lucas had plenty of time to come up with a better product.
Anakin. The age
gap between Anakin and Amidala was way too large. Lucas was trying to
make the Queen seem very young (which is an interesting character choice),
but Natalie Portman doesn't seem young (she seems just old enough. Follow
me?). You can't help but look at Amidala and Anakin and say "they're
going to have babies". With her character a good 8-10 years older, it
just feels weird. She could still be older, but Anakin should have been
at least a teenager.
Some more years
on him would give Anakin a deeper resentment of slavery, and more
reason to want to get off Tatooine. It would also make his dialog
sound better. A lot of the lines didn't really ring true coming from
a ten year-old.
The reason Lucas
made Anakin so young was that he was thinking about the movie in terms
of the younger audiences. "Wow", kids will think, "I'm the same age
as Anakin Skywalker! This will give me much to think about!" But really,
kids don't need a character their same age to connect with Star
Wars. I wasn't even ten when I saw the first Star Wars,
and it rocked my existence (ask my Mom and my third grade teacher
Mrs. Dogario for all the sordid details). More on this in a moment.
Tatooine. Is it
me, or does the Star Wars universe seem smaller after four movies
than it did after
three? I can think of no good reason why Phantom Menace has to
return to planet Tatooine. In Star Wars, Tatooine seemed remote
and tucked away. We all know that eventually Obi-Wan is going to be
hiding Luke on Tatooine, so come on! You think Darth Vader wouldn't
consider checking there? If he meets Obi-Wan on Tatooine, then he knows
old Ben has been there, and just how remote it is in the first place.
Fooey, says I.
C-3PO. Along with
Tatooine is the cockamamie idea of having Anakin be C-3PO's creator.
Anakin, C-3PO and R2-D2, all chummy. Is Lucas high?
in Highlander 2, these things just seem to detract (or outright
contradict things) from the coolness of the previous films. I reckon
at some point in Episode 3, the memory banks of R2-D2 and C-3PO will
get erased to explain why they aren't freaking out in Episode 4, but
what about Darth? He doesn't realize that his former droids are whooping
it up with the other side now? With one of the biggest, most successful
franchises in history, it isn't necessary to have these supporting
characters to link the stories together. Vader is the only link we
Nothing takes away from mysticism faster than science. We were better
off leaving The Force as a vague concept with nothing scientific to
point to it. Nevermind the idea of the Midichlorians conceiving Anakin
(another fruity idea), it just makes The Force less interesting.
The plot elements
involving Darth Sidious, the Trade Federation, Palpatine, and Qui-Gon
were all fine. It was an interesting, new kind of story for Star
Wars. Fan boys all knew that Palpatine was Sidious, but it was treated
well, and new viewers didn't know right away (some still might not know).
The semi-rebellious Qui-Gon made me think how easy it might be for Vader
to destroy the Jedi (if they weren't all united, they would be easy
Even Jar Jar
isn't that bad on paper... it was his execution that left much to
be desired (another obvious move with kids in mind).
I don't hate
The Phantom Menace, but I've been pretty disappointed. They
say a movie like this can't possibly live up to the hype, but it can
still be great. The Phantom Menace wasn't.
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