Monday, 4 January 2016

Star Wars; Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: Let's get these two out of the way first, shall we?

One thing I've been saying to people I know is that this month, I'm kinda setting myself up to shoot myself in the foot with this, purely because of what the subject is. Star Wars is one of the most talked about things on the internet, and most of it is aimed at how bad the prequel trilogy is and that the original trilogy is seen as a masterpiece. Do I agree with those statements? Well, you'll see by the end of the month. Now before we go into the reviews themselves, I'm going to say this here and now. I am reviewing the DVD releases that came out in 2004, which means that yes, I'll be reviewing the original trilogy based on the "Special editions". Sadly I have not seen the original edits of Episodes 4, 5 and 6, let alone own a copy of them. All three are versions I want to see someday, and I want the rumors of the movies being re released to be true, but until then, these will have to do. I will say in advance, it is really obvious what's been edited in. But before we get to that, we have these to do, so lets kick off the Star Wars Marathon with what some argue to be the worst of the movies: The Phantom Menace.

I would love to be able to give a plot summary, but to be honest, it's too confusing, due to problem after problem after problem. Thankfully I can write this and assume most people who would read this have some sort of working knowledge of the series, so I don't need to hold back like in the BIONICLE reviews.  The Trade Federation have a blockade around the planet Naboo, as instructed by Darth Sidious, for some reason, and it is up to two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice,  Obi-Wan Kenobi. After being forced off the ship because of "short negotiations", the two Jedi arrive on the planet itself with the self appointed task of protecting the queen of the planet, Queen Amidala, who holds the title of "Most boring Disney Princess", which I'll explain later. After that though, the plot gets lost in a mess of threads and questionable decisions. There's one thread that has Jar Jar Binks, the character almost the entire fanbase loathes with a passion that burns hotter then anything you could think of. Trust me, I've been trying to make a joke here, but nothing I can think of can come close. Regardless, there's a thread that has him banished, but that's only addressed once, and he somehow goes from being banished to being a general, because that makes sense? One where the Queen we've been following turns out to be a body double, something that's pretty much a deus ex moment that, to me, makes no sense at all. Honestly the only thread that works for me is Anakin being a skilled pilot, something that has a bit of build up in the original trilogy and is a bit of a deus ex in the newest movie, but I'll cover that when I review The Force Awakens.
I swear this looks like a bad edit, and is probably why Force Dashing stayed in the video games

What makes the story worse is that they explain everything, and yet accomplish nothing. There's a lot of bland, monotone exposition in this movie, on par with M Night Shamalan movies nowadays. The casting itself is fine overall, and yes I am including Padme and Anakin in that, but what makes it worse is the direction. There's a difference between a bad actor, and bad direction, and this I feel is more on bad direction, which can, has and will kill movies. Yes, I will say this now, the movie could have been 10 times better if George Lucas was better at directing the cast. Could they have been cast better? Yes, but that may not have fixed the main issue, and besides, Jake Lloyd has gone on record saying this movie killed his childhood, I don't want to add insult to injury when the blame isn't entirely on him.
Well this is redundant

The music in this is gorgeous, and is the kind of soundtrack I look for in a movie, something that knows when to make itself known, and knows when to stay in the background, and for that, this is perfect for the movie... shame I can't say that about the visuals. You can tell that very little of this movie is actually there, there's a lot of CGI. Does it help at times? Yes. The establishing shots work well, the light saber battles, ship battle and the pod race still look really good. It's when you get up close that things start to crack. The aliens look generic at best and awful at worse, the Naboo ship's texture means it stands out like a sore thumb due to bad light mapping, granted it was 1999, so I can let it slide to some extent, I can't help that I've been spoiled by almost 20 years of CGI development.
Watch the last time Yoda is actually on set for a star wars movie

Is this a bad Star Wars movie? Yes. Is it the worst? No, that's coming next. Is it one of the worst movies I've ever seen? Hell no, it's no where close. You have to understand, I've seen some awful movies, and even limiting it to what I've seen for this site, to say it's worse then Age of Extinction and Digimon the Movie does this a dis service, and that's not taking into account the movies I refuse to review because of how awful they are. There is a reason why people don't go back to watch this, and I agree 100% with them, I haven't watched this movie in roughly a decade for a reason. But no, this is not the worst star wars movie, even though it has one of the most hated characters in the fandom in it (I personally hate the Gungan Leader more, but that's just me). Up next in the main Marathon, We have Attack of the Clones, but before then, a few things I missed out on last year, including tomorrow's review of Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival and, if you support me on patreon, you'll get an early look at my first impression on Captain America: Civil War.

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