grebok_sod (grebok_sod) wrote,

Prepared to Be Incensed, Internets

10 years ago today, the Phantom Menace was released and fanboys the world over rejoiced.

Two weeks later those same fanboys found their hearts rotted, their balloons popped and nothing but bile and sickness in their mouths. Or so I assume b/c about a month after its release it became really cool to hate nuWars and the prequels’ track was lain: go see it on opening night, hate it a week later.

I wonder whether this will be NuTrek’s legacy in a month? Probably not, b/c now you’re all time-stamped on the internets about how much you loved it. While most of you can hide how much you enjoyed seeing that opening crawl ten years ago tonight.

Obviously, I don’t have a lot of tolerance for prequel haters. Not only do I simply not get it and call shenanigans on a cool half of them, but frankly Phantom Menace is my favorite Star Wars movie.

Oh, I’m sorry, maybe you didn’t hear me: PHANTOM MENACE IS MY FAVORITE OF THE STAR WARS MOVIES.

That better, internets? Can you hear me down there in your fan entitled misery?

That isn’t entirely fair to assume it's all fan-entitlement: the prequels aren’t exactly works of art and we grew up between our memories of Star Wars and the new movies. Maybe, just maybe you genuinely didn’t like it then or now. Though, you probably don’t really like the OT anymore either, do you? You just hold that up as your shield. Like the way it’s okay to be racist if you said "hi" to a black guy on a bus once.

Or maybe the idea that these new movies weren’t tailor made out of your dreams or even made with you in mind hurt your feelings. Never mind that you were eight years old when you saw the first films, you just couldn’t wrap your brain around the fact that the new movie was also made for children. Where was Darth Vader callously murdering people from start to finish? Seriously, more than a few of you expected/wanted this. For the record: you are stupid.

No, it didn’t stay true to the prequel vision you had more than a decade after having seen the movies. Rather they stayed true to being a kickass little space opera about some MFers with laser swords doings some MFing derring-do.

Instead of appreciating that, most of you focused on how the space gaybot had been replaced with a space retard who tripped and farted over stuff and you got all uppity. Hey, you know who loves Jar Jar Binks? My kids. That’s who he’s there for. Just like you thought Threepio’s every wasted line was a knee slapper back when you needed someone to wipe your nose.

Backing off of Jar Jar is one of several decisions which drug the rest of the prequels down in my not-so humble opinion. Jar Jar went from the mostly pointless comic relief of C3PO and became just pointless. I demand a re-release with tons more Jar Jar, preferably dry-humping your mom in the background. The DVD will scan your brain or search your house for your mother’s likeness and place her crooked under Jar Jar’s heaving pelvis.

Look back at the Old Testament—er, Original Trilogy—and be more honest with yourself. They’re mindless little adventure movies. Yes, they had slightly better personal interplay, that is accurate and fair. But all told they were drivel hung on friendly faces and marched out to the inevitable “goodguys win” ending.

The prequels however are more of a period piece about an imaginary period. It is a more formal time and I find the wooden and overly complicated dialogue more in place here than in the OT where it’s just clunky and weird amid all the moisture farming and rebellion.

To be fair even further, the NT really needed a Han Solo, an everyman to give the audience’s disbelief and one-liners voice. But let’s admit it, we didn’t disbelieve anymore. No. So convinced were we that the Force was space magic that we got all pissed off when anyone bothered to suggest this shit had, y’know, rules and *gasp* biology.

No, to you it was faerie dust or nothing. Now you could feel justified in spitting Lucas’s name like a curse to your buddies. Thanks midichlorians! Or curse you!

I’m done being fair though. I’ve been fair for ten straight years. I’ve put up with your bullshit, your vitriol and your double standards. Anakin is such a pussy? Really? And Luke is what? Don’t shy away from the question? Luke is what? A big flapping vagina is what. Whining from the minute you meet him to when he turns off his lightsaber and tells the Emperor to go eff himself. Anakin was cast and portrayed based on your sacred cow, not the other way around.

In the end I can’t make you like it or make you admit that you actually really enjoyed yourself this night ten years ago, but I can further extol the merits of my favorite SW film. Why is it my favorite? It’s my favorite b/c it is the most Star Wars movie in the franchise. It is big, bold, sweeping, exciting and it injects ten-thousand new ideas into your eye per second. Star Wars is spectacle barely propped up by mythological archetype and made to sing and dance.

Phantom Menace is nothing if not spectacle.

Within the opening five minutes our childhoods returned only to be blown the fuck up as we realized we have never rightly seen a Jedi before. We had no idea. We watched two old men train a whiny teenager to beat up a space cripple. We simply were not prepared.

It was a master stroke showing us what it was like to be on the receiving end of some Jedi scorned. Like out of a horror movie, they are coming for you and it doesn’t matter from your robots and your blast doors. They will come in your house and break your shit. They are righteous and aware and they will cut your negotiations short and punch your sister in her uterus before they’re done.

What’s more we learned that they are callous and full of hubris. No more noble than real knights or samurai or cowboys or whoever else you still have illusions about. They don’t have to listen to your side and they don’t have to say “excuse me”. They will flat scratch your records and expect you to apologize to them that you put your turntable so close to their laser sword arm. Jedi do not give a fuck about you and your trade dispute. Galactic order is like punching a clock for these guys. Jedi keep peace the way you keep spreadsheets.

As exciting, big and full of bright shiny things blowing up as the movie was, The Phantom Menace is actually the most subtle of the Star Wars movies. In large part b/c Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are amazing craftsmen. You learn everything you need to know about Jedi, their place in the galaxy and how they interact with the world just by watching Neeson be a stone cold motherfucker for two hours. I remember thinking: “no wonder someone overthrew these guys, they’re total A-holes". Turns out that's the point, innit?

Watch McGregor hangs on his master’s every word while clearly enjoying bringing law and order to the galaxy and you know everything you need to about young Obi-Wan and being a padawan. Watch as they put their blind faith in the Force and jump off buildings or kidnap elected officials or take bets with space scumbags on backwater planets. Their performances are the best in the sextology and yes, of course I’m remembering Harrison Ford (although I may be omitting Frank Oz).

All sorts of little gems beg for a rewatching. Anakin reveals multiple times just how powerful he is/will be throughout the movie. Like, when he’s being tested by the Jedi and he’s a full “card” ahead of them in his predictions? Awesome. No such moments lie in wait for those rewatching the OT. That half the players are related isn’t teased, setup or even known to the cast. They are remarkably surficial little jaunts. More mindless in every way than the NT.

Back to the spectacle, the last twenty minutes of Phantom Menace are some of the most exciting minutes ever committed to film. Complete with the: Best. Lightsaber. Fight. Ever. Really, I’m all about the Jedi doing awesome while whirling about superhot lightsticks. That’s all I expect, want or need from a Star Wars movie and the Phantom Menace (and by extension the NT) does all of that way better than anywhere in the OT. The fight at the end of Return of the Jedi is as close as we get and it’s really awkward and poorly choreographed. It does it's job emotionally, but it's like watching blind people fence.

Which leads me to blaspheme: I would love if George redid the OT. Not just fiddle with some knobs or add one more alien into the background. Full-on recast, reshoot, redo the movies. I know, blasphemy right? These are the movies everyone is so vehemently holding up as the sacred cow by which all others be judged, yadda yadda. So much so that they feel free to swear at and spurn the guy who came up with them as somehow betraying them. Yeah, you didn’t leave him by expecting dark and adult films about Jedi getting murdered by the score, he betrayed you by making a kid’s movie that made the fall of a Republic passingly realistic. Good call.

I love the OT, it’s what informs my love for the NT. It’s just not near as perfect as you remember. You know, from when you were a child?

Despite all this cavalier championing of those movies you hated so much you went and saw them twice, I don’t think they’re perfect. I have a notebook full of things I would’ve done differently. However each of these notes works with what George did not what he didn’t do. I don’t care that the Ewoks were almost Wookies. I loved the Ewoks. Still do. Those backward little teddybear space monkeys were tits then and they’re tits now.

I would simply have George write out the entire trilogy at the same time. Something he did with the OT that he admits he didn’t with the NT. I trust he would realize he needed Dooku in the first movie to have any impact in the second, or this Sifodias guy could’ve had a walk on. Mothma should’ve been in all three movies but should have at least been seen in the second (and not on the cutting room floor in the third). He’s always had a problem with that though. The OT jumps all around and if there’s any sensible hierarchy to either the Empire or the Rebellion it’s lost on me.

So, in short, go fuck yourself internets. I have to deal with your whining bullshit about how awful these movies are just b/c you grew up and apparently lost all joy and wonder in the journey. Well I love them. I love all the prequels. By and large I love the prequels more than the original trilogy and I am tearing up and enjoying the ten year anniversary of the BEST STAR WARS FILM EVER MADE.

May the Force (which is a byproduct of mitochondria—er, midichlorians) be with you. And feel free to lick my nuts if you disagree. I‘ve had to choke on your heartless contrarian opinion for about ten years it’s only fair you have to deal with mine for ten minutes.

Tags: best star wars ever, phantom menace, star wars

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