Great post WSBurroughs!
I read through all that, finding myself nodding and yelling out the occasional "you're so right!"
"Is it any more absurd than Hercules being fathered by Zeus? Or is that "bad writing" too?"
You're joking here I'm sure. Tell me, do you believe in god? (I'm genuinely interested)
The reason why it doesn't sit well is that all of a sudden Darth Vader, the scourge of the galaxy, is actually the messiah. It's just lack of originality. SW is SW, it isn't an allegory or biblical tale. Its a fairy tale. SW has a great story because it was simple. Now it's been unnecessarily complicated because GL wants it to be 'greyish'.
"there would be nothing left of her people's way of life"
She says this yes, but we don't really feel it. We don't see the people of Naboo suffering, we don't see these concentration camps. We can just as easily presume they're sent to holiday resorts than nazi style camps. (Concentration camps were 'invented' by the British to control the Dutch Boers in Southern Africa - they don't necessarily mean Jew camps like Auschtwiz)
As for the title... The Phantom Menace only rings true to the audience, but not to the characters in any way. Yes, there's a brief allusion to this menace by Windu's "mysterious warrior was a sith" line but as this is never expanded upon in AOTC (ten years, and they've done what?). The characters remain oblivious to this phantom menace, and Sidious' presence was only indirectly felt (and never revealed to the republic).
Bottom line? Crap title. Crap plot. Crap movie.
(with a few good bits here and there I suppose)
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WSBurroughs: The "friendship" between Obi Wan and Anakin in ep I:
Qui Gon: "Obi Wan Kenobi; Meet Anakin"\
Anakin: "hi" (offers his hand out for a handshake)
Obi Wan" (takes his hand) "hello"......
their "friendship" is strained from the beginning. Do I need to totally recap any moment between them?
WSBurroughs: Meanwhile, back on Naboo, ok, so there was a setup in the opening scroll. That was it, no other reference was made. Then we just have a bunch of reactions to Amidala saying she will not go to war. War is bad. No negotiating the points of the taxes or the blockade. Just "war bad". ...Then, she changes her mind, that war is inevitable on her planet as she runs away - asking for someone else to help her fight - but still not wanting to fight. Comes back home to suddenly shooting first, asking questions later.