Star Wars: Phantom Menace opens 20 years ago

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by mmars982, May 20, 2019.

  1. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Here's the actual 2015 quote from Vanity Fair:

    “You go to make a movie and all you do is get criticized,” is how George explains why he stepped away from the world-famous franchise he created. “And it’s not much fun. You can’t experiment.”

    George Lucas Explains Why He's Done Directing Star Wars Movies

    So again: it wasn't about him being a terrible person -- that sounded fishy to me. He has definitely complained about his films being criticized, and I agree with that 100%. Lucas was already talking like this when I met him in 2004, but it was more along the lines of, "I've given up trying to satisfy the crazy fans, because all they're ever gonna do is just criticize what I do."
  2. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    I too remember reading that quote mentioned by @David Campbell in which Lucas lamented why he wouldn't make any more SW films "because all I do is get criticised and told what a terrible person you are"... or words very close to that, but don't ask me for a link, I'll be buggered if I can find it. It's a genuinely sad thing to read, that he literally gave up his life's work and legacy in part because of nasty people using and hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to attack him, his work, and even his family incessantly for years on end... who wouldn't want to get away from that???

    Despite some political cheapshots in that article, I have to say I agree with it's point; there is indeed an element of fandom - not just for SW, either - that has gotten so poisonously, mercilessly, viciously toxic beyond reason. Anything that doesn't meet their expectations, their fan theories, their own personal interpretations, or even their social/political views is immediately tarred and feathered with the creative talent involved ready to be burned at the stake as irredeemable heretics. What was done to poor Kelly Marie Tran was an utter disgrace, and that's not even mentioning the hell that the likes of Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best had to endure for years.

    I must have missed the so-called 'political agenda' in The Last Jedi, 'cause I don't remember seeing anything in there that would qualify as such, maybe that's just me (and for the record; I'm as conservative as it's possible to get; Genghis Khan is a tree-hugger compared to me, although my conservative views are my own personal beliefs, I'm actually very libertarian in practice)... I had problems with it because the story simply wasn't very good and the 'Leia Poppins' scene is the nadir of the entire franchise to date, but I didn't pick up on any so-called 'agenda' being pushed down my throat. There is lamentably plenty of that these days (and sadly, the MCU will be contributing to that if what I hear is correct, and they'll lose my dime if they do), but I never got it from that film...

    Geek culture used to be fun before it was mainstreamed and embraced by the studios and culture at large, now it's not only not fun anymore, much of it is just plain nasty and/or intolerably self-entitled without thought for the feelings of others... sign of the times, sadly...

    Still, looking forward to The Rise of Skywalker (more so if it's a three-hour film!) ... I know I stated here some time ago that I wouldn't go see it, but the hell with it, I started this thing, might as well finish it... ditto with the next Bond movie... after that, I'm done with SW and Bond, let's get some NEW ideas and franchises going...
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  3. David Campbell

    David Campbell Forum Resident

    Luray, Virginia
    Thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only person who remembers that quote. I wish I had bookmarked or screen shot it.

    You make an excellent point about Geek Culture being sort of mainstreamed. It's a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because the things people used to turn their nose up to and snicker at for people liking once they left their teens like comics,Star Trek,Star Wars etc, is becoming a larger communal experience that crosses all ages,races and social standings. It's cool to be able to see an Avengers movie make 3 billion dollars. However because of that you now see that same culture being dragged into the madness of things that didn't touch it before,like politics. And it's poisoning it.

    And I'm happy to see that you are excited to see IX. I'd wager there are more people like you who didn't like VIII who are still excited for IX. I remember leaving the theater disliking Episode II pretty intensely when it came out and I sorta felt burned out on Star Wars. When time came around for III I was stoked snd it ended up being one of my favorite theater going experiences of all time.
    The Hermit likes this.
  4. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Troy, MI, USA
    I think there can be a fine line of distinction here. Yes, there was a lot of awful vindictive thrown at the actors. This isn't new on the internet, by the way, it's just "louder" with the available social media platforms. Check out the rec.arts newsgroups going back to the 80's and you'll see the same stuff.

    The fine line comes into play where you have *any* criticism of the new franchise being "tarred and feathered" with claims of mysogny and racism. IE, there were critical reviews that picked apart the plot and story, that were themselves criticized for being racist and misogynist, for no other reason than being critical of the movie itself.

    Overall the new Star Wars films are middling at best. Mainly, they are wasting an opportunity of doing anything new and interesting. I was excited when I saw they were going to a casino planet in The Last Jedi, as I thought there would be some cool heist plot. But it ended up being yet another break-out-of-jail scene.

    I recently re-watched The Phantom Menace with my son, and it is simply terrible on all fronts. The story and plot don't make any sense. The characters are flat. The movie contradicts itself in several places. Pacing is off. Tone is off. BUT, there's that pod racing scene, which is something we haven't seen before in Star Wars. A race where the outcome actually has consequences to the plot. Something new! It would have been nice to see something new in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi.
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  5. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    I have to say that when I saw Episode II for the first time - early morning showing on opening day - I really enjoyed it; to the point that I saw it again that very same night... thought it was a real return to form after the dirge that was it's predecessor (despite seeing it seven times at the cinema, go figure!)... my opinion has changed over the last 17 years, and it's certainly not up there with any of the OT films as it currently exists, but it does have very real potential as a pretty good SW film if only it were 15 minutes shorter and much, much tighter and more concise in the edit... as I've said before; if you handed over the raw footage shot for that film to a brilliant editor - and maybe our own @Vidiot as colorist - you could put out a pretty darn good SW movie in all... the story was fine, the overall execution and rambling, unfocused, overlong final cut is what brought it down, ultimately (imho).
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I think Attack of the Clones had some good moments, and (although Lucas denied it) I think some of what was done was an effort to placate the worst criticisms of Phantom Menace. Again, while people are quick to criticize George Lucas, I have to say he allowed J.W. Rinzler to include quite a bit of negative information in the "making of" books on these films, and it's clear that it wasn't exactly smooth sailing behind the scenes on these films. I seem to recall there were no less than three reshoots on Phantom Menace, so I think they were aware there were some problems there.

    BTW, the single most amazing thing to me about Phantom Menace is a little tidbit very few people know about: they had a lot of problems with the bad acting of the kid, Jake Lloyd, who (in his defense) was inexperienced except for doing a couple of TV commercials and modeling prior to the film. As a result, there were issues where if there were two people in a scene with him, the other two actors might deliver great performances in the first 3 or 4 takes. But it might take the kid another 10-12-14 takes before he really knew his lines and could provide the results the director wanted. But the experienced actors might get tired and bored by that point, hurting their performances overall.

    As a result, Lucas and the editor hit upon a fascinating solution: when you look at some scenes, the characters on one side might be from take 3, but the character on the right might be from take 14... and yet it appears to be a single scene! They used "invisible effects" to blend all these images together, even going to the extent of using CG to move the actors' eyeline to the right direction. I was astonished when I heard this, because the tradition in Hollywood is just to keep shooting until you get one good take for all the actors. Lucas hit on a technical solution that, in one way of thinking, was efficient but still got the results he wanted.

    The movie still sucked, but man... the level of technology involved in the editing was on another level beyond anything I've ever seen before.
  7. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    When we had a break during the 2004 mastering sessions and George started talking to me about how "all the fans want to do is tear down my work and criticize me on the internet," he looked very sad and weary. And there was only 3 or 4 of us in the room, so this was not a public thing. I can remember thinking, "jesus h. christ, if even a world-famous guy like this who's completely changed filmmaking, a guy who has $10 billion dollars in the bank, and a wall-full of awards... if a guy like this can't be happy, what does that say for the rest of us?"

    The quote I provided (and the interview with Charlie Rose) was more along the lines of, "I'm tired and Star Wars needs younger people to make the rest of the films now," but he did admit the criticism over time had gotten to him. The term "toxic fandom" didn't exist 15 years ago, but certainly the concept existed. To me, if you don't like a film like Phantom Menace, just let it go -- don't hound the filmmakers for years and years and years afterwards and bombard them with criticisms like a rabid dog. Just move on to something else.

    J.K. Rowling has said the same thing, that there have been times she had to hire extra security because crazy fans want to debate her on things she's said and done or added to the Harry Potter canon and even threaten her and her family. Man, c'mon... this is the person who created the characters! The crazy fans think they're gonna win an argument with her? At some point, it turns into Misery, where the crazy fan is smashing your feet with a sledgehammer in order to force you to give them the stories the fans want, rather than the stories the writer wants to tell.
  8. Grunge Master

    Grunge Master 8 Bit Enthusiast

    Actually, he was also in Jingle All The Way before TPM, though admittedly I don't know how much he was in it as I've never seen it.
    One of my problems with TPM was the fact that the age difference between Anakin and Padme seemed too much, which made their romance seem a bit unbelievable.
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  9. David Campbell

    David Campbell Forum Resident

    Luray, Virginia
    Steven King was ahead of his time on that one.

    I could easily see the Geeks and Gamers guy on YouTube kidnapping Rian Johnson and tying him to a bed until he changed the Last Jedi...

    "No Rian, you will not have Luke toss away the WILL have him take it, look at it lovingly and immediately run off with Rey to save the day and take over this trilogy as the main hero again like ALL the fans want! "

    " that is like the most cliched and safe and boring thing I could do! I'm not doing it! Don't you want to see something more interesting that tries to do something new with the character?

    *Geeks and Gamers (who is strangely dressed like Bree Larson for some weird reason)starts screaming Kathy Bates style as he attacks Johnson with a sledgehammer*

    Misery II: Neckbeard boogaloo

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  10. Crimson jon

    Crimson jon Forum Resident

    A movie for kids with all the kid loving excitement of ...

    Long boring political scenes involving trade blockades and the Senate

    A monotone speaking queen who is easily manipulated by Palpatine by endless banter and earworms.
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  11. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Yes, the age difference was bizarre. If they had been 13 and 16 -- as it was sort of written -- I could see some mild interest there. 3-4 years' difference isn't so bad when you're 20, but it's huge when you're a teenager. If they were 8 and 16 respectively... that's a big problem.

    I won't tell you who told this to me, but one source conceded, "our biggest problem in Episode 3 is whether the audience can believe the romance between our principles [Anakin and Padme]." And a year later, after I saw the film, I realized I didn't buy into it and it did hurt the film. This is far beyond editing or color or VFX or anything else... it's a conceptual problem. I also never bought Padme abruptly dying after giving birth, which was just too convenient.
  12. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    I like Portman, but I just don’t think her acting chops were all there yet when she did those films. I thought she was terrible in the film Heat. Later on in her career she got there, but I think she was grossly miscast in these films considering they could have hired so many other girls. And there was zero chemistry between the two. I thought Anakin was fine, it just didn’t work when Portman was with him...imo of course!
  13. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    The unnamed person was Rick McCallum, right ;)...?

    When George wrote the initial rough draft of Episode I between November 1994 and February 1995 (with a revised version completed not long after), that draft had Anakin as a very mature and reflective 12-year-old which read so much better and would have worked even more so onscreen if Lucas had stuck with that, but he kept unnecessarily working on that story for another two years+ and by that time, it was mush, alas... if he'd brought in someone like Frank Darabont to work on the screenplay after that initial draft, not only would the film have been much better overall, it would have likely been released a whole year sooner.

    Michael Kasminski who wrote the definitive Secret History of Star Wars book also wrote this interesting article about that initial rough draft, and the kind of film Episode I could have been;

    The Secret History of Star Wars
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
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  14. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    No comment on who said it, but I think it was a very valid observation. You can say that about any film: if you're not invested in the characters, and if you don't buy the conflict they're going through, the whole film doesn't work. The chemistry of the actors, the chemistry, the dialogue, the editing, the directing... it's a very delicate formula for which there is no sure thing. What is tragic is that I've been on sets where about halfway through production, the director and producers realize it ain't working, but they're too far in at that point to stop. [It's rare when you have a situation like Back to the Future, where they fire the star and recast to solve the problem. In that case, it was a very, very smart decision.]

    I agree that Kaminski's book is eye-opening, and even though I thought I knew a lot about Star Wars, the "Secret History" book blew my mind. The fact that he pretty much had access to every draft of every script, and described what was originally done vs. what was ultimately changed... that's pretty amazing. The number one shocker for most people was that Lucas thought Anakin Skywalker was alive somewhere at the beginning of the original Star Wars film and that Darth Vader was a completely different character.

    Natalie Portman did eventually become a fine actress, at least when she has the right part. But they had zero chemistry together. I can't tell you why, but the whole thing just felt "false" to me.
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  15. David Campbell

    David Campbell Forum Resident

    Luray, Virginia
    Thanks for sharing...

    That initial Episode 1 script is noticably better and more focused. The dialogue is still attrocuous in places,but Anakin and Jar-Jar are better written and most importantly, Obi-Wan is the main character.

    As you said George should have given this rough draft to another screen writer for a second draft. This had so much potential at that stage.
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  16. I remember vividly the day I went to see The Phantom Menace. I was 25 at the time and was working as a tour guide in Northwestern Spain, right at the other side of the country of where I live. That meant living in hotel rooms for 9 months a year, no car, very little time off and if I wanted to go somewhere I was dependant of public transportation. The are where I was working comprises of 5 bays and small peninsulas from South to North.
    The hotel were I was staying at the week of the premiere didn't have a nearby big city so I could see TPM in good conditions. To get that I had to take a public bus, a boat to cross the bay (much faster than taking another bus) and a taxi to get to the shopping mall where the cinema was.
    The views of the Vigo bay with its three islands is outstanding, I love the place, I remember when I was in the boat crossing the bay I had the feeling that this evening nothing could go wrong, after all I was at the place I loved and on my way to watch a new Star Wars movie.
    When I left the cinema I was upset and in a very bad mood, just thinking, and these were my exact words from 20 years ago, "what a sh¡tt! mess George Lucas has made".
    Only on my way back on the boat again seeing the sunset behind the three island I relaxed again, forgot about the movies and enjoyed the views, but swearing not to watch it again. I haven't, I have the 3 BD's prequels BD, started to watch TPM on BD but I stopped it around 30 minutes from the beginning. I have fond memories of that evening mainly because I was young, living at the place I love (I hate living in Southern Spain) and enjoying the views, I don't want to mess with those memories by watching TPM.[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
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  17. David Campbell

    David Campbell Forum Resident

    Luray, Virginia
    Somewhat off topic, yet not,I found this video that mostly brilliantly lays out the problem with the "fandom menace" . The first 20 mins or so are gold. While I think this guy is a bit blind to the issues with TLJ,he properly puts this whole "_______ruined my Star Wars!" Nonsense in perspective.

    He also illustrates the borderline mental illness of some of the loudest voices of this 'movement'. It's entertaining in a "watching a terrible car accident" sort of way. You do wonder how some of these guys and gals are able to get up in the morning ,dress and feed themselves and make it to their jobs every day.

    I don't agree with everything, but his thesis in general ,which is it all happened before and will again and that these people need to chill out ,is more than compelling.
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