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December 21, 2009

Think you hated Star Wars: Phantom Menace?

Were you there on opening day in 1999, waiting anxiously for the first Star Wars movie in 16 years to come onto the screen?  Were you holding your breath, waiting for that George Lucas juicy goodness (get your mind out of the gutter!) to be presented to you in full stereo sound with massively improved special effects?  Did you cheer when the opening crescendo of the Star Wars theme came blasting out of the speakers and you saw the first original scrolling introduction in quite a long time move up the screen?  Did you read it and start wondering "what's this about taxes?  Trade Federations?  What the f---?"

And afterward, did you turn to your friend, lover, legal guardian, parole officer, or whatever, and say "what the hell was that?"  Or even worse, did your companion have to poke you because you had fallen asleep?
Well, you wouldn't be alone.  Many people hated Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, with it's strange, emotionless characters, confusing plot, and annoying kid actor.  They hated watching excellent actors look wooden on the screen.  They hated watching not-so-good actors look even worse on screen! They hated watching masses computer generated objects flash across the screen in such a confusing morass of light that you didn't know where to look.  They hated the confusing script.  It just wasn't very good.

However, I have never seen such a detailed critique as is on  This review is 70 minutes long, in 7 Youtube clips, but it does suck you in like the movie never did.  I started watching the first video thinking "I'll just see what it's like and then turn it off."  Three 10-minute videos later, I decided "might as well watch the rest, as this is quite good."  Yes, I do use the word "quite" a lot when I'm talking to myself.  Why do you ask?

This review is hilariously done but it also makes a lot of good points.  For example, for a character in a movie to be strong, you should be able to describe that character without resorting to looks or wardrobe.  Just who is this person?  What function does this person serve in the movie?  It's great when the film-maker asks four of his friends to describe Han Solo, then Qui-Gon Jin, then See-Threepio and finally Queen Amidala.  The differences are quite distinct.  This isn't just a great review.  It's great film-making.  The guy who did this has quite the comic touch, too, though the ending was a bit strange.
It's very easy to lose yourself in these videos and come up for air 70 minutes later.  I had no intention of doing that this morning, but I ended up doing it (with a pause in the middle for a conversation with my mother, of course).

I promise that for most of you, you'll enjoy these 70 minutes a lot more than the over 2 hours you spent watching this movie.

On the other hand, this really is only for those of you who have seen it and loathe it, as it won't make much sense if you haven't.  Mom, this means you.


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