It was with some anxious anticipation (after all, a lot of the reviews
and word from fellow fans have terrible) and excitement (it is after all
the first Star Wars in more than 16 years!) that I sat down
for an early morning screening of The Phantom Menace along with
hundreds of other cinema goers. And?
To be honest, I had a good time.
It is a enjoyable movie and while I ignored most of the negative
word surrounding the movie in that I did go to see it, it is nowhere as bad as some have made it out to be. Okay, so lowering one's expectations
before going to see it might help. So will reading all those negative
reviews. Beforehand I was afraid that I will be disappointed and so I
didn't walk into the cinema expecting another Empire
Strikes Back. Think more Return of the Jedi
and you're on the right track . . .
That doesn't mean that the critics are wrong. Everything they said is
true: the plot is a tad too complicated, some of the actors are terrible
(especially Jake Lloyd, the young boy playing Anakin Skywalker - that's
Darth Vader to you, mister!), the clunky dialogue falls like leaden balls
on the ears, the computer generated Jar Jar Binks character is annoying
at times and the film is seriously lacking in interesting characters in that they are
merely shunted from one
scene to the next like cardboard cut-outs to satisfy the demands of the
But none of this really matters because
the film's strengths finally outweigh its weaknesses. The action sequences
are spectacular and tense - especially a pod race sequence half-way
through the movie and the final climactic light saber duel which has a freedom
of movement that makes similar duels in the previous film look almost
amateurish in comparison. Technically the film shines.
The brilliant special
effects, excellent sound and John Williams' soundtrack music all combine
to what one ultimately expects from a Star Wars film. Let's face
up to it: the Star Wars films were designed to be Saturday matinee
shows and watching it I felt ten years old again. The Phantom Menace
is an old-fashioned epic and like epics of yore it supplies its audiences
with enough spectacle and awe.
By focusing too much on the weaknesses of Phantom Menace, critics
have made it out to be bad movie. What they meant is that it could have
been a better movie - in that they are right, but what they neglected
to mention was that that doesn't make Phantom Menace a bad movie
- something it isn't.
(Actually it's better than its 2002 sequel,
Attack of the Clones.)
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