Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace


In the first prequel to George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy (1977, 1980 and 1983) Jedi trainee Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) are assigned to protect Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) from Darth Maul (Ray Park, with the voice of Peter Serafinowicz). When they reach Tatooine, however, they meet nine-year-old Jedi enthusiast Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), and take him with them to train as he is supposedly 'the Chosen One' who will 'destroy the Sith'.

First things first, the effects are excellent. Thanks to CGI the saber duels and outer space scenes are given a whole new stunning life, and will not fail to impress. There is also very good editing, particularly in the pod race scene, which makes the said scene very fast-paced with impressive shots and no dull moments or elongated shots. In short this is a visually excellent film.

However, that is no substitution for a good screenplay. Lucas takes forever/two hours ten minutes to get his characters through the various planets, creating long and tedious scenes where the viewers' attention will easily wander. The new characters are also to a poor standard. Darth Maul could easily be a threatening villain, but he is barely seen and gets no development. Qui-Gon doesn't give off half the sense of wisdom, power and intellect that Alec Guinness's Obi-Wan did in the original. And Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) is very poor as the actor and screenplay try to make him as funny and clumsy as possible, plus he has the most irritating voice ever. And the subplot of an election between Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Valorum (Terence Stamp) never really gets off the ground.

Visually impressive it may be, but it is a very disappointing film, especially when compared to the glorious originals.

Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ahmed Best, Ray Park, Peter Serafinowicz, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson, Terence Stamp, Silas Carson, Brian Blessed, Andy Secombe, Hugh Quarshie, Lewis MacLeod, Keira Knightley, Greg Proops.

Oscar nominations: Best Visual Effects (John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Rob Coleman, Scott Squires), Best Sound Mixing (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Shawn Murphy, John Midgley), Best Sound Editing (Ben Burtt, Tom Bellfort).

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