Discussion on TPM - Just saw for the 1st time

Discussion in 'The Phantom Menace' started by Daloten, Feb 19, 2005.

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  1. Daloten Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 19, 2005
    Hello - I'm new here. I just saw TPM yesterday, for the 1st time. I got it for my kids, ages 8 & 6, and they liked it alot. We own the Trilogy DVD and it was a blast introducing my boys to those films.

    I grew up watching the OT, seeing ANH in the theater 4 times the 1st week it came out, when I was 12! Truly a highlight of my childhood.

    However...(I know some of you were waiting for this) I really have some issues with TPM.

    Yes, Jar Jar was as bad as I'd heard. No more needs to be said on him, I think.

    What I really don't get, though is this; I've read in several places that Lucas' intention was to make a movie for children. That's fine - I love some movies intended for that audience. But, if this is the case, why does so much of TPM's plot revolve around the very un-childlike topics of trade embargos, Congressional politics, votes of no-confidence, and general political intrigue?

    I see this film as a cop-out. I would like to believe that Lucas originally intended to make this movie much more serious in tone and mature, maybe as atonement for the looniness that took place in RoTJ with those damned Teddy Ruxpins. So he comes up with a very intriguing concept of political machination and quasi-religious Messianiac themes. But somewhere along the line, someone talks to him and convinces him that this will never sell. It won't sell toys, it won't sell video games, it won't sell Halloween costumes, nothing.

    Lucas then goes and re-tools the movie, coming up with Jar Jar, pod racing, fart jokes, and poop jokes.

    This seemed like to vastly different movies at times to me. The scenes with Qui Gon and Obi Wan were very good. I could even take little Anikin - to a point. The dual with Darth Maul was brilliant - one of the better moments in the whole series. So we have the serious parts of this movie which are then contrasted by the silly, gimmicky parts; pod race, submarine tunnel of doom, Jar Jar, Gungans in general.

    Here's another example of how I feel it was a cop-out; the slavery issue. Now, again, a most serious topic, yet it was handled in a such a light, almost romanticized manner that it totally trivialized what being a slave means.

    Looking at Anikin and his mothers' life, it didn't seem to damn bad. They lived in a muli-room, modern home with Anikin's robot buddy C3PO, and his homemade pod racer. His mom looked like she kept a nice house, so where do these slaves get all this free time to build pod racers, droids, play with the other slave kids, wlak around the city, etc? He copped out! Show these slaves as suffering people. Make their lives harsh and deprived. This was made light-hearted to keep the tone happy, marketable and easy to take for children. It just doesn't work though. Hell, movies like A Christmas Carole, Oliver Twist, even Indiana Jones and the ToD portray harsher lives for kids.

    Back to Anikin for a bit. I didn't like the idea of him blowing up the control ship accidentally like that. It reeked of a video game moment. Which I feel was exactly why it was done that way. Get a whole new generation of kids between the ages of 6 and 14 into the movie by making moments like that part of the film. The pod race was the same idea. I liked the idea of taking Anikin to train him as a Jedi. It should have stopped with that. The less saw of him, the better it would have been.

    There needed to be some indication of how Darth Maul found they were on Tatooine. I've read speculation about handmaidens sending messages, Sith superpowers, etc., but there needed to be something to tell us how this was learned.

    I did think the thinly disguised racial types were in poor taste and very ill-fitting in this (or any) movie.
    All we needed was an "Ah-so" or two from the Traders and Watto in a wife-beater to really pound the idea home. The Jamaicans should boycott all Lucas projects as well.

    I'm curious to hear how people feel about these comments of mine. I know many will disagree - fine. I'd like to hear what you all think.
    whostheBossk likes this.
  2. BlueTrooper Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2004
    star 3
    I agree with a lot of what you said and most of your points are valid. I had many problems with the film and I think it had a lot of wasted opporutities. More screen time should have been devoted to Darth Maul and Obi-wan and less on Jar-Jar.
  3. SkottASkywalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2002
    star 4
    I was born in 1965 and have been into STAR WARS since before the first time I saw the movie STAR WARS in 1977. STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE is a great start to the STAR WARS Saga. :) :cool:
  4. lovelucas Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2004
    star 4
    i think points were missed in the cricticsm. and racial stereo-types are in the imagination of the viewer. jar jar's speech was created by ahmed best who is an african-american. he could not understand those who criticized his speech as "racial" since if it's any race at all, it is gungan.
    this is not the OT and those who come looking for comedic interaction (with the exception of jar jar) are looking in the wrong trilogy. this is the foundation of why the republic falls. serious stuff that will all come to fruition as the story and the prequels progress. but you have to start at the beginning - lucas has always known the story he wants to tell and it is a complicated one yet common to all myths and religions. and that's his point. you can't just jump in here with massive amounts of darth maul and duels and space battles. this is where 5 subsequent (chronologically) stories/movies will hinge - and all of these details have a purpose. as we will see.
  5. heels1785 JCC/PT Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2003
    star 6
    Daloten, I share your thoughts almost exactly.

    As for the Teddy Ruxbins, I'd take Max Rebo over Jar-Jar Binks any day of the week.

    Darth Maul was a terribly weak character, and the whole setup of the Trade Federation blowup and Anakin's podrace were awful.

    But I would say that the two lead Jedi, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, gave two of the strongest performances in any Star Wars films.

    Welcome to the boards.

    --heels
  6. Hades2021 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2003
    star 4
    I saw TPM when I was 12 opening week, so my life sort of parallels the original poster's. I didn't understand a word during the political scenes and didn't even catch that Palpatine was in those scenes. (short attention span) At the end of the movie they were like, "Congradulations, Senator Palpatine, for being voted Chancellor." (something like that) I was like, "Oh, cool Palpatine just got to be chancellor soon he will be Emperorer hahaha." (Because I had grown up with the star wars video tapes and a little eu and knew a lot).

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that when you're a kid, the boring stuff doesn't matter. The beginning of TPM is pretty exciting. The ending is excellent. The action is decent. That's all that matters for kids.

    And I bet when you watched ANH when you were 12, you didn't understand the imperials talking about "dissolving the senate" or "beurocracies" or "regional governors". You just ignore the boring stuff as a kid.
  7. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    Funny - it's just like turning the clock back to 1999. Lots of things have happened since then.
    What did your kids think, Daloten?



    Six episodes, two trilogies, one saga
    /LM
  8. BothofUs Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2003
    star 4
    What I really don't get, though is this; I've read in several places that Lucas' intention was to make a movie for children. That's fine - I love some movies intended for that audience. But, if this is the case, why does so much of TPM's plot revolve around the very un-childlike topics of trade embargos, Congressional politics, votes of no-confidence, and general political intrigue?

    I think what George Lucas intended was for the movie to please both kids and old fans of Star Wars. Naturally, some things will breeze over children (the senatorial scenes, for example), while others will have them drooling with their jaws dropped (pod race, lightsaber duels, Jar Jar).

    I, too, would like to know what your kids thought of the movie, which you failed to mention. Did they like it as much as the original trilogy?

    In the end, I think that the things that made kids go Ga-Ga after TPM really lost some long-time fans of the saga up until that point.

    I for one love the movie and I think the high points of The Phantom Menace really outshine the minor bad parts.
  9. Daloten Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 19, 2005
    My kids liked it very much - not as much as the OT movies, but a lot.

    I understand the point about the story having to start somewhere. My problem is with the strange lack of commitment to how the story should be presented; should it be cute and child-friendly, or should it be a serious exploration of mature themes like politics, religion, and slavery?

    It seems that Lucas lost focus on how he wanted to present his story, not on what story he wanted to present.
  10. Jade's Fire2003 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 12, 1999
    star 4
    Here's another example of how I feel it was a cop-out; the slavery issue. Now, again, a most serious topic, yet it was handled in a such a light, almost romanticized manner that it totally trivialized what being a slave means.

    I disagree with the opinion that the slavery is romanticized. A lot of what's great about movies/art is that we are given leeway to figure things out for ourself. Maybe we're not shown the slaves at their very worst, but then again, torture scenes in the OT were not shown in their gruesome entirety; they were hinted at. Lucas does hint at the gruesome entirety - the slave implants, the ability to be bought and sold, etc. That's why movies can speak to more than one audience - you can take in as much as your own capacity allows.

    As for racism, I agree with lovelucas. If you want to read into it, races in the OT can be seen as racial stereotypes.
  11. Wesyeed Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 4
    About the Slavery. Lucas knows how to show slavery. THX1138 was his best portrayal of it that I've ever scene. He did the same in AotC. Why he didn't in TPM is.. well i don't have any real answer. Cop-out sounds like it, but perhaps he just didn't want to show a kid being poked with an electrocution rod or something.

    It would have been more effective if the Slaves wore dog collars that would shock them into submission if they went a certain distance. Blowing slaves up is not good business.
  12. DarthyMarkyMark Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2003
    star 4
    I think GL didn't want to create excuses or cop-out reasons for Anakin's turn. In my opinion, if his slave-life had been awful and he'd recieved beatings, THAT would have been a cop-out - people would look to that as a reason for his fall. Anakin falls because of issues and emotions that EVERYONE in the world goes through - giving slavery as an excuse for him going to the dark side would be a terrible cop-out. Remember, his life as a slave is still not exactly cushy - he has a mechanical device in him that will explode if he tries to escape. The point is that Anakin is never in his life out of slavery, until the very end - he never achieves what he wants to. In TPM he's truly enslaved. In AotC, he's enslaved by his own frustrations, the feeling that he's being held back by the Jedi. When he turns to the dark side and gets stuck in that life-support suit, he's again enslaved - the suit means he's not as powerful as he could have been, and he has to obey the Emperor. He never achieves his ambition to kill and replace the Emperor, either - only when he acts out of compassion and sacrifice does he free himself and become one with the Force. I personally think TPM would have been spoiled if Anakin was beaten as a slave - as I said, people watching would assume "aha, that's why he turns to the dark side!" That would be a terrible, pathetic reason. The real reasons he turns are an inability to let go of things and accept change, an inability to control his emotions, and an inability to control his anger and hate - these are things ALL of us deal with, not just slaves.

    Oh, and TPM ROCKS! :D
  13. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    Very true, DMM. Anyone can turn evil, not just the miserable ones.



    Anakin Skywalker is you and me
    /LM
  14. lovelucas Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2004
    star 4
    DMM - great post.

    - do you folks recall anakin's response to padme's query of "you're a slave? immediate and strong-even at this age he felt the anger at the word and the station in life. this boy was not a happy camper and neither was shmi -
  15. Daloten Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 19, 2005
    I'm not suggesting that Anakin should have been beaten (Jar Jar maybe) or tortured at all! I'm saying that it would have been more in keeping with the mature themes if the slaves lives had been portrayed as a bit more unpleasant. Have them live in a plain, one or two room hut - show the toll slavery takes on his mother. Maybe the suggestion of beatings, or the suggestion of some sort of discipline. Anakin's home looked more comfortable than many people's dwellings in any urban slum in any city in our world.

  16. openmind Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2003
    star 4
    All we needed was an "Ah-so"

    Actually it was Transylvanian (Romania) accent spoken in English. So that wouldn't work.
  17. Lukecash Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 4
    Compare and contrast Padme and Anakins childhood. Daloten:

    Padme's life and Anakins. Sure that mulit room apartment seem cozy enough.. but if you try to escape *BLAM* there goes your head.

    Padme on the other hand had pretty nice digs, lots of clothes and ship at her disposal. Of course, the Sith Lords are trying to kill her, but that is besides the point.

    As for HOW the movie was presented. Lucas actually hit the movie EXACTLY the tone it needed to be. Was it aimed for kids... most definitely. Lucas was showing us the galaxy as it WAS....A glorious place, where boy's adventures could happen. FIlled with Shining Jedi Knghts and Queens who fought for her people.

    It is ALSO a time where darkness is begining to creep in. That is WHERE the adult stuff comes in. In the end, the direction that Lucas is going IS to where Anakin falls.

    So you see.. if you have the TWO movie syles intersecting.. it is causing dramatic and Thematic CONFLICT. If you notice AOTC was a far mor darker film.. with very little joy at all. ROTS.. will be dark.
  18. The_Flargg Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 2
    It's funny, but I'm not really annoyed by Jar Jar anyomre. When I first saw the movie, I was, but now I just accept him for the annoying thing that he is. Besides, he is barely in AOTC at all. The Jedi view Jar Jar as great an annoyance as the audience does, which is humorous.
  19. openmind Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2003
    star 4
    Lukecash, really glad you're back to put things into perspective. :cool:
  20. Bruce_the_Bith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 8, 2005
    star 3
    Slavery has many forms. Dalotec, you mentioned that Shmi had better digs than some inner city people. I would argue that those situations are a modern form of slavery. Drug abuse is usually involved, as is dead-end jobs, among other things; all these are characteristics of being enslaved nowadays. Perhaps Tatooine has different standards of slavery. Maybe even Shmi had learned not to step out of line so she wouldn't be beaten.

    Also, you mentioned that you wanted things to appear more realistic, yet complained how the movie was too worldly for kids to enjoy. Seems to me you should pick with one criticism or the other.

    Lastly, as was mentioned before, GJ was just trying to set the tone for the subsequent films, or more correctly, set up the juxtaposed tone, that won't be seen again until (possibly) the return of the Jedi.

    If you thought that all the political stuff was over your kids' heads then fine, but were they over your heads? I mean what kid is going to know what a phantom menace is anyway (i'm still trying to figure the title out and i'm 23!). This movie was meant to be enjoyed on all levels, so I wouldn't argue that if my kid's couldn't understand certain parts of it (but overall enjoyed it) that it's a bad film.
  21. Daloten Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 19, 2005
    Also, you mentioned that you wanted things to appear more realistic, yet complained how the movie was too worldly for kids to enjoy. Seems to me you should pick with one criticism or the other.

    No, I never said those things. Go back and read my posts please. I love having discussions, but if people can't take the time to read what someone writes, why do they think they're informed enough to reply? Maybe in some cases people simply don't understand what is being said.

    Also, I know that a lot of people feel very differently about this than I do. Great! That's what makes us all unique.

    This movie was meant to be enjoyed on all levels, so I wouldn't argue that if my kid's couldn't understand certain parts of it (but overall enjoyed it) that it's a bad film.

    I didn't claim it was a bad movie because my kids didn't enjoy it. That's your interpretation, which is wrong. I don't think a good movie can please all audiences and deal with mature themes while still trying to appeal to the widest possible audience. It again becomes a question of focus. Lucas needed to choose a focus and stick with it. This film could have been great, either as a light-hearted childrens' film, or as a mature, adult-oriented one. In actuality, it fails because it is trying to do both things at the same time. This is my opinion.

    One other thing to consider; I'm 40. I've grown up intellectually and in my level of sophistication since I was 20 or even 30. I expect more from things now than I did as a teenager/twenty-something. I'm figuring that all you younger people will find this happens to you as well. I still love a lot of what I loved at that age, but in general, I want a bit more now.
  22. Wesyeed Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 4
    I see what you mean. Parts of it look like a straight forward kiddie action flick and others look like a deep psychological/political mix of intrigue. If you want my opinion, I thought it was a bit off balance in terms of which one was more important to the overall presentation. On one hand we have a character who's obviously trying to be goofy for the sake of being 'the' goofy character in the film. But on the other, there's a serious, and rather deadly bit of plotting going on which could have a traumatic impact on the characters and the worlds they inhabit. Balance... It worked in the OT because the story maintained it's seriousness, but disarmed you and I with it's sillyness: C3p0's runnins with trouble, his constant complaining. Han's eyerolling and sarcasm.

    It's sort-of a theme if you think about it. How Obi-wan is kind-of a 'dis-arming' character... get it... heh

    I don't know about anyone else, but I put my gun down when a nice joke comes along inbetween all the serious action and danger our characters have to go through.

    TPM tried. GL tried. But the execution was a little rusty this time around. Remember Ewan's joke at the beginning... why did it fall flat? Bad timing would be my guess. Timing is the most important part of comedy and it felt off balance in TPM. Good craftsmanship, more effective result... But that's just an opinion from a dirty, worn out, old college student who's been watching these movies way too much...
  23. Ben R Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2000
    star 4

    Daloten...

    Welcome, first of all.

    Many agree with your sentiments on episode 1. But, i have to ask... Did you see episode 2, yet? You should definitely check it out. I think you'll like it a little bit more.

    ...And, as a person completely spoiled on the story of episode 3... I say hold on to your hat! This final movie will blow you away. Based on your complaints with episode 1 and the fact that you loved the original trilogy, I think you'll like epiosde 2 and probably love episode 3. :D

    The pay-off in episode 3 will make the previous 2 seem a little better in retrospect or repeated viewings after seeing # 3.
  24. Daloten Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 19, 2005
    Daloten...

    Welcome, first of all.


    Thanks - to all who welcomed me, and to all else, hello.

    Many agree with your sentiments on episode 1. But, i have to ask... Did you see episode 2, yet? You should definitely check it out. I think you'll like it a little bit more.

    Nope, haven't seen AoTC yet, but with 2 sons clamoring for the next episode, I'm sure we'll see it very soon - it is a school vacation week.

    ...And, as a person completely spoiled on the story of episode 3... I say hold on to your hat! This final movie will blow you away. Based on your complaints with episode 1 and the fact that you loved the original trilogy, I think you'll like epiosde 2 and probably love episode 3. grin

    I'm very much looking forward to RoTS - from what little I've read on it, it does sound like it will be monumental.

    The pay-off in episode 3 will make the previous 2 seem a little better in retrospect or repeated viewings after seeing # 3.

    I hope you're right. It has been interesting to watch the OT now that we own the set, and pick up on subtle nuances here and there. Once we get the whole enchilada, it should make for some exciting viewing.
  25. Barth Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2002
    star 4
    Back to Anikin for a bit. I didn't like the idea of him blowing up the control ship accidentally like that. It reeked of a video game moment. Which I feel was exactly why it was done that way.

    I disagree with you here. I read somewhere online a really interesting theory about this shot. We all know about the numerous parallels between the prequels and the original trilogy. There are so many that they can't be ignored, and Lucas says himself on the TPM DVD documentary, that the trilogies are intended to mirror each other, or "rhyme" like a poem.

    Anakin destroys a large space structure with two proton torpedoes shot at its power source. Luke destroys a large space structure with two proton torpedoes shot at its power source. Anakin did it largely on accident, as you point out. Luke does it willfully and intentfully. The difference here is intended to contrast the two characters. Luke is a hero, Anakin is an anti-hero. If you look at it from that point of view, it actually is kind of nice.
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