Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
wri./dir. george lucas
st. liam neeson, ewan mcgregor, natalie portman
showing practically everywhere
It's taken me a few days to finally write this drop in the ocean, and the cause of this struggle can be seen as one between a Star Wars fan and an objective, level-headed film student. Can the two ever play in the same sandbox? Should I write two reviews and palm off my secret joy under a crappy alias like "Darth Veritt" or "Queen Mada"? Should I take the yawnworthy "adult" perspective and decry it as computer game entertainment for kids, nothing but effects blah blah but go and see Notting Hill or Gods and Monsters, MARGARET. Hell, I liked Gods and Monsters, but if you want cinema in all it's bratty, commercial and flawed ways, The Phantom Menace is the film for ME. (I've given up writing for YOU...if you need this review to help you decide whether you like this film or not, there is something seriously wrong.)
BLEEDING OBVIOUS POINT NO. 1: The script is quite clumsy, functional before thrilling. The acting is poor in turn because a) they having nothing to work with b) they are nearly always talking to something that doesn't physically exist c) unlike Mark Hamill, these actors are actually quite skilled professionals. They look twice as bad as amateurs would because we have seen all of them perform skillfully in the past.
NO. 2: well I was in the cafe the other day with some real chummy chums and we all thought that the effects were nice but far too many and no-one to love but that McGregor is cute penis joke ha ha ha and the accent and I want somebody to identify with because when I go to the cinema I tend not to use my eyes... Should I bother refuting these claims? It will take work, and that will be time I could have used on the internet looking for Darth Maul fan pages.
Jar Jar Binks is annoying. Darth Maul kicks ass. Heaps good effects. Natalie Portman is hot...which of these responses is preferable? Which of these appraisals mirrors the charming voice inside your head of heads. I've seen both crowds and their reactions, and I prefer enthusiastic appreciation anyday, even if it talks before it thinks. That way it exemplifies the mindless entertainment clause. If I denied I enjoyed the film, I would just be another assembly line corpse spouting a very tired opinion. I accept that some people will hate this, and I accept their opinion completely. But how many are denying sheer child-like reaction over a bisexual analysis of Darth Maul's lightsaber. It struck me as odd too. Yes, the effects do reduce this verbose twit to wordless moaning. Are we getting closer to what the cinema is there for people? But Julia Roberts is just soooo attractive.
What do people mean when they say the "old Star Wars magic" is gone from this film? Do these people remember some of the acting in Star Wars and most of Return of the Jedi. These problems were always here. The Phantom Menace is just the dying critics chance to slag off big bad Hollywood. This week my thumbs up go to...the rerelease of Touch of Evil. Is this disrespect to Touch of Evil or Orson Welles? No, not at all. I think Welles would love The Phantom Menace if he were around to see it. For Lucas the visual is pushed so far that the narrative is disposable. Welles was similarly obsessed, similarly both strong and weak. The Phantom Menace is one of the most visually stunning films ever made...
Perhaps if this were any other film it would be a different review, but it is futile to pretend this is just another dumb Hollywood blockbuster everyone sees yet few truly enjoy. There are problems sure, and very little "human" feeling, but there is always real life for that sort of that thing folks. Star Wars is like the spouse who beats me yet who I always return to. No Adam, that will not do...
Reading back over this tonight...very strange. As I watched Star Wars while I ate my dinner, I realised how crummy these films have always been. Watch Harrison Ford's face any time Mark Hamill talks and you'll see what I mean. Any Star Wars fan who starts to doubt his faith is listening to critics far too much. I accept that there are major flaws, but they have always been there. This time the good things are even better. Anyway, why would a Star Wars fan really care what another goddamn critic thought about this film? Oh you must read Rivett's new piece for toto it really is the most damning critique of our Hollywood McDonald's post-capital end of history civilisation yet and that will be two sugars and have you read the new book about how we are all someone else's problem enough of the inner child how about some of the outer adult and it all stems back to the time my parents you fill in the rest television my maudlin missus. Yes, Darth Maul does kick ass.
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