Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Simon Massey

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Just from Attack of the Clones, most of what had specifically happened is left to your own imagination - all that is clear to the audience is that Cloners have been paid to build an army for the heroes but that it is really the villains that have had a hand in it. In other words the idea that this army is too good to be true and is going to have massive implications in the future is there and is really all that is necessary. Sure there is enough there to make suggestions and implications about how it happened - in many ways that is in all of the films from A New Hope on - but the film provides enough. I didn't need to know how the Rebels got hold of the Death Star plans, how the Empire managed to build it, how the Rebels managed to keep their entire organisation secret on Hoth for a time, where is the Emperor for two films etc.
 

Chuck Anstey

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The real 'unbelievable' idea in AOTC is that someone could erase the existence of Kamino from all the computers. We can hardly erase anything from our computers, let alone the entire internet. The thing is I really like AOTC because it is the only one of the 3 prequels that has a plot that stands up to any scrutiny. Either way the war went, Darth Sidious wins. In The Phantom Menace there seems to be no winning if the trade blockage succeeds and Revenge of the Sith is just too messed up and full of contradictions about the dark side of the force from all that has been explained before to bother with.
 

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Chuck Anstey said:
The real 'unbelievable' idea in AOTC is that someone could erase the existence of Kamino from all the computers. We can hardly erase anything from our computers, let alone the entire internet.
You could say that it was erased from the Jedi computers (rather than the galaxy as a whole) but my question is why even bother erasing Kamino from the Jedi archives? Presumably, Dooku either erased or had someone erase it from the archives (who did it and when was it done is another question) but if the Sith had left it alone, Kamino would have just been one more unimportant planet. If you erase it and someone figures that out, that would and did raise red flags.

Although I guess you can say that it's all part of Sidious' plan for the Jedi to find Kamino and the clones so the war can start and he can start getting more power as Chancellor. However, even that raises the question of what if the Jedi found it 5 years earlier before the clone army was ready and they cancelled the order or stopped training the clones as soldiers? If the clones aren't soldiers, they aren't in the position to bushwhack the Jedi with Order 66.
 

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The new Godzilla movie jogged my memory about this gag poster that appeared on the official website back in the day.
 

Tim Glover

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Wow....can't believe it's been 15 years. 1999 was a GREAT year indeed for movies and event films. I haven't re-visited TPM in a long time. Actually, I've not even watched my Blu-rays of them. But I also haven't watched the OT either.

For me the prequels haven't aged well. But they were must see films when they came out and TPM was a huge huge hit. I've never seen anything quite like it. Ever. I still remember seeing it opening day at the Galaxy 9 THX theater in Dallas. At the time was the largest screen in Texas. The sound was among the best I've ever heard. The passion that TPM had upon its release and during it's theatrical run was evident. Love, hate, or ambivalent, people went to see it.

Star Wars, The Matrix in 1999 and a few years years later, Lord of the Rings....& Harry Potter were the films that made going to the movies special and a real treat. The kind of films that separated watching at home vs watching in a crowded theater with other passionate fans.

For the old HTF die hards and old timers: Remember when those films I listed had MASSIVE threads here and it was actually hard to keep up, The HTF was BOOMING then. I remember logging on every day-several times a day. TPM played a huge part in that.

There are still event films made but none like there was from 1999-2005.

Each of us has moved on to other things in our lives...but it's nice to post again in a Star Wars thread. :)
 

Lou Sytsma

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Oh, there are SW prequels?
 

Lou Sytsma

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SamT said:
Yes and to be totally honest I just finished Episode I and II and greatly enjoyed them........Lego Star Wars on iOS.
Something to build on. ;)
 
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Tony J Case

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Thoughts on Phantom Menace? Eh, It wasn’t all that bad. Wasn’t super awesome like I wanted it to be, but I don't think it offended me as much as it did everyone else. I think the problem was two things:

01) No movie - no event in human history - could have lived up to the expectations laid before the movie. Some of it was Lucas's fault, as the Hype Machine went into overdrive before the release, but most of it was just the collective geek world having sixteen years of pent up desire unleashing in a torrent of WANT! NOW! I don't think the movie could have lived up to expectations if Christ himself arranged the second coming on opening day and passed out bricks of solid gold wrapped in fine Belgium chocolate to everyone as they left the theater.

02) The Lightning in a Bottle factor. Back in the seventies, it was a different time, more optimistic and open, where society was less jaded and more accepting to be washed away in a sense of wonder. More importantly, we had NEVER seen anything like Star Wars at that time, so it was fresh and new. Back in 1999, we had photo-realistic Dinosaurs, killer robot assassins form the future morphing into different people, and video games who's graphics far outpaced the special effects of most movies - all this on a daily, constant basis meant that George had to really up his A-Game of suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous geekdome.

Thing is - I don't think he was capable of it. The original Star Wars was a classic that shaped my life - but honestly, it's not that good. The plot is simplistic, the acting was dreadful (aside from one or two outstanding performances), there was inappropriate comic relief and the effects occasionally faltered and stumbled. Each and every one of the criticisms leveled against Phantom Menace could equally applied to Star Wars in one form or another.

Oh sure I could have done with less wacky Jar-Jar antics, but Phantom Menace had enough to carry it along to make me happy - the pod racing scene is fabulous, all the different sounds whizzing around from left to right, front to back, all around you was really incredible. And of course the battle at the end - the war on the ground, the battle in space and the fight between Jedi and Sith - okay, Maul didn’t have a huge part, but he was a total badass. Say what you will about his movie making skills, but you have to admit that George knows how to cut a climax.

At the end of the day, I could have wished for the movie to be perfect - but any Star Wars is good Star Wars.
 

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Walter Kittel said:
Yes, that recalls one of my favorite inconsistencies in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: "And these blast points; too accurate for Sand People. Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise." And yet, not so much through the rest of the tale. :)

- Walter.
Except, of course, we see accurate Stormtroopers all over the place. Lets look at the times we see them engaged in battle -

The Blockade Runner assault -
The stormtroopers have to take an objective through a narrow choke point against a fortified position. They do so with very few casualties

The Sandcrawler assult-
Kenobi says that these blaster bolts hits are too accurate for Sand People. We've seen Sand People scoring hits on speeding podracers from across a canyon, so we know they're pretty good shots - and Stormtroopers are beter..

Docking Bay 94 -
Han was only exposed to fire for a few seconds, and the shots were still pretty close (and to be fair, he didn't do all that much better when returning fire)

The Detention Block -
The Imperials were caught off guard and pretty quickly overwhelmed. From this point on, every engagement on the Death Star, the Stormtroopers were under orders to let the Rebels escape.

The Battle of Hoth -
The Stormtroopers executed a pretty solid curb stomping against the Rebels.

Cloud City -
Again, the Stormtroopers were under orders not to kill, but to herd Skywalker to Vader and let the rebels get away so the Executor can pick them up.

The Battle of Endor -
We see one stormtrooper jump out of cover and snap a shot off on a target a great distance away (ask any marksman - that's a tough shot) and another scored a solid hit on R2. The Imperials were holding their own during the opening of the battle - it was only when they moved into the forest to engage the Ewoks in smaller units that they were dispatched.
 
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RobertR

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No movie - no event in human history - could have lived up to the expectations laid before the movie. Some of it was Lucas's fault, as the Hype Machine went into overdrive before the release, but most of it was just the collective geek world having sixteen years of pent up desire unleashing in a torrent of WANT! NOW! I don't think the movie could have lived up to expectations if Christ himself arranged the second coming on opening day and passed out bricks of solid gold wrapped in fine Belgium chocolate to everyone as they left the theater.
I’m not buying the idea that people didn’t like TPM mainly, or even partly, because “it couldn’t live up to the hype”. Exactly the same thing can be said about the expectations for ESB. Not only did that film live up to the hype, it exceeded it in the opinion of most SW fans. Also, it did NOT produce the vast schism that TPM opened between those who wanted to be “loyal” to Lucas and those who took a hard look at what he served up and decided he fell far short of being the moviemaking genius he was cracked up to be.
2) The Lightning in a Bottle factor. Back in the seventies, it was a different time, more optimistic and open, where society was less jaded and more accepting to be washed away in a sense of wonder. More importantly, we had NEVER seen anything like Star Wars at that time, so it was fresh and new. Back in 1999, we had photo-realistic Dinosaurs, killer robot assassins form the future morphing into different people, and video games who's graphics far outpaced the special effects of most movies - all this on a daily, constant basis meant that George had to really up his A-Game of suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous geekdome.
I think the real “lighting in a bottle” factor was that Lucas was exposed as someone who wasn’t as good as we thought he was, especially since he eschewed the collaborative effort that was in effect for the original films.
Each and every one of the criticisms leveled against Phantom Menace could equally applied to Star Wars in one form or another.
Again, not buying it. SF/fantasy geeks went gaga over the original film and ESB. There was no schism between those who wanted to say it “was still Star Wars” and those who said “George, THIS is what you labored 16 years to come up with???”
 
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FoxyMulder

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RobertR said:
I’m not buying the idea that people didn’t like TPM mainly, or even partly, because “it couldn’t live up to the hype”. Exactly the same thing can be said about the expectations for ESB. Not only did that film live up to the hype, it exceeded it in the opinion of most SW fans. Also, it did NOT produce the vast schism that TPM opened between those who wanted to be “loyal” to Lucas and those who took a hard look at what he served up and decided he fell far short of being the moviemaking genius he was cracked up to be.
I think the real “lighting in a bottle” factor was that Lucas was exposed as someone who wasn’t as good as we thought he was, especially since he eschewed the collaborative effort that was in effect for the original films.
Again, not buying it. SF/fantasy geeks went gaga over the original film and ESB. There was no schism between those who wanted to say it “was still Star Wars” and those who said “George, THIS is what you labored 16 years to come up with???”
I think you could also say Return Of The Jedi was disappointing coming off the superb Empire Strikes Back, i tend to wait these days before watching highly anticipated films, it gives my brain time to cool down and i end up less disappointed by waiting to watch them, i'll give Man Of Steel as an example, i waited and waited and only watched it three weeks ago, still a little disappointed with it but not as much as i would have been if i had watched it last year.
 

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FoxyMulder said:
I think you could also say Return Of The Jedi was disappointing coming off the superb Empire Strikes Back,
I agree with you. I remember thinking it could have/should have been better. In retrospect, my view is that it showed that Lucas was starting to run out of creative gas, and the trend was more pronounced in TPM. I feel the same way about the Matrix movies. The Wachowskl brothers came up with an interesting first movie, but they just couldn't match it with the followups.
 

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TravisR said:
By 2000, laserdisc was as dead as disco. I assume the only reason there was a Japanese LD was because the format was still hanging on over there.
Yep still have the theatrical Dolby Stereo Digital AC-3 that was lasted
played some 16 or so months ago, in Dolby AC-3 THX sound system.

Frequency is down to almost 20Hz.

SW1.jpg
 

Lou Sytsma

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FoxyMulder said:
I think you could also say Return Of The Jedi was disappointing coming off the superb Empire Strikes Back, i tend to wait these days before watching highly anticipated films, it gives my brain time to cool down and i end up less disappointed by waiting to watch them, i'll give Man Of Steel as an example, i waited and waited and only watched it three weeks ago, still a little disappointed with it but not as much as i would have been if i had watched it last year.
Totally agree on ROTJ. The problems with the prequels can find their roots in the ROTJ where Lucas storytelling sensibilities began to display questionable choices.

OTOH my feelings on MOS are unchanged after a followup viewing - it's a mediocre movie and like the SW prequels most of the problems go back to the writing.
 
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Ahead of The Rise of Skywalker two weeks from tomorrow, I'm attempting to re-watch all of the previous live action Star Wars movies in chronological order.

I started with The Phantom Menace in 4K on Disney+ tonight.

I enjoyed the hell out of it, probably the most I've enjoyed the film since the first time I saw it in theaters. A big part of that is that I watched it on the biggest screen I've had at home, in the highest quality I've probably ever seen it. Star Wars movies benefit from scale; the bigger the picture, the better they play. Some movies work just as well on your smartphone screen as on the big screen, but these movies definitely don't fall into the category.

Another part is that I've built up the movie's flaws so much in my mind over the years, that the reality wasn't as bad as I remembered.

The thing that really struck me was that while the movie has plenty of flaws in execution, it really only has one major conceptual flaw: The decision to make Anakin Skywalker a little kid. Until fairly late in the game, Lucas envisioned Anakin as being much closer in age to Padmé. Watching the movie tonight, you can see how all of his scenes would have played better if he were 14 or 15 instead of 9. You can see the character's roots as being a gearhead who would have been at home in American Graffiti.

I was actually really impressed with the characterization of Queen Amidala this time around. A democratically-elected child queen could have been completely ridiculous, but it isn't here because of Natalie Portman's performance and George Lucas's writing. Even though she falls into Palpatine's trap, she a pretty able and impressive leader. And her deception with the decoy speaks volumes of who the queen is as a person, especially because her decoy is not shy about assigning her manual labor like the other handmaidens. There is a humility to Padmé that stands in interesting contrast to her formal role.

If Anakin had been around the same age, it would have been interesting to see the two of them interact as peers -- especially the clash between Padmé's careful manuevering and Anakin's cocky straightforwardness. Instead, the age difference here defines Padmé as a sort of surrogate mother even before he's separated from his actual mother. It's a dynamic that hobbles their relationship in the later movies. I could buy Padmé falling in love with James Dean a lot more than a little kid who grows up to be whiny and resentful.

On the other hand, Jar Jar would have been fine if the execution had been better. Take away the bumbling nature, and the endless series of too cute catchphrases, give him a better reason to have been exiled from his people, and the character could have worked. Lucas was desperate to have audiences love him, and that's a big part of what made audiences resent him.

The movie is beautiful to look at, from beginning to end. Made when shooting on film was still ubiquitous, and the actual celluloid was as advanced it would get, this movie is both a transition into a new way of making movies that still heavily influences the way blockbusters are made today, and the culmination of the old way of making movies that preceded it. The art direction is superb. Every environment is a feast for the eyes. There are probably as many iconic shots in this movie as any of the movies in the original trilogy.

Next up is Attack of the Clones. Something tells me it isn't going to hold up nearly as well.
 

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