(a discussion on ImpishIdea led me to digging out these old posts [orig posted on 9/2/7, enjoy some nostalgia!)
Yeah, this might be dated, but watching it again the other day I was overcome with just how bad the SW prequels were. I can’t stand it any more, I have to do my part to ‘fix’ these things. Now normally I’d just plug this section into the beginning of the change but there was just so much within episode I…
1) Jar Jar Binks.
2) Jake Loyd – no offense kid, but the role of “pre-Darth Vader shouldn’t have gone to ANYONE under the age of 16. Not even Haley Joel Osment
4) A planet ELECTED a girl to be in charge who’s barely old enough to vote for herself? They deserve to be taken over.
5) So… a kid with NO space combat experience manages to get inside the “big bad” ship and blow it up from within but NONE of the experienced space pilots thought of trying to infiltrate it like Ani did?
6) Hey Qui–gon, offer something else up for Ms. Skywalker like… yourself.
7) Ok, opening crawl. NOBODY UNDERSTANDS! Yes background knowledge is nice but when you make a movie, it should be understandable to everyone watching the movie without seeking any information beyond the theater. Now later, if people leave and seek out more of the back story, yes your tale should reward them. Take the original SW as a perfect example. We’re told “the galactic senate has been dissolved”. The viewers hearing and seeing this don’t need to know how it was dissolved, it’s procedural rules, etc etc, they just understand that a government body which epitomizes democracy has been removed. Upon further research into the SW mythos, they will learn about Palpatine and his rise to power and so forth, but it’s not ESSENTIAL to enjoying the movie or following the plot. As soon as the movie starts with Phantom Menace, you’re confused and have to go look up “government: a galactic history” in order to get it. Why exactly is a “trade franchise” such a big deal? Why blockade Naboo? It just goes on and on…
8) What sort of palace build their reactor rooms with absolutely no safety railings? Maybe it was OSHA that was blockading the planet.
9) The people are starving and dying? We see no sign of that. Also… it will take a LONG time for people to starve to death.
10) What is the purpose of a hallway which is only passable at random times? (watch it, the energy there turns on and off inconsistently)
11) Ummm… gungans vs droids? Let’s all explain how army battles work. See, there is group X which wants something that group Z has. If group Z does not agree to give it to them, then X decides they will beat up Z until they get what they want. So they march off toward the cities of Z with their clubs and brass knuckles etc. Group Z figures this out, so they send out some of their own to stop X by beating the tar out of them first. Eventually the two groups will meet, and battle. Now, a big part of war is trying to get the fight to occur at a location which is advantageous to your group but not the other (see: 300). What was the point of all that? Merely to point out that there is no reason for the gungan/droid army conflicts. If the gungans are marching against the driods, when they stop in the middle of the fields… well there’s no reason for the droid army to fly out and meet them, especially since not only would city combat be more advantageous for the droids, but would also allow them to use the Naboo as human shields. Assuming then that the droid army is heading out to attack the gungans. Why in the world do the gungans stop in the middle of a large field when their “vehicles” (beasts of burdens) and tech would be of much better use in a heavy swamp area where the driods would be at more of a disadvantage. Oh wait… the gungans are a race of idiots (they appointed Jar Jar as a general), question withdrawn.
12) So, in episode 3, Anakin attempt to jump over Obi-wan and gets all his limbs sliced off as a result. In episode 1, Obi-wan accomplishes a similar but MUCH more difficult jump over Darth Maul but is not injured at all. What happened to those legendary “jedi reflexes” we hear so much about? Heck what happened to normal reflexes? (hey Maul, just HOLD your lightsaber out and he’ll just into it)
13) Finally, it was just too bloated. Nothing falls apart more than a movie that is trying to be epic. Look at the first SW where there are a grand total of 2.5-3 locations. Tatooine, Death Star interior, Death Star Exterior. In fact if you step back and analyze the movie from a cold tally, one realizes that SW:A New Hope was almost stagnant in how little the characters “move” anywhere. Yet it still feels epic and the viewer is swept up in the story. Compare that with A Phantom Menace where the characters go to Naboo (and a lot of areas around there) then to Tatooine, to Corescant and finally back to Naboo (not to mention a space battle). By episode one’s attempt to “be” epic, it fails (save for the battle between the Jedi).
But in order to be fair, I will leave a link to what went right with episode one.
Now how could it be better…
Now that I’ve gone over how The Phantom Menace went wrong, how could it be improved? Well first, we have to lay down some ground rules. Some may say that “hindsight is 20/20” and “oh it’s easy to do this now that the other two are out.” They make a good point, so I’m going try and hold myself to these rules:
- We know about the GOOD three SW movies and we want the story to end where they begin. Thus while we have no idea of what may happen in episodes 2 & 3, we know what MUST happen between them. (Anakin becomes Darth Vader, the empire arises, the death star is built…)
- A lot has been mentioned and brought up in the canonical “expanded universe” of SW. We’ll try to keep those in mind, but thse movies are not going to be enslaved by them.
- The same places and actors should be kept unless they simply HAVE to be recast or dropped or trimmed.
Now then, let’s look at an overview/outline of how it could have been… (this is not meant to be a litteral script)
Opening Backstory: It’s a rough time for the galatic republic as rumors and reports of corruption run rampant and many question their membership within the governing body. On the planet Naboo, the people preparing to vote for their galatic senator must choose between one who advocates reform for the republic and another who advocates succession. As election day approaches, the republic sends two Jedi knights to oversee the election and process and uncover who’s behind the recent assasination attempts on the queen’s life.
Here we introduce a large capital ship coming into orbit over Naboo with none other than Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan who find that the Trade Federation is also in the system. The Viceroy (one of the more vocal supporters of succession) is present to also ensure that the vote is fair
and no one cheats (especially the opposing side). The Jedi find themselves unable to refuse the viceroy without complicating matters so they agree and they all head down to the planet (in a shuttle) to meet with the queen (an older woman in her 30s or 40s, NOT Natalie Portman).
There they learn that the queen’s vote carries signficant weight in the election, such that if the popular vote is extremely close, her’s alone can decide it. But if she’s killed before the populace can elect a new monarch, then the election is decided on popular vote alone. While talking, Obi-Wan sense and deflects another assassination attempt. The Jedi agree to stay and protect the queen until the election passes along with several of the Trade Federation’s elite clone troopers (to ensure that the queen’s decision isn’t unfairly influenced).
That night Qui-Gon gets a call from an old associate named Solo (Han’s father or grandfather [check continuity] as played by Bruce Campbell or Nathan Fillon). He’s come across some evidence related to the matter at hand and is willing to sell it to Qui-Gon at a reasonable fee. However he’s not going to just hand over the info in the middle of the fire (so to speak) and demands that Qui-Gon come and get it from him at an out of the way planet called Taatonie. Despite Obi-Wan’s misgivings, QG brings the queen and the viceroy to the ship and they all head for the desert world. (Leading to one of Qui’s most famous lines: “I told them we had to get something for the election. So what I said to them was true… from a certain point of view.”)
When they reach their destination, Qui-Gon takes a shuttle craft down along with the Queen’s handmaiden (this IS Natalie Portman as Padme, her presence is justified with the queen’s line: “I wish to see what a world without the republic is like. She will be my eyes in my stead.”) While Obi-wan is left aboard to guard the queen and make sure the viceroy doesn’t do anything underhanded. The 2 of them find Solo at an out of the way restaurant where he’s talking with a young man (16+) whom he introduces as Anakin Skywalker (who of course has obvious eyes for Padme). As the boy is about to leave, Solo tosses him a part. The throw is wide but the part lands in Anakin’s hand through a clear instinctual use of the force. Qui-gon senses this and watches the boy walk away, using the force to pickpocket an unsuspecting passerby. After a bit of rambling and introduction (during which QG was studying AS), Solo produces the data chip and says half of his fee gets it, the other half gets the hard evidence he’s stashed on his ship. QG agrees and they arrange to meet after a big event tomorrow during which “Anakin’s going to make me very rich.”
They part ways and QG decides to find out more about the boy they just met. Wandering around, they come across Watto (who’s design should probably change some) who offers them parts (show Anakin sitting admist a pile of junk) or service (several women parade out). QG wants neither and offers to buy the boy (“And my mom” -anakin keeps interjecting). Of course, he has no currency to speak of so he wagers a bet: His shuttle craft (not worth 2 slaves) and Padme (despite her objections) for the boy and his mother in tomorrow’s pod race. With gradditude (and a crush on Padme) Anakin invites the two of them to stay with him and his mom for the night.
That night, character development. QG determines that Anakin has far too good of a mastery of the force for having never been trained. Anakin shows Padme this old astromech droid he found and is patching up. Brushing away the dirt, it’s revealed the droid’s number is R2-D2.
Next day, the race begins. 3 laps, something happens to anakin on each lap.
Lap 1) Has trouble starting the pod, has to rig a hot fix to get going.
Lap 2) Takes a suicidal shortcut which hasn’t been navigated (without death) for several decades.
Lap 3) The race is close between Selbulba and Anakin with the two of them trying to ram the other off course. At one point Anakin gets so frustrated he turns to Selbulba, glaring. Suddenly the other racers veers off, clawing at his throat (as if he’s being choked…), this leads Anakin to win.
Much celebration, Solo swings by and congrats young Skywalker and he gives QG the evidence he promised.
Everyone (including mom) heads back to the ship, and they head to Corscant to present what they’ve learned to the senate. But as they leave, Darth Maul’s ship de-cloaks and attaches to theirs. On board, Anakin and Padme are talking while he finishes up R2 when Darth Maul attacks. Anakin actually defends himself with just his tools (and some force powers) until QG and OW show up. As they fight, something goes wrong with the ship and Anakin is ordered to the control room. The jedi fight, eventually ending up where the Queen and Viceroy are…
In the control room, Anakin finds the ship’s pilots slaughtered and a lot of the control destoryed. Padme give him a pep talk and the two start work on regaining control.
Jedi fight continues, QG eventually sacrificing himself to save the queen.
Anakin manages to rig up a patchy control panel as the ship drops out of hyperspace, heading right at corsecant.
OW fights Darth Maul until the ship bucks (throwing them) which gives Maul a chance to escape. OW pursues but is too late so he goes to the control room to find Anakin at the helm, trying to keep them all from dying. And he succeeds.
On the planet, the Queen and Viceroy head to the senate while OW and anakin go to the jedi temple. The evidence was destroyed in the fight/crash but the Queen says that she will honor the life of the jedi that died to save her and encourage the people to stay with the republic. At the temple, Yoda and Co note Anakin’s skills but Yoda is hesitant. OW not only points out that Anakin might be the “choosen one”, but is also growing skilled in the force on his own. Does the council want to risk a talented and powerful individual loose? Not under their control?
Movie wrap up, Palpatine has won election on Naboo and OW has become a full-fleged Jedi and appointed the mentor of Skywalker. Anakin and Padme share a moment before they part ways.