Star Wars I : The Phantom Menace (1999) – The House Of Cards

RATING: 3/5

DIRECTOR: George Lucas

Everyone writes off the prequel trilogy and  you read fanboy sites that say “Don’t bother, it sucks.”  The Phantom Menace isn’t telling the same story as the original films nor does it want to do that.  A librarian told me ” It’s eighteen years ago people, get over it!”  George Lucas would have had a tough decision to make while writing the screenplay for the film. Which audience does he write the script for? The teenagers and children of the 1980s that grew up with Episodes IV to VI or to hook a new audience with children and teenagers of the current era. The answer, not even he knew so he most likely decided to write for both.

jakelloydLucas has the ability to spend money on his Star Wars films  this round, instead of model ships, viewers see digital space stations, great techno eye candy and how Lucas would have wanted his vision took like in earlier films if the bank balance intended. But now this begs the question…the Star Wars faithful will say “How can new technology and gadgets be used by Jedi an in a latter  time period there is limited old technology? ” I say to that – It’s not real life, it’s reel life and it doesn’t matter but the religious twenty something Uni student studying a Geography degree will say ” The Empire stole technology for themselves, and everything was reverted.” Oh God. Who cares!

What happens in this film is quite different. You can call this film Star Wars I: House of Cards. The film is dialogue heavy on political bantering back and forth with Trade Federation  Negotiations, Jedi Council speeches and padawan sales pitches to train a young Anakin Skywalker (Lloyd). There is no central story here in the film the way its told. You can extract what is happening, but the story is messy. If there was another way to tell it, then it may have worked better. I was sitting back watching it again thinking, this scene should be exciting but it stays in the scene too long dragging the moment to a halt. It’s almost like you’re listening to a speech and one person is labouring one point too long but all you want is them is for them to get to the next point.

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Qui -Gon Jin (Neeson) and Obi Wan Kenobi (McGregor) are Jedi and get a few tag alongs  on the way of their journey of protecting Queen Amidala (Portman) like Jar Jar Binks and a young boy with a high midi-chlorian count.  That means, he’s not only a Jedi but his Jedi levels are beyond this world. He maybe the chosen one. We all know he’ll become Darth Vader and this where it all starts. If Darth Vader was the personification of evil in the first trilogy then who acts in that role in this one. Enter Darth Maul and the  Emperor still doing dirty work and playing tactical with politics. The film is entertaining and good but it lacks edge from the original for very good reason. It isn’t the original so stop comparing and contrasting.  It deserves three stars and perhaps another one would be added if the film took a step back and visited the editing room.  The film is House of Cards for fifteen years olds and under.

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CAST:

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn

Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi

Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala

Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker

Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu

 

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