Worth A Look: 20.48%
Pretty Bad: 15.23%
Total Crap: 23.32%
39 reviews, 718 user ratings
|Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
by Chris Parry
It must be said that I didn't hold out a whole lot of expectations on this movie, partly so I could be pleasantly surprised if it was a decent film, partly because I'm a die-hard cynic. Well, when taken away from expectation, hype and rabid fanboydom, this movie is just not a real good movie. At all.Please note, I'm saying "hype, expectation and random fanboydom aside". If you are one of those who feeds on hype and see this as 'an event', you'll get a little buzz here and there. If you've been waiting twenty years for this flick to happen, you'll get a little buzz here and there. And if you have Yoda bedsheets, frankly it would take an appearance by Barney to get you to give this anything less than five stars.
"Come back Battlestar Galactica, all is forgiven."
But as a film, a stand alone movie, that lives and dies on it's own merits, or lack of... it stinks. Let the lightsaber-wielding geekboys begin their attacks on me now.
Sorry, I really expected that I might be pleasantly surprised in some way. I waited until the crowds died, I went to a matinee so I wouldn't have a big ticket price biasing my expectations, I even avoided other reviews.
But it stank.
Why? Oh, so many reasons. Firstly, I know it's been said ad infinitum, but Jar Jar Beeks is a cursed addition. In fact, the entire Gulgan race is like watching the muppet show. Way back when Yoda happened on the scene, he was fantastic. He had personality, background, wisdom and he was real. He had shadows and texture and hair. Jar Jar has none of these. In fact, he is the anti-Yoda. He is stupid, he is clumsy, he is a computer image, he is not life-like and in this movie there's not just one of him, but an army of them. Every inconsistancy and annoyance is magnified a thousand-fold. His lines, crap such as "exsqueeze me" and "how rude" are not only out of place in Star Wars, but out of place even in The Muppet Show! Big animal farts in Jar Jar's face - is this what Star Wars has become? Ewoks were awful, but at least they weren't as mind-numbingly moronic as this.
So let's remove Jar Jar from the mix. We'll assume you can forget he's there (I couldn't, trust me, I tried). Is the movie any good without him? Nope, still more bad. Let's move on to character development. Namely, there isn't any. At all. None. Not a sausage. Not one fucking iota. With all these new characters, you'd think a bit of background would be in order. It never comes about. Not even by the finish. The one time that ANYthing is explained for our benefit... well, we'll get to that disgrace with my next point. If you've never read a Star Wars novel, you don't know what a Sith is. You don't know who a Palpatine is. You don't know who the hell anyone is, except Jar Jar cunting Binks. They didn't even explain this stuff in the opening credits crawl, the perfect place to gear us up for what lay ahead. But nooooo, they cut the crawl to three very small double-spaced paragraphs!
So let's assume you read Star Wars novels and it all makes sense to you. Is it any good now? Nooooooo. It becomes an infommercial!
"I've never heard of Midlorians before, explain what they are." - could this be any more like an after school special?! "I've never heard of a reproductive system before, Troy McClure, explain what it means to me." Or worse "I've tried all kinds of skin creams before, Victoria Principal, why is this one so special?"
Phloog's review said it all. Part of the mystery of the force was we had no idea what it was, or how it worked. We didn't WANT to know. Why turn it into pseudo-science? Does Captain Picard feel the need to explain how matter transporters work in Star Trek? No, it's one of those cool things we like to debate or just wonder about. Lucas has gone and destroyed a large part of mystery surrounding the whole jedi thing. And for what reason? There is none I can think of.
The rest of the problems, well let me just reel 'em off.
The two-headed sportscaster in the pod race - absolutely pathetic.
The pod race - what should have been a few minute sidetrack became basically the entire point of the film. Ridiculous.
The CGI - use CGI as a supplement, George, don't use your cast as a supplement. Lucas is having such a good time jacking off into a mainframe and watching it turn into film, that he's completely lost the reason CGI exists in the first place. It's to increase reality, not detract from it. We can't sink a Titanic, so we use CGI to make one sink; that's good CGI use - but CGI armies of muppets... urgh. Take me home.
The story - what story? Jedis crash-land on planet, need parts, have to win pod race to get them, kid got good jedi-juice quotient in his blood, blah blah blah. Huh? Wha? The big finish that is so crowed about is a lame-ass, quick, cop-out. How come in the future droids can repair a damaged fighter, as it flies through combat, in seconds, while every other robot can not only be destroyed with one laser hit, but the little fuckers can't hit ANYTHING!? "Hey, there's six of us and forty of them. Well, just stand next to this corner and shoot them all, they won't hit us. When in doubt hit their laser shots back at them with your lightsabers." Good lord, is it so hard to make something not stupid?
Fighter combat scenes - again, quick, lame-ass, cop-outs. Lots of fighters, no actual one on one fighting, precious few actually getting hit, and the finale... well it doesn't even remotely compare to ANY of the fighter combat scenes in the past.
The ending - uh.. what ending. I was just getting ready to enjoy a tasty kickass ending and suddenly it was over. It was almost as lame as the ending in Mars Attacks, and it wishes it was as only banal as the ending of Independence Day.
The cast - well, does anyone wonder why Liam Neeson has retired? Ewan McGregor is insanely out of place, mixing bored with confused throughout. Portman is stretching because she's used to dialogue that has some semblance of reality. There's just no humanity to these characters and no reason for them to be. Do the whole damn thing with muppets next time. Jake Lloyd was fine considering he's a kid, but the knowledge he's going to be big bad Darth Vader real soon made it tough to like him a whole lot. I was hoping he'd get wasted.Okay, so it sounds like I have an agenda? Well, I do. I hate being ripped off and I see this movie as a rip off of the general public to the tune of half a billion dollars. It's a soap opera, and it's scraping the bottom of so many barrels, that it really casts a negative light on the whole franchise. If it was called "Wing Commander 2" instead of "Star Wars", people would laugh at it as sadly lacking in all departments, but because it's Star Wars people are quick to forgive when it fails.
I'm not. This film is utter crap, and I won't be seeing it again, on video or otherwise. I advise you go see Austin Powers 2 instead.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=723&reviewer=1
originally posted: 06/10/99 17:26:30
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