The Phantom Menace

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Saturday should have been our monthly Pathfinder game, but that got cancelled due to illness. So instead I did some painting and decided to start watching all nine of the Star Wars movies in chronological order since The Rise of Skywalker is due out soon.

When I first saw The Phantom Menace at the cinema, I came away thinking it was okay, but definitely not great. It definitely wasn’t the worst film I watched that year, the honour for which goes to The Blair Witch Project.

But first, the things that I liked. It was the first film to show Jedi actually being Jedi, and demonstrating why they were a powerful force in the galaxy. Rather than just getting into laser sword fights with each other, they are shown making effective use of their force powers.

We got to see Coruscant in its planet-wide city glory, which had only really been mentioned previously, and got to see how the Star Wars universe worked before the disbanding of the Senate near the start of A New Hope.

I know the film is generally derided for it, but I actually sort of liked the idea that things started due to a trade war over taxation, rather than some galaxy wide threat or super weapon or other standard SciFi trope.

But then, the execution failed. There were obvious good and bad guys, which didn’t help the more mundane story line – I think it would have worked better if the politics had been played a bit more grey and less time spent on things like the journey through the planet’s core (what?). I know Star Wars has always been about black and white heroics, but there was no reason the prequels needed to go down that route. Also, there was a lot about the story which didn’t make sense, or at least wasn’t adequately explained.

And the characters weren’t particularly interesting, and the interactions between them seemed wooden. The battle scenes had no tactics (or air support for that matter). Darth Maul could have been more interesting, but aside from the lightsabre battle at the end (which wasn’t bad – but still lacked lightsabres cutting through things which Empire got right) he didn’t do enough to be interesting. He lacked the presence which Vader had in the later films.

So it’s a meh film, which for me falls down on not being terribly exciting or interesting. But at least I got to finish my units of horseman for my Saga Great Kingdoms army.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn