Saturday, July 19, 2014

I Finally Watched My Episode I Blu Ray

It's been 15 years now since your hopes and dreams were smashed and replaced with the huge disappointment that was Star Wars: Episode I.  That makes this particular rant more than a little bit outdated, but it's been nearly that long since I seriously sat down and watched the entire thing and since we are fairly well hurting for content on here lately, I'm going to go ahead and write at least a few of my thoughts.

First, it's kind of amazing that it has been nearly two years since I got my box set of these and am just now getting around to sitting down and re-watching the prequels.  I told myself that I would at some point sit down and watch them all again, and for some strange reason yesterday I finally decided to go ahead and pop this one in.  Aside from glimpsing a few scenes here and there during those almost monthly Star Wars weekends where they show all of the movies on Spike, I haven't watched this one since my VHS copy that I'm sure I tried to force myself to like just because it was Star Wars before finally having to admit to myself that it is complete crap. 

So, what did my recent viewing remind me?  That yes, it's still pretty darn bad.  Half of it plays off like a cartoon or a video game.  I mean, I literally felt like I was watching the intro scenes on my nephew's Lego Star Wars game a few times.  It's really hard to feel anything for characters when you don't feel like anything you're watching is real.  And it still astounds me that space battles created with visual effects in 1977 can look more realistic than the cartoon CGI creations in this.  I've said it before and I'll say it again here: the special effects in the OT were used as a service to tell the story and were quite well done and never felt like showing off or overdoing it.  This whole movie seems like a commercial for ILM to show how far technology has come and how much more they can do now.  The only problem is that none of it looks real.  I think in the back of our minds we know when we're watching ANH that we're not actually seeing an X-wing flying through the trench of the Death Star, but it just looks so much more tangible.  In this movie there is not a moment where we mistake what we're looking at for anything but computer generated. 

Jar Jar might be worse than I remember him.  Not just the cutesy comic relief, but the fact that for absolutely no reason at all he is given the rank of general and left to help lead a pretty important battle.  Really?  Um, yeah.  But hey, he goes on to wipe out lots and lots of battle droids totally by accident.  Seriously, he does absolutely nothing due to any bit of competence and only takes them out because he gets his foot tangled in some wires or something.  Look, it was kind of funny when Han Solo "killed" (debatable, I guess we'll find out soon if he did or not) Boba Fett by accidentally hitting him while he was blinded, sending him into the Sarlacc pit.  But I think we would've lost a lot of respect for Han if everything he did was accidental.

Oh, Jake Lloyd.  Look, I feel bad for the kid because I'm sure he did the best that he could and was just following George Lucas's terrible direction.  He never should've been cast in the first place.  I really find it difficult to believe that there wasn't a better choice out there.  Or even a hundred better choices.  In the history of movies with important child leads there are plenty of examples of kids who you almost wouldn't even guess were "acting."  So it seems impossible to me that there were literally no other kids out there who could've done a better job. 

And the plot and the trade routes and senate and no confidence votes and... what the heck was going on there?  Maybe it's just because it all bores me so much I don't pay enough attention, but all of that crap is just plain confusing.  I'm not even entirely sure what the final battle was all about beyond the fact that the people of Naboo/Gungans are the good guys and the... uh, other guys (the ones with the vaguely Asian accents) were the bad guys and the Emperor, or at this point, Darth Sidious, had something to do with them.  I don't want to watch it again to see if I can make this all more clear, but it's possible that before Episode VII comes out I'll try and have a marathon viewing and watch all six movies again.  We'll see. 

If you didn't recall, Episode I originally had a puppet Yoda before they moved to CGI starting with Episode II, but for the blu ray they made him CGI again.  Somehow even 1999 puppet Yoda looked less good than 1980 puppet Yoda, so this change doesn't really bother me aside from knowing that Frank Oz must be kind of annoyed that he had to do all that work for nothing when ultimately all you get of his performance is his voice which surely doesn't require awkward positions and cramming himself into small, hidden spaces for. 

I'd swear George Lucas forced Natalie Portman to have the most monotone voice in the history of the universe.  All of her dialog is stilted and awkward, and I'm sure none of that is her fault but all due to direction and the fact that the dialog is terrible.  That said, Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor actually somehow manage to do a decent job and not look like they can't believe they have to be in this ridiculous movie. 

Darth Maul is still kind of cool and it's actually kind of too bad that he had to die in this movie and couldn't be used later.  The lightsaber fight is also pretty impressive.  It also makes me laugh a few times throughout as even though we only saw this movie a few times, there are a few lines my brother and cousins and I quote to each other here and there, when applicable.  I mean, seriously dumb, mundane lines but when said in the correct tone of voice and accent they cause laughter because we all know exactly where it's coming from.  (Example: "You catch on pretty quick."  See?  Why would that make anyone laugh?  But for us it does.) 

The same stuff still makes me roll my eyes though.  Midichlorians, Anakin is Jesus because he has no father (are you kidding me?) Anakin built C-3PO, Obi Wan wasn't trained by Yoda, Samuel L. Jackson is awesome but spends the entire movie just kind of sitting there.... ugh, it's impossible to list all of the reasons, and you've all been there and it's been covered endlessly, but I just figured I'd write out a few of my thoughts on seeing it for the first time in a while. 

I do believe it would be impossible to make a movie this disappointing again.  So, we can hold out hope that Episode VII won't be anything like this.  Hopefully we will be given some characters to care about, we will for sure get to see some of our old favorites, and preferably we will be happy with what has become of them at this point.  We can probably also be sure that we will not get another Jar Jar-esque character.  Admittedly the other day out of nowhere I started thinking that we might get to see Han Solo and Chewbacca flying the Falcon together again, and whatever else may happen, that's pretty awesome. 

So that's it, I finally got around to watching The Phantom Menace.  Remember when they revealed that title and we were all like, huh.  I mean, it doesn't even make sense.  Shouldn't it be something about the Chosen One or something?  The title of the movie just indicates that even they don't know what it was really supposed to be about.  Anyway, I may watch Attack of the Clones tonight if I'm feeling up for it, although I'll need a nap first or else it will surely put me to sleep.  This will be good, because I really and truly don't remember what the heck this movie was about, either.  I'll be sure to let you know when I find out.


  1. I'll comment more later, but AOTC is all about Anakin being creepy and stalkerish with Padme. Just warning you. NO idea how she fell for him. Even in TPM I was like he's way too young for her to be falling for him even at a later date. Way too young. But guess it's the reverse of what her daughter did with Han. :) But geez, it looks like way more than ten years between Anakin and Padme.

    1. As Yoda might say..."To Amara, you Attack of the Clones you should not!!" ;)

      It gets a LOT worse. Just make sure you have something to throw up in before you start.

    2. I'm already almost through with it, too late! But ugh, so true, no way would any normal woman fall for a guy like that, let alone a beautiful and supposedly intelligent and accomplished one. Aside from the stalker vibe, he starts off as just being a whiny child about how Obi Wan won't listen and let him do stuff and wah, wah, wah. It's really kind of astonishing how terrible this love story is and how forced when compared with Han and Leia who had so much chemistry and just made so much sense.

      Padme is only 5 years older than Anakin, though. Or are you just using the 10 as an exaggeration? I agree they seem far apart in many ways.

    3. I was exaggerating. :) But he is SOOOO young in TPM, it looks like ten years. Honestly, I don't know how Padme isn't up on abuse charges or something like that. He looks like such a young kid it really makes her look like she's robbing the cradle.

    4. It really is creepy. What I don't get is after PM Ani and Padme part ways and don't see each other for 10 years...he is ten years old at this point. When AOTC starts up and he's chatting to Obi Wan about her it sounds as though he's been lusting after her the whole time. Would a ten year old boy come away from that with those kind of feelings? Absolutely not! Ten year old boys don't think like that. So I just find that really creepy.

  2. Zyra, allow me to applaud you on your capacity to take on self abuse. I haven't the stomach for it.

    I'm with Amara. Anakin as an Immaculate Conception? Hell, I had trouble with the Virgin Mary back in catechism classes. If Shmi has no idea how she got pregnant, she should be out looking for the last guy she was with who slipped a roofie into her drink.

    Political intrigue can be very exciting, but in none of the prequels was it even remotely interesting. The only scene I like in any of them, and I mean all three of them, was Yoda in ROTS being a total badass with a lightsaber.

    Even my granddaughter prefers The Original. She has some scenes she likes in the prequels, but that's all she'll play; the originals she'll watch the entire movies. I asked her why and she said, I only like Yoda. I think everyone else is stupid. She's 8, so diplomacy is not her strong suit.

    Anakin was tres creepy and stalkerish. I'm echoing Amara here in saying that it's very unclear how Padme ever fell for him. Their overblown and flowery declarations of love are in sharp contrast to Han and Leia's affection for one another. They're smart, they're funny, and they don't need speeches to convey their feelings. They're not afraid to disagree with each other. They each have problem solving mentalities. They're completely, fallibly human and we love them for it.

    Padme is supposed to be a warrior. Since when does a warrior die from losing her will to live? I'd accept an explanation such as Vader Force strangling her, but I'm not buying her dying from a broken heart.

    Obi Wan gives it his best shot, but it's hard to put him with his older self played by Alec Guinness. That may be my fault. I think the actor who played him did what he could with the material given, but it doesn't improve the experience for me.

    Mace Windu is pretty cool, but name something where Samuel L Jackson hasn't been cool. He can't save the film, either.

    We bought IV, V and VI on Blu-Ray but not the prequels, and we probably never will.

    Something I did watch recently that I hadn't in like 2 decades was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Still don't care all that much for it (mostly due to Kate Capshaw), but there were some redeeming moments, and I'd forgotten how natural Harrison Ford seemed about working with a child. A lot of adult actors, when interacting with kids, seem to overdo it. Mr. Ford was perfectly at ease. And yeah, there's the biceps...

    1. I've always had a soft spot for Temple of Doom, in spite of Willie's screaming. I'm not sure why. For a while in my teens it was, oddly, my favorite of the three. He definitely worked well with the kid.

      I have to disagree on Obi Wan/Ewan McGregor. I thought he was absolutely perfectly cast and actually seems like a young Alec Guinness to me. Watch some of the scenes side by side, he sounds like him, too. He's the only one to me that feels like the character as opposed to someone trying to force out the awful dialog to be that character.

      I bought all 6 because you had to buy all 6 to get the most special features/bonus discs. And there are some really good special features.

    2. I agree on Temple of Doom. I tend to prefer it as well. The Last Crusade, not so much. Really not a big fan of Elsa. I'd rather hear Willie scream.

      Ooo, that bonus disc is awesome. So funny! I think I started watching How I Met Your Mother because of the clips on that disc. Love the Robot Chicken parts. Still need to watch the Family Guy parodies though.

    3. Last Crusade used to be, by far, my least favorite. Odd since it was the first one I actually got to go see in the theater (or actually drive-in, now that I remember right). But it has grown on me a LOT in more recent years. I can't stand Elsa, for sure. I hate her more than Willie, and not just because she's actually a bad guy. Also weird is that she looks a lot older but she was only like 21 when they made that. Anyway, I love the interaction between Indy and his dad. I thought that was a really cool element to add and it gave Indy even more depth as a character, allowed us to see another side of him. The entire tank chase scene is also pretty darn awesome, and I look at that when I'm watching the ridiculousness of the chase through the jungle in Crystal Skull and see how better technology is ruining movies! I've come to the conclusion that I really love all 3 original Indy movies for different reasons.

      I haven't even watched the spoof stuff, just the deleted scenes and commentary from the OT. I do need to sit down and go through all of this stuff.

    4. Geez, I tried to leave some comments and it kept deleting them. Boo.

      Indy with his dad is pretty darn funny. And the jungle scenes were pretty bad in Crystal Skull. Very fake looking. But Indy and Marion in the truck? Priceless. I should use that line on my husband - "It's not my fault you can't keep up." ;)

      The spoofs are really funny. Vader calling the Emperor to tell him the Death Star had been destroyed in Robot Chicken was fabulous. I about busted a gut.

    5. Ladies, I know exactly why we all have a soft spot for Temple of has more bare chested Indy than the other 3 and he looks buffer too, plus he gets all hot and sweaty a lot. And that can't be a bad thing ;)

      And that Robot Chicken scene is insanely funny, I love it!

  3. It's weird because this train wreck was on TV tonight. They've just starting showing the six movies, with one each week. I had no desire to watch it, and watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the next channel instead, and that was much better.

    So what's wrong with this film? Where do I start? It's easier the say what's good about it, which isn't much...the final lightsaber battle is pretty cool, and the pod racing is good fun, but other than that. Oddly when I first saw it I didn't hate it immediately, I actually didn't know what to think. It was a few hours later when I'd had time to absorb it's true awfulness that it suddenly hit me, and it was like, OMG, did that suck of what? And it really did. Don't think I've ever been so disappointed in anything in my entire life.

    Zyra, are you trying to torture yourself on purpose? Lol, watching the prequels is pretty sadistic ;)

    1. It is sadistic, isn't it? I don't know what's come over me. I'm especially bored, really. Just seemed like it was finally time to watch them. And pod-racing isn't the worst thing to watch. Or lightsabers. The music is really good, too.

    2. The pod racing is pretty neat. And music is awesome. Bored? Lol, come to my house. I have plenty to do. :)

  4. Anyone who watches all three prequels in one sitting will never have to buy drinks again.

  5. I have now made it through Episode II and will write that up later. Ugh, so much wasted potential. Sadly it will probably be at least another week before I can get to Episode III, because I know that one has at least a few moments I did, in fact, genuinely like. It didn't make up for all of the other crap, but it still makes it much less painful than these other two to sit through.

  6. Episode 2 marks the first and only time I walked out of a movie theater. I'm going to let you guess the scene. ;-)

  7. Was it where Anakin said, you have too. Grown more beautiful. ? Because I gagged a bit on that one.

  8. The Star Wars marathon wasn't on Spike TV for the last holiday weekend (4th of July) but they had Indiana Jones marathon instead. But now everybody can do their own marathons with the blu-rays instead.