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The evil Trade Federation, led by Nute Gunray is planning to take over the peaceful world of Naboo. Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to confront the leaders. But not everything goes to plan. The two Jedi escape, and along with their new Gungan friend, Jar Jar Binks head to Naboo to warn Queen Amidala, but droids have already started to capture Naboo and the Queen is not safe there. Eventually, they land on Tatooine, where they become friends with a young boy known as Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon is curious about the boy, and sees a bright future for him. The group must now find a way of getting to Coruscant and to finally solve this trade dispute, but there is someone else hiding in the shadows. Are the Sith really extinct? Is the Queen really who she says she is? And what's so special about this young boy? Written by
This movie is a perfect example of when what could have been one of the most brilliant movies ever is made, through the incompetence of only one man, into one of the worst. I cannot list in detail the number of ways this movie could have been made better, and they are all mind-bogglingly simple and all George Lucas's fault. Even so, I will try to condense them into a short list.
1. Actors/Casting - I have to give all of the actors credit for this because I know they tried their best, even Jake Lloyd. The movie did not give me a single reason why I should have cared for any of the characters and I can't explain why I did anyway.
I can't count how many times people have told me how much better Haley Joel Osment would have been in the role, and I am almost inclined to agree with them. Supposedly there's something dark and ominous about the Anakin character that all of the Jedi council can see, after all, he's gonna be Darth Vader, right? Osment projects that fear which leads to anger which leads to etc., and Lloyd just looks like your run-of-the-mill blond California Cabbage Patch kid. I'd call Jake Lloyd a terrible actor if it weren't for what the great sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, who personally knows Lloyd, observed: "Jake Lloyd's a good actor, and it's a pity you didn't get to see that on-screen, since he had no direction or screenplay. In the same way, Liam Neeson is a great actor, but you didn't see that onscreen because he had no direction or screenplay."
Which brings me to my second fault:
2. Direction - Let's face it, George Lucas has lost it. He has gone from the great actors' director he was when he made American Graffiti to a special effects artist gone wildly out of control. I do give him some credit: It takes a lot of deliberate effort to sap all of the energy and life out of Ewan McGregor.
3. Screenplay/Plot - This is the section that really makes me wince, and proves that there is nobody left in Hollywood with the courage to tell George Lucas that he can't write. I mean, logical inconsistencies aside, this dialogue is simply ridiculous. If a first-grader were called in as a script consultant, he could most likely have improved this movie.
There are a thousand instances of questionable logic in this movie like, why did Queen Amidala reveal herself when she did? Why did she want to go back to Naboo so badly if it would do no good whatsoever and she would probably just get killed? Are we supposed to believe that a ten year old is going to have twins with her eventually? Why is she called a Queen anyway, if Naboo is supposed to be a democracy? Do the natives of Naboo share one collective brain cell to elect a teenager to run their planet? And what kind of name is Naboo anyway?
Beyond that, it doesn't even make sense in terms of the rest of the established Star Wars universe. For example, the shields that repelled blaster fire, obviously added so the death count would be lower and they could appeal to the 'family' market. Why do we not see them in the later episodes, when they seem to be of immeasurable tactical value?
As for the so-called 'Phantom Menace' conspiracy, does the initiation into the Jedi knighthood include an IQ curtailment? Why didn't those clods figure out at once that Palpatine was behind it all along? In the end, I found myself rooting for Palpatine/Sidious, simply because he was geometrically more intelligent than any of the other characters and would probably do a pretty good job of ruling the universe. At least he would be a better emperor than George Lucas is a screenwriter.
Well, it seems that I didn't do a very good job at condensing, but oh well.
I am ashamed to say that I saw this movie three times and hated it more each time. That it has grossed over $400 million makes me wonder that the entire American society doesn't grind to a halt as soon as someone sees a bright shiny object. Did I mention that the special effects were too amazing for their own good?
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