The Phantom Menace (1999) (Hold On, I'm Having A Darth Vader Moment)
The main question after seeing The Phantom Menace is what on earth happened between now and the original Star Wars trilogy. There are two possible explanations. One is that George LucasTM fell on his head at some point damaging his left parietal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for casting, dialogue, character development and not having gratuitous racial stereotypes in movies. The second is that other forces such as Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones, and yes, even Mark Hammil were more important than I had realized. Having seen Phantom, I've lost the respect I wasn't aware I had for Lucas as a director. [see essay]
But all negatives aside, some enjoyment taken from the movie I have. For example, this adds to my appreciation of Darth Vader as the most important movie character ever. He's not just the imposing villain who just happens to eighty-six the emperor in an incredibly timely father-son moment. I now see Darth Vader as the saga's real hero, and Luke (Lucas?) as the unwitting comic relief that he was. When I was young, I would always root for the good guys. Now, I just root for the better actor, and that usually means evil. There's an old expression, Some things are better left unsaid. But in this movie, everything would have been better left unsaid. Needless to say, I was rooting for Darth Maul.
Fig 2. Better Left Unsaid
Also, I have a new appreciation for Darth Vader's impressive piloting skills, which are apparently prerequisite for saving the universe. So try to forget about the kid-actor while watching Phantom and just think about the Darth Vader you know from the original. During the pod race, be thinking of Darth in his turbo-powered tie fighter kicking some serious gold leader butt. After a recent Supreme Court ruling, Bill Gates slams his office door shut and heads for the assembly line. "I'll do it myself."And if you get tired of that, you can think of some other Darth Vader moments, or maybe go out for a quick bite to eat. Don't worry, the pod race will still be going on when you get back. [.wav] And whenever Jar Jar Binks or any other commercialism infects the screen, just tune out and think of a scene from the original involving light sabers or Harrison Ford.
Note: The Gungan king's form and movement recalls the famous A.E.I.O.U. caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.
Star Wars misquote: "I find your lack of interest in the force disturbing."