In my effort to restart this blog I need to catch up on some movie reviews. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was just released, how about I review the movie that came out before it! LOL!
As I have said before I am a huge Star Trek fan but I also love Star Wars too…just not as much as Trek. Yet, I always thought there was something in the aesthetic and pacing of Star Wars that Star Trek should borrow and learn from. When JJ Abrams, a lover of Star Wars, directed the 2009 reboot movie, Star Trek, my wish came true. In the feel and look of the movie there are elements of Star Wars in that Star Trek film and although some fans noticed that too and complained…I was not one of them. Therefore, when the next trilogy in Star Wars was going to be filmed, it seemed only natural that JJ Abrams would be selected to direct this movie.
I want to comment on one of the complaints The Force Awakened received from the minority of the people that did not like it. The complaint is that it is just a rehash or is derivative of the original 1977 film Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I certainly do not deny this accusation. I actually embrace it and it is one of the reasons I do enjoy this movie greatly.
Some have complained that nostalgia is one of its selling points and I have no shame in agreeing with that. I was 14 in 1977 when the original movie came out and I loved it! It had a huge impact on me. So seeing Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia on the big screen was a huge part of this movie. That doesn’t mean the rest of the story wasn’t good, it was, even if it has elements of the first movie, it does!
Luke has disappeared and it has been thirty years since the Death Star was once again blown up and the Empire defeated. However, evil has not gone away. We have new characters that are very interesting to me. the rebelling storm trooper, Finn, the scavenger, Rey, and Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and General Leia, are all great additions to the Star Wars universe. The movie leaves us with a mystery of who is this woman Ren who wields the Force so easily? The special effects are excellent as JJ Abrams wisely knows how to weave practical effects with the CGI.
I will not reveal any spoilers of this movie. I will say this is/was a great way to start the new trilogy. It is visually stunning with everything you would want to see in a Star Wars movie. Although it does have elements of the original story, they are done with respect and reverence to the original.
I realized while reviewing the Star Wars movies I skipped Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. So I will remedy that problem and review it now. Although often I hear the fan base malign the three prequel movies, I hear an equal amount of times that Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith is better than the last movie in the series, Return of the Jedi. Although, as I reported, I do enjoy the first two movies, this is one of the over all better movies. I think the reason is this movie has the pay-off. It delivers what people came to see: Anakin Skywalker complete his transformation into Darth Vader. Ever since we found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, we have wondered how did Anakin Skywalker turn to the Dark Side? While the other two movies set up who Anakin is and how he became a great and powerful Jedi Knight, this movie finally shows how Dath Vader went sour and how the Empire replaced the old republic.
This movie really opens up to afantasitc space battle with Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi infiltrating the flagship of Separatist commander General Grievous to rescue the abducted Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. They run into Count Dooku. A battle of Lightsabers begins and after Obi-Wan is knocked out and Dooku defeated Supreme Chancellor Palpatine orders Anakin to kill Count Dooku, which he does. This foreshadows the things to come. Soon Palapatine reveals he is the Dark Lord of the Sith and despite letting the Jedi council know who Palpatine is he is still able to win over Anakin as Palpatine manipulate him into thinking he can help stop anything bad from happening to Padme. Once joining forces with Palpatine Anakin is re-christened Darth Vader. Palpatine orders the clone troops to kill the Jedi Council and declares himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire.
Unable to convince Padme that Anakin has turned to the dark side Obi-Wan stows away on her ship when she travels to Mustafar. When Padmé discovers what Vader has done, she tries to convince him to return to the light side of the force, but Vader accuses her of betraying him and uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. Vader and Obi-Wan then engage in a fierce battle that ends with Obi-Wan severing Vader’s legs and left arm. Vader falls down to the volcanic river’s edge and is immolated. Taking his former apprentice’s lightsaber, Obi-Wan goes to help Padmé. Meanwhile, Yoda confronts Palpatine, but is forced to retreat when their dual reaches a stalemate. Palpatine rescues Vader and as he is undergoing surgery to save his life and place him in a bio-suit of armour to help him breath and live, Padme delivers twins Luke and Leia and then dies. Luke is returned to Anakin’s homeworld and given to his step-family to raise him. Leia is taken in by the Organa family. Yoda teaches Obi-Wan how to commune with the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn before going into exile on Dagobah. Obi-Wan takes the infant Luke to Tatooine, where he intends to watch over him until the time is right to challenge the Empire. The movie ends with Darth Vader with the Emperor on the bridge of a ship with the a the Death Star being built-in the distance.
Pros: In this movie I think we see the acting of Hayden Christensen improved greatly. You can really see how turning to the dark side of the Force affects him. He really seems evil and lost rather than crabby and whinny as in the previous movies. The special effects are top-notch and the story is very good with some exceptions. The true bad guy in this movie is Palpatine and Ian McDiarmid really shines in the role. In some ways this is really his movie!! We see Anakin is more of avictim of Palpatine than anything else. Now that does open up a discussion of how responsible was Anakin for his actions? This movie does set up the next trilogy very well. It really also changes the focus of the next trilogy. Instead about it being a trilogy where Luke Skywalker becomes a Jedi Knight to fulfill his destiny, it becomes more of a story about the redemption of Anankin Skywalker.
Cons: I do not have many cons about this movie. I think the duel between Vader and Obi-Wan goes on too long. I usually am not nit-picky about reality infringing on fantasy but the entire duel taking place over the hot lava, while cool, (pun intended) is a bit unrealistic. I have sat near hot fires before and fighting like they do over the lava just seems too implausible. My other complaint is in the closing scene where we see Darth Vader and the Emperor with the Death Star under construction. Episode IV makes it seem like the Death Star is new…yet the events of that movie take place 16/17 years later. Are we to believe it took 17 years to build? I don’t have a problem with that, I just think they show too much of it under construction. Yeah, it is a nit-picky fanboy quibble.
All in all a very good addition to the franchise and it is one that really advances the saga well. To me it proves that not all of the prequel movies are bad (I enjoy all of them).
Many fans and even critics state the The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the Star Wars films. Now something like that is certainly debatable and subjective but there is no denying the fact that The Empire Strikes Back is an excellent sequel to the 1977 movie Star Wars. The plot is basic but full of action and adventure. It is set three years after the events in Star Wars. Darth Vader survived the detonation of the Death Star and is in pursuit of the rebels Luke Skywalker, Princess Lia and Han Solo. Meanwhile Luke continues his training to become a Jedi Knight from Master Yoda. Han Solo is also being pursued by bounty Hunter Boba Fett. We also meet new characters like Lando Calrissian played by Billy Dee Williams and the story is full of twists and turns and betrayals.
Pros: Middle movies ina trilogy can be difficult. Often these stories will advance the characters and the story line but leave no resolution. However, this movie is not hampered by any of that. Insteads it has great character development. Han and Lia, still have a temultuous relationship yet there is a thaw and they begin to come close together. Luke grows as a Jedi and his self confidence and maturity is evident. The movie does end on big cliff hangers. We discover that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker and the father of Luke. Han Solo is betrayed and left frozen in Carbonite. The action and the suspense and sense of adventure are carried over from the last film with enjoyable results. We meet Yoda for the first time and Emperor Palpatine. Yoda was a puppet worked and voiced by Frank Oz a member of Jum Hensons team. He has become an iconic character. The reveal that Darth Vader is Luke’s father is still exciting and memorable after years of seeing the movie. It never grows old.
Cons: I really have no complaints for this movie except that the scenes on the planet Hoth do drag just a little bit. The pacing just seems off to me. As time has gone on and I have grown more accostumed to the pacing of modern films, expecially science-fiction films, the films made back more than 30 years ago do seem a little slower.
An interesting observation I have is that with Luke being Vader’s son all the events in episodes IV and V can seem really contrived. I do not see it that way, I am just echoing arguments I have heard levied at other science-fiction films. For example, in the 2009 Star Trek film when Kirk met Spock Prime in the cave of Delta Vega many fans who hated the movie cried how all contrived it seemed. Yet in Episodes IV and V of Star Wars we have R2D2 and C3PO arrive in the posession of Luke Skywalker and it is his father, Darth Vader, who is chasing after the two droids and the plans they contain. This leads Luke on an adventure that will lead him into direct conflict with Vader. How is this any less contrived? If it is contrived, and to some degree it is, it doesn’t bother me at all. I just point this out to demonstarte the selective opinions of some fans. In many of these adventure type of movies our heroes are going to come together and they way the writers and directors do that is enjoyable to watch even if a bit contrived.
To conclude, The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best of the Star Wars movies and a joy to watch.
I want to visit the Star Wars franchise, something I have not done too much on this blog. I have been going through the movies and I want to review them individually. Before I do that I wanted to give an overview of the franchise itself and share my thoughts on Star Wars.
Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am a bigger Star Trek fan than I am a Star Wars fan. I also do not subscribe to the cliché that there is a big rivalry between the two franchises. The vast majority are fans of both. Sure there are people like me who will favor one over the other and I also admit that there are some fans that like only Star Wars or only Trek. I think those are far and few between.
I will never forget seeing Star Wars on the big screen for the first time in 1977. I was about 13 years old when my elder sister, who had already seen the movie, came over to my house to take me to see it. I remember sitting there in amazement and wonder at what played before me. I was transported to a place and a world I had never seen before. I was mesmerized and it was magical. Right then and there I knew my Star Trek worshiping heart had some room for another spaced based franchise.
It has been many years since those days. I am no longer 13, pushing 50 this year, and there have been sequels and prequels to the 1977 movie. Although in the chronology of the 6 movies the 1977 movie is the 4th one in the story line and has been rebrand Star Wars IV: A New Hope…to me it will always simply be Star Wars. I feel something similar in Star Trek. With many series and movies that have been made in the Star Trek world the 1960s original series (abbreviated TOS in the fan venacular…something I do not like but have come to accept) will always be simply Star Trek to me.
Even as with Star Trek I have not delved into the Star Wars novels and other aspects of the franchise. I have yet to see the Clone Wars movies and the series but they are on my “to do” list. That means as I review the franchise I will be sticking to the 6 movies released so far. I will also review them in chronological order, I-VI, instead of the way they were released to the theaters.
What I want to address is the conflicts among fans about the two different trilogies. Fans often pit I-III against IV-VI. I must admit that the movies IV-VI are pretty iconic. I also see that sense of iconic status has great sentimental attachment for people. I also think that the prequels get a very bad rap and as you will see in my reviews I do enjoy them. I remember saying this to a fan…The original trilogy is an homage to the old B movie serials of the 40s but with a larger budget and better special effects. They all have their good points and their bad points. The original Star Wars movie was ground breaking in many ways. By 1999 when Star Wars I: A Phantom Menace was released the ground had been already broken. Not just by Star Wars itself but by many other ground breaking special effects laden science fiction and fantasy films. I do not blame Phantom Menace for not being as iconic or as ground breaking as the original Star Wars movie was.
So in my reviews of all of them I am going to try to divorce them from their history sentimentality and view them at face value. I also want to remark that the Star Wars franchise was aimed at younger viewers to some extent and to the child within us all.
So come with me on a journey to the dark side in a galaxy far, far away.
You have all heard the news I am certain. George Lucas has sold the right to Star Wars to Disney for a whopping total of $4 Billion dollars. That is a lot of money! I have lurked on a few message boards and the science fiction community are having many reactions…most are shocked and some are very unhappy. While I was shocked, I didn’t see this coming although evidently it has been in the works for months, I am also very pleased. With the announcement of the sale Disney is wasting no time in putting its new possession to work and has announced that Star Wars VII will hit the theaters in 2015 with episodes VIII and IX to follow later.
At the end of this post I will link to a Wikipedia page that shows a list of the movies that Disney Pictures has done since the 1940s. It is an impressive list! I think the Star Wars franchise is in good hands. This move was inevitable. George has said he is retired from directing and the future of Star Wars (and Indiana Jones) was up in the air. With this sale both of these franchises are asserted a solid future. I have heard some complain about the recent John Carter movie or the Prince of Persia movies as a sign that Disney will not know how to handle the franchise. I disagree. I actually liked both of those movies a great deal, and I think the problem was in marketing and not in the quality of the films themselves. I don’t think Star Wars will suffer a marketing problem. Not many people knew of the John Carter of Mars stories or the Prince of Persia video game that these movies were based off of. However, Star Wars has no such identity crisis.
Star Wars is in the hands of a company that knows how to tell quality stories and weave engaging tales. I am happy that the final three movies in the series will be made. Although I am a much bigger Star Trek fan than Star Wars fan I still love and enjoy the franchise very much. Heck, I even like the new trilogy. Today sitting here typing I feel good that the future of Star Wars is in good hands.
Many times over the decades Nerds have been picked on and reviled. Now we seem to be in a golden age of Nerd culture with TV shows and movies that celebrate all things nerdy. With people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates having revolutionized how the entire globe communicates and now with movies Like Avatar, Batman, the Avengers and other science fiction and fantasy films raking in billions of dollars this really is a time when Nerds rule the world!!! Today I wanted to look at 5 movies and one TV show that really celebrates Nerd culture.
The first two movies are from filmmaker Kevin Smith and are part of his View Askewniverse and any of those movies, Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, are great in celebrating nerd culture, but the last two, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II, are my personal favorites.
1. Clerks II
This movie is simply hilarious and one of Kevin Smith’s best films in my opinion. Some of the funnier moments are when Randal (Jeff Anderson) is picking on Elias (Trevor Fehrman) a customer (Kevin Weisman) about The Lord of the Rings. There are other nerdy references strewn throughout the movie but in the center of it all is truly a movie with a heart. I think one needs to have seen the other movies to understand and empathize with the characters, well at least the first Clerks movie, because it really adds to the heart of the movie. So go out first and see Clerks I and then come back and watch the comedic genius that is Clerks II.
2. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.
Our two favorite stoners are upset that they are not getting paid for their likenesses from a comic book, The Bluntman and Chronic,are being used and made into a movie. Plus they are upset over all the Nerd-rage and hate toward their characters on the internet. They are then sent off on a quest (road trip) to stop the movie from being made. This movie is funny from stop to finish and appearances by Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are very funny and satisfying. As the movie has aged there is even now an gag that is even funnier. Will Farrell plays a Federal Wildlife Marshall named….Willenholly. The name Marshall Willenholly is a parody of the characters from the Saturday morning science fiction kids show “The Land of the Lost” from the 70s. The irony is that a few years later Farrell would go on to play Rick Marshall in the 2009 feature film version of Land of the Lost. Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back also has Matt Demon and Ben Affleck poking fun at a famous scene from their movie “Good Will Hunting.” All-in-all a very funny movie…watch for Chris Rock stealing the show in the few scenes he is in.
Two comic burgeoning book writers and artist from the UK are visiting San Diego’s Comic-Con and then taking a trip along the US’s UFO highway looking at all the related sights when they encounter a foul mouthed alien named Paul who is being chased by his governmental captors. This is another favorite of mine starring the voice of Seth Rogen as Paul and Simon Pegg who is teamed up with his Sean of the Dead co-star, Nick Frost. This movie takes stabs at religion but mostly the nerd references are funny and the plot plays into many familiar pop-culture themes of alien and science fiction genres. Three titties….awesome.
Another road trip movies. A group of friends, one is dying of cancer, embark on a road trip to infiltrate George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch to watch one of the prequels “Phantom Menace” before it is released. Seth Rogen is also in this movie in several roles and heavily disguised. This movie is a lot of fun! There are a ton of cameos from stars in nerd related movies and shows. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes who play Jay and Silent Bob in Kevin’s movies also have a cameo, although not as Jay and Silent Bob, but it is still very funny! I won’t give away any of the other cameos if you have not seen the movie so I will not give too much away.
5. The Last Star Fighter
This is the oldest movie on the list coming out in 1984. This is also one of the first movies to use any computer generated images in a film. Sure the effects look dated but then again many special effects from other movies of yesteryear look dated but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them. All the other movies on this list are straight out comedies. This one is not a comedy but it is done in a lighthearted manner. The movie depicts Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) as a teen about to graduate from high school and lives in a trailer park. He is also a bit of a nerd and good at video games…well one video game specifically…a game where the player is a star fighter defeating aliens. He is contacted by an alien race in desperate need for fighter pilots who have placed the game to find and train someone worthy of being a star fighter. I like this movie because instead of poking fun at a teen playing video games he is celebrated for his skill by becoming the kid who saves the galaxy and gets the girl. This movie is stellar fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love the fact that this video game champ plays the old style arcade game because the Nintendos and the other games we love had not been invented yet!!
Now for a TV series…
6. The Big Bang Theory.
This movie about three brilliant physicists…and one engineer has helped me get back in touch with my Nerdy side and not only celebrate it but completely embrace it. I don’t think this blog would be around if I had not fallen in love with this show. This movie is full of nerd culture, from video games, to online role playing games, role playing card games, science fiction movies and TV shows and on and on. The movie also celebrates science itself which I am also a big fan of. I have always loved physics and astrophysics. Season 5 DVD comes out next month and I am really looking forward to it!
So if you’re a nerd…or would like to become one…watch these movies and celebrate being a nerd!
Star Trek vs Star Wars
Tomorrow in my blog I am going to list some movies that celebrate Nerd culture. In one of those movies there is a humorous rivalry between Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans. I got to thinking about this….does a real rivalry between the two franchises exist? I frequent a few message boards related to movies and TV shows and I really do not find the stereotypical rivalry between the two franchises. What I do find are people like me, who tend to favor one franchise over the other but they are still both liked.
I am a much bigger Star Trek fan than I am a Star Wars fan, although I do really like Star Wars and I own all six movies on DVD. I became a Star Trek fan when I was about 13 back in 1975. The original Star Trek series was in syndication in the early 70s and I discovered the show when we first got cable. I was mesmerized and hooked and soon became pretty obsessed with all things Star Trek. I think the reason I like Star Trek more is that I can personally relate to the characters more. As someone who has always felt emotions strongly
Then in 1977 I went and saw the original Star Wars and I was mesmerized and hooked about that movie too! I loved it. I even like like the prequels and that may be blasphemy to more hard core Star Wars fans!!
I don’t think that the rivalry that is often depicted in movies and the media truly exists. If there are those that love one and hate the other I think they are rare. So, for any of my readers, chime in where you fit on the Star Trek vs Star Wars continuum.
Last Wednesday I listed movies I do not like. This week I list my 6 favorite guilty pleasures.
Back in the early 1990s I called a local radio station in Rochester NY that had a movie reviewer, Bill Klein, and I asked him a question about how he reviewed movies that he knew were not really good and he should give it a negative review but for some reason he liked the movie anyway. He told me he called them “guilty pleasures” and he said would be honest in his reviews about them being guilty pleasures.
Today I will list my top five guilty pleasures. These are movies that the majority of the professional reviewers and the fan base generally do not like but for reasons, which will be explained below, I do enjoy them a great deal.
Batman & Robin 1997
This movie literally brought the Batman franchise to a grinding halt. Warner Brothers had planned on doing a sequel to Batman and Robin entitled Batman Triumphant, with the Scarecrow as the main villain until this movie tanked at the box office. I have even read that director Joel Schumacher has apologized to the fan base for this movie.
I grew up on the Batman TV series starring Adam West which was pure camp and very fun to watch. I think Batman & Robin is in that same vein because it is fun and campy as hell! I also think there is a good story in there. I like the addition of Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. Her rebellious nature and desire to help her uncle Alfred out is touching. The conflicts between Batman and Robin as they learn to trust one another is good character developments as is the relationship between the dying Alfred and Bruce Wayne. Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy respectively, chew up the scenery with witty puns and dialog that made me laugh and groan.
Some have cried blasphemy that I actually prefer to watch this over The Dark Knight. Sure, I get in the mood for a more serious take on Batman and will watch the Christopher Nolan movies, but most of the time I will watch the two Schumacher movies because they’re a heck of a lot of fun! I could have included the other Schumacher Batman movie, Batman Forever, in this list because that had uneven reviews. But Batman Forever isn’t as hated as Batman & Robin. I must admit that I do like Batman Forever more than Batman & Robin.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier 1989
It was actually many years before I learned that this movie was not well received by the fan base. Star Trek V did elevate the comedy which the very successful Star trek IV: the Voyage Home had originated. I saw this movie in the theater back in the summer of 1989 and the theater was jam packed and people were laughing and having a good time and I was one of them. I left the theater entertained and happy with the movie.
But it didn’t do that well at the box office (it made only $52 million) and a large majority of the fan base did not like it. Today I think some of the comedy has not aged well but there is still a good movie in there. I think the way the relationships between Kirk, Spock and McCoy were examined and expounded upon have never been done better. I liked the “villain” of Sybok, Spock’s emotional half-brother. Was he crazy, insane or a misguided religious nut? I think the movie does demonstrate how we must keep our beliefs anchored in rationality. I have reached a point in my life where I need to have some type of evidence in order to believe in something, otherwise we can believe in anything under the sun without evidence. So, I think Trek V clearly demonstrates that wisdom. Plus…say it with me…it is a lot of fun.
Planet of the Apes (Time Burton) 2001
First of all I must admit I am really not a big Tim Burton Fan. I liked the first Batman movie he did, I really liked Beatlejuice and this movie…that is about it. Now I do not think this movie holds a candle to the 1968 original starring Charleton Heston. I think the that movie is the best science fiction movie ever and a well deserved classic. What makes this remake a guilty pleasure for me is the story. Spoiler alert if you have not seen the movie. In this movie the planet where the apes live is not earth but we find out it is the events which Mark Wahlberg’s character sets in motion at the start of the film are what caused the planet to become what it had become in the future. That is a good twist. I love time travel movies as well so it has that in its corner. There is genuine humor and good action as well as some things I didn’t care for. For example, the settings feel cramped and claustrophobic at times. Helena Bonham Carter, whom I always like, has ape makeup that makes her look too human and not ape-like enough. This movie does have some great action scenes and great special effects.
Godzilla (American) 1998
I am a huge Godzilla fan. In the last few years I have rekindled my love for the franchise. I also love giant monster movies in general so I really enjoyed this lighthearted, fun adventurous take on Godzilla. I don’t want to say too much about the movie because I will be giving it an official review in my Friday’s review of the entire franchise. I am doing those in chronological order and I will be doing my full review in the weeks to come.
I remember reading some hard-core fans reaction to this movie and they called it GINO…Godzilla In Name Only. I rolled my eyes and thought they’re just being too harsh and ridiculous. However, I have come around to their way of thinking. I do see the monster as Godzilla in name only because the monster depicted in the movie does move too far away from the established characteristics of the Japanese Godzilla. However, the main difference between me and the vast majority of the fan base is that I still love the movie. I also love the design of GINO, or Zilla as he is called by Toho, so much that I have a two foot tall figure of him in my home.
Judge Dredd 1995
Judge Dredd is a comic book character and the film, starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider, plays like a comic book movie. I must admit the tone is a bit uneven as there are some real funny moments with Rob Schneider’s character who is there purely for comic relief, and then there are some bloody and dark serious moments with Armand Assante. I have not read the comics and this movie supposedly deviated too far from the the comics for the fans. I guess the main point was that Judge Dredd never is seen with his helmet off and in the movie you hardly see Stallone with the helmet on!
Stylistically the view of the future looks identical to the way it was depicted in the Bruce Willis movie, The Fifth Element. I have never read the comic so the complaints do not bother me in the least. I love Stallone’s over the top portrayal of the Judge and the movie has a lot of great action sequences and Rob Schneider, a person people seem to love to hate, is really quite good in this movie and it wouldn’t be the same without him. There is a new version of this movie coming out, starring Karl Ubran from the Lord of the Rings and Star Trek 09. This version looks to be more authentic to the comic and more dark and gritty which is the way Hollywood seems to be going, but my question is…will it be as fun and enjoyable as the original?
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 1999
I never understood the hate for this movie. Honestly the entire franchise is uneven. I am not the biggest Star Wars fan and I think the original movie is by far the best, but all of the films are not perfect and I think the Star Wars: Phantom Menace doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets. Sure the kid playing young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, is painful to watch in some places but over all the movie is the best of the prequels in my opinion. I think the movie is spectacular to look at. I think the performances by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor really make this movie. With apologies to Sir Alec Guinness I think Ewan McGregor eqaully captured the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Natalie Portman is also as cute as a bug in this movie and really protrays the sweet innocent charms of Queen Amidala aka Padme.
George Lucas has mentioned that the Star Wars saga is based of of old serial shorts of the 30s and 40s. That is very evident in this movie and I mean that in a positive way. This movie is filled with spectacular scenes of action and adventure. The pod race alone is worth the price of admission. Sure it gets bogged down in the boring politics of the series but other than that it is a great visual extravaganza and has a larger than life epic feel accompanied by the brilliant work of composer John Williams. For what Star Wars is supposed to be, a fun action adventure space fantasy, Phantom Menace sure does deliver and it is my 2nd favorite Star Wars movie after the original.