12 votes

Hear me out: Why Star Wars: The Phantom Menace isn't a bad movie

31 comments

  1. [9]
    TheJorro
    Link
    I have always maintained that killing off Darth Maul so early was the biggest shot in the foot the prequels made. He was amazing, every fight he was in was electric, and that double-bladed...

    I have always maintained that killing off Darth Maul so early was the biggest shot in the foot the prequels made. He was amazing, every fight he was in was electric, and that double-bladed lightsabre brought so much more potential than dual-wielded lightsabres ever could.

    He had a great design that was iconic, scary, and intriguing. His almost complete lack of dialogue in a movie where everyone talked too much worked well when paired with the athleticism and spectacle whenever he appeared. He was a bad guy who could have easily been as iconic as Darth Vader because, honestly, Palpatine has always been limp and boring as hell.

    The possibility of Anakin becoming Vader by competing against Maul for Palpatine's approval as an apprentice in a strict master-apprentice relationship would easily have been more compelling than the five second heel-face turn we got in Episode 3.

    23 votes
    1. [8]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      I think I disagree a little here. Darth Maul's fight scenes were great, and his costume design was wonderful. But the character was grossly underdeveloped, which kind of ruins the whole thing for...

      He was amazing, every fight he was in was electric, and that double-bladed lightsabre brought so much more potential than dual-wielded lightsabres ever could.

      I think I disagree a little here.

      Darth Maul's fight scenes were great, and his costume design was wonderful. But the character was grossly underdeveloped, which kind of ruins the whole thing for me.

      I'll compare him to his closest analogue from the OT, Darth Vader. By the end of Star Wars, Vader is a well developed character rather than a mystery box. We have learned that he has some familial relation to the main protagonist ("Vader betrayed and murdered your father").

      Furthermore, the past relationship between Vader and Obi Wan is established throughout the film. This culminates in their duel on the Freedom Sphere Death Star, giving it far more emotional weight than the "Duel of the Fates" in Phantom Menace despite the comparatively lackluster fight choreography and special effects.

      This gave the character a foundation upon which Empire and Jedi could build, while providing a satisfying arc in his first outing.

      9 votes
      1. [7]
        TheJorro
        Link Parent
        I feel like that's where we get into what makes TPM such a bad movie compared to the OT ones. Pretty much all the characters came off badly by the end in terms of quality, with little to no...

        I feel like that's where we get into what makes TPM such a bad movie compared to the OT ones. Pretty much all the characters came off badly by the end in terms of quality, with little to no favourable characterization compared to just one of the OT movies. It's a badly written movie, in a badly written trilogy. Even Obi Wan in Episode 1 is rather boring. He's not at all the charming, suave, hammy Obi Wan of the next two movies.

        In a movie where so many reputably good actors came across wooden or hammy, Darth Maul is probably one of the most well performed and, by the end of the movie, he has some character purely through his actions, due the physicality of the performance and an almost complete lack of dialogue. It's remarkable how much character there was to Darth Maul with all of one line of dialogue in the entire movie.

        Given the opportunity with two more movies to have him and his purpose fleshed out further opposite Anakin cum Vader alongside a lot more great lightsabre battles, I believe he could have been as iconic as Darth Vader to Star Wars, even if not as emotionally appealing or as deep. At the very least, there could have certainly been a lot more to cement him as a fan favourite compared to the likes of, say, Boba Fett.

        8 votes
        1. [4]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          He already is! You should do yourself a favor and watch The Clone Wars. Darth Maul (and his "brother") get a decent amount of screen time in that series (after S4), are allowed to develop into...

          I believe he could have been as iconic as Darth Vader to Star Wars

          He already is! You should do yourself a favor and watch The Clone Wars. Darth Maul (and his "brother") get a decent amount of screen time in that series (after S4), are allowed to develop into multi-dimensional characters, and even get their own rather dark standalone side story; See: Spidermaul (SPOILERS!)

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            TheJorro
            Link Parent
            I've been meaning to watch the show for many reasons, the canonical return of Darth Maul included! But I also can't help but feel that, unfortunately, nothing outside of the films reaches the...

            I've been meaning to watch the show for many reasons, the canonical return of Darth Maul included! But I also can't help but feel that, unfortunately, nothing outside of the films reaches the iconic levels compared to what's in them and Darth Maul was a better candidate than Dooku or Grievous ever were (with apologies to Sir Christopher Lee).

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Grogu disagrees, as does Ahsoka. ;) Only partially joking. The extended universe characters will obviously never be as iconic or widely recognized as the film characters, but a lot of them are...

              nothing outside of the films reaches the iconic levels compared to what's in them

              Grogu disagrees, as does Ahsoka. ;)

              Only partially joking. The extended universe characters will obviously never be as iconic or widely recognized as the film characters, but a lot of them are probably coming close now thanks to the Mandolorian being as popular as it is. And with more of Disney+ SW shows featuring some of those Clone Wars characters on the way, I imagine their popularity will only continue to grow too.

              3 votes
              1. TheJorro
                Link Parent
                Ha, I actually meant to say "live action", not "films". But I only just finished watching the Mandalorian to find out what "Baby Yoda" was all about, so I still have it in my brain as "films"...

                Ha, I actually meant to say "live action", not "films". But I only just finished watching the Mandalorian to find out what "Baby Yoda" was all about, so I still have it in my brain as "films" automatically. Super glad they brought Ashoka into the live action universe!

                Also TBH, I've always been more of a SW video games person than any of their other media types.

                3 votes
        2. [2]
          vegai
          Link Parent
          Seems to me like a rather realistic depiction of a young apprentice. People grow.

          It's a badly written movie, in a badly written trilogy. Even Obi Wan in Episode 1 is rather boring. He's not at all the charming, suave, hammy Obi Wan of the next two movies.

          Seems to me like a rather realistic depiction of a young apprentice. People grow.

          2 votes
          1. TheJorro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            No, it's Ewan McGregor having a good time by hamming it up, not the result of anything purposeful. Anakin's the one written to grow, and look how that went.

            No, it's Ewan McGregor having a good time by hamming it up, not the result of anything purposeful. Anakin's the one written to grow, and look how that went.

            2 votes
  2. Akir
    Link
    Ah yes, the good old "this might be a good movie if it weren't so bad" excuse. But I get it! I really do! I've seen more than a few movies that were like that. But I don't think you should call...

    Ah yes, the good old "this might be a good movie if it weren't so bad" excuse.

    But I get it! I really do! I've seen more than a few movies that were like that. But I don't think you should call them good movies just because there is more to it than what you're shown. They're still bad movies, but there's no shame in enjoying them. Jupiter Ascending, for instance, could have been really great if it were three movies like they originally planned for. But that's not what we got, and the end result was sub-par because of it. The science fiction genre is full of movies like this.

    I will say this about Star Wars in particular; the main reason why I don't really enjoy it so much is that it seems like the universe it has built is the only thing that's really valuable about it. The movies have rather flimsy plots and bad writing, with characters I generally don't really like. The only star wars characters I actually like tend to be the bad guys, and to be honest that's at least 80% from the visual design. There is good Star Wars media, but when the flagship properties feel so hollow, I don't have much interest in mining for diamonds.

    13 votes
  3. [4]
    spctrvl
    Link
    The author only really argued that there were the components of a good movie within the phantom menace, not that the movie was actually good (or at least not bad). You can make a bad movie out of...

    The author only really argued that there were the components of a good movie within the phantom menace, not that the movie was actually good (or at least not bad). You can make a bad movie out of good parts and a good movie out of bad parts, it's all in the execution, and that's something that really none of the star wars movies since ESB have had, IMO, though some were better in that regard than others.

    I also take issue with characterizing the extensive worldbuilding in TPM as inherently a good thing. Personally, I think Star Wars post-OT has had the annoying tendency of trying to overexplain every little detail in a way that doesn't really work for its genre. It's space opera, not hard sci-fi, it's good to keep things a little mysterious, and trying to explain everything has the paradoxical effect of making the world seem smaller.

    6 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      I agree. And that's what brings the Phantom Menace down the most, IMHO. There was no real need to understand all of this government protocol; that's all world-building that takes away from the...

      Personally, I think Star Wars post-OT has had the annoying tendency of trying to overexplain every little detail in a way that doesn't really work for its genre.

      I agree. And that's what brings the Phantom Menace down the most, IMHO. There was no real need to understand all of this government protocol; that's all world-building that takes away from the storytelling. Heck, that's the reason why it's so often a kingdom even in space operas - they're really easy to understand and don't require any explanation. You know if the king tells the protagonist to do something, it's for the benefit of the entire kingdom. I mean, heck, even if we were talking about a real kingdom, one would still have to go through layers of bureaucracy to see the monarch - but good writers skip all that junk!

      4 votes
    2. [2]
      PetitPrince
      Link Parent
      I completely agree. As an example, I really really like each individual scene of Gunnm / Battle Angel Alita live action film, but I hate the movie as a whole. [Assuming overexplaining stuff ==...

      You can make a bad movie out of good parts and a good movie out of bad parts

      I completely agree. As an example, I really really like each individual scene of Gunnm / Battle Angel Alita live action film, but I hate the movie as a whole.

      Personally, I think Star Wars post-OT has had the annoying tendency of trying to overexplain every little detail in a way that doesn't really work for its genre.

      [Assuming overexplaining stuff == having a lot of world-building] I would argue that this is more a problem of the medium (you need to be concise in a movie) rather than a genre. Tolkien's Middle Earth famously have an extensive mythology, language and all.

      True for the prequel, but I feel the sequel doesn't explain enough.

      2 votes
      1. spctrvl
        Link Parent
        Maybe rather than strictly being about medium or genre, it's about where the narrative focus is placed. I actually thought about Tolkien when I was writing that bit, and why I wouldn't apply the...

        Maybe rather than strictly being about medium or genre, it's about where the narrative focus is placed. I actually thought about Tolkien when I was writing that bit, and why I wouldn't apply the same criticism to him, and I think it's because to Tolkien, worldbuilding was always the main focus. Lord of the Rings was a vehicle with which to explore Middle Earth as much as Middle Earth was a place to set the Lord of the Rings, it's a very setting driven story, as opposed to Star Wars' very character driven story. I would say in general that worldbuilding is most important in sociological storytelling, and excessive worldbuilding can be damaging to psychological storytelling.

        True for the prequel, but I feel the sequel doesn't explain enough.

        I think the problem with the sequels is less that they didn't explain stuff, and more that they wrote a story that was so incoherent that it needed additional explanation in the first place. "Show, Don't Tell" works great if you aren't showing the audience a convoluted mess.

        2 votes
  4. streblo
    Link
    The redemption arc of the Star Wars prequels that gen-z has inflicted upon us is an unforgivable sin. shakes fist

    The redemption arc of the Star Wars prequels that gen-z has inflicted upon us is an unforgivable sin. shakes fist

    5 votes
  5. [13]
    tomf
    Link
    For anybody who is into Star Wars, Hal9000/Kirk’s fanedits of the prequels are a must watch. These edits have lead me to liking the PT the most of all of the films. Very little JarJar, a reduction...

    For anybody who is into Star Wars, Hal9000/Kirk’s fanedits of the prequels are a must watch. These edits have lead me to liking the PT the most of all of the films. Very little JarJar, a reduction in mostly useless politics, pace fixing — they’re so good.

    I still like the OT.. but I hate the ST. :)

    4 votes
    1. [10]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      How do we find these?

      For anybody who is into Star Wars, Hal9000/Kirk’s fanedits of the prequels are a must watch.

      How do we find these?

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        Sand
        Link Parent
        Here, maybe. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2lsYRKXLjL9UGNIX3hfczVETFU
        2 votes
        1. [3]
          suspended
          Link Parent
          I tried those and they all have the commentators track laid on top of the audio :(

          I tried those and they all have the commentators track laid on top of the audio :(

          1. [2]
            Sand
            Link Parent
            Did you download them or did you play them in the browser?

            Did you download them or did you play them in the browser?

            1. suspended
              Link Parent
              Played both 720 and 1080p versions in browser.

              Played both 720 and 1080p versions in browser.

      2. [5]
        tomf
        Link Parent
        Check this thread for the link to his google drive There looks to be a torrent for Ep1 - Cloak of Deception, but you can either do that or just download them normally. Sometimes Drive has traffic...

        Check this thread for the link to his google drive

        There looks to be a torrent for Ep1 - Cloak of Deception, but you can either do that or just download them normally.

        Sometimes Drive has traffic limits for files. When I got these, I had a buddy with unlimited storage copy them over. It's a pain in the ass, but its worth it.

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          suspended
          Link Parent
          See my previous comment here.

          See my previous comment here.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            tomf
            Link Parent
            oh yeah! switch the track. There are multiples, but for some reason if you play it straight from the site, it chooses the wrong one. If you download it, it'll play the correct ones.

            oh yeah! switch the track. There are multiples, but for some reason if you play it straight from the site, it chooses the wrong one. If you download it, it'll play the correct ones.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              suspended
              Link Parent
              OK. I'll give that a try. Thanks!

              OK. I'll give that a try. Thanks!

              1 vote
              1. tomf
                Link Parent
                If you think, 'I should go through the commentary track' --- don't. It made me appreciate other commentary tracks that were somewhat lackluster :)

                If you think, 'I should go through the commentary track' --- don't. It made me appreciate other commentary tracks that were somewhat lackluster :)

                1 vote
    2. [2]
      MonkeyPants
      Link Parent
      How the original star wars was saved in the edit
      2 votes
      1. tomf
        Link Parent
        George Lucas is good at vision, but at times it feels like everything that is iconic about Star Wars was someone else's idea. :)

        George Lucas is good at vision, but at times it feels like everything that is iconic about Star Wars was someone else's idea. :)

        2 votes
  6. Good_Apollo
    Link
    If anyone wants their opinions to change (slightly at the least) on the prequels, check this video for some decent breakdown on why the prequels are the way they are and how maybe they’re not as...

    If anyone wants their opinions to change (slightly at the least) on the prequels, check this video for some decent breakdown on why the prequels are the way they are and how maybe they’re not as bad as you think.

    3 votes
  7. MonkeyPants
    Link
    Well, the author is entitled to his opinion, but he is wrong.

    Well, the author is entitled to his opinion, but he is wrong.

    4 votes