Flashback Theater: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace


That’s a fantastic poster. And there are some great things about SWE1:TPM which I saw in Austin on May 19, 1999, a long time ago in a city far far away. What are these great things you ask? Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, who brought depth to their limited roles; John Williams magnificent score, an equal to all his previous trilogy soundtracks; the kinetic light saber duel at the finale, giving us the saberplay we’d been waiting for; and the greatest thing about THE PHANTOM MENACE was sitting in the dark theater as the 20th Century Fox fanfare began for the first STAR WARS film in almost two decades…


11 Responses to “Flashback Theater: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”

  1. It is incomprehensible to me that I saw this three times in the theater (in fairness it was at Grauman’s Chinese). Still, I convinced myself that I liked it & at that time maybe I really did.

  2. epic poster

  3. christian Says:

    Bob: Three times? Okay, I saw it twice. If not for Jar Jar…

    Leah: More than even the film…

  4. Exactly the things I liked about the film, Christian. PARTICULARLY Neeson. He got it, his performance is, for what he’s given, on par with anyone in any of the movies. He has that glint, that sense of magic and danger. I haven’t seen the picture since ’99, but I still remember that look on Neeson’s face as he manipulates that toss that will give him Anakin.

    Phantom Menace isn’t, all-in-all, much of a movie, but it felt like a warm-up for a promising series that never happened.

  5. christian Says:

    It’s just a shame the script didn’t give more arc to Neeson or McGregor, who you believe will grow up to be Alec Guiness. The best moment in SW:TPM is when Qui Gon meditates behind the force shield while Darh Maul paces like a panther and Obi-Wan waits in the background. A beautiful metaphor for the characters. I wrote a damning article on this for CREATIVE SCREENWRITING back in 99 called THE PHANTOM SCREENPLAY, so I thought I’d focus 10 years later on what I like about the film…

  6. I give PM a couple of points for being one of the few multi-million dollar McDonalds movies that feels, kinda, like some sort of mixed-up auteur movie (The Matrix series, love ’em or hate ’em, and I both love and hate em, would be another). People called PM impersonal, but impersonality IS personal to George Lucas.

    Lucas was trying to wrestle some kind of more pensive, more clearly indebted to Ford, Kurosawa, etc, etc, new generation Star Wars on to the screen, the fans balked, and Lucas, instead of pushing forward, retreated and made two even more stilted pictures that desperately tried to shoe-horned every reference from the prior films he heard second hand from an assistant reading AICN talkbacks.

    That’s my theory, at least.

  7. Wow, somehow you really managed to boil down PM to all of its positive aspects. You did miss the insanely gripping trailer, though. I almost remember seeing that the first time in the theater more than the movie itself.

    Ten years later, though, I’ll still watch PM if I find it on, for the nostalgia of the classic SW sound effects, if nothing else.

  8. christian Says:

    My biggest disapointment was the lack of Joe Johnston designed ships. There were literally no cool ships in SW: TPM. But some of the landscapes were spectacular. I just wish Lucas got a good writer to help him out.

  9. halmasonberg Says:

    Sorry guys. I appreciate the glass half full notion, but for me and many, many others. TPM and the 2 films to follow were complete artistic disasters. I was appalled from start to finish with what I thought was atrocious writing, stilted acting and a misguided belief that technology was in and of itself a form of storytelling. Lucas went on to not only make more horrible films, but he went back to all his others (and I include THX and GRAFFITI in here) and proceeded to alter them. If anyone went over to the dark side of the force, Lucas is that man. TPM left me baffled, saddened and bored beyond the infinite.

  10. christian Says:

    The Force is dark with this young padwan…Send him to Jar Jar.

  11. Love it, hell, even Roger Ebert got it…. a pulitizer prize winner… I go with Roger… the film is vasty misunderstood who were never really Star Wars fans to begin with…

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