Sunday, June 25, 2006

Movie Log: The Phantom Menace

The boys and I have been running through the Star Wars movies (in the correct order, of course), and we finished up the original trilogy a month or so ago. Yesterday my original plan was to take them into the city to go to the Central Park Zoo (a trip that's been delayed many many times already), but the weather put an end to that.

So when Thing 1 said he wanted to watch "Episode 1," I thought that was a pretty good plan, and so that's what we did. I hadn't seen it since 1999: then, it was at a pre-release screening for sub-licenses, so it was a very appreciative crowd. (And, can I mention that two of the three movies I've seen at screenings -- this and Batman and Robin -- were really lousy sequels? I just hope it's not me...)

This time, it was just me and the boys, so the boredom set in earlier. I don't think I need to detail the plot and the history; by this time, anyone hooked up to the Internet who can read English knows the deal. So I'll cut to the chase: this is a long, slow, boring movie with a few good sequences in it. It's a massive monument to missed opportunities. The dialogue is lousy at best. Jake Lloyd, as The Boy Who Would Be Darth, isn't given anything interesting to do, and does it as if he's in a mid-60s Disney movie. Everyone says "Yippie!" way too much.

On the other hand, Ewan MacGregor does a kick-ass Alec Guiness impression. Liam Neeson does his damndest not to sound like an idiot while talking about midi-chlorians, or to look like an idiot dressed up like Johnny Gaijin, Hobo Samurai. All of the other Jedi, though, are utter cardboard -- and, yes, I'm afraid that includes Samuel Jackson, who shows no appreciable acting talent in this movie.

Someone could have made a gripping movie about a government slipping into dictatorship under the stress of size and corruption -- or about a nasty trade dispute/proxy war -- or about the youth of the greatest traitor and mass murderer of his age. But George Lucas apparently wasn't the guy to do it. Again, it's a couple of pretty pictures embedded in over two hours of tedium, but it should have been so much more. Even a pleasant zippy space opera would have been a vast improvement.

(As I type this, the boys are watching their own "Good Parts" version a few feet away -- mostly the pod race and the big end fight.)

1 comment:

Mike Schilling said...

Liam Neeson does his damndest not to sound like an idiot while talking about midi-chlorians

To the extent the dialog allows, which is to say, he sounds pretty much like an idiot.

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