Author Topic: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?  (Read 5368 times)

Offline Brian

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The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« on: April 11, 2006, 11:01 AM »
As we are all well aware, the Phantom Menace has taken quite a drubbing over the years...and continues to today.  It probably (maybe deservedly) gets the majority of the blame for when "Star Wars lost its way" to some people, and seems to be generally looked down upon by both fans and the general public (some of that, prior to ROTS, seemed to be because it was "cool" to rag on Star Wars).  For some reason recently, I got in the mood to give it a watch again.  I don't think I have watched it for at least a couple of years, aside from maybe catching portions when it was on TV.  Although it is probably my least favorite of all the Star Wars movies, and there are things I would have liked to see done differently, it doesn't seem as bad to me now.  Maybe I've just given it enough time, and I'm thinking back a little to the excitement of "a new Star Wars movie" coming out when I first saw it in the theatres, but I think I can appreciate it a little bit more now.

I'm more of an OT-person overall, but I do enjoy all of the movies in the Saga.  Revenge of the Sith in particular is my favorite of the PT, and almost on the level of parts of the OT.  The prequel movies never quite seemed "the same" to me, but they just aren't.  Its a different enviroment that the movies take place in...its not rebels and rogues, its senators and Jedi...and later clones.  Looking at the movies as seperate trilogies, instead of comparing one to the other helps more.  Don't get me wrong, there are some parts of TPM that really bug me.  The Gungans/Jar-Jar is a big one.  I don't necessarily mind the gungans overall, and I think that the character of Jar-Jar could have been better received with a smaller part and maybe a different voice/manner of speaking.  There also gets to be a lot of the political stuff in the movie, and that maybe could have been pulled back a bit too.  And, we all know the complaints of Jake Lloyd as well.  Maybe not as much him as the dialogue, but something could have been improved there.

But, overall there are some things I really like in the movie too.  Qui-Gon Jinn is one of my favorite characters of the PT, and I enjoyed Liam Neeson in the role.  Too bad he didn't last too long, but I thought the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan team was good.  Also, Darth Maul really was a pretty cool villain, even though he sort of ended up being a throw-away character.  Heck, even Watto isn't too bad.  The ending lightsaber battle is arguable one of the best in the Saga, as well as the Duel of the Fates theme that accompanies it.  Anyways, this is getting longer winded than I intended, but basically do you feel that The Phantom Menace is as bad as it is known for?  Obviously its not a perfect movie, and for most people probably ranked "last" as far as the Saga goes, but is it really that terrible?  What changes, subtle or grand, do you think could have been made to improve it?  Story changes, actor/character changes, the designs of the ships/cities, etc.?  Just curious what some of you think.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2006, 11:02 AM by Brian »

Offline Reid

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2006, 11:21 AM »
I'm probably one of the few who likes TPM. And really, it isn't all that bad. I didn't mind Jar Jar, I could see why GL wanted to put him in there for comic relief. The end lightsaber duel between Obi, Qui, and Maul was awesome, one of the best lightsaber duels in the saga second to the Luke/Vader duel on the DS2. I liked the podrace a lot, I thought that was pretty cool. I think it may be the most underrated SW movie, if not the most underrated movie of all time. I actually preffered this to AOTC.

Offline Padawan Wagaboodles

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2006, 03:25 PM »
All the Prequels grow on me after seeing them a few times.   They're not bad--they're just really different from the OT and I think that's where most fans were disappointed.

Offline DarthDooku

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2006, 11:47 PM »
the phantom menace is just different from the others thats all ::) ::) ::)
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Offline Darby

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2006, 04:31 AM »
TPM has flaws, but it actually is pretty entertaining.  It's nowhere near as bad as most people make it out to be.  There's things I would change, but I love the look of the film, some of the ideas, and Liam Neeson.  Plus, that duel is the best in the entire PT.

Offline JediTray

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2006, 09:07 PM »
Whenever I pop in TPM, which is practically never, I just look at the podrace and the "Duel Of The Fates".

I just see this film as a trailer for better things to come.  I select the podrace and watch it, then the duel and watch it, then put it away.

 :)
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Offline ruiner

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2006, 01:38 PM »
Right on. 

The movie is good until were are introduced to Jar Jar.  Then I fast forward to the pod race and finally the duel between Maul, Ginn, and Obi Wan.

Is the movie as bad as everyone says it is? 

In a nutshell, yes.

The acting (outside of Ewan and Liam) was horrendous.  Jake Lloyd was NOT the right child for the part (take a look at the "Making of" doc on the DVD to see the right choice).

And yes, there is Jar Jar who is unforgivable as a character.

I always thought the prequels would touch on the Jedi more - kicking ass and taking names later - restoring peace to the galaxy.  Never really happened IMO.

GL had a lot of time to work on it and he delivered a POS - granted, expectations were high but that's true with a lot of fan driven movies (see Spider-Man, that delivered as did X-Men).

Hindsight being 20/20, GL should've handed the reigns over to a younger more agressive director to give the entire PT a new feel/look.

Although I will say the movies got better as they came out.  TPM sucked, AOTC was tolerable and ROTS rocked.


Offline inadvertent imitation

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2006, 03:00 AM »
After seeing ROTS, TPM was elevated in my eyes. Not much, but some. It's still hard to fathom that the little towheaded bastard is Darth Vader. It makes it a little more tragic- what if Qui-Gon hadn't walked into Watto's shop? What if Anakin had already gone home that day and didn't set eyes on Padme? If that had happened, we wouldn't have a saga, but it's just a wonder I have.

The only thing that bugs me about TPM anymore is Jar Jar's too-big role. I understand why a little "comic" relief was needed, with that backdrop of political manuvering throughout the film, but he wasn't funny, at all. If GL ever decides to do an SE of TPM, I really hope most of his role is trimmed down.

I think the reason most people didn't like it was because it was so different from the SW movies we knew. No Empire, no Rebellion, no Stormtroopers/dudes in white armor, no Darth Vader. At least it had plenty of aliens and some Jedi at the top of their game. Plus I love the ship designs and costumes in this movie.
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Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #8 on: June 7, 2006, 02:01 PM »
I liked all three prequel movies, although they were not as good as they could've been.

I think the biggest problem with all three movies was that George Lucas directed them.  Although I think he came up with a fantastic story arc, he had some tremendous actin talent in all three movies and a more competant director could've produced better performances out of them.

Now some TPM specific gripes:

-Jar Jar's character should've been scaled way back.  I understand having him as an unlikely hero towards the end of the movie, but we didn't need in in virtually every frame of the freakin' film!  He wore thin on me very quickly and it's quite obvious that I'm not alone on that one.

-I really don't think that we needed a scientific explaination of the force.  The whole midi-chlorian idea was just unnecessary.  Anakin's immaculate conception could've jus been "the will of the Frce" and the Force could've been unusually strong in him wihout it being confirmed by a midi-chlorian count of his blood.

One other thing I think made people have a bad reaction to this movie was that it was there just to establish the setting and introduce us to the players where the the story was truly to be moved along in Episodes II and III.  When George Lucas made Star Wars, he never thought it would've been such a culture changing success that it was, hence he tried to sum it all up in one movie.  20+ years later when George Lucas makes The Phantom Menace, he knows he's going to make two more movies, and that's going to change how you write a screenplay...no matter who you are.

Sorry if this was a bit long winded, and thanks for reading this far.  ;D
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Offline Artoo

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2006, 01:29 AM »
I like it more than AOTC,the first part is less boring than AOTC's first part.
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Offline Scott

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #10 on: April 7, 2008, 10:49 PM »
My son and I watched the first half of TPM this weekend and I probably haven't watched it since right before ROTS came out.  I just can't get over two things:

Jake Lloyd
Jar Jar Binks

Lloyd is awful, really really awful.  He reminds me of the scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure where Pee Wee gets a part in his life story at the end of the movie.  His acting is so bad and he mouths the words of the script as the other actors are saying them.  He's that bad...I know Lucas took a huge leap of faith in writing the story but he really should have been better involved in the casting.  I remember seeing the casting spots of all the rest of the Anakin tryouts and they were all bad.  I get the point of the story, making him to be as innocent and pure as absolutely possible to make his eventual fall to darkness all the more powerful.

However, Jar Jar is even more awful, almost 9 years later the CG work is great, the pidgeon English is awful and having him being the butt of all of the gags in the movie doesn't work on any level.

I still dig the Neimoidians.  The duel at the end is great and so is the Gungan/Droid battle.  I also really like the Pod Race but hate the Racers.  Meh, I don't hate it but it really isn't that good :-\

Offline JediJman

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #11 on: April 7, 2008, 11:40 PM »
TPM is easily the worst of the SW movies.  Its only redeeming values are as follows:

1.) It sets up the next two movies
2.) Introduces Qui-Gon and Maul
3.) Has one of the best lightsaber fights of all six movies with Maul fighting two Jedi

I don't hate E1, but I do find it really boring through most of the movie.  I'm sure Jar Jar and the pod race are fun for some kids, but I can barely stay awake through the whole race.  I was okay with Jake's performance as a young Anakin, but way too many plot stinkers for my liking (only one TF control ship left to guard the planet? Anakin accidentally launches into space then accidentally blows up the droid control ship by accidentally flying into it and accidentally launching missiles?  That's more ridiculous than Greedo shooting first.   ::)
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #12 on: April 8, 2008, 01:55 AM »
I still maintain that the PT should never have opened with a 10 year old... 

Episode 2 should've been Episode 1, and Anakin should've been introduced as a Teen.  It would've tied into the "too old to begin the training" line from Empire Strikes back...

You keep Qui-Gon with Obi-Wan (albeit an older Obi-Wan...  Make QGJ a council member maybe?)...  They find Anakin while protecting a Senator (the Padme storyline)...  etc. etc.  Dooku's QGJ's old master, and kills QGJ...  it adds a dynamic to the Dooku character and things I think.  Obi-Wan takes Anakin as his apprentice despite a "hesitant" Jedi Council on the matter...

Episode 2 comes around now as a movie based on the war years, completely built from scratch, and it focuses on Anakin's budding romance for the Senator, his inability to let go in his life, etc.  He's a good Jedi, but he's doing things secretly that aren't good...  Lots of warrin' and whorin' which is what everyone likes about Star Wars (well, not the latter maybe), and it expands Anakin/Obi-Wan's relationship as friends and brothers despite Anakin's rowdy behavior at times...  He's still turning out to maybe be the chosen one and all that crap.

E3 then concludes it all pretty much just as it was...

I simply think Episode 1 is a very pointless movie.  The only things that film did was set up that Anakin was once a child...  Pointless.  That the galactic Republic is screwed up...  Pointless.  That the Sith returned...  Pointless.

You could accompllish all that in the Episode 2 setting/timeframe, and to me it makes more sense to start Anakin's journey as a young adult rather than a little boy. 

E1's animated is nice...  I think it's really underrated as far as effects go, but beyond that it's not a good movie.  I watch it and like it for the good parts of it (the race, the duel, the battle, some characters like Watto, etc.), but at the end of the day it's a very pointless movie, and the era that needed the detail of a film (Clone Wars) is largely glossed over by Lucas and left to cartoons.  That's dumb to me.

Plus...  I think the way I was laying things out would add to Count Dooku, Qui-Gon, the Sith overall, Anakin's character, Padme's character, Obi-Wan's character...  I'm no film expert, I just found that all very boring as a fan was all.  Very "out of place" it seemed.  :-\
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Offline Brian

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #13 on: April 8, 2008, 10:10 AM »
My son and I watched the first half of TPM this weekend and I probably haven't watched it since right before ROTS came out.  I just can't get over two things:

Jake Lloyd
Jar Jar Binks

Lloyd is awful, really really awful.  He reminds me of the scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure where Pee Wee gets a part in his life story at the end of the movie.  His acting is so bad and he mouths the words of the script as the other actors are saying them.  He's that bad...I know Lucas took a huge leap of faith in writing the story but he really should have been better involved in the casting.  I remember seeing the casting spots of all the rest of the Anakin tryouts and they were all bad.  I get the point of the story, making him to be as innocent and pure as absolutely possible to make his eventual fall to darkness all the more powerful.

However, Jar Jar is even more awful, almost 9 years later the CG work is great, the pidgeon English is awful and having him being the butt of all of the gags in the movie doesn't work on any level.

I still dig the Neimoidians.  The duel at the end is great and so is the Gungan/Droid battle.  I also really like the Pod Race but hate the Racers.  Meh, I don't hate it but it really isn't that good :-\

We caught the prequels on Spike over the weekend as well, and I think Scott really hits on my problems with TPM as well.  I've actually gotten to where I appreciate this movie a little more now that the whole Saga is complete, but it still has parts that really bother me.  Like Scott, I don't think I had sat down to watch this really since prior to ROTS (or maybe once since then, I'm not sure).  Watching it this weekend, Jake Lloyd really stood out to me as well.  I hate to criticize a child (or, when he was a child), and usually try to avoid critizing the actors too much in general - but he really is kind of bad.  Some of the lines I'm surprised they actually used the take, as it seemed incredibly forced and "read".  It just didn't seem natural at all.  The Jar Jar issue is a big one too.  I don't necessarily hate the character, but if they would have went a different route with his speech (and toned his role back a bit), I think he would have been ok.  The "comedy relief" just comes off as lame to me, and if he would have been a little more of a supporting role (instead of main character essentially) - sort of like Chewie in the OT - he might have been ok.

There are some things I really like about TPM too though, mainly the ones that have been mentioned here.  I could watch and re-watch the Duel (with Duel of the Fates playing) over and over.  I think Darth Maul really was a cool concept for a character, and although he wasn't exactly "deep" in the movie, he really was underused.  Its too bad he couldn't have been in the movie more, or even stuck around for the sequel.  Although I did enjoy all the "bad guys" in the prequels for the most part, it sometimes felt that those movie lacked the "central villain" that the OT had.  Sure, Palps was always working in the background, but it didn't seem as cut and dry as it did when I was a kid.  Darth Vader=Bad Dude.  There's the redemption in ROTJ and everything, but you pretty much knew bad stuff was going to happen when Vader and his Stormies came on screen.  With the prequels, there's a new baddie each movie (sometimes several).  I also liked the Pod Race overall, and I thought Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan were great characters too.  There's good stuff there, but overall, its one where I think you could fast forward through quite a bit of it - similar to AOTC for me.  Oh, and the Pee Wee's Big Adventure example relating to Lloyd's acting was perfect Scott :).

I think Jesse makes a good point about starting Anakin out too young.  Its been discussed before, but starting him as a teenager would have probably worked better - and maybe changed a lot about the prequels.  Have essentially AOTC-type movie for the first one - with a few changes - a second movie focusing on the Clone Wars time period, and the ROTS is pretty good as is.  That might have gone a long ways towards "fixing" many of the things people had a problem with in the PT.

Offline Scott

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Re: The Phantom Menace: Was it That Bad?
« Reply #14 on: April 8, 2008, 10:22 AM »
Or...Start with Episode II, Make II into a III Clone Wars/The Fall hybrid and Make III delve more in to the Jedi Purge w/ more of Vader and the birth of the Empire.

As I said, I understand why George did it the way he did, he had to make the fall of Anakin all the more tragic and wanted to show why good people go bad, the casting of a kid who couldn't act pretty much ruined it, for me