The Phantom Menace

Just who (or what) is the menacing phantom?

Following on from my On things never seen post, yesterday was Father's Day, and we watched The Phantom Menace.

It is not as bad – not nearly as bad – as nearly everyone makes out.

It starts badly, oddly enough. Not just the dull scroll about the Trade Federation, but then you have the Japanese-sounding guys in charge of the blockade and invasion, who are voiced by people who seemingly can't act. Their dialogue is frankly embarrassing.

But much of it is fine. Sure, there are holes in the logic, places where it doesn't exactly make sense; but what film doesn't have instances like that?

Even – and I realise I'm committing a kind of geek sacrilege as I write this – even Jar-Jar Binks isn't that annoying. Could the plot have worked without him, or with him not being a comedic figure? Of course. But having him as he is, does no harm.

But hey: I liked Wesley Crusher, too.

And that's about as much as I'm going to say about it for now.

2 Comments

  1. Some time in 2002, as I suppose it must have been, I was driving through Hackney with my then-small son in the car, when he said, “Dad, I saw a clown.”
    OK, I thought, someone probably dressed up for a kids’ party. It was a Saturday, as I recall. “Oh, yeah, where?” I glanced around, but couldn’t see any white faces or red noses.
    “On a bus shelter.”
    “A clown? On a bus shelter?”
    “Yes. A clown. You know, from Star Wars.”
    I guess I must have been able to give some explanation of what “clone” means, to a five-year-old. But it wasn’t till last weekend that we finally saw the relevant movie.
    And as before… it wasn’t as bad as I’ve been led to believe. Keeping your expectations low always helps.
    It wasn’t great, it’s true. In particular I wasn’t convinced by Anakin and Padmé falling in love. Anakin, yes, but Padmé, really, no.
    I had a hard time working out what the sides were in the big battle. The clones end up fighting on the side of the Republic? I didn’t expect that.
    And this bothers me: if you are an assemblage of planets joined together in common cause by treaty, and some of those planets decide they want to leave — going to war over it should be the furthest thing from your mind. It would be like if a country wanted to leave the EU, and the rest of the EU formed a vast army to force them to stay in it. That’s not the action of a peaceful democratic entity.
    It’s also insane. Even if you win and make the would-be-leavers stay, you’ve now got a load of people — whole worlds — who are actively hostile to the grouping they are within. That can’t be healthy.
    Now, if a subset leaves peacefully, and then war developed later on, that would be more believeable. After all, we acknowledge the EU’s effect of helping to keep Europe peaceful these past seventy years. It’s one of the reasons I am strongly against the idea of Britain leaving.
    But most importantly of all: you can’t say “federation starships” and mean the bad guys. I know they were talking about the Trade Federation, but “federation starshipmeans something in SF, and to hear it used here was really jarring. Did Lucas have beef with Roddenberry, or something?
    Yoda fighting was fun. He’s so tiny.
    And I’ve booked a work outing to see Episode VII on the 17th of December, the day it opens.

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