Tuesday 28 July 2015

A good feature of The Phantom Menace

Seriously, I'm not joking.

Due to the impending release of Episode VII, my plan to write some other blog posts on Star Wars, and beer on Friday lunchtime impeding my higher brain functions, I decided to re-watch Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

In the third act of this film, Queen Amidala is a strong, independent, heroic character. She defies pressure from old men (Palpatine, Qui-Gon Jinn) to stay safely in exile on Coruscant. Instead, she forms a plan, makes an alliance with old rivals, leads her forces in battle, takes back her planet and frees her people.

I really do like that. The battle plan is kind of stupid, but this is Star Wars, so I'm willing to cut them some slack and give credit for a good idea. Natalie Portman's wooden performance is unhelpful, but better actors than her have struggled to make George Lucas' dialogue sound like something a human being might say. The real problem is that Lucas doesn't give this story any space to breathe.

Instead of giving Portman a chance, we are subjected to lots of time with Jar-Jar Binks and Anakin Skywalker. Jar-Jar is so unbelievably irritating, he manages to overshadow the annoying qualities of Anakin, who for some reason has tagged along. What the hell was Qui-Gon thinking, taking a nine year-old boy into the middle of a battle, then leaving him to sit around unsupervised while he heads off to duel with Darth Maul? I wouldn't leave a child that age alone at a football match, never mind a combat zone.

Anakin goes joyriding in a fighter craft. (Bizarrely, there was an Anakin-sized helmet left in the cockpit; I guess the regular pilot has a really small head.) By a combination of dumb luck, supernatural piloting skills, and help from the long-suffering R2-D2, he flies around making idiotic cutesy remarks, before blowing up the Trade Federation control ship, killing everyone on board. Maybe thousands of them, from the size of that ship.

They were all funny-looking aliens who speak with a ridiculous mock-Japanese accent, and pawns in Darth Sidious' evil plan, so they had it coming, right?

Seriously though, a nine year-old boy kills thousands of people. What kind of horrifying Ender's Game shit is that? As a reward, they have a big party, Amidala smiles at him, and then he gets taken away by Obi-Wan for Jedi training, leaving his mother as a slave back on Tattooine. A nine year-old boy, remember. I'm amazed he didn't turn to the Dark Side sooner.

Still, credit where it's due, Amidala taking back her throne is pretty cool.


  1. The one time I sat down to watch Phantom Menace, I fell asleep after about twenty minutes.

    1. With certain other films, I would try and talk you into giving it another try. The Phantom Menace is not one of those films.