Friday, February 10, 2012

Escape to the Movies: "Phantom Menace 13 Years Later"

Episode I is not as bad as you remember it being. Yes, I said it.

Also, surprising absolutely no one, "Intermission" does the Spider-Man trailer scene-by-scene.


Fett101 said...

I, for one, let go years ago. I originally bought the prequel toys and movies and what not out of pure habit but have long since disowned them all.

Was Jango really an effort to appeal to fanboys? Because if so it's a pretty crappy way to do it. It really screwed up Boba Fett's cool backstory.

Anonymous said...

So nothing about how the 3D presentation looks? Thats the main thing i wanted to know!

Also, while i agree with a lot of Bobs opinions, i cant agree on this one- the phantom menace is a boring, poorly written, poorly acted , nonsensical mess. Me not liking the film has nothing to do with unreasonably high expectations- its got everything to do with bad film making.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a twenty-year old who used to LOVE the Phantom Menace, I agree with Bob here. I think the main reason it's gotten so much hate was that it was a Star Wars movie and is considered to be officially cannon (and because it's not that good a movie). It's been almost forty-years since he directed something that wasn't Star Wars, I'd like to see what else he could do.

Jake said...

The main thing I hate about Episode I is how they (disgustingly IMO) sanitize slavery. I'm actually surprised few people talk about this. Does slavery really look that horrible other than how the characters in the film describe it?

No, all he's forced to do is fix things, which not only is he good at it, but enjoys it. At least show him doing back braking work in the hot two suns. And don't say it would be inappropriate, we see Anakin commit genocide and kill children, I think we can take legitimate depictions of slavery.

In terms of story, this not only violates show don't tell, it shows the opposite of what the characters are telling, something which would happen again and again in these prequels. Which then makes Anakin's adult whining not make sense. (SPOILER: at least Shinji from NGE's whining makes sense when you find out he saw his mom turn in to orange juice when he was three, that would fuck anyone up.)

Anonymous said...

Bob I understand where you're coming from, but perhaps I can help explain a little bit about the bile. Nearly every fan of Star Wars absolutely loved the films. Phantom Menace only catches the most hate because it was first of the prequels, all of which were bad.

The ultimate driving force of rage against the prequels, and by extension all current Star Wars, is simple Cognitive dissonance. People didn't just love the movies, they loved the universe. Then a set of movies came out that were objectively bad but did little as far as changing the universe (mitoclorions aside).

Basically if you loved the starwars universe, but a really bad movie is made that's pretty true to that universe, you reject the movie. At that point its basically a case of confirmation bias and escalation of commitment.

Me? I took the easy way out and just gave up on Star Wars as a Universe. Ultimately its just lucky enough to be the 'mainstream' scifi universe and there are much better ones out there with a much less childish binary world view. Besides, a Fremen could totally wipe the floor with a Jedi.

Goku50k said...


Though I agree with you on this to some extent i'm not really sure why you had to bring TDKR into all of this. I truly believe that if (as you said) we look at the movie when it comes out with fresh eyes instead of comparing it to TDK then we as the general public will end up liking TDKR.

Jake said...

@ the 3rd anon
I don't understand how that's cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. You can still love the universe and hate some of the films.

Fans don't hate everything Star Wars after the Prequels, the Expanded Universe (video games, books, TV shows, etc. that are not the live-action theatrical movies) is extremely popular, The Knights of the Old Republic series is a testament to this.

And even if the prequels didn't mess with the universe that much, they seriously screwed with the mythology. It turned a story about how a good man can become a monster, to a story of a whiny asshole, who every one in the movie says is a good person even though he always bitches people out, becomes a little more evil.

Plus we never find out who the Sith are or why they want revenge.

And as for the midichlorians, the best explanation I've heard for why they are bad is because they turned the force from this: to this: (Not to bash DBZ which I love almost as much as Star Wars.)

Fett101 said...

did little as far as changing the universe (mitoclorions aside).

Talk about some major cognitive dissonance. Midi-chlorians were a major change to the Star Wars universe. They went from some mysterious quasi-spiritual thing to a microbial infection. Then in the course of 19 years between Revenge and ANH, everyone in the galaxy completely forgets that fact along with everything else they used to know about Jedis. There's plenty of other inconsistencies that you can read about if inclined.

If you're going to be a world-builder in a movie aimed at geeks then you better get the details right because geeks sniff out this crap like a bloodhound, be it comic books, sci-fi, or even ponies.

Paul said...

This is just how I feel about Batman & Robin. Batman fans always blow how bad it is out of proportion. Sure, it's a bad movie. But to hear them tell it, it's the worst atrocity ever to be done to movies. Well, it ins't. Not by a long shot. What these 2 films have in common is a fan base who thinks that the property that they are a fan of is the end all, be all of pop culture existence. Well, ain't. I've never been a fan of either so it's always seemed strange to me when these guys over react to what I consider to be not all that important in the first place.

Jake said...

@ Paul

David said...

"Stop working so hard to maintain an emotional, psychological state that serves no purpose than to make you remain miserable."

Maybe try to keep those words in mind next time you see...well, anything from the new Spider-Man flick?

Otherwise, good vid as usual. But then again, I'm one of those idjits who actually liked Jar Jar.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so maybe they gave you carte blanche for the Big Picture Mr. Bob, but I'm faiiiiiirly certain Escape to the Movies was supposed to be just a review of movies. to tell me where you put it?

BJames said...

Gonna go see this later this weekend, I am also one of those people who enjoyed the prequel trilogy (equally as the ot...)

Can anyone say how well/bad the 3d conversion is?

Lost said...

I suspected you would make this video, and I do not disagree with any of your points. Fan reaction has always been completely and utterly overblown when it comes to all things post Ep1 Lucas.

However, the “crime” of Lucas is not that he made inferior prequels or even that he released the special editions of the original trilogy. The real problem is that he has actively engaged in the suppression of the theatrical versions of the original trilogy in any sort of restored high-quality format.

No, I am not arguing that the special editions should not have been made, or that the theatrical editions are more superior then the special editions. The discussion of the unavailability of restored theatrical editions have for too long been mired in fans becoming complete trolls over the issue of “which is better”.

Instead I believe that because of the cultural significance and impact of the original trilogy as well as the ground breaking special effects, we should have the CHOICE to be able to own the theatrical versions in a high-quality restored release. If one source is to be believed, right now the actual preservation of the original trilogy in any way to allow for a proper restoration in the far of future has been called into question.

See link:

It is really an issue of film preservation and history. The theatrical editions are a part of our cultural history; their impact merits a proper restoration.

Also, the 2006 limited edition DVD releases of the theatrical versions were a complete insult. Not only where they direct laserdisc transfers, but these transfers were non-anamorphic widescreen, causing black bars to appears on all sides of the picture with many widescreen televisions. This transfer showcased a complete unwillingness on the part of Lucasfilm to create even a half way decent release of the theatrical versions on DVD.

Anonymous said...

"I don't want this to look bad. I want to like this. I hate the idea of hating a Spider-Man movie."

This couldn't be more bullshit if it had fallen on top of Biff Tannen. At least before this, there was a sense of honesty in the blind nerd rage. Your weren't pretending your qualms were objective or unbiased.

So what prompted this blatant 180? Gee, I can only wonder...

Sanunes said...

After a couple of hours feeling disappointed when I got home from watching Episode I, I realized the movies were not directed at me, they were directed at people that were my age when Episode IV - VI were released.

I think most of my bile towards Lucas and what he is doing to the movies is his "updating" of the original trilogy that I enjoyed so much. Han didn't shoot first, removal of the actor to put Hayden at the final cut, and now Vader yelling "no". I don't see how any of this improves the originals in fact it keeps me from buying them on Blu-Ray or DvD and refusing to spend any money to see any Star Wars movie in a theater for who knows in 20 years he might come along and change them again, so Jar Jar is really the one that becomes Darth Vader.

Jake said...

I don't really get the whole, "he's just updating it for the kids of today". How exactly have kids changed and how were the changes in Star Wars supposed to appeal to them more then the originals?

Fett101 said...


Obligatory Lucas article about altering of older films. Of course someone is going to say "But he's talking about others altering films, not the film-maker". As Lost said, Lucas is still denying people the unaltered cut of the original trilogy.

nejiblue said...

Same shit different day from moviebob then. Unlike you, I'm actually able to judge a movie objectively as opposed to loving just because some loser's living in their parent's basement nerd-rage about "lucas raped my childhood" or whatever. Bottom line, TPM is only good compared to the two piece's of shit that came later(it will be funny listening to you trying to defend those, asshole.) Theres a million better movies out there that do the SAME FUCKING THING!!!!! WHY THE FUCK DO I HAVE TO FORCE MYSELF TO WATCH TPM WHEN I CAN WATCH SOMETHING ELSE NON-STAR WARS THAT'S BETTER? ANSWER ME THAT, MOTHERFUCKER!!!

Now, with that out of my system, I could give two fuck's if lucas keeps making shitty movies forever. My real problem is, as others have said, lucas trying to bury IV-VI and pretend they never happened. The theatrical cut deserves a proper restoration and release, and I refuse to give him money until I get what I want. I think that's how a consumer-driven economy works, correct? For the record, return of the jedi is really a pretty Mediocre movie at best. Best parts are the final space battle and final confrontation between vader, luke and the emperor. In other words, it's a needed end to the story, but it fails to stand on its own as a great movie with its own elements like empire did. The jabba part is ok at best, and the ewoks plain suck(no better than the gungans.) Empire will always be the best star wars movie, and a new hope above average(if nothing else, tarkin is probably one of the most underrated movie villains of all time.) And I'm talking about the original cut on both of those. I don't need to "open my eyes". There wide open and always have been, moviebob. I watched the fucking movies several times, fucking spike used to rerun the fucking things 24/7(all six of them)! But whatever, I'm done. Take the paycheck lucas gave you, and the fucking avengers, and shove it up your ass, moviefag.

biomechanical923 said...

Nute Gunray, Jar Jar, and Watto are all examples of why George Lucas is racist as hell.

Jake said...

I don't know why people thought Watto was supposed to be Jewish, he always seemed Italian to me.

MerelyAFan said...

Speaking for myself, Lucas has earned my ire far more for his refusal to restore and preserve the original films, then anything to do with the prequels.

Its funny that Bob released this video around the same time there's been an interview with Lucas where he claims that Greedo was always meant to shoot first and that fans just misinterpreted it because they wanted Han to be a cold blooded killer. So not only does that suggest some... very interesting things about Lucas' mindset towards the OT, it also leads credence to the idea that George will never release the original films in any high quality format, which is a damn shame.

At this point I don't care if GL released a pornographic musical comedy in the Star Wars universe based around the adventures Jaxxon the Rabbit and Wayna Fybot; I just want to be able to see the original films in good quality without having to rely on fan rips.

Chris Cesarano said...

I'm not leaving a link to Plinkett's review.

I'm leaving a link to the other good thing that came out of The Phantom Menace.

So in 10 years will MovieBob admit that Green Lantern wasn't as bad as he claimed it to be? (Not that I found it excellent, I just found it mildly entertaining and would have been better without Parallax).

biomechanical923 said...

@ MerelyAFan

At the time, I never hated The Phantom Menace as much as everybody else is appearing to. Then again, I was 14 when I saw it, and hadn't overburdened myself with expectations. (And honestly didn't have much of a critical eye to compare it to anything)

Regarding George Lucas, NOTHING was quite so infuriating to me as having my childhood ruined by Lucas adding a Sy Snootles music video to the original trilogy.

Anonymous said...

It isn't entirely fair to only judge this movie in a vacuum and then call people out because the fact of the matter is that this movie does not exist in a vacuum. It exists alongside books, comics, games, and three previous films. It has the Star Wars name on it and that brings some things to the table.

There is also major component that you are leaving out of this, and that is the Star Wars Universe. Imagine that you and many others have been working on a massive painting for the last twenty years. It has been a collaborative piece and all the better for it. Then all of a sudden the original artist who started this work comes along and paints a big patch of the piece hot pink. Sure everyone hates the color and the way he used it was pretty bad as well, but that isn't the real point. The point that really gets to people is that he has taken away(some might say ruined) part of the work. It isn't that he made a bad piece of art, it's that he took away from the other piece. This is what makes the prequel trilogy(and the CGI Clone Wars series) such a problem for so many. That they change, ignore, and ruin so many things about the universe. This flies in the face of both artists, authors, and fans.

Also, the amount of plot errors and holes in the Phantom Menace is ridiculous. Way worse than any of of those movies that you listed. Plot holes and popcorn logic are a common component in these films, but Phantom Menace takes it to another level. The story isn't just bad, it is horrible, doesn't make any sense, and is impossible to completely follow. This isn't just something to gloss over.

One last thing, I don't know who these miserable people who have been raging all the time for the last 13 years are, but I've never met one. I and others will bring it up from time to time, but mostly only when it mosies in to our field of vision and reminds us of it's existence. I'm 23, I discovered Star Wars in 97, I didn't dislike the film because it failed to make me relive my childhood(I already was a child). I disliked it because I could tell it was bad and lacked a lot of the things that made me love the original trilogy so much.

Ryan said...

Yeah, I think what you're describing is a psychological analysis of your own frustration with Star Wars. You have a weird tendency to beat up on fanboys based on what I have to assume is self-hatred, and I think that's something you should work on. The problem with SWTPM is that it obsesses about visuals and possible toy ideas while throwing story logic and character out the window. I don't think I needed to be restored to my youth by a new Star Wars movie...I think I just wanted a competently-made piece of Space Opera, and I got a badly-made piece of Space Opera. I'm pretty happy with the Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon they're making now, for example, because it's reasonably interested in story logic and character, even though it's saddled with the total nonentities that SWTPM forced on it.

I think you're also wrong about this Spider-Man movie, which looks like a Spider-Man movie and not like an episode of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Peter Parker does science. Spidey has to fight police and is misunderstood. Spidey makes stupid, self-aware jokes. Yes. This is the movie they should have made from the beginning.

Dan Lee said...

Ryan makes some good points - I think we're seeing a certain amount of projection in this piece, and the defense only seems to touch on some of the issues at play. Sure, expectations played a part in TPM's fan-hate, but genre films have in the past lived up to these sorts of expectations (cough*TheLordoftheRings*cough). So I don't think it was too much to expect that The Phantom Menace at least be as good as Jedi.

And for Episode I's objective quality. . . well, yes, it's better than Episode II, but that's as faint praise as the old "a punch in the face is better than a kick in the nuts" gem. I find it interesting that you give ample shout-out to Plinkett's Phantom Menace review, and yet seemingly miss the point that those videos don't just show that the prequels (all of them) "aren't that good" - they demonstrate how utterly the prequels (again, all of them) are absolutely terrible as films in just about every way. Even the way Lucas shoots his passionless, flat, stakes-free action scenes.

Are there plenty of other creatively-empty but colorful action/sci-fi films that Hollywood churns out yearly? Yes, but these almost always manage at least the elementary feat of characters with honest-to-goodness personality traits and even arcs (however broad or cliched) that Ep. I utterly fails to deliver in any regard. Even Michael Bay can manage that.

Yeah, I said it - Michael Fracking Bay has made some half-dozen films with a better grasp of narrative and characterization than ANY of the prequels. You may not like WHO it is, but at least you can name the protagonist of his Transformers films.

Phil said...

It's blatantly obvious that Bob is biased against the new Spider-Man movie just for it existing. His comments on the trailer are some of the biggest leaps I have ever come across for someone trying to convince others it isn't good. It comes across as quite childish.

Not convinced at all by your comments on the new Spider-Man trailer. Not only does it look great to me it looks to be potentially superior in virtually every way to the Sam Raimi movies.

biomechanical923 said...

I rank Denis Leary right down around Jon Stewart in level of acting skill.

Granted, I've never seen Rescue Me, but his early stuff was horrendous.

Phil said...

"And for Episode I's objective quality. . . well, yes, it's better than Episode II"

The phrase "objective quality" is an meaningless phrase in the subject of talking about movies. It's an opinion no matter how desperately one tries to turn that into fact.

Personally, I disagree with Bob on Episode 2 being worse and his argument on why (i.e. Lucas pandering to his base) is about as unconvincing as his reasons for disliking the upcoming Spider-Man movie. If anything, the third film is a better argument for Lucas pandering to his base as he was claiming that it was "dark" and stuff in the marketing of that movie over and over again despite its many unintentionally hilarious moments.

For me, the bad prequels got a bit better as they went along. Episode 2 is a bad movie but at least it felt like something was happening in the story and it was moving. Obi Wan going out and doing some investigation and finding a conspiracy and the looming threat of Princess Amadalalalalalaaaaa being killed gave the movie some sort of purpose and motion. When Episode 1 didn't have Jar Jar being annoying, other insulting racial stereotypes on screen and Jake Loyd being wooden we had a plot that mostly concerned people sitting around in funny outfits talking and debating space politics that was never clear. Hardly what I'd like to call "excitement".

Oh and about Red Letter Media's reviews, while I agree with most of the arguments, they were COMPLETELY and UTTERLY wrong about every single point they made in their chapter about lightsaber duels. It is a giant fail that reeks of having no experience with films other than Hollywood fare yet they dare speak as if they have any insight into action film making. Lucas isn't good at action film making (much less film making period) but their section about duels was totally off the mark.

I'll also make mention of RLM's highly suspect racist jokes that found their way in the reviews for the first episode and I believe the second episode also. Yet those assholes have the audacity to claim that there is no racism in Hollywood and that Lucas is making it up that Hollywood is racist in their review of Red Tails.

Anonymous said...

Star Wars is okay. The only thing about it I was ever really enthusiastic about were those big cut-away books. I actually think that the ones drawn for the prequel trilogy had more interesting machines in them.

Nathan said...

Know I find it amazing when people get so mad at a person for liking/hating a movie. Its one thing to not like or like certain movies contrary to someones else's opinion but it is a whole other thing when you somehow imply that person is either a bad person, a dick, or a "fag". A mature adult could have simply tried to explain through reason or points on how you believe he is wrong. But nope, you acted a shitty teenager(I hope you are 13 or something because if you are an adult, your whole rant is even more sad) and chose hurl around insults based on what again? Oh yea, HE HAD A DIFFERENT OPINION THAN YOU.
Now I dont know if you just had a bad day or something but if you act like this all the time when someone disagrees with over something as trivial as star wars, you have some serious personality flaws or problems.

Robert Marks said...

Well, I remember watching the Phantom Menace in theatres when it first came out. At the time, I was in my early 20s, and while I enjoyed the Star Wars trilogy, I wasn't really what you'd call a "true fan." They were just good movies from my childhood that I remembered fondly.

And, I had a blast. It may have had a slow second act, and Jar Jar was a bit on the annoying side, but the also had a sense of fun and excitement. It wasn't an instant classic of cinema, but it wasn't a bad time either, and I came out feeling like I had gotten my money's worth.

(I wish I could say the same about Attack of the Clones, which was just painful. I found it bad enough that to this day one would have to pay me to put it into my movie collection.)

To those who are talking about the suppression of the original versions of the first trilogy, I own a small publishing company that actually publishes a really good book that covers it. It's called The Secret History of Star Wars, by Michael Kaminski. It's on Amazon at and Barnes & Noble at

(And that concludes my shameless plug (TM) for this post...)

And nejiblue: I think there may be some pills that can help you with that...

Anonymous said...

When discussions like this come up I always try to remember that it takes no effort to hate a movie. It's much harder to defend a movie, especially one that is reviled by a lot of people.

I have a lot of respect for someone who can defend a movie no one else likes.

I think there is still enough good in Phantom Menance to justify it's existence and most of the problems with it are common to ALL the movies, even the originals.

Anonymous said...

Amateur Freud are we?

Ryan said...

Yep. But I'm a little bit right,aren't I?

Anonymous said...

Possibly, possibly not; that's sort of the problem with pseudoscience, hunches and guessing. But it's fun of course, for us know-it-alls ;)

Fargo said...

Yeah Bob. What about the 3d itself? Got so hung up on taking a stand you forgot to review the actual movie my friend.
BTW I don't think your opinion is as controversial as you think it is. Though if people left me comments like "I'll just leave this here ;)" I'd want to articulate a well made STFU as well.

Wondercrab said...

Well I think you've got night and day here, the rabid haters mostly exist because of the stalwart defenders of the prequel trilogy. Both groups are coming at it from a pretty skewed critical perspective and end up bumping heads fairly often.

The Phantom Menace is pretty darn bad though. And I think a lot of the dislike doesn't just come from the fact that it's a bad movie, but that it's a horribly lazy movie on the part of everyone in control of the major pieces of it. Moviemaking 101 was mentioned, and that's something that's almost completely absent from TPM across the board. There are bad movies (that aren't quite relegated to the so-bad-it's-good bin) that fall short due to bad characters, bad direction, bad dialogue or some other failing, but TPM is a seminal example of a whole heap of these problems coming together around one project. The positives are superficial - they're a sprinkling of sugar on top of a giant burnt cake.

Films like the new Star Trek are at the very least competently made, well constructed, and up to par in every area they need to be as a movie. They are light years ahead of The Phantom Menace in almost every way possible.

TPM may not be the worst movie ever, but there'll never be a more prominent example of how much of an effect a bad and lazy attitude to moviemaking can have on a product, and I don't think we should forget that and shrug it off as "just another bad movie" if we don't want to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Popcorn Dave said...

Oh God, the brilliant hypocrisy of you telling us that hating a movie is pointless and petty, and then turning around and writing yet another whining article about how much you hate the Spider-Man reboot. Seriously, a disgruntled viewer might put these two pieces side by side to make you look like a hypocrite, but no, you saved us the trouble and did it all by yourself. Nice.

Anyway, yeah, TPM is still a piece of shit. It's not comparable with fluff like Independence Day or the new Star Trek, because movies like that have at least some sense they know what the fuck they're doing. The Star Wars prequels just completely fail on even the most basic popcorn movie level. When they're not pissing you off with overcooked action scenes and obnoxious special effects, they're just plain boring. Do we focus on them way too much because they're high profile with high expectations? Yeah, probably. Are there worse films out there that get ignored completely. Of course. Doesn't make the prequels any less shitty though.

The Darth Maul fight is still pretty badass though. And I like the Naboo Palace design.