Way back in 1999 Star Wars Episode 1 was released to the masses. My brother and his friends skipped school to go see it. I bought tickets for the 730PM show and when I arrived with one of my friends… we were shoved into the 7PM show. The previews were done, the movie had already started, and thus the dream of seeing this movie was already turning into a nightmare.
I had been buying up everything Star Wars for a couple years at this point. Collecting the Kenner re-releases, displaying the toys of my childhood, and buying up all the various VHS tapes from around the Star Wars Universe. This obsession ignited my first (and sadly thus far only) trip to a convention solely so I could buy a bootleg copy of the Christmas special.
To say that way back in 1999 there was disappointment in this movie is an understatement. Bad acting, bad dialogue, gaping plot and continuity holes, fucking Jar Jar. There was plenty to complain about. Now, years later, its time to rewatch the movie. With an open mind and a third dimension Mrs Hellions and I took to the multiplex to try and enjoy the Phantom Menace.
And its not that bad.
Yes, a lot of the stuff that bothered you before is still there. It will still bother you. But so much less, because you know its there. After you’ve watched Jaws a few times and know when the shark is going to come out of the water, its not scary anymore. In much the same way, Jar Jar Binks isn’t as annoying. Once I could accept this, my previous hatred of the film melted away. This was all about enjoying Star Wars in the way that the original sequel was enjoyable. That way is to enjoy it as if you’re a child.
Throughout the theater were families and many many children. Every moment of the movie elicited oohs and aahs and “awesome!” and “cool!” from the kids. They were watching this movie in the same way that I watched A New Hope on WPIX back in the day. It was the most perfect amazing film in the world and no one could tell differently. I started to watch the movie like I was eight again. Its amazing in this way. The Gungans battling the droids is a lot of fun. All three aspects of that battle are fun. The trip through the planet under water is a new favorite movie moment. As if space battles aren’t cool enough, now there are giant monsters too?! Its like the chocolate and peanut butter of matinee movies. Of course podracing has to be the greatest scene captured on film for any boy since 1999. Fast, shiny, explosions, a huge video game, and all of it through the eyes of a child. Young Anakin must seem like the coolest kid in the galaxy to the 10 and under set.
Sure, there is still some horrible acting and badly written scenes. When did you ever think of the original movies and comment on the writing? Never. Even one of the best lines in all three movies “I know” was an ad-lib! We remember the fights, the lightsabers, the cool aliens, the narrow escapes. Go into Phantom Menace in the same way. Take the things mentioned above and add to it Darth Maul and Sebulba.
Even one of the most hated lines of the film, that the Force is actually Midi-chlorians, sounds different this time around. Now I hear that the Midis are more connected to the Force so by communicating with the Midis you thus communicate with the Force. I see nothing wrong with this line anymore. Why do animals seem to know before an earthquake hits? Because they are more connected to nature. Same thing and thus one of the huge original problems with Phantom Menace disappears.
Go see this movie, and bring open eyes with you. Star Wars is fun again and I cant wait for the next five years of movie going.