Star Wars, Episode I: the Phantom Menace, the 25th Anniversary

The Blind Eternities forum

Posted on June 6, 2024, 9:41 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

This year is the 25th anniversary of Star Wars, Episode I: the Phantom Menace, the first film of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and the fourth film overall in the franchise.

The original film was entitled simply "Star Wars" when it was released in 1977, but the subtitle of "Episode IV: a New Hope" was added shortly before the release of the next film, Episode V: the Empire Strikes Back, because director George Lucas wished for the audiences to feel as if they were entering the story in the middle of an ongoing epic saga, which, naturally, led to the desire for episodes I, II, and III, so, sixteen years after the original trilogy ended, Lucas produced the first installment of the prequel trilogy, to reveal the story behind the formation of the Empire, the destruction of the Jedi order, and how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

Audiences were very excited for the release of the Phantom Menace, as Star Wars was a popular and beloved media franchise, by that time, but they were tremendously disappointed by TPM, for numerous reasons; first, the original trilogy was groundbreaking in its usage of highly-innovative physical effects, while TPM used CGI very heavily, almost to the point of excess. Second, the difference in tone and mood between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy was quite severe, as the original trilogy was a fairly straightforward story about a plucky band of righteous rebels fighting against a tyrannical empire, while the prequel trilogy focused very heavily on political subjects, which I imagine that many viewers found to be terribly tedious. Beyond that, seeing the character of Anakin Skywalker as a child and then a young adult was a most unusual experience, since audiences had a difficult time imaging an angsty and emotional character becoming the complete badass and epitome of evil whom Darth Vader was in the original trilogy, and I feel that that was more the fault of George Lucas than it was of the actors who played Anakin.

The portrayal of Anakin Skywalker, and his romance with Padme Naberrie, highlighted one of the major issues with the prequel trilogy; George Lucas is the creator of Star Wars, and, as such, he absolutely deserves praise for conceiving one of the greatest media franchises ever made, but much of the original trilogy's success was the result of numerous people working together, sharing ideas and suggesting ways to improve the story, but, during the filming of the prequel trilogy, George Lucas had nearly unlimited creative control over the films, which led to him becoming egotistical and the other crew members being reluctant to criticize him or offer suggestions about how to improve the story, and, as such, the prequel trilogy's writing was not of the same quality as was that of the original trilogy.

Nevertheless, The Phantom Menace still had plenty of positive aspects, such as excellent acting from Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Ian McDiarmid, as well as an expansion of the lore of the Star Wars universe, so the movie was not a complete disaster, and it certainly helped to revive the Star Wars franchise, inspiring numerous auxiliary media, such as novels, video games, and music.

I watched the original Star Wars movies when I was younger, so I was very excited for The Phantom Menace, but I was severely disappointed with the first installment of the prequel trilogy, although I have grown to appreciate that trilogy, in recent years, but I wonder if my changed opinion is due to me being older and wiser, or simply because the sequel trilogy was so horrible that it made the prequel trilogy look good, by comparison, but that is a subject to discuss in another post.

How does everyone else feel about this subject? What are your thoughts about this year being the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace, and can you believe that that movie is now that old?

Niko9 says... #2

The Phantom Menace is probably my favorite of the prequels, and maybe part of that is that it was kind of nuts to watch in theatres when it first came out, but I think the prequels in general have aged well even if they have their flaws. I mean, their better than Star Wars fanfic, which is a lot more than I can say for the Disney ones where I'd actually rather read archive of our own : )

I remember seeing The Phantom Menace for the first time, and I really didn't pay any attention to miticlorians or trade agreements or whatever really, mostly because what you left the theatre thinking was, wow, that's a lightsaber battle. I never saw a fast and acrobatic lightsaber fight until The Phantom Menace, and it was so cool to see the first time, and the music was great, and the layers to the fight were amazing, it was truly special.

Phantom Menace might be my favorite of the prequels just because it comes with the least bloat in the plot. It's pretty much a "heroes in the right place at the right time" story, and that's okay. I think as the prequels went on they really got bogged down by George Lucas having spent so much time drafting the story. After a while, so many little things become uncuttable in your mind, and Lucas wanted to also appeal to everyone, kids, adults, toy companies, old fans, new fans...I mean, the original movies were made in a bubble of, let's make the movie we want to, and the prequels were made in a much different bubble, and it shows.

The prequels could have been something really amazing, but they ended up just being, pretty goodish. Rogue One showed what you can do with a tight story, good special effects, and the star wars dry rub on it, and it was kinda great. If the prequels had done it similar and just told the story of Aniken, or just told the story of Palpetine, they would have been so much more directed. Palps is maybe the greatest movie villain and he gets very little time in the story. Like, the way he enacts his plan of, lets create a problem for the jedi but also give them an easy answer so that they don't even try to find their own answer, that's insanely good. That's like real life corporate villainy, and it's so scary to see a bad guy be that manipulative.

Maybe my view on the prequels is pretty simple, they have brief moments that are hands down the best in all of star wars, but there is so much filler and dry narrative, and odd choices. Like, we can sit down to talk about trade agreements, but we can't have a scene actually showing what Padme sees in Aniken, or a scene to explain that he is emotionally stunted from his training and is feeling things he can't deal with.

Also, and maybe a small nitpick, but lightsabering a village was way, way too far : ) We were supposed to get a crack in the door for Any, not an express elevator ride right to the dark side. Watching something like The Clone Wars was like, yeah, but this is the same guy who destroyed a village, so...

I overall really like the prequels, I kind of wish they could have had a better process, more people involved in the writing, but ultimately they have some super fun moments.

June 10, 2024 8:28 p.m.

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