David on Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

Where oh where do I begin with Phantom Menace? We all know the Star Wars saga. We all know how hard it was for George Lucas to realize his vision for the first film, which technically was the first of the middle trilogy. We all know the resounding, industry-changing, financial universe-altering success it turned out to be. So, what went wrong with his long-planned prequel? Before continuing, "wrong" must be qualified: whereas Menace as soundly panned, and with good reason, it was still a massive blockbuster. This alone creates a mind-straining paradox that defies all logic.

The original Star Wars was a compromise between Lucas and the studio. Consequently, its success must be viewed as being shared. When Lucas arrived at a place in his universe where he could call all of the creative and financial shots, we got to see just how mediocre a filmmaker he really was. Stunningly boring script, wonky casting, painfully lackluster performances, and utterly wrong-headed direction. I really don't need to dig too deeply into its many salient problems; just search YouTube for Menace reviews, and you'll have more than enough honest, insightful analysis. Indeed, Lucas threatened one of the reviewers—hit a little too close to the mark there, George?

The only thing saving it from being utter SH!T? Stunning visuals. But, as I've said before, effects alone do not a GOOD film make—or even a MEH film, for that matter.


Three words (well, two with one repeated) sure to generate a shiver of revulsion: Jar Jar Binks.

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