Is TPM the greatest film ever made ?

Discussion in 'The Phantom Menace' started by Darth-Walken, May 27, 2003.

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  1. Glorian-Eversea Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2002
    star 2
    Sees thread title...
    Three immediate responses:

    1. Ok Lucas, that's enough trolling for today.

    2. Oh dear God...

    3. I would be surprised to find TPM on my list of the 5,000 best movies. If it were, it would only be because of my ignorance of all movies out there.

    Are you really saying it the best movie EVER made or simply saying its your favorite movie? There is a difference. You REALLY think TPM is better than The Godfather, Citizen Kane? TPM isn't remotely close to movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Jaws. Its not really any better than the first Men in Black or Independence Day (a claim AOTC could make).

    Generally, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a list of movies worse than TPM because anything much worse would cause me to leave the theater. The fifth Star Trek Movie was worse. Batman and Robin was worse. The Dungeons and Dragons movie was worse. But none of those movies would make my top 5,000 either. In fact, were I really to create such a list, I am confident the top 5,000 would all still be great movies.

    Glorian
  2. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    It is one of my absolute favourite films ( along with the other four Star Wars films ), and therefore for me, it is a strong contender for the best film ever.

    As much as I love The French Connection, The Godfather, Vertigo, Goodfellas, Spoorloos ( the original European version of The Vanishing ),Once Upon A Time In The West, Bladerunner, The Big Lebowski, Ben Hur, Taxi Driver, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Saving Private Ryan, Halloween, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Killer etc, etc, I simply haven't watched them anywhere near as much as I have watched TPM. It is easily my most watched DVD. I love it :)

    If Lucas had made it any other way, then it just wouldn't be Star Wars. If he had tried to replicate TESB, then it just wouldn't have worked. If he had been influenced by other contemporary franchises, then it would just be really bland. It wouldn't stand on it's own. I like it because it is unique.

  3. The_Abstract Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    I appreciate the gumption of this thread. :D

    The more I watch TPM the more I enjoy it. I think once we view the whole saga it will definitely stand as a great introduction to the greatest saga of all time and that has to count for something.

    Visually, this competes hard with any other movie ever made. I think the underwater Gungan city is worth the price of admission alone.

    As far as the story goes, George Lucas really took a chance with it. He gave himself the space to write it away from the shrill voices of fandom and the studio, and took some chances in the film that would have been impossible if "marketing" was ever a consideration. Yes, it did play to a young demographic, but ANH was hardly Tarantino or Scorsese. I think Anakin's discovery fits very well with mythological structures. You can look no further than King Arthur to find introductions of major heroes during their childhood. He also deals with common themes of democracy vs. authortarianism, which had become an afterthought in the OT. That part of the saga had parallels to the beginnings of governments of free will and popular uprising. In TPM, we begin to see how easily a democracy can succumb to tyranny, and how that, again, can be determined by the will of the people.

    And you have to give it up for introducing Palpatine the way he did. He really gave Ian McDiarmid an opportunity to have fun with this role, playing the dual role or Palpatine/Sidious. Last time I checked this site, he did a good enough job to inspire countless threads of Palptine/Sidious debate, when the answer has always been predetermined. This is an amazing accomplishment considering the fact that I view the Star Wars audience as a lot smarter than mainstream ones. These are people who obsessed over these movies for years, and made a point of obsessing over this point as well.

    Qui-Gon and Padme/Amidala and Shmi are unique character additions to the saga. Instead of a homogeneous Jedi organization, we see that the philosophy of the Force is more diverse than was apparent in the OT. Qui-Gon is a man of duty, but he has his own ideas as to the purpose of the Jedi Order. Padme is not a Leia clone, and her political responsibilities foreshadow the duty vs. love conflict we see in Episodes II and III. Shmi is a kindhearted, softspoken, loving young mother, and it's very difficult not to be heartbroken over what happens in her life, and how profoundly it affects Anakin.


    Now as far is Jar Jar is concerned, the digital creation still stands as a high water mark over much of what passes as digital innovation nowadays. He wasn't just a motionless slug like Jabba or a creaky puppet like Yoda. He fully interacted with the environment, in different lights and colors, and played off the other serious characters very well. As far as his "annoying" characteristics, it's obviously a matter of perspective. For some reason, people fall over themselves loving the running "Millennium Falcon won't start" joke in ESB, because it frustrates Han's cool demeanor, but they just can't stand real clumsiness as a character trait. They're too "sophisticated" and "adult" for that. This coming from a generation that champions Beavis & Butthead, Jim Carrey, and Jackass, and the countlessly insipid golden years of television that is the 70's and the 80's. (Scooby Doo, et al.) We must also forget that we grew up on the antics of the Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry, and the Warner Bros. cartoons. And yet, Jar Jar is a target for out scorn and condemnation.



    The Phantom Menace is the greatest film ever made?

    No, but if you consider Star Wars the greatest story ever told, you can't leave out the beginning.




  4. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 7
    The Abstract

    Now that's what I'm talking about. You have given specific reasons why you may really like the film.

    Props.
  5. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    That was a truly excellent post, Abstract :) I wish that I could add something to that, but it sums up how I feel about TPM so well...

    I wish I could have articulated my case in such a well balanced, and well thought out manner. Alas, I am more prone to tongue in cheek asides, and provocative statements.

    That's one of the best things I have read on here in quite some time !

    Thank you.
  6. Glorian-Eversea Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2002
    star 2
    "This coming from a generation that champions Beavis & Butthead, Jim Carrey, and Jackass, and the countlessly insipid golden years of television that is the 70's and the 80's. (Scooby Doo, et al.) We must also forget that we grew up on the antics of the Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry, and the Warner Bros. cartoons. And yet, Jar Jar is a target for out scorn and condemnation.

    Errr...
    The difference is Tom and Jerry weren't in "Dances with Wolves," the Three Stodges weren't in "Terminator II," and Beavis was not in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
    Appreciating this type of idiocy or slapstick is one thing.

    But it doesn't logically follow that a person who likes Butthead wants to see him in "The Godfather Part II."

    Jar Jar's constant nonsense is just as out of place in the SW mythos as Porky Pig serenading Juliet or Daffy Duck running and gunning up the shores of Normandy in "Saving Private Ryan."

    Both creative productions use humor, but that doesn't mean numerous uses of pratfalling wouldn't sabotage the story.

    Glorian
  7. TadjiStation Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2001
    star 4
    Glorian,

    You post provided some of the funniest imagery I've imagined in a long time! Many thanks!

    [face_laugh]

    BTW, I agree fully with you in that post.
  8. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    True, but Terminator 2 still had "Hast la vista baby", Arnie trying to learn how to smile, Arnie slapping John Connor's hand and almost breaking it, and various other cheesy moments.

    I'm sure that if I had been 7yrs old, when I watched TPM, I would have wet myself laughing at Jar Jar's juvenile antics.
  9. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 7
    Arnie trying to smile wasn't in the theatrical cut.
  10. The_Abstract Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    *cough* *cough*

    Out of place?

    How about 2 droids that occupy the first half hour of ANH?

    Are you bothered by 3PO's constant pratfalling, his worrisome attitude, R2 getting shocked by midgets in cloaks with Christmas lights for eyes?

    R2's escape from Luke's garage?

    3PO losing an arm?

    Or how about Chewbacca playing claymation chess with R2? Growling at the little micro-machine droid on the Death Star? Being afraid of the trash compactor and the monster in there?

    The fact that you probably cared just as much about R2 (a midget in a trash can) getting fried as any other rebel pilot on the Death Star raid?

    In ESB, 3PO takes center stage as comic relief...his feeble attempts at catching up with Han and Leia and almost being left behind on Hoth, his bickering with Han on the Falcon, which led to him being temporarily shutdown, and his tour-de-force Bespin performance attached to Chewy's back.

    We also have Yoda, who pretends to be an annoying swamp creature for about 10 minutes before he lets Luke know the truth. R2 himself falls victim to mugging when he gets out of the X-wing, until he's summarily swallowed and spit out by an unknown swamp creature.

    And let's not forget Han and Leia's adolescent bickering for the first half of the saga. Only in post-modern America could that be considered an adult romance.



    I won't even touch ROTJ because I'm sure you loath the Ewoks as much as any "sensible" moviegoer would. But Star Wars was never made for the sensible types. It was made for children, dreamers, and romantics, who valued escapism and entertainment when the lights went out and the screen lit up. And Star Wars, in its totality, delivers that in spades.

  11. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    Shane P, ok so Arnie trying to smile was only in the extended cut. Point taken.

    But Arnie himself was still in the theatrical cut [face_laugh]
  12. AdamBertocci Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2002
    star 7
    Truly wonderful, the mind of The_Abstract is.
    To The_Abstract you listen.

    Take your pick of Yoda quotes from the trilogy of your choice. Either way, he has just earned the official ADAM BERTOCCI SEAL OF TEH APPROVAL.


    Rick McCallum loves you!
  13. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    Another flawless post from Abstract.

    "It was made for children, dreamers, and romantics, who valued escapism and entertainment when the lights went out and the screen lit up. And Star Wars, in its totality, delivers that in spades."

    That just about sums it up :)
  14. -_-_-_-_-_- Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2002
    star 6
    It will be really interesting to see someone reply to that last post by Abstract.
  15. Glorian-Eversea Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2002
    star 2
    "True, but Terminator 2 still had "Hast la vista baby", Arnie trying to learn how to smile, Arnie slapping John Connor's hand and almost breaking it, and various other cheesy moments."

    This is a reach. None of these examples are simmilar to Jar Jar's antics which include various winks at the audience that undermine the galaxy far, far away.
    All of the interaction between Connors and Arnie are ENTIRELY in context with the main plot of the film _ a Terminator returns to save a young boy.

    Jar Jar humor was shoe horned in for no reason other than to appeal to the kids.

    "I'm sure that if I had been 7yrs old, when I watched TPM, I would have wet myself laughing at Jar Jar's juvenile antics."

    Ewww.

    Glorian
  16. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    You still have to be a big kid at heart, to really appreciate it :)
  17. Darth-Walken Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    Speaking of The Terminator, have you seen the new female Terminator in T3 ?

    I wouldn't mind inserting a new hard drive into her, and giving her an oil change ! [face_laugh]
  18. Glorian-Eversea Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2002
    star 2
    Abstract,
    Your post, like most that defend Jar Jar, tries to mix and match so as to lessen any kind of standard that one could possibly apply. But you're mentioning things that are not remotely simmilar to Jar-Jars antics.

    You're overgeneralizing.
    Essentially, you're saying: "Glorian, why are you running from the rabid Pit-bull with blood on his snout? I thought you said you liked dogs?"

    I am not going to go over your examples point by point because its all been done before.

    Glorian
  19. The_Abstract Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    Thanks Darth_Walken and Adam

    Sorry, but I can't see Star Wars never having a sense of humor, especially one filled with good old Grade A Wisconsin Cheese.

    It balances the heavier moments of the saga, such as dismemberments, parental revelations, evil machinations, and stuffy Britains.

    Jar Jar is just the latest technological advancements in cheese-processing. You can't tell me that hours spent in tedium crafting clay models, digital mattes, digital creatures, and puppets doesn't call for moments of insane revelation and release. If they were making a "serious" film I'm sure the ILM staff would have followed the latest surge lemmings tumbling over a cliff to escape the doldrums of starting at a computer screen all day long.

    Jar Jar is the essence of filmmaking, the idea that moving still pictures can create the illusion of movement, emotion, and intrigue, and create a participatory art form like no other in the history of the world. His form may be made of more computer bytes than film negatives, but the discipline remains the same.

    If you don't fall for it, then perhaps the filmmaker has failed, but he's done so in a way that challenges our perceptions of reality and asks us to believe in the impossible.



    BTW, here's the random Yoda quote that I should end every defense with...

    "I don't believe it."

    "That is why you fail."


  20. TadjiStation Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2001
    star 4
    Jar Jar is the essence of filmmaking, the idea that moving still pictures can create the illusion of movement, emotion, and intrigue, and create a participatory art form like no other in the history of the world. His form may be made of more computer bytes than film negatives, but the discipline remains the same.

    In technical terms, I couldn't agree with you more. The execution of JJB's character, from a technological standpoint, is a modern wonder in computer generated imagery. It's how his character plays to the audience that is in dispute.

    None of the "bashers" would have had a problem with JJB's antics if they didn't stick out like a sore thumb. Unlike his seamless integration into the physical world of film (or more appropriately, the live actor's integration into CGI everything else), his character's integration into the story is anything but. Between the scatalogical references (which were NOT present in the OT) to the slapstick manner of his presentation, the accidental nature his of contributions to the story (mirrored in Anakin, by the way), the character falls flat of any pre-determined purpose in the film, insofar as serving the story goes. His character is there to amuse and appeal to children and sell toys. While it can be argued that the droids and Chewbacca were made for similar reasons, their contributions to the story of the OT made much more sense. The humor worked better because none of it was throwaway, as it is in the PT.

    Classic example: the banter between R2 and 3PO plays off like a Laurel and Hardy routine, and it works, thanks in large part to good writing and peformances from Anthony Daniels.

    Contrast that with AOTC, in which we have 3PO making statements such as "This is such a drag" when his head is being dragged along by R2. Well, slap my butt and call me Sally! That was funny! [face_plain]

    If you don't fall for it, then perhaps the filmmaker has failed, but he's done so in a way that challenges our perceptions of reality and asks us to believe in the impossible.

    Well, he succeeds in makling us believe that Jar Jar is real, and that is due, in no small part, to the artists at ILM who captured Ahmed Best's movements and made them seem reel in a virtual world.

    These are special effects, guys and gals, nothing more. Computers are tools that allow artists to make them more lifelike then models or stop motion could. These are refinements of technology, nothing more. While they look great, it's still all a special effect.

    Jar Jar would have suceeded 10 times more if he weren't the comic relief (take a look at the Phantom Re-Edit - NY Version - for an interesting take on it). Lucas had 3PO and R2 in this one, why did he need more? The simple fact is, he didn't. Jar Jar is a marketing tool disguised as an amazing special effect that fails cataclysmically on a storytelling level, and shows us quite clearly what Lucas thinks is funny.

    That said, it's quite interesting he's never attempted real comedy before...
  21. The_Abstract Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    Jar Jar is a marketing tool disguised as an amazing special effect that fails cataclysmically on a storytelling level, and shows us quite clearly what Lucas thinks is funny.

    I forgot about the world's insatiable desire for floppy-eared amphibious aliens.

    That's what all the cool kids were craving in 1999. George Lucas, keen businessman that he is, exploited this trend to sell more toys and reap the rewards. He horribly miscalculated the public's buying trends and millions of rotatable Jar Jar lollipop holders (with extra long tongues) went unsold. 8-}

    Jar Jar was supposed to be the comic relief because of one reason- his clumsiness. Not a particularly admirable trait, but I thought it was one that physically challenged geeks could identify with. I've knocked over enough kitchenware in my day to qualify for the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    I have a theory that this, along with Anakin's especially clumsy romantic advances in Episode II, are things the core Star Wars audience would rather not be seen reflected on screen. They would rather continue to live in the fantasy that their lives resemble that of the cool, cynical scoundrel Han Solo, and avoid re-living the adolescent hell of physical and hormonal clumsiness.


  22. AdamBertocci Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2002
    star 7
    millions of rotatable Jar Jar lollipop holders (with extra long tongues) went unsold.

    Yeah, what the hell was up with THOSE?

    Didn't it used to be that Lucas had to approve all the merchandising?

    I'm convinced that when he started work on TPM that he stopped giving a crap about the merchandising and just said "screw it, do what you want", and the toy companies decided to just make everything they could, and lost money out of their own stupidity.


    Rick McCallum loves you!
  23. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 7
    The cynic in me, the older, craggier, tax-paying, 9 to 5in' part of me wants to think that's what Lucas did. That Jar Jar was nothing more than marketing.

    But, I also have a more childlike side that really likes some of Jar Jar's stuff, and even rolls my eyes at the dumb stuff.

    My reaction to Binks is a mixture of chuckling and disappointment.

    But, I dod not think his creation was simply marketing. That's way too much for me to buy.

    And some of his pratfalls and antics did have meaning believe it or not.

    Not the fart-sniffing ot tongue sticking, but some did.
  24. JohnWilliams00 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jan 29, 2002
    star 4
    The Abstract, you have very well-written posts. I just don't share the same viewpoint as you.

    They would rather continue to live in the fantasy that their lives resemble that of the cool, cynical scoundrel Han Solo, and avoid re-living the adolescent hell of physical and hormonal clumsiness.

    It's not that viewers have a problem with reliving the "physical and hormonal clumsiness" of their youth, it's just that some of us feel it isn't done or represented well in these Star Wars movies. (we were expecting a romance to unfold in Episode II for a long time so it wasn't a surprise, and we heard rumors of a very comedic character debut in Episode I so we weren't really caught off guard on that one). It just turns out the results were not exactly what we expected. It was either too loud and over-the-top (Jar Jar) or way too feeble and unmemorable. (Anakin and Padme's romance)

    Physical antics and "coming of age" stories of awkward teens have always been a ripe territory for Hollywood to exploit. Movies like Dumb and Dumber, Austin Powers, and American Pie have been extremely popular and center on the very things you say audiences tend to shy away from. Obviosly, these are comedies, and don't feature a romance like that found in AOTC. But my point it that it's not the subject that audiences necessarily care about. It's about how well-made (or not well-made) the movie is in the end.
    There have been thousands and thousands of movies dealing with "alien invasions" for instance. Some of them, as goofy as they are, are not without their charm, and some of them are just downright horrible. And then, there's the chosen few films that deal with the exact same subject, but does so in such a brilliant way, such as Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, that it goes to show that even a well-made film about nearly anything can still win people over. Take a movie about a group of people sitting in a small boat for two hours that still manages to be entertaining and compelling and even a classic. Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

    There have been movies with far more gruesome, depraved, and difficult subjects than films centering on relatively innocent subjects like "adolescant clumsiness" or "puppy love" that have still earned acclaim and popularity. Some deal with sadistic serial killers (Seven) and others with barbaric sports (Gladiator). Some even deal with the virtual (pun!) extinction of all mankind. (The Matrix films)





  25. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 7
    Ahhh,Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of my top five favorite Speilberg films.

    Perfect film. :)
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