Back to Reviews

Reviews Comments: A layman reviews... The Phantom Menace film/book review by johnnyfog

I have never been a SW fan, outside of the movies. I find it ponderous and full of itself, a mish-mash of sorcery and deep canon of the kind that never appealed to me. Even to a twelve-year-old (my friends were all big into Star Wars merch and the EU), the plot of the EU was running on fumes, recycling old plots and images decades after the events of Jedi. Aside from a few comics I liked (Shadows of the Empire, and Dark Empire was actually not too bad ^_^) it seemed to be repeating the same Anakin/Luke arc ad nauseum. The video games don't help, reusing the same old Cloud City textures.... Basically, I think the EU did a disservice to the variety of the original trilogy.

Which is why everyone looks so fondly on Episode One. For all the script's faults, at least we get to see something different. Some places are familiar, like the Trade Federation warship (intentionally patterned on a future Star Destroyer) and Tattooine, but overall this is the riskiest of the prequels. The later movies were an endless parade of caverns! Blegh!

Unfortunately, if Episode One has a leg up on scenery, Episodes 2 & 3 had better characterization. I'm a plot guy, and I can tell you that The Phantom Menace is...nothing. Build-up for better things in the future. The first chapter of a miniseries. Chancellor Velorum ends up being the most sympathetic character in the movie, and he's just a pencil-pusher! You might say Shmee and Anakin are relatable and even tragic—but Lucas is queasy about inserting slaves into a family film, so the Skywalkers look like they're on siesta at Disneyland. In fact it's so inoffensive I find it oddly offensive. There is very little camaraderie or charm to these prequel characters.

Secondly, I think Lucas missed a trick with Anakin's age. I always envisioned Obi-Wan and Anakin as near-contemporaries. Instead of a good man, a family man who turned bad, Anakin is a spoiled kid who couldn't handle a taste of power.

As a film in its own right, Episode One is fun but unmemorable. As a Star Wars movie, the whole story could probably be consolidated into Episode Two and not lose much.


  • terlwyth
  • 29th Nov 12
What are you talking about? Very few look fondly on episode one using your arguments or they're too damn into the Nostalgia Filter to judge it fairly.

TPM is either remembered as mediocre or detestable for the most part. Although I like more than the original,I safely place both into mediocrity

Obi-Wan was not an adolescent,he was older than Anakin was at the end of the prequel trilogy. And I frankly liked having him being trained,that was a good call.

And I thought Anakin was actually very well written,unlike in the second episode where they focus far too much on him having to become evil. Jake Lloyd was unfairly blamed,and although the performance was understandably dull since most kid actors are,you could still feel that something was off.

And Qui-Gon is single-handedly the greatest character in the whole damn saga. He represents everything the Jedi should've been and what Anakin would've been under better conditions.

The problem rests on Jar-Jar,the execution of the plot,and the pacing which plods (the political scenes),and then suddenly surges(the climax).

And it would've been better if kid Anakin saw Qui-Gon get killed.

Yeah it does do,too much foreshadowing,but Qui-Gon,Padme (when she's in handmaiden mode that is),and Shmi stand up very nicely on there own which cannot be said for any of the characters next episode.

You're right that Episodes Two and One could be consolidated,but only because it is Episode Two,and not Episode One that is lacking.

  • Scardoll
  • 30th Nov 12
And Qui-Gon is single-handedly the greatest character in the whole damn saga.

I just... Just... What?
  • FantasyLiver
  • 30th Nov 12
Why isn't Qui-Gon the greatest character in the prequel. I realize that this is a matter of opinion but I said basically the same thing in my review and no one disagreed. Granted no one has commented yet but still. Qui-Gon is wise, compassionate, and is willing to go against the rules to do what's right, which is one flaw the Old Jedi Order had: they were too rule focused.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 1st Dec 12
I had good memories of him but I thought in the end he's got a fairly static role, he's fantastic as a jedi ideal, but I enjoyed seeing Obi-Wan going from a know nothing temperamental apprentice Jedi to his willing controlled death at the end
  • terlwyth
  • 1st Dec 12
@Scardoll for suggesting otherwise,....WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT???!?!?

@Tom Arguably the same could be said for Obi-Wan and Yoda in the original trilogy,because that's what The Mentor entails. But usually the mentor entails a Blue Oni type of persona,and they are somewhat crusty. Qui-Gon was a very optimistic and a Red Oni and willing to do what's right rather than what make immediate sense.

Maybe he was static,but static does not equal bad,and he was a twist.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 2nd Dec 12
He's definitely good I just felt that Obi-Wan's arc let him have that at some points and also let him do other things. But Qui-Gon was definitely absolutely fundamental for everything that did work and without him Obi-Wan wouldn't have made sense and we'd have lost an important perspective on the Jedi it's true
  • RedHudsonicus
  • 2nd Dec 12
Much as I love Qui-Gon, I felt that, for many reasons, he had to die. He's a character whose influence is felt far more powerfully due to his absence, rather than his presence. He's basically there to suggest that there might have been alternative fates for a lot of the characters had he survived. Anakin would have gotten the father-figure he needed and not been so susceptible to Palpatine, Obi-Wan would have had the time to find his footing as a Knight instead of taking on a padawan of his own immediately, Shmi might very well have been freed, and Dooku likely wouldn't have left the Order had his former padawan not died. Qui-Gon's death thus represents a real turning point in the Saga and builds the tragedy very effectively, in my opinion. I have always been left wondering: if only Qui-Gon had survived, how might things have been different?
  • terlwyth
  • 2nd Dec 12
I wish more people would note the performance of the woman who played Shmi,that was a really good performance all about.
  • johnnyfog
  • 4th Dec 12
While everything you say about Qui-Gon is true (everyone here's in agreement that he's a breath of fresh air), it put Anakin and Obi-Wan in a weird position dramatically. Basically, Qui-Gon goes around sticking plugs in leaky boats, so he had to die. The Idiot Plot demands it.

In TPM, Obi-Wan is essentially aligned the dogmatic wing of the Jedi. An anti-Anakin, if you will. He supposedly rebels by insisting on training Ani like Qui-Gon wanted him too. That's nice, but he's still a colorless character, and only develops in the aftermath of ROTS. Then he resembles Qui-Gon in spirit.

But now I'm drifting into the other prequels.

In order to post comments, you need to

Get Known