Sadly, a few simple changes could have made the movies MUCH better.
1) Write Jar Jar and his people as real characters who could believably fight for independence against a technologically superior foe, rather than some kiddy comic relief.
2) Make Anakin about the same age as Padme. Would have made the story more adult, made their future romance more believable, and made his unrecoverable inner anger and demons that ultimately were the seed for his turn to the dark side more believable.
3) Remove the midchlorian bs. Did anyone REALLY need or want a pseudo-scientific made-for-Sci-Fi-channel-movie level explanation for the Force? It's a freakin' mystic energy. Good enough. I don't care how Gandalf can make the end of his staff glow either.
The other change that would have helped was a director who can work with actors. I've never seen Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Sam Jackson, etc as bad as they were in these movies. Bad dialogue, wooden delivery, etc. Get a better director, make a couple simple changes to the basics of the story, and you've probably got 3 movies that, even if they don't recapture the magic of Star Wars and Empire (lets' face it, the magic running on fumes by Jedi), they're at least very good movies.
Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."
I have always said that there was 1 thing that, if changed, would have made the storyline (if not the acting and child-centric campiness) work in the opening trilogy. Lucas even sets it up beautifully.
The scene is the arena on Geonosis. Padme and Anakin have been captured and fully expect they are about to be put to death. Up until that moment, we have heard about Jedi not being allowed to fall in love because of all the negative emotions that can be corrupted by love (a silly theme, in my opinion, but go with it). Anakin, like all good Jedi, has resisted the pull toward Padme because he is a well-trained Jedi.
But now he is certain he is about to die and he can let his emotions actually flow forth. He professes his love for Padme and they share a passionate kiss. She loves him back and they say that at least they will be able to share a few brief moments of love before they are killed in the arena.
Then, the unexpected happens. The clone army arrives and they are rescued. But now they must deal with their emotions. As the movie closes, we are left with an Anakin who has betrayed his Jedi teachings and is torn between his feelings of loyalty toward the Jedi and the tug on his heart toward his forbidden love with Padme. As the next movie begins we slowly start to see why it is dangerous for a Jedi to love. Anakin shows signs of jealousy and goes overboard in trying to protect and defend Padme. It all stems from his guilt over abandoning the only other person he ever dared to love, his mother. He displays un-Jedi-like vengeance to anyone who threatens Padme. The emperor sees all this and realizes he can turn Anakin by using his love of Padme against him.
It all sorta flows from there. This is not all that far from what Lucas actually did. He just left out some explanation of why Jedi love is dangerous and he most certainly left out Padme and Anakin fighting against their feelings and only giving in when facing near-certain death. He also wrote it in a really lame fashion.
-Jason "I have no simple repair for Phantom Menace... you would have to change pretty much everything in that steaming pile of !#%!@%" Evans
I understand why, for example, the American Film Institute ranks Star Wars as the best of the three, because it broke ground, but I consider The Empire Strikes Back the best of the bunch. The introduction and major use of Yoda, plus the exceptional music, put it over the top for me.
I think orchestral music with choral overlays can work quite well - Lord of the Rings makes extensive and excellent use of this.
My only musical objection was having to used synthesized trumpets to hit those crazy high registers right before the credits - wasn't Maynard Ferguson still alive when Ep. I came out? =)
As far as when I am looking forward to seeing the 3D used, I'll put them in no particular order.
- The opening space battle in Revenge of the Sith. I thought that was pretty awesome in 2D, in 3D it could be stunning.
- The pod race. Ehh, it was in the first movie, but it could be pretty cool. But since it's in the first one I won't be seeing it.
- Battle scenes in Attack of the Clones..there were some good ones in there.
- Battle immediately prior to and after Order 66 in Episode 3.
- Annakin and Obi Wan's chase of the changeling in Attack, that could be fun.
- Obi Wan being chased by Jango Fett.
- Hoth battles. That's gonna be awesome.
- The attack on the Death Star in New Hope.
- Both Death Stars blowing up.
- Han Solo's rescue in ROTJ.
- Darth Vader vs. Luke on Bespin.
- Luke and Han on the Millenium Falcon vs Tie Fighters.
Saw it Saturday with my son (7) and his friend (8). It was interesting to see this after knowing how the prequel trilogy played out. It made a lot more sense after living with a "next generation" Star Wars / Clone Wars fan.
Phantom Menace is much more of a kid's story than New Hope was when I was younger, for sure. Silly animated characters, young boy saves the day, etc. But from the perspective of my son, it was a huge success.
So, I must say I enjoyed it a heck of a lot more than when I saw it in 1999. Beats Alvin and the Chipmonks, Chipwrecked.
Eat Mor Jonny.
Of course, your statement proves what was so wrong with the film. It truly felt like it was made for the under-10 year old demographic... sorta like Journey2 The Mysterious Island this weekend. Sadly, the folks who desperately wanted to see and experience the film were a little bit older than 10.
-Jason "you'd think after all the money he made on Star Wars and Empire, that Lucas would not need to money grab... but he started it in Jedi and went all-in for cash over quality in Phantom Menace" Evans
Having said that, there is something interesting about how it is introduced to the next generation. My kid's view of the movies is much different. His favorite are, in order:
Episode 2 - where the closes come in, lots of action
Episode 4 -- attack on Death Star
Episode 3 -- "epic battle at end between Obi Wan and Anakin"
Episode 1 -- "Well, it's just the beginning, you know?"
Episode 6 -- second attack on Death Star
Episode 5 -- really big battle of Hoth
Straight from the boy's mouth. Loves the Clone Wars series as well, actually preferes to be a clone commander when we play in the back yard than a Jedi.
So, I guess if we're disappointed but the kids love it -- who's to say that's bad?
Eat Mor Jonny.