Rewatching Star Wars Episode 1 – Part 2

Waiting for the fight!

I’m back on it, hopefully with enough time to finish off the Phantom Menace tonight.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the Pod Race is done, the ship’s repaired, Maul has been put off for now and they’re on their way

Padme and Anakin share a little moment and then here we are: Coruscant.  The entire planet is one big city.  Hope it’s got lots of parks otherwise where’s the oxygen coming from.

Ian McDiarmid’s Senator Palpatine is waiting for us with General Zod.  Sorry, wrong film.  There now follows a meeting with the Queen and then another meeting at the Jedi council and then yet another meeting of the Galactic Senate.  Things are starting to slow down and get a bit flabby here.  The political wrangling and machinations by Palpatine are interesting enough but they don’t have the strength to carry the film for the nearly 20 minutes before we head back to Naboo where we started.  One thing that came out of this for me is how hard the Jedi council were on young Anakin.

high_council_chamber

They’re really dismissive and unsympathetic.  He’s a little boy who’s just left his mother.  Of course he’d be afraid.  They go on at him about how much of a problem it is.  Maybe if they’d showed him a bit more love, things might have gone a bit better later on down the line.

In any case, we’re off back to Naboo.  The Queen has a plan to use the Gungans as cannon fodder in her suicide bid to regain control of her planet.  It doesn’t take her long to convince them to sign up.  They’re all inexplicably standing around in the forest too as that’s where they go when things go south.

There’s a scene that made me smile now where Sidious is talking to the Viceroy and his main dude, with Darth Maul standing next to them.  I was wondering what they all talked about before and after the call.  Is there “Sith small talk” or just a kind of awkward silence.  Maul’s arrived, the Viceroy and his crew are new in the Palace so they wouldn’t know where anything is.  So it’s not like they can break out the Jaffa Cakes and bond over tea.  Darth Maul looks kind of short next to the two Trade Federation types.  It diminishes his presence a little, I feel.  he reminds me of Willmer Cook, the hapless gunman in The Maltese Falcon. 

The Queen unveils her plan and , despite Qui Gon explaining the whole “Operation Gungan Shield” to her she persists.

The Viceroy and co. are still talking to Sidious but now they’re walking with some ridiculous walking projector.  Seriously, when would you use something like that?

We wipe off to the “Gungans in the Mist” moment from the trailer and the two armies face off.  I literally couldn’t care less about any of this.  I just want to get to the fight with Maul.

Back in the city, the Jedi and their party encounter literally hundreds of droids, none of whom seem able to hit ANYTHING with their weapons.  More catastrophically inept than Stormtroopers.

Back on the battlefield, things still haven’t started yet and I’m still bored.  Then the droids simply walk through the Gungans’ shield.  I mean what’s the point of the shield.  I’m getting annoyed now.  This all looks so fake as well.  I don’t care how much they spent on it.  Throw in comedy Jar Jar falling over and it gets even worse.

Back at the palace and we finally get a  couple of bars of Duel of the Fates as the doors open to reveal Maul ready for action.  This is more like it.  We get some decent action with blasters and Anakin getting his lasers on.  And we get the double sided lightsabre thingy which is still pretty impressive today.   In that first exchange there’s a couple of bits where he could easily have killed one or both of them, like when they both jump across a gap to him at the same time.  He could have just poked one of them and that would have been that.  Anyway, still good stuff with lots of flips and clashing noises that I never expected to hear again once I’d seen Return of the Jedi.  I thought I’d seen every lightsabre duel that would ever be filmed.  How wrong was I?

darth_maul_lightsaber_reveal

More battlefield nonsense and then we get some space action with Anakin being conveniently auto-piloted towards the droid control ship.  He is really young.  Could he even see over the controls?  In the Palace the Queen and her guards seemed to have climbed up many stairs as when they shoot out a window it reveals them to be high enough so that the place could have it’s own ‘moon door’.

Back with the duel, there’s some more kicking action.  I’m mightily impressed with the conditioning of Jedi Knights.  Obi-Wan falls almost a hundred feet and lands on his shoulder.  yet within seconds he’s back on his feet and ready for action.  We get the nice set up of the electric force doors that trap all three combatants and I like the way Maul paces up and down which contrasts with Qui Gon’s calm reflection time on his knees.  Nice moment!  We go back to the battlefield but I’m not even going there.  I can see the appeal to children but I’m definitely not feeling it.

Back with the duel and a slightly less child friendly moment as Qui Gon gets run through.  What a shame.  Liam Neeson plays a blinder and I would have liked to have seen more of him.  Who knows, maybe he comes back in Episode 8.  I’m sorry but Obi Wan is clearly ANGRY at this which would not impress the Jedi council.

On the battlefield the skinny Geth have subdued the Gungans and all looks bleak.  The Queen’s been kidnapped too.  There is a moment here where they shut some doors and they come down so fast.  What if you accidentally pressed that button while someone was under the door.  I wonder if it has a detector that stops it from shutting.  If it doesn’t then it could cut someone in half.  That’s a serious Health and Safety risk.

More sabre action and we get to see Obi Wan’s skills, even though he gets booted off the platform and is left clinging on by his fingernails.

Anakin has managed to land in just the right place to blow up the control ship and that all works out, then we get back to Obi Wan dangling.  He manages a nice little leap and, I guess because the film is already very long, Maul just kind of stands there looking confused while he cuts him in half.  What a  waste of a great enemy.  Despite being stabbed through the heart with a lightsabre, Qui Gon is able to manage a few last words.

There’s a bit of wrapping up to do along with a new Jedi approved haircut for Anakin at the end but that’s basically that.  I feel like the first half of this film was a lot better than the second.  The second half has only the lightsabre duel to offer anything gripping.  As great as it is, and the music that accompanies it helps, it’s just not enough.

Overall, I’m just a bit disappointed with this film.  It seems like there are some great ideas within it and some fabulous scenes but too far and few to make it great or make me want to watch it again any time soon.

Thanks for reading.  I hope this doesn’t come over too negative.  I don’t want to be the kind of person who slates other people’s work.  I wanted to like it more.  I just didn’t.

Richard

 

 

 

 

 

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