Posts Tagged ‘Phantom Menace syndrome’

Close to the Mitchell Hedges

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Keen eyed viewers will notice that I have changed the header image at the top of the page. The new one features Hannah holding a crystal skull, which is, of course, an entirely cynical attempt to cash in on the inevitable onslaught of interest in all things crystal skullish, initiated by the imminent release of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull.

Naturally the critical knives are already out, and the movie is being dismissed as a disappointment. Doubtless someone on the Aint It Cool News Talkbacks will bleat about having their childhood raped. Trouble is, just like The Phantom Menace, too much time has lead to too much anticipation, and anything less than a movie that’s three times better than the original will be viewed as a let down. Anything in the new film that’s a significant departure from the first three will mean it doesn’t “feel” like Indy, the makers have lost sight of what made the character and the franchise memorable. Anything that refers back to the originals will be seen as a cop out, the same ideas rehashed, an easy hackish retread of past (fortune and) glories.

However, I’m sure it will be at least entertaining, and I’m positive it will make a ton of money, so Senor Spielbergo and Randall Curtis are unlikely to lose any sleep.

If you would like to learn more about crystal skulls, click here. If that startling expose isn’t enough for you, try wikipedia.

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Anakinversary

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

A long time ago… ah screw it, everyone’s probably done that one. Today’s the tenth anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace. Happy birthday Duel of The Fates, Watto and  The Boonta Eve Classic. Although for us in the UK we still had another excruciating two months to wait while everyone else in the world was talking about  it.

He's Behind You!

Like many people who can’t let it lie, I have felt the need to defend the damn movie over the last ten years. Dunno why, it’s neither my fault, nor my problem if someone else doesn’t like it.  But I do find myself wondering why so many people have taken against it, especially seeing as every single film looks like that now (Even the Sex and the City movie had that completely incongruous scene where two vast armies of CGI it girls fought on a CGI battlefield, using CGI Louis Vuitton handbags). Let’s look at the reasons;

  • Enormously clunky plot contrivances. So they need a hyperdrive generator and the only person that has one is immune to the jedi mind trick and also owns a slave who has latent jedi abilities and races pods and has just happened to be secretly building a podracer for a tournament that just  happens to be tomorrow… phew!
  • Midichlorians. Let’s be honest, while it doesn’t invalidate the mysticism of the previous movies, we hardly needed an empirical system of measuring someone’s connection to The Force.
  • Jar Jar. The Star Wars movies were always aimed at a young audience, but never before was a character included specifically for the preschoolers. However, people never complain about “that really bad special effect”, or even “that really bad character”. They actually talk about Jar Jar as if he’s a real person. So really he can be said to be a success… from a certain point – ah screw it everyone will have used that one too.
  • Too many special effects. Seriously, complaining about this in a Star Wars movie is like stopping taking drugs because they make you feel weird.
  • Sixteen (or twenty, depending on how much of a nerd you were) years of anticipation. After that amount of time we could have got the best film ever made and people would have still complained. Not that I’m suggesting it is the best film ever made, you understand.
  • Darth Vader built C-3PO. Actually, I can explain this, no problem.

This piece, written by Using the Force author Will Brooker,  pretty much sums up my experience. It wasn’t my own expectations, any of the (admittedly many) flaws in the film, or even Ben Quadrinaros that ruined it for me. It was knowing everything about it, including how I was expected to feel.

Having said that, I still love The Phantom Menace. As Todd Hanson says in A Galaxy Not So Far Away, it’s just a big dumb movie about space wizards. What’s not to like?

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The Ascent of Fan

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

So I finally saw Fanboys thanks to a competition that ran on The ForceCast. I think I read about this movie back in the 90s on Ain’t It Cool News, and it has taken this long to (barely) get a release, a wait of almost Chinese Democracyesque proportions. There’s still no sign of it getting an official release in the UK but those of us who remember the early days of DVD and hung onto our multi region players have at least got the option to get hold of the US DVD.

While it’s a relief to finally get to see the movie that people have been talking about for so long, it only appeared in a handful of American cinemas, and the DVD release has been pretty low key. Coupled with a rather negative critical response, it seems that relatively few people will see it , and that’s a shame as, while it’s far from perfect, it has a massive untapped potential audience that is bound to take it to their hearts.

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The film is a story of a group of friends in 1998 who decide to travel across country to break into Skywalker Ranch, so that they can get to see the unreleased Star Wars Episode I before one of them pegs it. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in the fact that this idea occurred to me many times in the run up to the release of what was surely the most anticipated movie of all time.

At this point, of course, a million AICN Talkbackers will routinely pipe up that when those guys eventually see it they’ll wish they hadn’t bothered. But Fanboys is about the journey, and the characters’ relationships more than the eventual outcome. Along the way there are a few slightly undercooked comedic episodes, some evidence of the studio’s interference, and some fairly unnecessary stunt casting, but the thing that carries the movie along is the terrific chemistry between the central cast. Adding to this is the attention to detail, making it feel like these guys are real friends and real fans. Weirdly, it feels like it actually was made in the late 90s (a side effect of its low budget), and it’s interesting to compare it to 1998’s Free Enterprise, a story about Star Trek fans told with more sophistication, but less charm.

Definitely recommended viewing for fans of Star Wars. And Rush.

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