May 21, 1999 – The Phantom Menace
WARNING!! Spoilers ahead… If you want to be surprised then don’t read this page.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Boy was I glad to see those words on a big screen again! I must admit that I skipped school (with a good number of my friends) the day “Star Wars: A New Hope” was released in movie theaters just to go to the earliest show possible. Ever since I was a little girl I have been waiting for the Prequels and now finally we are able to see Episode I. As I mentioned in an earlier entry my roommates, Liesl and Brandy, and my boyfriend Stuart saw “The Phantom Menace” on Wednesday, the day it was released. I was not lucky enough to get tickets for opening day due to class interference. It all turned out, however. I had a nice evening with Stuart and neither one of us had to worry about getting up early to go to work or class. Anyway, on to my opinion of the new movie!

As a die hard Star Wars fan, but not the kind of person who would lay my life on the line for it, I was very pleased and impressed with George Lucas’ most recent installment of our favorite space epic. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd were all fabulous in their respective roles. All of the characters were interesting to see at a time before the Trilogy. Come to think of it, I don’t think there was much chance that I could have been disappointed anyway. The fans that WERE disappointed must have been the ones who were expecting the best movie they ever had seen or ever would see. I am not one of those fans, but I do have to say that some aspects of the movie were a let-down.
1) The character of Jar Jar Binks did not fir into the movie at all. George Lucas and the other people who created Star Wars were very careful to relate the movies to modern society in very minimal ways only. This keeps viewers from comparing it to modern life and gives Star Wars an ambiance that is like nothing they know firsthand. Jar Jar was obviously needed for comic relief since R2-D2 and C3PO were not present to provide it. Unfortunately modern humor such as Jar Jar employed has no place in a Star Wars movie, and I was unhappy with its presence. (Remember how cute it was on “Full House” when Stephanie would say “how rude” all the time? Somehow when Jar Jar said it all I could think about was that sitcom and not the movie at hand. Bad move, Lucas.) To make a long story short, I could have done without Jar Jar Binks completely.
2) I figured out the Queen switch thing WAY too easily. Let me tell you how. When one of the ladies-in-waiting said something to the queen for the first time I leaned over to Stuart and asked, “Was that her fifteen minutes of fame?” He answered no, and I immediately knew what was going on. Had we not had that short exchange it would have taken only a little longer for me to see. Other factors told me my instincts were right. Why else would the handmaiden’s character be more developed than the queen (who ends up being the mother of Luke and Leia)? Why else would the queen not look or sound like Natalie Portman? I am proud that I saw it so quickly. I guess if you weren’t clued in at the beginning it would take an observative person to see it otherwise. Not that I am saying anything about me or my observational skills (because usually they are very poor), but I am always skeptical when it comes to plot twists in good movies. I pride myself in figuring out stuff early and not being sucked in by alternate storylines. This leads to next complaint.
3) After a quick comparison of the Jedi situation at the beginning of Phantom Menace and what I know of little Skywalker’s upbringing, I figured that Qui-Gon Jinn had to die. What a great way to start the movie! How else would Anakin turn up in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hands? I guess Liam Neeson just had a one-movie deal with Lucas, but I suppose he could present himself as a ghost as Obi-Wan did to Luke later in the Trilogy. Anything is possible. Too bad Darth Maul had to die also. He was an awesome character who deserved further development. Maybe there are more cool guys like him out there that will surface later. One can only hope.
4) The name of the game is continuity. This is a personal message to George Lucas: if these new movies do not fit with the original Trilogy I will be angry beyond words. I won’t be responsible for my own actions if you screw up here, buddy! Since there are still two more movies to present I can’t talk too much about this one. So far I can’t make Alec Guinness’ portrayal of Ben Kenobi match up with Ewan McGregor’s role. A few things aren’t adding up. Perhaps I am a bit too picky here, but I guarantee there are fans who will pick Phantom Menace apart much more closely than I have. Not that I complain about the use of Ewan McGregor! He’s a hottie all right! Notice, however, that the Scottish accent of Obi-Wan’s youth transforms as he enters old age and becomes English. Wow! Gotta find out the secret for that.

All in all I can complain that much. I saw a great movie with a wonderful guy at my side and a good time was had by all. (How many times can a use a synonym for “good” in one sentence?) After I see Phantom Menace the second time (or the third, or the fourth…) I will have more to say about it. How will I be able to wait until 2002 for the next movie? Only time will tell. If you made it this far through my ranting and raving I am seriously impressed. Thanks for your interest. I shall be going now. Tomorrow I am planning to study for my History of Science midterm all day so I can go to the beach on Sunday. Whoopie!

Check out the great "Star Wars" parody comics I got from Heart of the City