Lucas, George. 1999. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Los Angeles: Fox.
Reviewed 14 June 1999
I feel a little bit ripped off. $4.75 for a candy bar?
No, I don't mean the concession stand. I mean the movie. (So I'm cheap. So I saw a matinee. So sue me. Please.) This movie is a candy bar. I knew that going in. I was hoping to avoid one with stale peanuts, but no such luck.
The Star Wars franchise is a cash cow for the moviemakers, the studio, the merchan- disers, the starsjust about everyone except the scriptwriters. And that is the real problem with this movie: the script has little or nothing to do with the movie itself.
Spoiler alert There are two serious problems with Episode I. The first, and most obvious, is that the script and dialogue just do not link up with the "eye candy" action sequences. Every time there's an action sequence, the plot stops advancing while the filmmaker tries to blow us away with more special effects wizardry. The second problem, which is more insidious, is that only two of the actors seemed to believe the lines they were saying: Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman. For all of Ewan McGregor's attempts to sound like Sir Alec Guinness, his face and hands never achieved the expressiveness that Guinness brought to the role.
There is a single cause for both problems: This movie has an idiot plot. Specific examples:
I'll stop there. This clearly shows that either (a) the scriptwriter had nothing to do with the movie as made, or (b) there was no scriptwriter.
In a way, I feel like Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrorsa masochist screaming "Candy bar! Candy bar!" It took a certain masochism to go see this movie (in a virtually empty theater).
Oh, and Georgeknock off the homage to Triumph of the Will. We got it the first time. It doesn't even come off well as self-parody. If the soldiers really are groovin' to that funky music, they're not going to stay in step. (And protocol officers would have found a way to keep Jar-Jar from embarassing himself with a Chevy Chasesque pratfall.)
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