It’s that time of year again — that’s right — it’s time for Star Wars Christmas!!! AHHH! Which means that we at Couch Crunchers are going to take a glance back at the history of this galaxy far, far away.
I grew up with the Star Wars franchise, and I have always enjoyed it. However, I am also a purist, who loathes the prequels with nearly every fiber of her being. Except for Kenobi, who is a wonderful unicorn, and we’re all glad he’s here.
My review of The Phantom Menace is a bit less savage than my potential reviews for other prequels might be. I actually enjoyed this one as a movie, mostly because Hayden Christensen wasn’t creeping me out the whole time with his heavy breathing and his stoner eyes. I understand people have qualms with the most toxic character in Star Wars, the Dreaded Jar Jar Binks. I, too, have this irritation, but I think that it’s significantly counter-weighted by three main good things.
1. Good Heroes
No, not Anakin, the tiny, supposedly super powerful child. I’m talking about Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Queen Amidala. Not only is Qui-Gon Jinn played by a fantastic actor with a voice made for superheroes, but he also has a presence on screen that adequately displays the raw power that Jedi are meant to have. His padawan, Kenobi, is played by someone who genuinely appears to have his crap together, despite being just a padawan. The center political influence of the movie, Queen Amidala, gets a lot of flak for her role. I think that she did a decent job playing a teenager who just inherited a mountain of power, who is trying to do the best she possibly can.
2. Darth Maul and Darth Sidious
I love Darth Maul. He represents the pure, savage rage that lives in the force. He is the part of it that’s easiest to distinguish, and easiest to hate. He is not what the title refers to as the phantom menace, but he’s the face that another Sith, Darth Sidious, hides behind. He also provides us with our first high dexterity, skill based lightsaber duel, and I can’t overstate the importance of that.
I like that the main villain of the prequels trilogy is introduced in a more sinister way, as an invisible man behind the curtain pulling the strings. It’s something we can connect to.
3. The Star Wars Spirit
The general Star Wars spirit has always been the fight. Fight back against those who would oppress those weaker than themselves. Star Wars is the struggle against the greater evil, and the struggle to not become that greater evil. Not following Anakin’s emotional angst, like the following two movies. From the rebellion at the end of this film, to the losses suffered on the Light side of the force, this Star Wars movie covers that feeling very well. BONUS: Pod Racing. Because, video games.
It certainly does its job as being an entertaining film, however, next to its predecessors, it simply has a higher bar to make than other films might.
3 out of 5 Couch Cushions and a Throw Pillow(3.5)!!!