1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

PT Watching the PT for the first time (otherwise very familiar with OT)

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Ewok Poet, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 31, 2014
    I was advised by Pensivia to start this thread when I explained that I did watch OT many, many times, but did not see the PT. So, I'll explain how the heck I never saw it before and then go on to the actual matter.

    I did not see PT due to a number of reasons:

    - In 1999, The Phantom Menace did not actually arrive in the theatres on time, due to...well, yeah, NATO bombing this country for eleven weeks non-stop. While I'm not 100% sure if it was in cinemas afterwards (it probably was, as we were not under sanctions of that kind), I remember that my 1978-born cousin got it on a pirate videotape days after it was out, and suggested that we watch it together. I refused for a couple of ridiculous and contradicting reasons - one of them was wanting to play a Formula One simulation on his computer and the other was that the fact there was a race in the film put me off. Nowadays, we would say that it triggered me, as my favourite Formula One driver back in the days had a very, very embarrassing season that year so far and did not even manage to finish a race. So, in the game, I could pretend I'm him and win, while in the film, I could obviously not. A 16-year-old angsty teenage girl's logic, at its worst.

    - I had no computer of my own until 2002 and my parents did not want a VCR in our home, ever.

    - Once the two other films arrived, I was put off by the hype. Despite being in my early 20s already and understanding how the world works, I could not stand a couple of friends hyping one thing for one month and then hyping the next one and on and on, as if they couldn't stick to something (which I'm still big on...sticking to things all my life, that is). I have some blunt examples of what was annoying to me in my introduction thread.

    So, after re-watching my favourite childhood cartoon and re-discovering the whole world of SW unexpectedly brought me back of my stubborn idleness, I am watching the PT. And as somebody who saw the OT so many times, but never watched PT at the right age and, at the same time, not a typical example of a classic western customer/consumer type, I thought my initial reactions might be interesting even before I was advised to start this thread.

    My first impressions of Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    In a true grid system fashion (fellow web devs will know what I mean), I watched two thirds of the film yesterday and the remaining third minutes before starting this thread. I am impressed with the special effects, which are on a surprisingly high level for late 1990s and I would not know to recreate even the basic explosions they used, while I'm pretty sure an amateur After Effects user like me could mess around and eventually come up with at least one of those from the OT. So, that sure impressed me immediately.

    I know a lot of people would ask about Jake Lloyd's acting.

    I can sympathise with how he was bullied due to this role and I can see that, in the battle scenes, he was not believable one bit, but other than that, if I can close eyes to how he's totally a clone of a whole army of North American boy protagonists in a large number of family films. I do not think he was that bad. It would probably take a child raised in a completely different culture to be believably "from a different world" and I don't think the world was ready for that in the days when casual jokes about us from the OWO "second world" were not even questioned.

    I'm also aware that somebody might skim through this just to see what I thought of Jar-Jar Binks.

    My answer might disappoint you. I find him a lot less annoying than other bumbling sidekicks of the era, or generally annoying characters. I am pretty vocal about things I consider annoying and sometimes they get on my nerves to the point where they disturb me. I cannot even see that little dragon from Mulan without screaming at people and swearing at them for even bringing up the topic, same goes for most of the Helena Bonham Carter characters in her husband's movies and in the Harry Potter series - I even lead an applause in the theatre when Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix Lestrange and it seems that most people agreed with me.

    But I don't see Jar-Jar that way. While some of his antics clearly are not funny and the others just reek of juvenile toilet humour, his movements which make me think that he's constantly climbing a pretty steep hill. I liked that and I generally find language-based humour to be more effective than anything else.

    The above said, I realise that the weird accents were there to escape subtitles and make the movie more accessible to children. Still not sure if that's a good thing or not.

    I did not like the end battle, the part in space. It felt like I saw it two times already and that's a statement I'm sure a lot of people could agree. A large body goes down when somebody hits the power generator. Really? How original.

    The highlight? Pernilla August. Her moods, her performance, the way she is talking, the look in her eyes. Now I have to refresh my memory and figure out if I have seen a film with her before. If not, I have to.

    (To be continued, once I've made sense of the things I've been writing down as I was watching...)
  2. Samwise_Skywalker

    Samwise_Skywalker Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2002
    I've always enjoyed Jar Jar and found him at least amusing, if not occasionally funny and I welcome a character like him who is totally himself and in the end embraces who is, clumsy as he might be, because he kind of saves the day in a lot of ways. I agree that Pernilla August was fantastic in her role. The final scene with her and Anakin was heartbreaking. Speaking of Anakin and Lloyd's performance, I've never had a problem with him. He acts like a normal child of his age, who only wants to help and be a good person.
  3. Samnz

    Samnz Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 4, 2012

    Glad to see another Pernilla August admirer! :)
    Speaking of that, I still don't understand how one could - in Star Wars terms - complain about the acting in TPM. I actually think it's one of the stronger episodes in that regard. Liam Neeson is great, Pernilla August excellent, Ewan absolutely decent, Frank Oz is Yoda. Ian McDiarmid delivered as always and Natalie Portman was a convincing Queen (Padmé was a bit of hit and miss, okay). Perhaps that's why fans went after a little kid, which commited the deadly sin of screaming "Yippee!".

    I'm looking forward to reading your continuation, Ewok Poet !
  4. Seagoat

    Seagoat PT and Music Section Dictator star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 25, 2013
    Pernilla August is, imo, easily the most overlooked actress in all of SW. It's tragic really. She's marvelous and fit the role perfectly
  5. Samwise_Skywalker

    Samwise_Skywalker Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2002
    Neeson's Qui-Gon is still my favorite Jedi. He nailed that role perfectly.
    Andy Wylde, Cael-Fenton and Pensivia like this.
  6. Pensivia

    Pensivia Host of "The International Exchange" star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Apr 24, 2013
    Totally agree about the performance of much warmth and quiet presence to her performance. I'm also a huge Qui-Gon fan, EP, and will be interested to hear what you think of that character/Liam Neeson's performance.

    And although I agree with you and definitely was not fond of the inclusion of toilet humor in SW, I also think that, overall, Jar Jar is not nearly as bad as his internet reputation would suggest. And, yeah, Jake Lloyd was a child actor and so he gave a typical child actor's performance. Yes, there are some child performances that I have enjoyed more in other movies but for the most part I thought JL's performance was ok for the type of character GL was trying to present.

    Thanks for sharing and I'll look forward to your follow-ups on TPM as well as the other PT films when you get to those...
    Andy Wylde likes this.
  7. thejeditraitor

    thejeditraitor Chosen One star 6

    Aug 19, 2003
    Ewok Poet i agree with most of your opinions although i'm not sure why you don't like the end battle. you should relate your thoughts on ep 2 and 3.
  8. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006
    Thank you for sharing a very very interesting perspective on the prequels. I tend to think that, for better or worse, many North American fans' views of the PT are coloured by cultural assumptions which are so pervasive that they're invisible, so I always enjoy reading about what someone from a different background has to say.

    Apologies for my ignorance, as I was still a small child during the terrible events in your part of the world in the mid 90s, but may I ask what's "OWO"? I'm guessing Old World Order?

    If you have the time and inclination to read a perspective on child Anakin from a TPM fan from the "Second World", may I ask what you think of that article?
    Andy Wylde, FRAGWAGON and Pensivia like this.
  9. MOC Vober Dand

    MOC Vober Dand Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 6, 2004
    Interesting angle. Thank you.

    TPM has grown on me over the years. It's by some margin my favourite PT film and my third favourite of the saga. PA is indeed excellent. A shame we saw so little of her in SW. Solid to excellent performances from many others, as has been mentioned.

    Jar jar annoyed me initially, but these days, although he's not one of my favourite characters, I have to say he doesn't effect me one way or the other. He's just there.
    thejeditraitor likes this.
  10. Cryogenic

    Cryogenic Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 20, 2005
    Welcome to the board, Ewok Poet!

    Really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

    Just a few random comments...

    Great to read some Jar Jar love!

    I especially like the comment in bold.

    Always, with Star Wars, there are fresh insights to gain. And many directions in which to gain them. :)

    Blowing up the power generator -- tired, maybe, but also a motif. Without giving anything away (I hope), power generators are blown up in I, IV, and VI, which makes each of those films a "milestone" of sorts (the beginning, the middle, the end).

    Anakin taking out the TF's control ship with a central explosion is clearly a rhyme with the pre-existing movies (IV and VI) in which Luke, the son, performs a similar action (IV), and then Lando and Wedge (VI). Anakin combines both of their victories; or his is split into theirs and then adulterated (the father's energy spreads out and achieves new excellence through the generations).

    I think incorporating this motif for a third time in TPM makes it something of a Star Wars trope: a victory for George Lucas' artistic patterning. Notice the emphasis on spheres in each. Anakin here even has a "bowl" (spherical) haircut. I guess I'm speaking a little of the more esoteric side of Star Wars; to partake of in repeat viewings.


    Totally loving all the Pernilla love here! I can only echo that she gives an excellent performance -- warm, understated, and heartfelt.

    Her character's relationship with Anakin (and Qui-Gon) is, in my opinion, a firm highlight of the movie.

    She's the real anchor of the movie, and the thing that makes you go (even more than Anakin himself IMO), "Hang on! How did Darth Vader end up being Darth Vader with a mother like this?"

    A little graphic in honour of Shmi / Pernilla:


    To "answer" the former (largely rhetorical) question, well -- it's kinda given above. Grandiose thinking, Anakin being led to believe, by all his guardians throughout life, that he's destined for something more. Just one POV, of course. TPM expertly intertwines darkness and light (IMO).

    P.S. Pernilla August is a bit of an Ingrid Bergman veteran, having appeared in several Bergman productions. The same year as TPM -- 1999 -- she also appropriately played the Virgin Mary in "Mary, Mother Of Jesus". How about that, eh?

    * * *

    Some final things...

    Love that essay!!! A refreshing read -- thanks for posting.

    A lot of antipathy to Star Wars, and the prequel trilogy, in particular, in my view, is due to ethnocentrism and cultured ignorance.

    It's further compounded by the fact that many people, in my experience, take the situations presented in the films at face value, rather than considering what also lies beneath the surface or along the edges.

    Many of these same people, ironically, treat the films simplistically, then castigate Lucas for appealing to children. In other words, people see what they want to see, and HOW they want to see -- which doesn't always amount to much.

    I enjoy encountering stuff like that just posted because it opens up the scope of meaning; and is a nice reminder that not everyone sees the films the same way. How tremendous to read opinions free of herds and bandwagons!

    Me, too! Love the performances in TPM quite a bit. I think I give them more credit today than I used to.

    Then again, I quite like the performances in all three prequel movies (and the originals, too). I can understand opinions differing, but maybe I've never quite gotten the furore over the acting in the PT -- which, for the most part, seems the equal, if not the superior, of the acting in the earlier movies (which is apparently close to flawless these days).

    I'd certainly take these prequel characters, and the respective performances, over almost anything else I've seen in blockbuster cinema in the last decade. I've actually found them more nuanced over time; I pick up on little gestures, little glances, that suddenly speak volumes to me. Other films (of the blockbuster type) don't tend to have that effect on me.

    I'd even go so far as to say that, in many of the bigger films, actors tend to act as if they're aware of the camera and are milking their presence in front of it, rather than simply "being". The acting in the prequels, in my opinion, is damn refreshing in comparison. I accept the characters for who they are; I'm not thinking so much of the performance or the actor.

    I raise my glass, yet again, to George Lucas and all the cast and crew of the prequel trilogy! And to Ewok Poet for this thread! Cheers!! [face_peace]
  11. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 31, 2014
    Whoa! I honestly did not expect so many enthusiastic responses to my first reaction (and I have never written a reaction thread, recorded a reaction video etc for 30+ years of my life); so it'll take me a bit to respond to everybody. Hope it's OK if I make a double post in case the edit lock expires on this one, as there is waaaay too much to coordinate and put in order.

    To the most recent poster, though: hope my glass contains Pepsi Max. Mmmm...Pepsi Max. ;)
    Andy Wylde and thejeditraitor like this.
  12. Samwise_Skywalker

    Samwise_Skywalker Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2002
    Awesome post, Cryogenic! ^:)^
    thejeditraitor likes this.
  13. Cryogenic

    Cryogenic Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 20, 2005
    Sure. I'm not a "vlogger" myself -- never uploaded a video in my life. I'm closing in on 5,000 posts here, though; and I probably have at least half as many (most of them prequel-related) at IMDb (though I have more or less terminated my connection with that site now). I clearly like to spread my opinions around. :p

    Reaction threads are totally cool. Especially from PT newbies. Why not? :cool:


    I'm quite reliant on green tea -- and the occasional choccie biscuit (or two). :p

    Thanks, Samwise!

    I didn't intend for it to be that long when I started out -- but then, that kinda happens with me. [face_alien]
    thejeditraitor and Ewok Poet like this.
  14. Samnz

    Samnz Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 4, 2012
    Very well.

    I think when it comes to Star Wars, public (mis-)conceptions are a result of individual occurences that are 1.) taken out of proportion and then 2.) generalized.

    For instance, it's quite obvious that TPM is the lightest and most child-friendly episode (followed by ROTJ, I'd say). Yet despite AOTC and especially ROTS being quite dark films, there are still many complaints saying the PT as a whole was too child-friendly and not dark enough, only for kids.

    Same can be said about the "terrible dialogue": Whenever someone bashes dialogue in the PT, in 90% of the cases they refer to Anakin/Padmé romance dialogue (the other 10% being "Only a Sith deals in absolutes.". While I can certainly see why many people can't handle that romance (dialogue), I can't understand why it leads many people to make it seem like every single spoken or subtitled line in the PT was "horrible". That's embarrassingly simplistic.

    The ame principle could be applied to the acting: Personally, I would agree that AOTC somewhat misses an outstanding esperienced leading performance . I mean there is Liam Neeson in TPM, there is Ewan McGregor/Ian McDiarmind in ROTS, there is Alec Guinness in ANH etc. AOTC doesn't quite have this. Still, I think there are plenty of actors who were absolutely decent or good, even great, both in AOTC and the complete PT. However, nobody in certain subcultures seems willing to recognize.

    We can proceed with the effects: Yes, there was a small scene where Ewan McGregor was walking through a blue room (which doesn't mean it was replaced by GC, but that's another topic). However, this one scene doesn't negate the circa 70 sets that were physically constructed for each Prequel film.

    I could even move on to the Yes Men - "arguments": That's basically solely built on the fact that Lucas (co-)wrote and directed the Prequels (the same thing he did for American Graffiti and the original Star Wars, which both earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Writer and Best Director). Nothing else.

    In all of those cases, a single event or fact was used as a justification to generalize the whole thing. I think this has largely to do with the fact that people want to make sense of things in life, even of trivial things. Many people felt dissatisfied by the PT and then started to look for reasons. However, instead of finding peace in the most easiest and adequate reason "It's not my kind of thing", they wanted more and that led to a clearly incorrect conceptions of what the PT is.
    In my opinion, at least.
    Andy Wylde and Valairy Scot like this.
  15. MOC Vober Dand

    MOC Vober Dand Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 6, 2004
    Some good points there, Samnz. On the flip side of that, there's also plenty of generalisation ABOUT PT criticism. One only has to spend a bit of time here to see some well balanced, fair and rational critiquing of the films. Not everyone who doesn't like aspects of them does so because of bandwagoning, 'incorrect conceptions' or generalisations based on one or two isolated elements.
    TX-20, Pensivia and kubricklynch like this.
  16. Cryogenic

    Cryogenic Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 20, 2005

    I don't really want to take Ewok Poet's thread too far off-course, so I won't comment in detail.

    Just wanna say that, yeah -- PT criticisms are outsized.

    But if people have real aesthetic gripes with the films, so be it.

    I mean, watching the OT, then looking at recent blockbuster offerings like "The Hobbit" movies or the up-coming "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" re-do, then yeah... they kinda have a point. Films have become saturated in digital effects and lazy fakery in the last decade. I think it has gotten a little ridiculous.

    But then, maybe I'm just a luddite about the whole thing. Maybe. One aspect that might really bite at people who would rather see practical effects over digital ones, and real sets over fantasias rendered in a computer, is that, with the OT, it seemed that practical effects had only just gotten started! And yet, here we are, two generations later, and it's digital effects starting to dominate. I understand the frustration.

    And that is just one area in which people have problems with the PT. You've obviously enumerated several others. I would agree -- which you seemed to be hinting at -- that there's a fruitful balance struck in the PT between extremes; one that I have little to no problem with. Everyone draws the line differently, though.

    There's no denying that some people have been pretty sweeping and ruthless in their disavowal (or alleged disavowal) of the PT, though.
  17. CoolyFett

    CoolyFett Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 3, 2003
    she was really great in both movies.
  18. Billy_Dee_Binks

    Billy_Dee_Binks Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 29, 2002

    This was the stand-out observation to me. Lovely. He tries and tries again, struggles to do right, but he keeps ending up in trouble.
    A hint of GFFA Sisyphus.
    Pensivia, Sarge and Cryogenic like this.
  19. Bazinga'd

    Bazinga'd The Man / Also Known as Bazinga'd star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Nov 1, 2012
    Sounds like a good thread. "Overlooked or Underappreciated Actor/Actress in PT" :)
  20. solo77

    solo77 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Aug 28, 2002
    But now you have and I feel your pain ;)
  21. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 31, 2014
    *looks at the amount of posts that need a reply*

    I saw Episode II: Attack of the Clones this morning. And I wanted to make this even more interesting, so I screencapped some moments I liked and wrote down some notes. Here's the four replies I particularly liked, plus a photo of the said notes, now I need to make sense of them and write down all I want to. Oh, and reply to the posts made in the meantime - I apologise that I have not done so yet.






    I hope that having the phrase macho ***t displayed on a card I wrote immediately after having seen the scene is allowed. If not, I will blur it out. :)
    Cryogenic and Cael-Fenton like this.
  22. Samwise_Skywalker

    Samwise_Skywalker Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2002
    I'm more offended by your handwriting. ;)
  23. CommanderDrenn

    CommanderDrenn Jedi Knight star 4

    Oct 19, 2013
    Interesting comments... I can say I fully agree with you. Here's what I think would be a fun experiment (Yeah, it sounds a little twisted, but the results would be fascinating):
    Lock someone in a room until they are around 25 and they have fully developed their brain. (That sounds a tad offensive, but it's not meant to be)
    This person has had no human contact for 25 years.
    And assuming they wouldn't have gone insane, have them watch the PT and OT and get their opinions. Personally, I think a lot of PT-hate is just because people feel obligated since that is what conformation to supposed "normality" demands.

    Anyway, so I don't derail the thread....

    I also agree that Jar Jar gets too much hate. Spending energy on hating something is inherently foolish.
  24. CoolyFett

    CoolyFett Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 3, 2003
    The PT hate actually made me like the PT more, I even started watching the Clone Wars show, because it represents the PT era. People just have to face it the PT n the Clone Wars era is half of Star Wars.
  25. MOC Vober Dand

    MOC Vober Dand Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 6, 2004
    I find that to be a curious situation. Why would 'hate' for the PT make you like it more any more than it would make you like it less? Wouldn't you just watch it if you liked it and not watch it if you didn't?
    solo77 likes this.