Wayward Musings

Random Thoughts on the Phantom Menance

by Kim Holec

Is there anyone left in the US of A who hasn't seen this movie yet? We went and saw the movie the first Saturday afternoon after it opened with some good friends. I liked it while I was watching it, and plan to view it again, but this isn't the best movie ever made, or Lucas's best flick ever (that accolade is still reserved for A New Hope, which would have been a fine movie even if none other in the series had been made). I am pleased that it is breaking some box offices records, and hope it has legs to outlast that dumb ship movie.

Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor were great and great to look at, but just wasted. Although I really liked how Ewan tried to make himself sound like a young Alec Guinness; that was a nice homage. Ewan was on a magazine cover in the last couple of months, and his resemblance to Ken Brangah was amazing. Perhaps Ken will still get to play the middle-aged Obi-Wan yet. I hope so--Ken and George are on speaking terms.

So why were Neeson and McGregor wasted? Very simply put: their on-screen time had to be shared with the most annoying character in the mass media since Hollywood first started making movies: Jar Jar Binks. And he must go! (That's polite, you understand.) What was Lucas thinking? As Rob Wynne so succinctly put it: George couldn't figure out if he wanted to make a dark and depressing movie about the fall of a great republic, or a silly action movie that would appeal to five year-old boys. Since he obviously couldn't make up his mind, he made both and then edited them together. That's the best idea I have seen yet as to why, ultimately, the film does not work when examined closely.

So I will not examine the film in a straightforward fashion, but randomly jump from topic to topic.

The Queen, when she was running around as her handmaiden Padme, was rather interesting. And Padme was probably more comfortable in the casual wear than Amidala was in those gorgeous but difficult to move in robes and head-dresses. From her character, one can see where the Princess got her kick-butt attitude! Natalie has a nice even deep voice, and radiates calm, qualities rare in a Hollywood actress that is so young.

There is a rumor going the rounds, stating that the next film will take place 10-15 years after the time of this one, and Leo is rumoured for the role of Anakin. This would be too tiresome for words. (See that big ship flick, referenced above.)

The sets, costumes, and ships were great! The sword fights were awesome, because Ray Parks is a swordmaster. I really loved the Naboo capital city; it had a flavor of Maxfield Parish to the design of the architecture--this is how I wish cities would look. I disliked the capital of the Republic; it was too metropolitan. We discovered it's fatal flaw only today: put an embargo on any food stuffs going to Coruscant, and the planet, and thereby the Republic, is crippled.

Really, this is yet again a remake of A New Hope, but there is all the stuff going on behind the scenes with evil Senator Palpatine, who is, of course, the Phantom Menace, so called because no one knows that he is even a threat as of yet. And the Sith Lords are the phantoms, to alert the Jedi that something is wrong, but to distract them as well, until it is exactly too late. By the by, Ian Diarmid also was the Emperor in RoTJ, under all that latex and make-up.

I got tired of Lucas hitting us over the head with the irony hammer, but I still cried over the innocent little boy who will become Darth Vader.

Now here is a time-line to think about: this movie is set about 40 years before ANH, because Obi-Wan is in his 20's here in TPM and in his 60's in ANH. When we meet Luke and Leia, they are about 20. So we have decided that the Queen and Anakin must have the twins late in their 30's, and that Anakin must have been finally turned by the Emperor to the Dark Side while the Queen was still pregnant. And if he knew she was, he didn't know she was going to have twins. Why? He does know about Luke by TESB, and that Luke is his son, but doesn't know about Leia until he gets it from Luke in the big fight in RoTJ. Anyhoo, one can speculate that that is why the Queen runs off for the safety of Alderan with some stops along the way, like Tatooine. And why was Obi-Wan there? Playing Merlin to Luke's Arthur? It doesn't sound as though he much access to the boy, though.

And just who was Owen Lars, Luke's uncle? Well, I think by the time Anakin could get back to free his mother, she had already been freed by Old Farmer Lars and was living out in the desert with him. So Owen is Anakin's younger half-brother by blood or an older half-brother by marriage. Again from evidence in ANH, we see that Owen is hiding the truth about Luke's father being a Jedi, nor does he let ole Ben near Luke, if he can help it.

One of the other two nominees for Chancellor was somebody-or-other Antilles from Alderan--perhaps an ancestor of Wedge, the only fighter pilot besides Luke to live through the first three original movies.

Hopefully the Clone Wars will be the 3rd new movie. And if we don't have the great battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin on the edge of the volcano, I will be mightily disappointed. Bet Anakin makes the Darth Vader armour! C3PO must have had a mindwipe to have forgotten that Anakin made him and on Tatootine, to boot. And just why did our great and oh so wonderful Jedi knights not realize after Ani won the race that they have plenty of money to buy and set free both Ani and Shmi Skywalker? And what is with the immaculate conception story that Shmi tells Qui-Gon Jinn? I don't believe it for an instance. This sweet but hard-working lady has a deep dark secret she's not telling anyone.

At the very beginning of the movie, when we heard the old familiar theme, we were pleased, and thrown back to the olden days of the 70's and 80's, when John Williams made his mark in the soundtrack field; but after that the music was so in the background, I cannot remember a single note.

Well, there's some random thoughts on the new Star Wars movie.

Just more speculations to fuel the rumor mill!

© 1999 Kim F. Holec

Kim F. Holec is too many things to count. She was born under the sign of the Twins, so you figure it out. Even while she is at work, she is a part-time writer, editor and poet. She is owned by four cats, and some say she is herself a cat in disguise. She thinks of herself as a renaissance woman, because she is interested in many things, thus the changeable nature and topics of her writings.
Read more by Kim F. Holec

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