Wednesday, May 6, 2015

31 Day Star Wars Challenge, Day 6: Favorite Movie in the Prequel Series

Let's just get this out of the way, folks. The prequels were pretty bad. And by pretty bad, I mean that they sucked all of the fun out of the Star Wars saga and nearly doomed any sequels straight to development hell. Well, that is my irritation talking; there's no way a money-making machine like Star Wars would be ended, especially now that Disney has its claws in it. Most of the time, I hate-watch them, mocking every woodenly delivered moan of woe and each stupid CGI alien foible. However, since I have to choose one of the prequels, I'm going to doom myself and pick The Phantom Menace.

Via Wikipedia
Put down your pitchforks, guys. Yes, this is the movie that introduces Jar Jar and one of the worst child actors ever to star in a major motion picture, and yes, this is the movie that has Natalie Portman try one of the weirdest quasi-British accents in the world while dressed like she's from Mongolia. And yes, this is the movie that is so insensitive that it includes racial stereotypes of Chinese and Middle Eastern people, among plenty of others. And yes, this is the movie whose plot structure* and character development is so boring that, at the end of the film, you literally do not care that Qui-Gon Jinn is gutted. I'm well aware of the movie's faults.

However, it has two things going for it. 1) Hayden Christensen isn't in it, and 2) there isn't a romance subplot. That is enough for me to enjoy it so much more than the other two pieces of cinematic diarrhea.

I also like that it more directly references one of the movies that inspired the first movie: The Hidden Fortress by Kurosawa Akira. Of course, The Phantom Menace is way too stylized and soulless to actually warrant a positive comparison, but I think it's admirable that Lucas wanted to pay homage to one of his mentors.

You know what? A big part of why I like this movie over the other two isn't because of what it is; it's what it could have been. There are real strokes of genius in there, like mirroring A New Hope (but not being a copy) and introducing the Jedi way of life, but it just got too mired in Lucas' ego. I have posted this video before, but I'm going to do it again below and leave today's entry at that.

Belated Media's "What If Star Wars: Episode One Was Good?"


* The pod racing sequence was mind-numbingly dull, and it wasn't just because the length was ridiculous. There was literally no way that Anakin was going to lose, so the faux-urgency was insulting as a movie viewer. If you cut out the majority of the pod race - or hell, even develop a different contest by which Qui-Gon can win Anakin's freedom - the movie runs much more smoothly and actually seems to have a purpose.
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