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FILM: The Phantom Menace


indy4
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Overall, the film was a lot better than I remembered.

First off, the visuals are stunning. I don't care what you think about George Lucas, but there were some incredibly creative people working on this film. The sets from Oota Gunga and the final duel in particular look really cool.

The big picture special effects look really good too. Ships, planets, and places look really neat. But the CGI characters still look too cartoony. Jar Jar and Yoda are the biggest offenders.

The acting is pretty flat, with a few exceptions. Ian McDarmid and Liam Neeson are the two highlights. Qui Gon is one of the best characters of the prequels. I forgot how much of a bad ass he was! Openly defying the Queen's orders, unafraid to show his annoyance at other characters, but also smart and kind and all that. He's like a mix between Han Solo and Alec Guiness' Obi-Wan. When the camera first reveals the part of the set where Qui Gon is killed, my heart leapt. He's so likable, I didn't want him to die.

The treatment of the score remains one of the worst of all time. It would remain the worst treatment until...well, Attack of the Clones. Not only is it edited to pieces, looped and disjointed, but it is barely even heard over the sound effects. It is an insult to John Williams that Burtt decided it was more important to hear an animal farting over part of John Williams' score.

Was there a new scene added? After Anakin and friends arrived on Coruscant, they showed Anakin and Jar Jar getting into some ship that zooms off. I don't remember seeing this before.

Since the score is mutilated and hacked to pieces, the story is the best part of the film. Very engaging, very complex.

Jar Jar was pretty annoying, but he was used sparingly enough that it was bearable.

I love the details. At any given time there's so much happening on the screen--strange creatures, weird machines... It's easy to understand how the expanded universe was created (which I don't really follow enough to have an opinion of), but it also makes the whole film seem much more believable. The wides screen helps. The audience has to choose what to look for. It makes it more engaging.

There's certainly a lot of bad--dialogue, some acting, some SFX, Jar Jar...but overall it's a very enjoyable film and I'm glad I had an excuse to watch it again after all these years.

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Was there a new scene added? After Anakin and friends arrived on Coruscant, they showed Anakin and Jar Jar getting into some ship that zooms off. I don't remember seeing this before.

Yes, for the DVD, just like there were added shots for the podrace etc.

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Phantom Menace is my favorite of the prequels. It still feels hand-made (as opposed to digitally rendered). It's the most fantastical, and very pretty to look at. Hoping to catch it today with my daughter.

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I read it's not really noticeable and too dark.

Lucas was a rusty director. Phantom Menace is overall dull and doesn't feel very well put-together. The performances mostly stink and the story is never very engaging. There's also no focus. It's not clear who the hell the movie is about. If Anakin was to be the central character like Luke was in the originals, it doesn't work. The prelude to his introduction is enormous and he ends up being another supporting character. None of these characters are good enough to carry the film.

Lucas' portrayal of the universe is also disappointing. Anakin and Obi-Wan both seem too young and there's also too much of an age difference between them. What little we did know of the backstory from the old movies is told differently here. Yoda didn't train Obi-Wan, he is not amazed by Anakin and is reluctant to see him trained. I also assumed that Anakin was around Luke's age when his Jedi training began. This would parallel with Luke's journey and explain why Yoda didn't want to train Luke in fear of repeating the same mistakes with Anakin. I figured Yoda was more of an outsider that didn't get involved in politics. Nowhere near as central a figure in the Republic as he turned out to be. Okay, these were assumptions, but I think fairly reasonable ones.

Qui-Gon may be the most interesting character, but he's still pretty boring. Neeson doesn't seem to do the best he can with the material. He plays him as too stolid much of the time. This may have been Lucas' intent, but the result is unpleasant much of the time. Ben Kenobi had humanity, why can't these guys?

Ultimately, the problem is it's not as fun as the originals and there are no characters as good as Luke, Han, Leia, Vader, etc.

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What little we did know of the backstory from the old movies is told differently here. Yoda didn't train Obi-Wan,

We don't know that. Yoda trains a bunch of kids at once (like in AotC), since they can't all be Padawans at the same time obviously Yoda is going to pass them off to a Jedi Master. That's probably what happened to Obi Wan.

he is not amazed by Anakin

He agrees that the Force is strong with him, I think that qualifies as amazed. Especially since Yoda has near-complete control of his emotions, he probably doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve.

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It's the same excuses being made for years. An entire ludacris scene of Yoda training children with swords was apparently added to Attack of the Clones to explain away the obvious error of Phantom Menace.

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It's the same excuses being made for years. An entire ludacris scene of Yoda training children with swords was apparently added to Attack of the Clones to explain away the obvious error of Phantom Menace.

I don't think so. Remember, Qui Gon was asking the Jedi Council to train Anakin. That makes me think that they are involved in some basic way, probably before a Master is chosen.

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It's the same excuses being made for years. An entire ludacris scene of Yoda training children with swords was apparently added to Attack of the Clones to explain away the obvious error of Phantom Menace.

The opening scene of TPM. Quigon and obi wan discuss about minding the now (quigons teachings) or the future (Yodas teachings)

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Again, the same points being made since the prequels came out, but it still doesn't feel right.

"...the Jedi master who instructed me."

"Was I any different when you taught me?"

"I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda."

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The only reason Obi references Yoda is because that's the only other Jedi Master Luke knows about. He's saying "I thought I could instruct him as good as any Jedi Master."

It's like John Debney saying "I thought I could write a score as good as John Williams. I was wrong." It doesn't mean JW ever wrote the score, it means Debney was a little arrogant and now he is recognizing it.

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I had heard the 3D transfer wasn't all that great, so I caught a 2D showing (luckily there was one in a theater nearby - there was only one in town the whole day). It was definitely worth it - whatever the flaws of this film, it is best viewed on the big screen. The set pieces are fantastic and the non-character effects are spectacular. Being surrounded by John's score alone is worth the cost of admission.

I didn't notice issues with the score mix or other sound problems noted by reviewers, but my ear isn't as well trained as theirs. Overall, even though I watch this film at least annually, it is still a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing it in a theater for the first time since the 90s.

I just hope this one is at least successful enough that Episode II, the only one I haven't seen on the big screen, is re-released next year.

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I read it's not really noticeable and too dark.

Lucas was a rusty director. Phantom Menace is overall dull and doesn't feel very well put-together. The performances mostly stink and the story is never very engaging. There's also no focus. It's not clear who the hell the movie is about. If Anakin was to be the central character like Luke was in the originals, it doesn't work. The prelude to his introduction is enormous and he ends up being another supporting character. None of these characters are good enough to carry the film.

Lucas' portrayal of the universe is also disappointing. Anakin and Obi-Wan both seem too young and there's also too much of an age difference between them. What little we did know of the backstory from the old movies is told differently here. Yoda didn't train Obi-Wan, he is not amazed by Anakin and is reluctant to see him trained. I also assumed that Anakin was around Luke's age when his Jedi training began. This would parallel with Luke's journey and explain why Yoda didn't want to train Luke in fear of repeating the same mistakes with Anakin. I figured Yoda was more of an outsider that didn't get involved in politics. Nowhere near as central a figure in the Republic as he turned out to be. Okay, these were assumptions, but I think fairly reasonable ones.

Qui-Gon may be the most interesting character, but he's still pretty boring. Neeson doesn't seem to do the best he can with the material. He plays him as too stolid much of the time. This may have been Lucas' intent, but the result is unpleasant much of the time. Ben Kenobi had humanity, why can't these guys?

Ultimately, the problem is it's not as fun as the originals and there are no characters as good as Luke, Han, Leia, Vader, etc.

Bla, bla bla - Prequel Bashing - bla, bla, bla - Same Old same old - bla, bla , bla - Prequel bashing - ... - .. - .

And by the way you are wrong completely, its a very good and extremely fun movie especially for its target audience: children, a new generation of starwars fans and adults who still have that youthful sparkle in them

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And by the way you are wrong completely, its a very good and extremely fun movie especially for its target audience: children, a new generation of starwars fans and adults who still have that youthful sparkle in them

I think that's bollocks ....the OT was aimed at children and a new generation of adventure/fantasy fans and adults who still had that youthful sparkle but it never patted them on the head like morons, etc!

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And by the way you are wrong completely, its a very good and extremely fun movie especially for its target audience: children, a new generation of starwars fans and adults who still have that youthful sparkle in them

I disagree entirely. I saw it at the theater when I was seven. I can't remember the experience. I saw the original trilogy around the same age and I do remember loving it and being excited to see the next one.

I've never been angry or anything at The Phantom Menace. For me, it's like it's always been there, which paired with it looking better that the two that followed probably makes it the one of the trilogy that I would see if I had to.

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I was pretty young when Phantom came out. It seemed good at first. The long time ago was there, the main title and music began. Then I read the text and didn't care. I think many of us tried to convince ourselves it was good and sort of justify the shortcomings by believing it'd be alright in the end. This is surely the end, right?

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I'm somewhat of a history buff (I don't know that much, but what I do know I find fascinating), so the politics of the prequels are interesting to me.

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I agree - it's interesting to explore how a tyrant can rise to power. Also, I think it's just as fun to see the "history" of the Star Wars universe - the Old Republic, the Galactic Senate, the Jedi Order at its height, seeing Coruscant -- all of these things make for an excellent backdrop to what is essentially a compelling story, despite the flaws in execution.

The biggest flaws for me in the prequels are dialogue and acting (including Jar Jar in both categories). The other flaws are forgivable.

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The best part of the 3D was the confetti in the end celebration....really.

The Lucasfilm logo looked kinda cool when it was popping out of the screen.

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First off, the visuals are stunning.

I agree ... when we're talking about the trio light saber fight. Suddenly the film refound that - special/unique/techno/disco/futuristic/I don't know what it does but it looks good - Star Wars cool. Good choreography too, BTW. A lot of the scenes are destroyed by clumbsy direction (actors just standing there not knowing what pose to take).

Alex

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First off, the visuals are stunning.

I agree ... when we're talking about the trio light saber fight. Suddenly the film refound that - special/unique/techno/disco/futuristic/I don't know what it does but it looks good - Star Wars cool. Good choreography too, BTW.

In my opinion the appearance of Darth Maul behind the door is the most cinematic moment in the entire prequel trilogy.

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Indeed, and the visuals are very much helped by Williams' power brass theme. And notice how the whole segment after that with Darth Maul is told without the aid of any dialogue. If only Lucas would have the balls to make a whole Star Wars film like that ... two Jedi in pursuit of a masterful Sith Lord (think NCFOM). An experimental Star Wars film ... I would be game for that. Each new installment would be directed by a different artistic director who would have complete freedom. Imagine a Star wars movie seen through the eyes of David Fincher, David Lynch or Zack Snyder.

(BTW, Fincher and Lynch would say "No" to the proposition, Snyder would say "Yes!!!")

Alex

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Its been a long time since I've watched the Phantom Menace (with good reason), I'll be watching it in 3D tonight, I'll offer my criticism then ;)

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One part I like in this movie is the scene of Yoda and Obi-Wan in the castle at sunset. There appear to be large dragon-like creatures flying around outside the tower, the music kicks ass and the whole thing oozes the fairy tale vibes. I also loved seeing Yoda walk in that brief moment.

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I agree ... when we're talking about the trio light saber fight. Suddenly the film refound that - special/unique/techno/disco/futuristic/I don't know what it does but it looks good - Star Wars cool. Good choreography too, BTW. A lot of the scenes are destroyed by clumbsy direction (actors just standing there not knowing what pose to take).

Alex

That is when this movie, which up to that point has been either boring or clumsy suddenly finds some firm grounds and begins to amaze, even if it's only for a short while.

the moment when the doors open and wee see maul underscored by Johnny's brass is a real "WHOA" moment. and the way Lucas builds to the fight with Neeson and Macgregor drawing their lightsabers, assuming positions. It's all very well done.

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One part I like in this movie is the scene of Yoda and Obi-Wan in the castle at sunset. There appear to be large dragon-like creatures flying around outside the tower, the music kicks ass and the whole thing oozes the fairy tale vibes. I also loved seeing Yoda walk in that brief moment.

well not that large... :P

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Peko-peko

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Those creatures definitely evoke dragons in that scene. But it's a little thing in the background you might not even notice. Yoda walking is also extremely brief, but great. It was something we'd never seen outside that (also little) moment in Empire where Yoda is trekking back to his house, beckoning Luke. The prequel sequels (Jesus) portrayed Yoda as having ridiculous Sonic-like acrobatic abilities. I didn't care for any of that stuff. A tiny shot of Yoda walking in a room was cooler than all that. Less is more.

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This is what I don't like about the expanded universe. Everything is completely is named and explained. Even the smallest creature or character.

There is nothing left to the imagination...

like avatar? you know, the first film to completely depict an alien ecological system....

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This is what I don't like about the expanded universe. Everything is completely is named and explained. Even the smallest creature or character.

There is nothing left to the imagination...

I agree. But the great thing is that you can ignore the expanded universe and avoid all that stuff, and the mystery remains.

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well finally saw this. i saw it with dolby digital 3d. i didnt feel the film was dark and the 3d aspect was good and worked well. i think i noticed a pair of new shoots for this release like the view of anakins engine when he accelerates in the final lap, now the shot is wider and we can see more engine. the sound mix sounded more boom too.

the awful thing: somehow they retranslated the opening crawl i was accustomed to. but they made the horrendous mistake of putting 'Episode 1' (without roman numerals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Now that the dust has settled on "TPM", the question needs to be asked: is it really that bad? Answer: yes...and no.

I saw this in (effective, but unobtrusive) 3D, and I had a blast!

It's trash, to be sure, but you can't deny that it is beautifully-made trash. So, go see it, and then vow never to watch it again, prefering to re-watch "TESB", an elegant film, from a more civilised age.

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