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Trade
negotiations. Senate hearings. Political instability. All hallmarks of a
great Star Wars movie… or so George Lucas thought, when he returned
to the monster franchise he created. Over the next week I’ll be
revisiting every Star Wars movie and writing my thoughts on them
leading up to the premiere of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which I’ll
write up here as well. I almost just skipped the prequels when planning
to rewatch the series, but figured I might as well include the saga in
its chronological entirety, since VII picks up where the Skywalker story
last ended. So that brings us here, to the stinking heap of bantha
poodoo that left a skid-mark on the name of ‘star wars’ for years to
come. Episode I: The Phantom Menace *fart noise*

This
is a bad movie. I think everyone has accepted that at this point.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things about it. The
best ‘bad’ movies are ones that were made with the best of intentions,
and I do think Lucas returned to Star Wars with good intentions; I just
think that years of being a businessman in charge of the Star Wars brand
and merchandise left his touch as a creator and artist out in the cold.
As the story goes, he was surrounded by ‘yes’ men, who revered and
looked up to him. I mean, he created STAR WARS for gods sake! He could
do no wrong! Little did we know, a little fan-favorite by the name of
Jar-Jar Binks was just around the corner…

Okay,
so here’s where I stop hating on Phantom Menace so hard. I do think the
second and especially third prequel movies drastically improve in many
areas, but Lucas did a lot of interesting stuff in all of them. For one,
the art direction, production design, costume design and of course,
John Williams score are all top notch in this movie. I also have to
applaud just how little fan-service was in this movie, when he could
have had a kid Han Solo pop in and say some snarky remark, or had
X-wings flying all over the place. Lucas made this movie (for the most
part), it’s own unique, weird little thing; to a fault, most would say.
You could say a lot of negative things about the choices he made with
Phantom Menace, but that he played it safe would NOT be one of them.

While
watching this again, The Hobbit movies popped into my head. They share a
lot of similarities with what Lucas did with the prequels; also being
prequels to a huge franchise trilogy themselves, also made by a director
(Peter Jackson) who seems to have forgotten that ‘less is more’. They
both used new technologies, crowded scenes and uninspired shot
compositions as a sort-of crutch to limp through a weak narrative with
hollow characters. This is something that The Force Awakens appears to
be course-correcting on, as far as I can tell. With its return to
practical effects, and much of pre-production spent trying to nail down a
solid story, I have high hopes for the next iteration.

However
much flack I give this movie in particular (I swear I won’t be so mean
to the other prequels), I love this series. I love all of the Star Wars
movies, because George Lucas created something magical with this
universe. The light side, the dark side, the people caught in the middle
just trying to survive as empires and republics rise and fall. The saga
of Star Wars is entertainment fantasy and melodrama at its most
captivating and pure. It has seeped and grown into every facet of modern
culture (now thanks to the Disney marketing machine) and will continue
to rise indefinitely. I can’t wait to finish the prequels, original
trilogy, and kick-off an all new generation next week. Check back
tomorrow for Episode II: The Clone Wars, and thanks for reading! 

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