the Long Tail

Adventures in the Low End of the Demand Curve

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Star Wars, Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Every so often a movie comes along that you really enjoy, but you feel like some sort of a freak for it. You might have a variety of reasons, but ultimatley, you feel dirty for enjoying the movie as much as you did. Well, I'm breaking out of that shame spiral, and I'll announce publicly that I really enjoyed Star Wars Episode I.

For the life of me, I still don't understand why so people disliked this movie. Those that I have asked seem unable to give me a coherant answer. Of course, people have the right to like or dislike any movie they choose to. However, I have yet to hear a rational explanation for disliking this that doesn't ultimatley sound like "It's not like the other Star Wars movies."

Of course, its not like the other Star Wars movies. Those were made in the late 70's - early 80's. Technology and storytelling techniques have changed since then. I didn't waste my time being concerned with how much it "felt" like the old Star Wars movies. Instead, I took it for it was. The untold story of how Annakin Skywalker became Darth Vader; how he went from a precocious little boy to the eventual face of fear throughout the Empire. This was only intended to be part one of a three part story, with the next three parts showing his eventual redemption.

Some thought that the underlying story of a trade dispute was a little weak. Perhaps, but I saw it as a rather innocuous beginning to the saga of Annakin Skywalker, and gave the two Jedi a legitimate reason to be on Tatooine. I saw it as a way emphasize the lowly beginning of the man who would become Darth Vader.

Some disliked the movie because of Jar Jar Binks, and how annoying he was. I will concede that I didn't really like Jar Jar either. I thought he was loud and obnoxious, and clearly was designed to pander to a teenage audience that probably didn't appreciate it. However, he was also played as a buffoon, and this characterization was used brilliantly in Episode Two.

Some also said that they didn't like the way that Anakin was played in this movie. Saying things like "Yippee," hugging his mother, showing his fear when it came time to leave her. I counter that if Anakin didn't do these things, I would have been freaked out. He wasn't acting like Darth Vader yet because he wasn't Darth Vader yet. He was acting like the eight year old boy he was.

My hope here is that if you've decided to dislike the Phantom Menace for these or any other reasons, that you re-evaluate your opinion. Maybe you'll change your mind, maybe you won't, but I thank you for letting me make my case. The Phantom Menace is like any other movie; some will like, some won't.


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