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Star Wars Sucks/Rocks: The Phantom Menace
© RevolutionSF Staff
May 20, 2005

The editors of RevolutionSF explore their love/hate relationship with Star Wars. What do you love/hate about it?

Proof That The Phantom Menace Sucks

The juvenile atmosphere. From the goofy pit droids during the podracing scene to little "Annie's" painfully lame wisecracks while attacking the droid control ship to pretty much Jar-Jar's entire existence, Lucas seemingly worked damn hard at totally destroying any sense of drama, tension, or dark foreshadowing in this movie. (Kevin Pezzano)

The fact that Phantom Menace is effectively a remake of Return of the Jedi — by far the weakest of the original trilogy — is unforgivable. Lucas even stoops to repeating the three-pronged finale: Annoying alien allies fighting on the planet's surface? Check. Outmatched Jedi in a ferocious lightsaber battle? Check. Outnumbered fighter pilots flying inside the Death Star/Battleship to destroy the main reactor. . . . (Jayme Lynn Blaschke)

Irritating, idiotic, pointless Jar-Jar Binks. (Peggy Hailey)

Jar-Jar Binks, the Stepinfetchit of Tattooine. (Mark Finn)

All Jedi have midichlorians. (Mark Finn)

Midi-filkin'-chlorians. How did we get from a mystical/spiritual Force that's in all of us to a scientific/genetic trait that only a few special people have? How very Master Race, Mr. Lucas. (Peggy Hailey)

I, and I daresay we, had freely and willfully accepted the Force as a universal power source that these people could use if they just focused. This movie says it's just a really, really helpful disease. And it can knock chicks up. (Joe Crowe)

Genetic testing for Jedi. It’s as easy as checking your blood sugar! Oooh, your midichlorian-count is a little low. Better have a cookie. (Jason Myers)

The Force doesn't work on Watto. Why not? Why would the Force, which is in all things, not work on something that looks like those bugs on the commercial that holler "RAAAAAAID!!!" (Joe Crowe)

An elected queen? (Jayme Lynn Blaschke)

The cushy life of being a slave on Tattooine, where all you have to do all day is build your own personal robot butler and tinker on your hotrod racer. Yeah, Anakin's a real victim here. (Jayme Lynn Blaschke)

Children who are just as capable if not moreso than the adults around them. (Mark Finn)

Wait. Vader built WHO?! This was a silly continuity error when George Lucas should have easily known better. There were only six other hours of movies he had to scan before he wrote this stuff. (Joe Crowe)

Little orphan Ani actually said "Yippeee!" I mean, screenwriter George Lucas actually typed the words:

ANAKIN

Yippeee!

. . . and thought, "Yep, that line's a keeper." How the hell does that happen? (Shane Ivey)

"Are you an angel?" (Shane Ivey)

Four words: Star Wars fart joke. (Jason Myers)


"Whoa! We DO suck!"
Greg Proops as the podrace announcer. Now, I like Greg Proops. He's just massively inappropriate for that role. (Kevin Pezzano)

The offensive offensive racial stereotypes. And in this day and age! I, for one, am appalled. Nevermind that African-American actor Ahmed Best’s inspirations for Jar-Jar were Buster Keaton and Jerry Lewis, two white guys. Nevermind that any dialogue spoken in English in a movie made by earthlings is necessarily going to be a pastiche of earth’s previously existing speech patterns. Nevermind that, like purple Teletubbies, the alien accents in The Phantom Menace are Rorshach tests that reveal more about the mind-set of those who take offense than about the supposed offense itself. Watto has a big nose and is greedy. Why, he must be a Jew! But, wait. Watto has a big nose and lives in the desert. He must be an Arab! Watto’s a big-nosed Jew-Arab! When you look back on it, the release of The Phantom Menace should have marked a new era in Israeli-Palestein relations. They should have stopped fighting amongst each other and focused on their true enemy: George Lucas. (Jason Myers)

The scale of the final battle. To small to be really engrossing, yet too big to really be a personal, character-driven struggle, the fight against the droid army and the destruction of the droid control ship just seems sorta . . . pointless. (Kevin Pezzano)

All flash, no substance. When I left the original Star Wars, I remembered story and characters and dialogue as well as visuals. When I left Episode I, I thought, "Well, at least it was pretty." (Peggy Hailey)

Proof That The Phantom Menace Rocks

The utter and complete fear that the Neimoidians express when they realize their opponents are Jedi — followed very quickly by the movie showing us just how much that terror is justified when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan start kicking ass and taking names. (Kevin Pezzano)

The acting. Yes, I said the acting. Rewatch it, and instead of passing a kidney stone every time Jar Jar comes on screen, check out Ewan McGregor as he channels Alec Guiness, Natalie Portman’s vulnerable but eerily capable woman-child queen, Liam Neeson’s gruff father-figure Jedi, and, finally, Ian McDiarmid, who has been shamefully under-praised for his chilling and just plain brilliant dual performance as Senator Palpatine and Darth Sidious. (Jason Myers)

Young Obi-Wan as played by Ewan McGregor. (Mark Finn)

Ewan McGregor: Best Star Wars actor ever since the first guy to play his character. (Shane Ivey)

Certain casting choices, like Ewan MacGregor as a brash young Obi Wan, Natalie Portman as a smart and spunky princess,and Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu (even though he doesn't get to do anything but talk). (Peggy Hailey)

Podracing with Tusken Raiders. (Mark Finn)

The starship designs. From the graceful elegance of the Naboo fighters to the massive utilitarian design of the Trade Federation battleships, the look and feel of the spacecraft in this movie succeeded in making the viewer feel this was a different era from the original trilogy. (Jayme Lynn Blaschke)

The Natalie Portman/Kiera Knightly switcheroo. Hey, it doesn't matter if you get the queen or the decoy, you're still a winner! (Jayme Lynn Blaschke)

Watto and Sebulba. As Jabba would say, they’re my kind of scum. (Jason Myers)

R2D2 showing just why he's the one being throughout all three movies to always know exactly what he's doing when everyone else around him is utterly lost and would be completely boned without him. (Kevin Pezzano)

Seeing Yoda outside the swamp was pretty cool. His familiar presence made my midichlorian-fueled rage subside somewhat. (Joe Crowe)

Jedi-Fu out the wazoo. (Mark Finn)

Darth Maul's dual-blade reveal. I mean, damn. We thought he was pretty bad-ass when out of the blue he jumped all over Qui-Gon's grill out in the desert. Then the pose itself was just bad as can be. Then — wait, no, it can get a whole lot badder, folks. . . . (Shane Ivey)

Darth Maul and his crazy double-lightsaber battle staff. (Peggy Hailey)

Darth Maul vs. two Jedi, double saber or not, didn't seem very fair, but I bought it as soon as it started going down. Finally, a super-fight between what appeared to be athletes instead of plodding stuntmen. (Joe Crowe)

A lightsaber duel so good it made Luke and Vader look like polio victims swinging their walkers at each other. (Shane Ivey)

When all three fighters are trapped by the red forcefield things, Darth Maul paces like a caged tiger, Obi-Wan hops up and down impatiently, and Qui-Gon sits down for a bit of meditation. Totally wordless, totally in character, and totally surprising given all the hamhanded dialogue in the rest of the movie. (Kevin Pezzano)

"Duel of the Fates." For all Phantom Menace's faults, it's worth sitting through the movie simply to hear this gorgeous choral piece, which is easily the best addition to the Star Wars musical canon since the Imperial March. (Jayme Lynn Blaschke)

If I must praise Gungans, let it be for using catapults as they unleashed hell on those droids that look like their little butts were jutting up in the air. (Joe Crowe)

The sense of scale. (Peggy Hailey)

The return, after 15 years, of that goose-bump-inducing magic that is Star Wars. It’s there in a podrace sequence that packs more excitement into 15 minutes than most summer movies have in the full 90. It’s there when Darth Maul pulls off his hood and ignites his lightsaber. It’s there when Obi-Wan’s voice breaks on the word “Master” as Qui-Gon lies dying. It’s there when Mace Windu says, “But which was destroyed, the master, or the apprentice?” and the camera comes to rest on Senator Palpatine. (Jason Myers)


"Only the most ridiculous of plot devices can save you now. . . ."



 
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