We did a bad thing.
In preparation for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we are going back and watching all the previous Star Wars movies... including Star Wars - Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.
Tonya had never watched all the movies in story order and there were a few she had never even seen. So, like any good nerd husband, she's going to have to watch them between now and The Last Jedi. So, here we go.
This is, by far and away, Karl's least favorite movie in the entire Star Wars franchise. There is very little about this movie he finds redeeming. Instead of giving a point by point break down (you know you've all seen it more than you wanted to) we'll just give you the good, the bad, and the ugly of Star Wars - Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.
- The Jedi. Ewan McGregor has always been Karl's favorite thing about the prequels. He grows into the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi during the three movie series and is leaps and bounds above everyone else by Revenge of the Sith. Liam Neeson is also very good in this movie except for his ridiculous hair. It's kind of a shame that the Star Wars movies didn't get more Qui-Gon. Tonya, on the other hand, found them both forgettable with Obi-Wan actually getting less screen time than remembered.
- Darth Maul. I'm amazed that Darth Maul doesn't have more of a cult following. If you really think about it, Darth Maul is the best Sith apprentice in the whole series. All the others are either very old or very busted up. Darth Maul is all karate kickin', double-lightsaber slinging, mean looking Sith, with horns. I know he was eventually brought back in the Clone Wars but it's a shame he didn't live to fight again in the next live action movie instead of giving us old guy Dracula. Tonya found him... meh.
And that about covers that. I know you might argue "What about the pod race!" and we would concede that if it wasn't so darn stupid in concept that the execution of it was pretty wizard. Tonya thought it was one of the best parts of them movie.
- The Story. The story is boring. Trade disputes and politics. The Queen Padmae Amidala (played by Natalie Portman, who peaks in this movie, gets significantly worse from here forward) has no freaking idea how to govern. She's manipulated by... well, everyone. And she is some weird age. Like she ends up with little orphan Ani in the next movie who is like a ten year old kid here, yet she is AN ELECTED QUEEN so just overlook the pedophilia I guess. It's just awkward and silly. As we discussed on the Patreon special podcast about this episode, Wikipedia claims she is only 14. There is no way she is remotely 14 years old in this movie. I'm sure I've seen her age listed in other Star Wars sources as 17ish which makes slightly more sense.
- The dialog. A huge problem that plagues these prequels is that they have to wiki-splain (my word) everything. "What are midi-chlorians?" asks Ani awkwardly. "Well, Wikipedia says..." responds Qui-Gon. Again, awkward.
- Yoda. Yoda ends up being pretty awesome by the next movie but in the Phantom Menace he doesn't have a clue what's going on. Pretty much every scene he is in he's confused by something. I guess he grows into wise old Yoda.
- Anakin Freakin' Skywalker. Dear lord is this character horrible. "Are you an angel?" Whoever wrote that line needs a gut kick and a Stone Cold Stunner. I can't even complain about Jake Lloyd who played Anakin, I can't imagine any human actor getting over this dud of a role.
- Jar Jar Binks. This unholy racist abomination has been the scorn of the Star Wars fandom ever since. Comedy relief? No. Unnecessary stupidity? Oh yes.
- The Immaculate Conception. Wait what? Yes, Anakin Skywalker is Jesus. He was born without a father. Gut kick. Stunner.
- Darth Vader built C3-PO. Who thought this was a good idea? Seriously? Why did the Star Wars story need this? Why did Darth Vader forget this? Why was this remotely necessary? This always angers me to no end.
Finally, one last observation about the Star Wars series in general. There is something everyone needs to realize about the entire series. The real bad guy in the movies is not The Emperor. The real bad guy is not Darth Vader. The real bad guy of the film series is...
Yes, R2-D2 is the real criminal of the whole Star Wars story. He knew about every single bit of this from beginning to end and never told anyone. He never let Luke Skywalker know in a New Hope. He and Obi-Wan Kenobi colluded into keeping everyone in the dark in a New Hope and set a course of warfare that cost thousands of lives in the galaxy. He never let C3-PO in on the fact that Darth Vader built him (C3-PO's mind had been wiped. R2-D2's was not). He let a brother and sister kiss and never let on anything. He knew WAY before Luke Skywalker or Maury Povich knew who the father was. Never chirped a word.
Every single time characters stood around talking about who was who, or what to do... R2-D2 sat there chirping and if he had thumbs, he would be manically twiddling them.