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STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

Starring: Liam Neeson, Jake Lloyd, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor
Directed by: George Lucas

 

Well, all I can say is thank the Naboobian lords I didn't camp out to see this starship of tedium...WHY WOULD YOU?

We have all waited with baited breath to catch up with all our old friends; C-3PO, Yoda, Obi-Wan. And they came to us, in what promised to be a great cast. Oh, sure they had star power, Ewan McGregorrrr, Liam (yummy!) Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson. HOWEVER, let's start my long list of complaints with Sammy. He had, um, three lines? You know by now, I love that dude. So imagine my utter and complete shock when he got so dissed! Was he edited? Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan) was pimply and diminutive next to (Liam) the giant Jedi. Obi was also a bit clueless at times; more like Jed Clampett than a Jedi.

Then I have to whine about that hideous creature, Jar Jar Binks, the sidekick to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Neeson). Binks was like the Jerry Lewis of the alien galaxy. He was just annoying, contrived and unlikable. His spastic dialog and moronic accent had my skin crawling! What was he—an interplanetary Rasta Man lizard? Those stupid long ears (or whatever they were) and his dumb antics were NOT funny. The horrible creature seemed a tad politically incorrect as well. I just can't talk about it anymore..I need therapy.

Anyhoodlum, story is, the planet Naboo is in the way of the Trade Federation's route for profit. They want/need to take over the place. This Trade Federation has corruption and greed galore—kinda like the New York garment district. Enter Queen Amidala, a half Geisha, half Hellraiser creature with fabulous outfits. She's a strong young lady who refuses to sit back and watch her planet be overthrown (unlike most other 17 year olds who would have been out at the pod races or chasing studly Nabooian hunks). Whatever. By 45 minutes in, I didn't know who was where and what was what, but again, nice threads on Queenie. The Star Wars geek next to me had to explain everything...'Okay, now see him...well...he's like the dude who you know like...well...remember in the first movie ...like when ...' They should give you limited edition cliff notes with the popcorn on this puppy. Just don't think you can just stroll innocently into this movie without knowledge of like, all 6 episodes to figure out who everyone was.

By the way, if your confused too, don't feel like an idiot. See, this is a "prequel", a Hollywood term they made up to mean the movie before the movie. Meaning 'we made so much money, unexpectedly from the others , think of something, anything, to reel in more doughski and throw in a goofy-like character. Make 'im like Jerry Lewis. I always loved Jerry Lewis.Ya, the kids will love it, I can see the toy shelves now.' And further more, the title Phantom Menace made no sense either. What was the Phantom Menace? The plot?

Darth Maul, the scarcely seen mega villain, looked more like he was a lost member of KISS or in the WWF rather than part of the ultra cool Darth clique. The storm troopers who, you may remember made us all tremble with fear from the previous episode, have been replaced by "Battle Droids"; wimpy, anorexic robots that crumble when touched. Ohhh, scary! Pleeeasse! The 8-year-old next to me asked his daddy what gay meant.

Young Darth Vader, aka Anikan, aka Annie (yeah, that name will help him be a man) was cute. Too cute, sometimes, but compared to the other stars walking around trying to be Jedi masters and Queens and some such—he was great. Especially compared to the aliens that were head of the Trade Federation that sounded like waiters in a Chinese restaurant. Trade, shmade--give me the moo-goo gai pan, with extra water chesnuts Ling..

Yoda is in this, too. He's not really a nice little fella. Very cantankerous and uncooperative. His circle of Jedi leaders was in a word-ridiculous. One hysterical and particularly odd leader, looked like a Q-Tip. It was so distracting I actually laughed out loud. His neck kept floating back and forth so much it almost mesmerised me into liking the movie. Almost.

I have to say the special effects by ILM (Industrial Lights and Magic) were fabulous. The underwater city and swamp creatures are like a ride at Universal Studios. They were seamless—unlike Liam's wig! Every time he wrinkled his Cro-Magnon head you could see the glue on that dried tumbleweed—awful.

Ya know, Georgie Lucas made a couple of masterpieces years ago. He was a visionary back then, now it seems the visionary has developed cataracts. With the budget he was allowed for this epic dung heap—he should have found a script writer to collaborate with—to make the verbal diarrhea that flowed more touching and real—ya know, like the real Star Wars.

Wait till it's out on video. Then borrow it.

Snack recommendation: Leftovers



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