Star Wars Marathon: Rebuttal: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Extended Version, 1999)

It’s time for Edgar to get what’s coming to him in this edition of the Star Wars Marathon, oh yeah, he knows what I mean, wait, what do I mean?

Before you read anything I write here make sure you head over to Between The Seats and read Edgar’s review for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, otherwise you’ll have no idea who or what I am responding to.

Oh, where should I begin with this rebuttal, I mean, I want this to be fun and have some flare. I could just list off various points he made in checkpoint form and go into whether I agree or disagree, but where would the fun be in that? I work best when I am shooting from the hip so that is what I will do here and as Edgar already knows, I’m one deadly gunslinger! Oh yeah, that’s right, I went there, corniness be thy name after all.

One of the early points you make in your well thought out review, Edgar, is that the pacing of the film is off. I actually agree with that sentiment, but I don’t agree with your reasoning for the shoddy pacing. The scenes that you find interrupt the pacing the most, the political maneuvering on Coruscant and the decision on Anakin’s status as a Jedi, are the scenes that work the most for me in the entire film. Without those moments I dare say that I would have been thoroughly bored by Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. This bleeds into a few different areas, but first I’ll take on the main thrust of my beliefs, Tatooine versus Coruscant.

I found the pacing to fall off the rails so to speak on Tatooine, whereas I found the pacing tight and to the point on Coruscant and later on Naboo. The message on Coruscant is clear, the stakes of the universe will be decided in the political realm, as will the fate of Anakin, and the film wastes little time in clearly laying out said stakes and what is being done to address them. Contrast that with Tatooine, where we know that as the viewer we need to see some of Anakin before he’s brought into the Jedi fold, but do we really need to see that much? I believe less is more would have worked better on Tatooine, because the slave we see Anakin as is a little too jolly and happy for my liking and his story is far too drawn out. The tightness of Coruscant is missing, the inter-cutting of multiple stories is nowhere to be seen, it’s one long singularly driven story that could have been shortened to maximize its effect. Coruscant on the other hand is fine the way it is, helps to right the pacing that Tatooine messes up and really pushes the film into its climactic moments.

As I said, the Coruscant scenes bleed into another area of your review, and this is the scenes on Coruscant not feeling like they belong to Star Wars. I can see where you are coming from and I do agree to a point. However, I don’t believe that Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is supposed to feel like the Star Wars we all grew up watching. It’s a different time in the universe, the world of Star Wars is much different and for that very reason I believe it was essential that the story delivered in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace mirror that. There is still a mystery about the universe at hand, Tatooine shows us everything whereas the Coruscant scenes merely hint at how different the world of Star Wars was way back when, but it is a new universe, a universe that needs to be and is different from the one seen in the original trilogy.

I do agree with you wholeheartedly about the staleness of a lot of the transitions, this was a gripe of mine in my review, or at least I wrote it down in my notes while watching the film. The same is true of the acting, but on that front I think the two of us need to remember one thing, ninety nine percent of the time the acting in any Star Wars film is less than stellar. Perhaps it isn’t as stiff as what we see in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, but it falls below the Mendoza Line of what you or I would consider good acting the majority of the time.

I wish I had more to offer you in regards to Jar Jar and Anakin, but for me it is a simple issue of non-annoyance. You were annoyed by them, but I wasn’t. I can see where you and so many others found them annoying but in those same moments I failed to. So, as much as it pains me to offer up such a minuscule counter argument all I can say on this matter is that I wasn’t affected by it like you were.

And, like I told you earlier, there is plenty we will agree on. It’s obvious after reading my review that I agree with you as far as the design of the film, the score and the special effects are concerned. Those aspects, as well as the action, never stop being a treat no matter how many times I watch Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. I even agree with you on the podrace sequence. Sure, I think it could have been cut from the film altogether or shortened, but as a pure action effects piece it is well done, finely made and all that jazz. And you didn’t think we’d agree all that much, what a loon you are.

Speaking of which I’m going to close out this rebuttal with one more bit of agreement, you are spot on in your assessment of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace as the oddball of the franchise. I like the movie, I view it as Star Wars, but when compared to the rest of the saga, heck the rest of the Expanded Universe, it is quite distant and a bit of a separated island. It’s still Star Wars, but it’s a bit different, tackling the world in its own unique way, I don’t think this is a bad thing mind you, but as far as connectivity is concerned Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is certainly out of the loop.

Well, that was fun, if I don’t say so myself. Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with Edgar’s views I hope that all of you gave his review a gander because it’s certainly worth taking in. But Edgar, I will leave you with this final thought, I am right and you are wrong and you can insert the emoticon with the stuck out tongue right here!

To read Edgar’s finely written rebuttal to my own review of this film, click this link, Star Wars Marathon: The Phantom Rebuttal.

Cheers,
Bill

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6 responses to “Star Wars Marathon: Rebuttal: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Extended Version, 1999)

  1. edgar chaput

    You seem to like the fact there are no intecutting stories during the Coruscant sequence of the movie. Don’t most of the Star Wars films have intercutting stories? Isn’t most of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ driven by 2 stories (Luke becoming a Jedi and the Han/Leia love story)? I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this matter.

    I can agree with your statement that Episode 1 is about a different time in the saga’s history, and therefore we cannot come to expect exactly the same tone, mood and plot driven elements that we saw for years in the original trilogy. I think there are some Star Wars fans that take these things a bit too seriously sometimes, which can ‘cloud their judgement.’ Still, that doesn’t convince me that the politicking on Coruscant was needed.

    As for the acting, in some respects I’m on your side, but I’m an acting kind of guy. When it doesn’t do justice, I’m going to point it out. Things will get very interesting when we start discussing some of the later films because I have some strong opinions about particular actors in the franchise…

    I enjoyed this little back and forth very much. I can’t wait for more reviews and response posts. I’ll see you at the clone factory!

  2. First, you’re comment was the 500th comment on this site, be proud of that Edgar. 🙂

    About the intercutting stories, I do think there are intercutting stories on Coruscant, the political maneuvering and the fate of Anakin. On Tatooine I believe there is only one story, their escape from Tatooine, Anakin is pretty much folded into that one.

    Lots of Star Wars fans take this stuff too seriously, there’s a reason I don’t bother having meaningful conversations with too many Star Wars fans. A lot, not all, Star Wars fans love to think that their view is the only view and if you think differently than they do in any way then you are a moron.

    I’m an acting guy as well, but for some reason I’ve always been very forgiving of the acting in the Star Wars films. Don’t know why, but for whatever reason I can gloss over all kinds of bad acting in the Star Wars films without batting an eye.

    I too look forward to the rest of the reviews and rebuttals, I’ve been so jacked for this marathon that I blasted through all the films in a couple of days to make sure nothing would get in the way of us getting this thing rocking.

  3. edgar chaput

    I watched ‘Attack of the Clones’ a couple days ago. This is another episode that seems to get people really peeved. I wonder what this Sunday has in store.

  4. I’m interested as well, I know my thoughts on AOTC have always been a bit against the grain…

  5. edgar chaput

    Tease.

  6. I am what I am Edgar 🙂

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