Sunday, February 12, 2012

An Angry Star Wars Geek Looks Back (Or why JarJar should still die a slow death from Syphilis)

Stars - Ewan McGregor
           Liam Neeson
           Natalie Portman
Directed by:  George Lucas
Summary: Two Jedi Knights uncover a wider conflict when they are sent as emissaries to the blockaded planet Naboo. (via imdb). Alternative synopsis: The guy most prominently placed on the poster (the best character in the movie) is in this for less than 15 minutes and (spoiler) dies. WTF?
There's a weird symbiotic relationship between George Lucas and his most ardent fan base. Actually, it's parasitic, because he knows he can get our money know matter how much he craps all over our fondest childhood memories, and yet, he finds new and even more dastardly ways to part us from our cash and fill his already huge coffers. He knows we're his slaves, and i think he likes it. So, after absolutely going apoplectic when this movie first came out and cursing the name JarJar from the rooftops, how on earth did he get me to pay to see this again? Simple, he went after my kids ...
Which, if we were in the mafia, would mean carte blanche to destroy everything he's ever loved, but alas, we're not, so I simply must shake my fist angrily via the internet. Curse you, you chinless wonder!
All the things I hated the first time around, I thought, would be tempered by the passage of time and a lowered expectation. After all, sometimes time does heal wounds.
But no. There it was, still pissing me off, and even worse, it came into my face. Let me list the grievances first, and then I can tell you what's good about this movie.
Grievance 1: Mother f@#king JarJar Binks, who speaks with a mixture of ebonics and retardation, is supposed to be there for comic relief. I get that. The problem is, HE'S NOT FUNNY. And he's kind of offensive. And he serves little purpose that a non-offensive, less gut-wrenchingly annoying character couldn't have done.
Grievance 2: Jake Lloyd. Throwing aside the central flaws of the Anakin character that become hyper-apparent in the second and third films, are you seriously telling me that this kid was the best choice of all the kids they saw for the role? Was he picked with a dart and a lucky throw? 
Hey George! You know that guy that you're really good friends with that you've collaborated with a number of times and is known for getting brilliant performances out of child actors? Just saying. I'm just freaking saying maybe you could have called Spielberg for advice. Jake gives such a wooden and obviously poorly coached performance that it's painful to watch. This poor kid has had to suffer the ire of a thousand basement-dwelling enthusiasts for the last 13 years. Way to go George. As for all the fans who like to say George has raped their childhood, ask Jake how it really feels.
Grievance 3: The last thing. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a director in possession of a good action sensibility must be in want of a dialogue writer (my apologies to Ms. Austen). George knows good action sequences, but please get someone else to do your dialogue on future projects.

Now let's all take a few cleansing breaths and look at what's good. 
Ewan McGregor is great at channeling his inner Alec Guinness. The change from puppet Yoda to CGI was incredible. So incredible in fact that it makes you wish all the other CGI characters were re-done. Next to Yoda, the Gungans look plastic and cheaply done. The action sequences are, as always, beautifully done. and the 3D transfer is clean and well done.
In summation, I found myself once again angry as the band-aid was torn off and salt was rubbed vigorously in the wound that is Episode 1. My son, however, thought it was good. He was suitably bored during the long exposition dialogue sequences, but loved the action and laughed at JarJar. We're having him tested.
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace 6 out of 10 It honestly should be lower, but it's freaking Star Wars, and I can't help myself. I'm being counseled.

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