Today is my birthday. I am now 24 years old. I’m almost through a quarter century now. And how do I choose to ring in my birthday? I watched Episode 1: The Phantom Menace last night. I’m regretting it.
So here’s the thing; until last night, I had only seen this movie once, and that was in the theater, Summer 1999. Even though I was a bright-eyed, naive 13 year old who found the positives in every movie I watched, I still knew pretty quickly there was something rotten in the state of Tatooine. It turned me off of the Prequels and I didn’t watch the rest until years after they released. So when I decided to watch Episode 1 again, I was completely prepared to not like it. Apparently, I repressed most of my memories of this film. It is so much worse than I remembered.
I was going to try to write a review on the movie, but I just can’t. To be perfectly frank, this movie doesn’t deserve a review. So I’m just going to rant for a little while. Don’t like it? Tough, it’s my birthday.
The kid is terrible. Really, really terrible. I realize he’s a kid, but there is such a thing as a good child actor (hell, Natalie Portman herself gave a great performance in Leon: The Professional when she was a kid). It’s like Lucas had a raffle for the role or something (bingo cage and all) and this kid won. But it’s not just the acting, it’s the writing for this character. Anakin says “yippee” in a non-ironic way multiple times. One of the most iconic and menacing villians of all time and he’s saying, “Yippee”. It’s almost unnecessary to mention the groan/nausea-inducing characters of Jar Jar, Watto and the Federation Leaders (the latter whom are “totally not asian stereotypes”, they just pronounce their L’s as R’s). Sure, they’re awful stereotypes, but I’m almost more insulted that Lucas used the most unoriginal stereotypes ever. He can’t even be innovative when he’s being offensive. And even as the CGI is overused, the few actual puppets they used looked terrible. I’m all for a non-CGI Yoda, but the puppet looked like utter crap.
The real problem with this Star Wars film is that it isn’t about a war… it’s about the political crap and bureaucracy that happens before the war (and not even entertaining political crap). It’s not fun to watch at all and that includes the fight scenes. That, added with the introduction of midicholians, the insanely obvious Jesus allusions and the even more obvious bad guy (it’s Senator Palpatine, if you didn’t figure it out), make for a bad movie. How could this script have gotten through? It’s like Lucas wrote the first draft and thought, “Yep, this is good enough.” I’m starting to think the Star Wars Christmas Special was better written than this load.
There is so much more I can say about this film, and while I am tempted to continue, I feel my soul slowly dying the more I type. My faith in mankind is dissolving with every thought of the pod race.
Happy Birthday to me.