Star Wars 1 Critique
Watching a new Star Wars film at your local state-of-the-art cineplex is more akin to a religious experience, than merely just watching a movie. I'm surprised Star Wars isn't already a religion. In time it probably will be (er, well . . . that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea). We erupt in cheers, whoops and hollers when the 20th Century Fox logo appears. The zenith of this experience culminates when the Star Wars logo explodes on the screen and then disappears in to the Heavens. We realize we are going to see something very, very special. Frankly, this film brings back your childhood if you're an adult and reminds you of how lucky you are to be young if you are still a kid.
Many words come to mind to describe Star Wars Episode 1. One word seems most appropriate: Overwhelming. I've seen this film se7en times and all I can say is that it gets better each time I watch it. I still haven't been able to absorb everything in. That's amazing. This film is so visually dense that it is nothing less than stunning. Not enough praise can be given to the various geniuses who patiently worked on the special effects, sounds, costume designs, soundtrack and casting decisions. Meticulous detail has been given to every aspect of this film. George Lucas should also be complimented for an inspiring screenplay, an admirable directing effort and for a slick, rapid-fire editing of the film. This film is nothing less than an amazing, thrill ride.
This film moves at the speed of light. No, make that hyperspace fast. George knows how to please an audience. A few filmmakers, like Lucas and Steven Spielberg, are born with an innate ability to entertain the masses. Their list of hit films seems endless. We are indeed lucky to be alive to witness and enjoy these two geniuses at their respective creative peaks.
It goes without saying that The Phantom Menace will receive several Academy Award nominations. Wins for best special effects, best sound design, best costume design, best original soundtrack and best editing are possible if not inevitable. Unfortunately, for George, Episode 1 is going to prove waaaay too popular for George to receive any personal nominations. However, George is not interested in personal awards for his work. His main goal with this film was to achieve his artistic vision, which he has accomplished. This is the best film of the Star Wars saga.
More importantly, this film reveals an important aspect of the Star Wars saga to us. After watching The Phantom Menace, it becomes painfully obvious that Qui-Gon Jinn, the noble Jedi Master, is the one to blame for the ultimate destruction of the Jedi Order and the Old Republic. Had Qui-Gon left Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine, it would have been very unlikely that Anakin would have ever fallen to the dark side of the Force. Without Qui-Gon's interference, Anakin would have lived and died an insignificant slave on an insignificant world.
Now, we know that it is not really Obi-Wan Kenobi who is to blame for the fall of the Jedi and the Old Republic. Qui-Gon pretty much forces Obi-Wan to train Anakin, even though Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council know that Anakin must not be trained in the ways of the Force.
Some critics have stated that George doesn't develop his characters very well in this film. However, to fully develop characters, a director has to take up very valuable screen time to accomplish this feat. As a result, action sequences have to be dropped from the script. Thankfully, George chose to give us a thrilling, roller-coaster-ride of a movie instead of a boring character drama. If you want character development, then read the novelization of The Phantom Menace.
Additionally, some people have complained that the Episode 1 script is far from perfect. Well, anyone who knows George knows that George writes out of necessity and not because he considers himself to be the best scribe on the planet. In fact, George asked Lawrence Kasdan (the screen writer who wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark) to write The Phantom Menace script, but Kasdan turned George down. But even without a script doctor, I had no problems with the script. While the word "Yippee" may cause you to scratch your head, at least George never used any phrases like "mack daddy."
Also, there are some critics who feel that the acting in Episode 1 is wooden and lacking in emotion. Well, from what I understand to be the case, George was trying to make an extremely serious film with grave consequences for each character. George had to restrain his actors in order to keep this film from becoming campy. There is nothing worse than "over-acting." I'm glad George kept the actors in check. All the performances in the film are very good and appropriate for each scene.
When all is said and done, George really delivered the goods with this film. Many thanks to George Lucas and everyone else who made this film such an amazing piece of art to watch. I plan to see this film many, many more times this summer and that's the ultimate compliment that you can give to any film.