Running Commentary- Star Wars Episode 01- the Phantom Menace

Anime Reporter begins a new type of segment today, offering up thoughts and feelings in real time in response to a variety of films. I’ll be starting things off with the Star Wars films, starting, unfortunately, with Episode 01- The Phantom Menace. Here we go!

00:25- I really hope this movie isn’t as terrible as I remember.

00:56- Is it a terrible sign when the first in a series of prequels needs floating space-exposition before anything has even happened? I know it’s tradition by this point, but I count this as an ominous sign, even if I do already know the outcome.

02:00- Wow… these trade federation aliens really resemble a racist parody of Asian people. Like, really racist.

03:00- So there’s another robot identical to C3PO in this scene? Why did I feel like it was supposed to be super impressive that Anakin built C3PO the first time round? Isn’t he just a standard model or something?

06:00- Oh my God. These bad guys talking feel like a really bad fan-production.

08:00- Just what Star Wars needed, endless bureaucracy instead of an actual plot.

09:00- How is it that I remember so little of this bilge?

09:30- This council meeting feels like everyone is reading their scripts for the first time.

11:00- Oh no… the lanky CGI doofus has already arrived.

11:30- Jar Jar is already incredibly annoying.

12:30- I know this CGI is 17 years old, but I feel like even if he looked perfect, Jar Jar would still seem entirely out of place and unconvincing in these conversations.

14:30- Jar Jar is so annoying!

17:00- Jar Jar’s whole race seems annoying.

20:25- For the second time in five minutes, the Jedi’s submarine-thing was chased by a giant fish, which was then eaten by an even bigger fish. Who approved this script?

23:00- I’m not doubting the skills of a Jedi, but phoning in fights thsi much can’t be good strategy.

24:00- Every time someone says “Senate” or “chancellor”, I can feel my eyes glazing over.

24:30- More incredibly phoned-in lightsaber waving-around.

26:00- How can they even put a blockade on an entire planet? I saw, like a dozen ships in that “blockade”. One of the noticeable things about space is that it extends in three dimensions, no way could they enforce this blockade.

28:00- They are bringing a repair droid to the queen to be thanked for doing its basic job of repairing the ship. If it wasn’t R2D2 this would never happen.

28:45- The “queen” orders Padme to clean the droid in another room. Since Padme is really the queen in disguise, I feel like her stand-in wants some unsupervised time on the throne, or else Padme discreetly told her to order her out of the throne room so she could do some manual labour instead of attending to her queenly duties? Either way, this is a weird move.

30:00- Now that I think about it, what does “a disturbance in the Force” actually mean? Isn’t that super general?

31:15- Jar Jar stepped in poop and the movie gave this moment more attention than it deserved. I feel like I’m supposed to be laughing. I’m not though.

31:45- This alien seems like a super racist stereotype of a Middle Eastern person.

32:00- Oh crap, now the little annoying dweeb is here. I can’t for any scene featuring him and Jar Jar.

32:30- “Are you an angel?” *Vomits at dialogue and delivery*

33:20- Padme: “You’re a slave?” Anakin: “I’m a person and my name is Anakin!”- he said that as if slaves aren’t usually people. Also, (unpopular opinion alert!) this kid cannot act.

34:25- Middle Eastern Alien is super, super racist.

37:00-Anakain Skywalker fails to convince me he has ever had a conversation before.

39:20- Seriously, kid! Not every sentence should have the same inflection.

40:15- Forty minutes in and I still don’t care about any of this.

41:00- Anakin and his mother chat very casually to these strangers about being enslaved and fitted with explosive implants.

42:30- Why are these people telling an annoying random 8 year-old confidential details about their covert mission?

43:55- Anakin convinces his mother to let him be in the pod race with one sentence. This means he must be a Jedi because he didn’t even manage to convince me he knew what any of his own words meant or how they should fit in a sentence.

46:10- Anakin fails to convicne me he knows how to cross his arms like a person who’s used them before.

47:25- Anakin’s mother claims that her son has no father and Liam Neeson’s character just accepts it.

48:45- Jar Jar’s mouth goes numb and he becomes not one iota less annoying.

56:00- The practical effects and alien costumes might not be perfect but at least I believe they’re in the scene.

57:00- Jar Jar reacts to a big quasi-camel farting. I loathe everything he brings to this film.

57:20- In the middle of a very public arena, Sebulba tampers with Anakin’s racer and everyone, including two powerful and perceptive Jedi, fails to notice.

59:55- Just about an hour in and we finally get to see Professor Flitwick in the audience. Just in time for Quidditch too!

1:03:15- This pod race is… if I’d wanted to be bored out of my mind I could have watched actual sports.

1:05:30- A guy crashed and the announcer said “I don’t care what universe you’re from, that’s gotta hurt!”- Why? Why would anyone who didn’t know they were in a sci-fi movie say that?

1:06:30- Every time something in this race goes wrong, Anakin just flicks some switches and fixes it all. I don’t know what any of these switches are for. I don’t know if he’s doing something brilliant or just standard I.T. stuff. Nothing in this race means anything to me.

1:09:35- Anakin’s friends fail to pull off a celebration hug/high five as he crosses the finishing line and this matters far more to me than the fact that he won.

1:12:00- Anakin has been freed and he uses the exact same tone of voice as when he talks about everything else. This kid cannot act.

1:15:25- Seriously. This kid cannot act.

1:16:50- Anakin fails to jump to the ground in a way that convinces me he’s experienced gravity before.

1:18:00- Liam Neeson cheerily introduces Obi Wan to his future murderer and Anakin to the guy who’ll one day dismember him, abandon him on a scalding bit of rock ad kidnap his children, one of whom he’ll train against him. It’s a surprisingly casual moment.

1:20:45- Senator Palpatin, eh? That guy who precisely resembles the emperor in voice and appearance? He seems like a good dude to put your trust in.

1:22:25- What the hell is Jar Jar even saying half the time? Does it matter?

1:24:53- Someone finally says “May the Force be with you”- My Irish Catholic upbringing prompts me to expect a response of “And also with you”. That programming runs deep.

1:25:25- Liam Neeson says that he thinks Anakin’s father is the Force-bacteria stuff and two Jedi councillors look mortified on his behalf.

1:27:00 Big-ass Republic Senate meeting starts and I’m just looking out for all those little ETs I’ve seen in Youtube videos.

1:29:06- I see some! I see some ETs. Also, there is literally a vote of no-confidence in a senator being proposed in order to put an end to the complications of bureaucracy. Why is this a Star Wars film?

1:31:15- Jar Jar casually walks up to a depressed Queen Padme to ask her if she’s thinking about all her people might die because she’s failed to convince the Senate to help them. She actually answers him instead of having him decapitated or something.

1:36:25- Liam Neeson reveals that the Force is made of bacteria. Not cool. I remembered this from previous viewings, but still, it’s not a proud moment for the series.

1:39:45- Every single thing that Jar Jar says is pointless. He should be removed entirely from the movie, not just for my state of mind, but also from a basic storytelling standpoint.

1:42:42- Anakin fails to say the line “Alright” convincingly.

1:43:45- Padme openly admits to using her new allies as cannon fodder, just moments after forming an alliance based on her not thinking she’s better than them.

1:45:00- I’m no filmmaker, but these screen wipes between scenes are not good.

1:46:30- The queen and an untrained child are part of the super covert infiltration mission because…?

1:47:00- While the troops are stealing space-fighters, anakin decides to hide in the cockpit of a space fighter… to stay out of trouble?

1:49:14- Jar Jar’s people fighting CGI droids. Nothing is real and I care about none of it.

1:53:00- Anakin is outacted in credibility and personality by R2D2.

1:53:47- Jar Jar is so annoying.

1:54:00- Anakin proclaims “This is tense” in the middle of a space dogfight in exactly the same tone that he used for being excited about being freed from slavery. This. Kid. Cannot. Act.

1:54:06- Oh my God. This kid can’t act.

1:55:00- 3 Jedi in a lightsaber fight. Somebody’s going to put an eye out if they’re not careful. Oh, no, wait, it’s fine. They’re phoning it in.

1:56:20- Implausible laser shields on timers because….why?

1:58:50- This kid can’t act.

2:04:00- Bad CGI Darth Maul falls to his death. Was he the phantom menace? What was the phantom menace? Not the emperor, I hope. I saw that senator dude coming a mile away. So, who?

2:05:45- Racist Alien Parody aliens are defeated and their punishment is… more bureaucracy?

2:07:42- Dozens of people must have died in this mission, but everyone goes to the funeral of just one Jedi. Pays to be a main character, I guess.

2:09:56- What the hell kind of ending is this? Who cares about peace between two planets which we’ve only experienced through the eyes of their leaders and inept comic relief! I’m honestly getting more drama and suspense from the score of the end credits that I did from the events of this entire film.

Final Verdict: No real surprise here, my big take-away is ‘That kid can’t act and Jar Jar is annoying.’ Still, I recall enjoying Episode 03, so it’s not too much longer before Star Wars gets good again. I can do this.

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Anime Reporter brings you reviews and insights on anime, manga and whatever else I feel like! Welcome!

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Posted in American Film, Reviews, Running Commentary, Spotlight of Shame

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