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Fun with Franchises: Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Part I — “So Many Racist Aliens So Far”

Today we continue with another entry in our Fun with Franchises series, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Oh, that’s right… we’ve reached the prequels.

In case you don’t know how this works — a while back, I decided to rank my favorite Disney movies and rank my favorite James Bond movies. And the Disney ones were mostly straight synopses and not too much fun, but when I got to Bond, I enlisted the help of my friend Colin (whose blog is TokyoRemix.com. Fuck yeah, promotion!), who knows everything about the Bond franchise that I do not, for those articles, and along the way, learned how to have fun with it. And, by the end of the Bond articles, we were having so much fun that I said, “Man, we have to do this again with other stuff.” Because I spent about a straight month and a half putting together those articles. That’s how much time and effort actually goes into something like that. And not once did it feel like work. It was so much fun that I knew, as long as we were doing it for comedy purposes and able to riff off of each other — we could do pretty much any film and it would work.

And very quickly, the first ones you come up with are the major franchises, because those are not only the most fun, but also the most universally known. Everyone’s gonna understand all the jokes we make (well… most of them. Some of them might be limited to three people) about them. So that’s what we’re doing. And if you’re gonna have fun with franchises, it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t franchise it. Also, just so we’re clear, this is all for parody. We’re just messing with them because we love them.

And that’s Fun with Franchises. Right now, we’re doing the Star Wars franchise, and today is the first part of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I really hope you’re ready for this.

Star Wars - Title Card

Star Wars The Phantom Menace - Title Card

I’m just gonna start out by saying this – the best part of this movie is its poster.

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Colin:

What’s up next? The Phantom Menace? Oh, I’m just gonna make it rain doo doo up in this bitch. Here you go guys. I’ll tell you right the fuck now that we’re going to phone this one in, and it’s still going to be more fun than most of the shit we’ve done. Actually, who knows? Maybe we won’t be phoning this one in. Maybe it only feels that way because that’s what Lucas did. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to wait til Sunday to hear how I feel about this chuck of excrement? But yes, I love that poster.

Honestly, if anything was phoned in, it was me with the original trilogy. I had nothing to talk about with those. These — oh, just you fucking wait and see what we did. Just wait til you see what we did with this PART.

That said, let’s tear into this motherfucker.

Provided by the usual suspects.

20th Century Fox Logo - Star Wars

Lucasfilm Logo - Star Wars

And that damn title card again.

Star Wars - A long time ago in a galaxy far far away

Colin:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Way to steal from the originals, fuckwad. Oh, I’m joking. That’s actually appropriate. I’m just in attack mode. Dial it back.

Can you sense how I’ve been waiting for this to happen? That first trilogy was just WORK to get through on the way to this.

I wish they updated it to, “A longer time ago from last time in a galaxy far, far away…”

But anyway, time for another segment of, “Let’s analyze the title scroll.” Or whatever it’s supposed to be called. Whatever.

Colin:

Already I need to drop the disclaimer again: I’ve watched the Plinkett reviews of the original trilogy probably DOZENS of times, since I throw them on in the background sometimes while I’m doing stuff. I found them entertaining and insightful, and while I don’t agree with all of his analysis, I thought most of it was pretty spot-on. I’m going to do my best to not just echo everything he said, because that’s both unoriginal and unfair – however, just because he said something doesn’t mean I won’t cover it at all or at least acknowledge it. He covered just about EVERYTHING, so if I avoided the points he made, I’d be left with nothing.

I barely remember anything. So if I cover something he did, it’s probably coincidental. Since most of the stuff I do remember, I’ve actively avoided talking about.

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“Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.”

Well, we start all right. “Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic.” That’s where this is supposed to start. There’s a Republic, and it’s in turmoil, leading to the Empire that we saw. And turmoil is a buzz word like those old titles. It’s starting off all right.

“The taxation of trade routes…” … wait, what the fuck is this? Trade routes? What does that have to do with turmoil? This isn’t a buzz word. This isn’t exciting.

“To outlying star systems…” Wait, so it’s not even the major systems? That’s the turmoil? Remember when this is what led to World War I? Outlying trade routes? What the fuck?

So you’re basically telling me that the path that led to a Galactic Empire started with a fucking trade dispute in outlying star systems? Not even full on trade disruption? I can get if someone took over the routes and did something major. They’re literally just in “dispute.”

Remember when these titles had words like, “terror” and “evil” and “secrets plans” and “vile gangster”?

We have “taxation,” “trade routes,” “dispute.” Not a strong way to begin.

Colin:

Fucking TRADE ROUTES? I was an econ major, so I’m actually kind of interested in trade routes. Is it like triangular trade? I guess since space is 3D, it’d be like pyramidal trade, or whatever. But who else is going to be interested in that? What happened to the pulp novel feel to it? I really can’t believe we’re resuming this tale after 16 years with a dispute over trade route taxation. Can it be ANYTHING else? I guess they didn’t go the easy route with religious differences, but trade routes? Really?

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“Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.”

“Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships…”

Let’s just take a moment to realize — in what fucking universe (I guess… this one) will a blockade of battleships stop a dispute?

Also… “hoping”? How about, “Trade routes are in dispute, the Republic is hanging by a thread, this is the final nail in the coffin, and these motherfuckers are trying to control shit and undermine them”? Don’t say hoping. That’s not gonna get anyone interested.

Also — “deadly battleships.” This is a term that works in the original trilogy titles, but here, it stands out in a negative way. Because — why do you need to say they’re deadly? Why are they deadly? Is it possible to have a blockade of non deadly battleships?

“The greedy Trade Federation…”

That’s your word? Greedy? These titles are supposed to be about good and evil. Greedy isn’t either. Han Solo was greedy when we met him. This isn’t exciting. You hear greedy and you literally don’t know what side the Trade Federation is on. Are they greedy because they’re trying to prevent free trade and are charging too much in the name of the Republic? Or are they greedy because they’re a special interest group and are trying to privatize trade? This doesn’t tell us anything. It doesn’t spell out what’s going to happen, it’s just making things convoluted before we even begin. Who the fuck is following this right now? I’ve already tuned out if I’m watching this in 1999 because I can’t make heads or tails of what this is.

“…has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.”

Why? Why this planet? If it’s a small planet, why would you do that? This seems like some Cold War shit. Like, “Oh, we’re pissed, and we’re in a holding pattern, so there!” And they literally went and picked on the smallest rock in the pile just to make a statement. If you wanted to do something, wouldn’t you stop shipping to a major planet? What’s this gonna do? Is the worry that this’ll end up like Hitler, where they just sort of let him do shit and figure that’ll get it to stop? If you’re reading this, you’re not locked into what’s happening, you’re asking questions. “What’s Naboo? Why are they blocking trade there? Is the Trade Federation good or bad? Why is a trade dispute important? Why am I watching this? Why do I want to keep watching? I’m like eleven, what does this have to do with Star Wars? Is there a gun nearby?”

Remember the other title scrolls? Empire. Rebels. Secret plans. Battles. Death Star. Restore order. We got it. Simple.

What the fuck is this?

Colin:

Confused already. Why does stopping all shipping to a planet that has only marginal influence in the Senate (considering how many systems are represented) do ANYTHING to repeal the tax measures? I even went and looked it up, and the best explanation available is that the Trade Federation had been the sole merchant of Naboo’s plasma (which is what’s being harvested in the huge power room thing where the final lightsaber duel happens) and were given them a raw deal, so when the Naboo protested, the Trade Federation responded with the blockade to set them in line…and also to “intimidate” the Galactic Senate into repealing the tax law. Still confused. Why should the Senate give a fuck? Even one fuck? I think George is just putting words in rows and hoping it works out.

The planet CORE-rupt.

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“While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict…”

Congress? Debates? Seriously. We’re already gone. Why are you making this worse? These titles are about action, not inaction.

Also, why is the Chancellor secretly dispatching the Jedi? Shouldn’t he be openly doing it? It seems like the Jedi are the U.N. of this galaxy. They keep the peace, and don’t really factor into any kind of politics. So why wouldn’t you say, “All right, shit’s going down, I’m sending these impartial people to deal with it”? Isn’t that your out? If there’s war or something on the brink in the Middle East, if the president says, “We’re sending peacekeepers to go find a diplomatic solution,” isn’t that better than secretly sending people to go stop it? What happens if they do? How do you explain that? You’re potentially creating a bigger shitstorm by doing it underhanded like this. Makes no sense.

Colin:

So basically, we’re told that there’s a conflict. Okay. The only important thing we need to know is that the Senate is bickering, so two Jedi Knights have been asked to handle it. It’s in writing, they’ve been dispatched to “settle the conflict.” Just so we’re clear.

This whole thing is crazy confusing, and the one thing we can take out of it is — this isn’t what the titles should be, and again represents the rest of the film. They’re not exciting, they don’t get you into the plot (while also being representative of what that plot is), and you’re left scratching your head more than anything.

A complete fail for opening titles, and I think we all recognize this.

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We open on a small ship in space. Already this opening sucks compared to the first one.

Colin:

I was hoping for a ship to enter from above the shot, but I guess I’ll have to watch this piece of shit instead. We pan around, and see that the ship is heading to a bunch of other ships around a planet. Gonna go ahead and assume that’s the blockade around Naboo.

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This is the blockade. Is this all around the entire planet, or could they just… go around the other side?

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“Captain.”

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“Yes, sir.”

Look at that – two lines in and already a woman has spoken. Somebody got the message.

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Apparently the Jedi ambassadors want to board a ship.

Colin:

What messed up accent is this? Is that racist? I wanna feel like that was racist.

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“Yes, of course. As you know, our blockade is perfectly legal. And we’d be happy to receive the ambassadors.”

Wait, what? What the fuck is that? “Yes, of course we’ll talk to the ambassadors. Don’t forget what we’re doing is legal!” Why would you say that? If you have to say something you’re doing is legal, it’s not. Or it’s barely, according to whatever legal loophole definition you’re using.

Put it this way – you’re parked in a parking garage, walk back to your car, and a cop is standing next to it. And he politely asks you to move your car because they need to tow the car next to you. And you say, “That’s perfectly fine, officer. By the way, all that stuff I have in my trunk is perfectly legal.” Don’t you think that’s gonna come off as mildly suspicious to him? Maybe just a little? Already I’m questioning this movie. That line of dialogue is completely unnecessary and sticks out like a dinosaur in an opera house.

Colin:

Mental note: Dinosaur Opera.

So basically what we know right now from the overly complicated title scroll – the Galactic Republic has started taxing trade routes to smaller, outlying planets and systems. The Trade Federation is pissed. I’m guessing this is because they make more money when the trade isn’t taxed. It’s kind of like running liquor and having to pay off some dirty cops. You just want to kill the cops and keep all the money for yourself. So the Trade Federation sets up a bunch of battleships outside the planet Naboo – for no reason in particular. At this point, we have no idea why it’s Naboo. I guess because even Hitler started somewhere. And the Republic is upset about this, so they send two Jedi as ambassadors to go talk to the Trade Federation.

Got all that? Right. Completely simple, and perfectly comprehensible for a bunch of nine year olds (who are clearly the target demo for this film).

This whole situation just reeks of North Korea. They do some crazy shit, and we send people to be like, “Calm yo tits,’ and they just start screaming nonsense in the middle of every other sentence.

Palpatine is basically Kim Jong-Un, is what I’m getting at.

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What would this blockade look like in real life? Like, with people? A bunch of armed soldiers just chilling? What does a blockade do 24/7 when they’re just sitting there?

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Droids. Not Stormtroopers. I get why that is from a narrative perspective, but it’s certainly not helping this film have the personality the last three did, since at least there most of the stuff was practical effects and real people.

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Colin:

At this point, we’re like, “Yes! Ships! Space stations! Droids! Docking bays! All things that we like!”

See, I look at it and go, “Why aren’t these real sets?” It’s so annoying.

Colin:

Kinda confused about why the droids are all just chilling there. Especially the ones that are fighter aircraft that can walk around. Why are you wasting your energy walking around an otherwise empty docking bay doing fuck all? Wouldn’t you tuck them away to be ready for an invasion or whatever? They are, after all, equipment.

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Why do they have their hoods up? Don’t you take your hoods off when inside as a sign of respect?

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They look like they’re about to double team this thing.

Colin:

“My master will be with you shortly.” Just in case it wasn’t clear that female C-3PO – like all droids – are slaves.

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Of course. It’s Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor. We have to reveal them because people will go, “Hey!” when they see them.

Or maybe George didn’t get the memo that nobody really knew who these two were in 1999. The most you’re gonna get is, “Hey, it’s Oskar Schindler (or Jean Valjean, since that was his most recent role before this) and… some guy!” (Because, let’s face it… how big do you really think Velvet Goldmine and Trainspotting were to mainstream America in 1999?)

That’s Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, by the way. Just to get it out there, because I’m unsure as to which way this movie is gonna go – if it’s gonna provide “Dick in the Ass” exposition and blatantly say their names the way that first Harry Potter scene did, or if they’re just not gonna say them at all. Could go either way at this point.

Oh, also… there’s dialogue here:

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

I hate that line. So, so much. Because why would you bust it out immediately? It seems like you’re doing everything in your power to make your fan base get really excited. It’s like if a new Bond movie threw out the “Bond. James Bond” line as the first thing he spoke. It’s gonna get the requisite applause and cheers and shit, but it just rings as, “Really? You couldn’t work it into the plot a little better?”

It’s funny that they want people to be crazy excited now, because they’ll be sitting on their hands in an hour.

Also – what does he have a bad feeling about? You’re a fucking ambassador and a Jedi. You sound like a political correspondent. “I’m deeply concerned that this blockade situation will escalate into full blown intergalactic war.”

What’s worse is that Wolf Blitzer sounds like a Star Wars name.

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And then Obi-Wan talks about sensing some shit in the future, and he mentions Yoda, and Qui-Gon Gin & Tonic spouts some spiritual Force nonsense bullshit to him. It’s completely stupid, inane dialogue that doesn’t even need to be there. It’s shit like, “Maintain your concentration, don’t think of stuff in the future at the expense of the here and now.” It’s basically like an action movie nowadays having a character who only talks in motivational, self-help dialogue. Seriously – Qui-Gives a Shit? Shut the fuck up.

Colin:

See, here’s Qui-Gon already breaking with Yoda a bit and prioritizing the Living Force. He’s all about instinct and living in the moment, whereas Yoda’s more about prophecy and the context of time. I’ve discussed this in the older articles when we talked about what the Force really constitutes, and here’s an instance where if you pay attention to the dialogue, the schools of thought surrounding it are fleshed out a bit. This is a rare moment when I’ll give Lucas some credit for something.

For the record, I still think he can go fuck himself.

He also mentions something called a “padawan,” which I’m assuming is some sort of Thai hooker.

Apparently it means Obi-Wan is a Jedi in training. Which is funny, since in the next movie, we’re gonna see full-on Jedi kids, and they’re gonna say that Anakin is too old to be taught to be a Jedi at age like, ten. So what does that mean for Obi-Wan? He went through Jedi college and still isn’t a Jedi? He has to get a Ph.D in Jedi before he can actually be one? That’s pretty fucked up, that they teach you from preschool and then you have to go follow around another guy doing vague shit before you can officially be a Jedi? It sounds like an internship.

But it’s just weird to me that Obi-Wan is still a student. How did he get to this level? Did he age out of Jedi school? Did he have to write a dissertation?

“I think I am ready to be a Jedi because I learned a lot of important things in the Jedi Academy and am ready to continue my training. There were many interesting classes and a lot of them taught me very important lessons that I think a lot of people should learn before they become a Jedi. One of the classes was about learning how to understand the Force and it was very difficult because it is sometimes hard to concentrate on the Force and I had to work very hard on learning how to do this but eventually I learned how to concentrate with the help of my professors and it helped me become a better student.” — Obiwan

Colin:

Oh no.

Technically Yoda is Swamp Thing here.

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Any respect I had for Obi-Wan Kenobi went out the window the second I saw that fucking rattail.

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It’s hilarious to see a Jedi go from talking Force nonsense to talking heavy politics. This writing is hilariously bad.

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The droid tells them (whoever they are) that the ambassadors are Jedi. Because a droid knows that sort of thing off-hand.

Colin:

We’re not really positive they’re Jedi. I mean, we are, but they aren’t. Your droid told you, but what would have happened if we’d listened to C-3PO every time he chimed in with some bullshit?

Drink!

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“How do you know?”

“Because they Jedi Mind Tricked me into swallowing.”

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They don’t want nothing to do with Jedi, so they send the droid back in.

Isn’t it great that we literally have no idea who the fuck these people are?

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They wonder why it’s taking so long. Qui-Gon Gimlet senses “an unusual amount of fear for something as trivial as this trade dispute.”

EVEN THE MAIN CHARACTERS ARE CALLING IT TRIVIAL! WHY THE FUCK ARE WE STARTING A TRILOGY WITH IT THEN?!!!

Honestly, I’d rather have watched George Lucas jerk off for the first three minutes and finish all over the camera lens than what we’ve just witnessed.

Colin:

Really? Cause now I’m imagining it, and…

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Motherfucker, you NEVER take a drink from someone like that. Ever. Especially when you sense “an unusual amount of fear.”

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You fucking moron. YOU’RE TRAINING HIM!

You both deserve to die.

At least sniff it first.

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Has there ever been an instance of a droid giving a roofie to someone before?

What about chicks with dicks? How prevalent is the “this chick has a dick” revelation in this universe?

♫ “I met her in a bar down in Coruscant, where she got really drunk and talked just like Master Yoda / Yo-yo-yo-yo-Yoda…” ♫

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Apparently someone named Sidious is behind this.

Colin:

Yeah, Darth Sidious! We like him. He evil.

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Anyone who can differentiate between voices knows exactly who this is.

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So he’s like, “Well… Jedi. I guess that means we’re gonna have to do shit sooner than expected.”

Now… this could be a really nice movie, since oftentimes, these things do start with stuff we don’t understand, and political maneuverings, and then people figure it out and have to go stop them. But that doesn’t happen. Weesa get some other stuff instead.

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“My lord… is that… legal?”

His mouth movements aren’t even close to what he’s saying. Not even a little bit.

Also… legal? YOU’RE BLOCKING TRADE WITH THE THREAT OF BATTLESHIPS!

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Sidious also tells them to kill the Jedi.

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Well that’s not good.

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Silly wabbit… women have no place in this franchise.

Colin:

Gotta say…bad idea shooting the ship FIRST. Kill the ones who can sense danger first, and THEN kill the idiot chauffeurs chilling in the garage.

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Now THAT’S HOW YOU REACT TO SHIT!

I mean… a little zero to sixty, but that is the proper response. Nuh uh – I don’t fucks with this. I’m killing anything that moves.

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Gas? Really?

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I love that they hold their breath. Yes… the entire room is filling up with gas, and you think you can just hold your breath and get out of it. Motherfuckers, did you SEE the holocaust?

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“They must be dead by now. Destroy what’s left of them.”

Wait, what?

“Oh, we filled the entire room with nerve gas, so they’re probably all dead. So you twelve just go in there and shoot them a bunch of times to make sure.”

Why not just leave them there for like an hour and then go do that? YOUR PLAN IS FLAWED!

Colin:

Plinkett had it dead on here. How bout you leave the door closed for like FOUR HOURS? There’s no reason to be opening this door right now.

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Why are you all standing there? You’re droids. You have no ability to breath in poison. It’s as if you’re waiting for them to come out. Why not go in there and blow their fucking heads off?

Colin:

These droid voices are irritating. They’re like 8-bit. This is something I brought up in A New Hope, when Leia programs R2 with what looks like a floppy disk. This universe is awash with unimaginably complex technology, and their droids are still monotone? As inventive and original as this universe is, you gave them monotone robot voices to identify them as droids? As if we didn’t get that from their metal bodies and hinged joints.

Don’t tell me it’s because that’s what we’d expect from a robot – nothing in this universe is made to be what we expect. Later on we see how they have built in senses of humor and their own personality, which seems like more of a stretch than a normal voice. The one that sees the lightsabers appear in this scene says, “Uh oh,” which is decidedly un-droid-like. This feels stupid to me. Even Siri’s dumb ass does a better job at variable pitch than this.

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And yet… with all the dumb shit, this happens. And this is really great stuff, tension-wise. You expect it to be them, and it’s the droid. Great. I often wonder how such good things could be mixed with the horrible stuff that abounds in these movies.

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“Check it out, corporal. We’ll cover you.”

REALLY?!!

The guy also says “Roger roger.” Which either makes him the droid Jimmy Two Times or it makes that droid’s name Roger.

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What if your dick glowed like that?

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“Uh oh – blast them!”

What the fuck? “Uh oh”?

Just say “oops” and get out of here!

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Liam Neeson fights like a badass, though.

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“What is, going on down there?”

Totally a Chinaman.

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Now’s a good time to ask – why would you send like ten droids to go kill two Jedi? Wouldn’t you leave them locked in there, then get EVERYONE to come in?

You know… I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they’re Trade Federation people, and they don’t know anything about killing people. (Yeah, right…) I’ll blame it on them being pawns in Sidious’s game, and them being ill-equipped for the high stakes shit that’s going down. This often happens when a villain has their lackeys do shit. Especially if it’s like, a terrorist having a businessman kill Bond or something. The businessman never knows how to do things correctly.

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Why are these people just sitting there? Do they have any idea what’s going on? What is this?

Also, are they father and son? Is this actually a Kim Jong-Il/Un situation?

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I like how the one on the right knows what’s happening. He’s like, “These are Jedi, son. We’re already dead.”

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The smartest thing Lucas did was make the lightsabers lighter.

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I also like how they act as baseball bats.

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Really? That works? Why didn’t you do that in the GAS ROOM, then?

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Fuck. That was badass.

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And he knows it, too.

Colin:

It’s badass to us now. Wait til we get to Revenge of the Sith. “Give it a rest with the droid chopping, already!”

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You have three layers of doors? Then why the fuck did you only close one after you said, “We will not survive this?” At least be consistent. Either resign yourself to death or barricade the fuck out of it and go out fighting. What the fuck?

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This looks like how your throat feels when you swallow a piece of potato chip that’s still jagged. You guys know what I’m talking about.

Colin:

I do like the idea of them cutting through the blast doors. We’ve only ever seen lightsabers chop through stuff cleanly, so it’s interesting to see what its limits really are. The part that I don’t quite get is when they close the second layer and Qui-Gon goes deeper into the door, he looks like he’s channeling Force energy into it or something. What’s that all about? Does that get explained?

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“That will hold them.”

Way to tell us that it won’t.

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Jesus, Obi-Wan. He’s like the Willy Mays Hayes of Jedi.

(Imagine Wesley Snipes as Obi-Wan.)

(And then Omar Epps in the sequel.)

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This scene was how I got “The Talk.”

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So, now light sabers can melt doors. In thirty years, all they do is just destroy shit. Okay.

Colin:

Yeah, this is what I was talking about. Is he channeling energy or something? What the hell is this?

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Destroyer droids.

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And they have shield generators. Boy, that could have been useful thirty years from now.

Colin:

Wait, couldn’t the lightsaber go through the shield? No?

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“It’s a stand-off. Let’s go.”

(Obi-Wan looks like a ginger.)

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WHAT THE FUCK?

Colin:

Holy shit, how did they disappear like that? They actually just disapparated.

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I like these things.

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These screens are pretty tremendous.

We also find out that apparently they’ve gone into the ventilation shaft. (And they know this, because…? Weren’t their transmissions down like three minutes ago?)

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Tally ho!

Also, BLATANT CGI. I said this a lot in the Potter articles… they still haven’t figured out how to make wide shot CGI look realistic. They never move like real people and never look like real people.

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They have a secret army.

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Kinda great how you can keep an army like this secret.

Colin:

Qui-Gon says they need to warn the Naboo about the invasion, but note how later on the control ship has to be destroyed. Couldn’t they just stay up here where the bosses are and stop the invasion altogether? You know, maybe Obi-Wan could sneak around the huge enemy space station, avoiding detection and deactivating the controls to a certain system that would save everyone? Sound familiar?

They were just seconds away from breaking into the bridge before the Droidekas showed up, and they’ve made it this far on sneaking. I suggest you stay up here rather than following the action. Solve the problem at the source, which is what happens later anyway.

They also split up and stow aboard separate ships. Again, zero reasons for doing this, about 50 reasons not to.

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And it’s Queen Amidala.

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But not really, because this is Keira Knightley. In a way I’m both upset and glad that she wasn’t actually Amidala. I wouldn’t wish these prequels upon anybody.

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It’s also funny that she’s clearly like 14 and trying to sound like a 20 year old.

(Or, wait, is that Natalie? I can’t tell which one is Natalie and which isn’t. Judging from the jawline, this might be Natalie.)

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I also love how they’re such shifty Chinamen. “We would never go behind your back and do illegal shit,” meanwhile just under frame they’re transporting white women to be sold into slavery.

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That’s an awesome way to end a conversation. Dissolve into a puddle. This is some Alex Mack shit.

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Rivendell?

Colin:

I was just about to say how much Naboo and its capital of Theed looks like a ripoff of Dinotopia, and when I went to find a picture I came across other allegations. Is it a coincidence that George Lucas was in talks to make a Dinotopia movie in 1994, the year he started the script for The Phantom Menace? I think not. But whatever, it looks nice.

I don’t trust anyone who takes five years to finish a script.

Well… all right… three years, with the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t change it after he wrote it.

If you take that long to write something, and its not because of outside factors (like other jobs, a small child, or severe alcoholism) that it takes that long, chances are, your script is shit.

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I like the set design, but it doesn’t look as cool to me as the 70s sets did.

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Senator Palpatine. Which is actually nice… it doesn’t sound like him at all. I wonder what it would have been like for me, watching these back in the day and actually knowing and caring about what happened. If I’d have made the connection between Palpatine and the Emperor. I’ve already told you guys I’ve only seen these movies like three times at most (this one I’ve seen like three times, and the other two prequel ones I’ve only seen once), so I don’t even know if the Palpatine reveal is supposed to be a thing or not.

Though isn’t it obvious that we first see him in hologram? Has anyone not evil been in hologram before?

Colin:

Senator Palpatine! His name wasn’t mentioned in the original trilogy. So I’m sure he’s a nice guy. And don’t forget that the first person we ever see in a hologram is Obi-Wan.

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It’s kind of scary how similar Keira and Natalie look while in the makeup. I know the trivia about their mothers not being able to tell them apart, but damn.

Colin:

That’s cute. She says she won’t condone a course of action that will lead them to war. Meanwhile, here comes fucking D-Day from space. Man the pillboxes, Hans.

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The Prequels: Now with More Blacks and Women.

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What happened to giant ships slowly coming into frame? Is it because we’re not Empire yet? This is weak.

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Ten minutes in and we’re already invading.

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Two things: one, I love that you can have pocket-sized transmissions. And two – it totally looks like he’s wearing a do rag.

Colin:

Haha! Tiny, racist Asian holograms! Is it Chlistmas so soon?

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Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint say the Jedi aren’t on the ship.

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“If they’re down here, sir, we’ll find them.”

That sounds like they stole it from some famous movie. Either that or it’s just a very common line.

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Hooray, deforestation!

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Oh no, you’re displacing all the CG animals!

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David Attenborough:

The Wild Neeson senses an attack.

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Oh, there he is.

Colin:

And the movie’s ruined.

Remember what he said when we first saw Cho?

This is the exact opposite.

(Fourth movie both times, too.)

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“Uh oh, it’s the po-po. I ain’t do it!”

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This is kinda like when a politician kisses a black baby on the campaign trail.

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How many of you were hoping he got Dennis Hopper’d right there?

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Colin:

Why didn’t you just lie flat in the first place? These things float, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

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He’s Jar Jar Binks, the greatest character in the history of Star Wars.

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Heesa stay. Heesa serve Massa Qui-Gon. “It is in the cards.”

So, for the record – racist on two levels.

Colin:

I hate to tell you, Jar Jar – wait, no I don’t. I’ll gladly tell you – but you are a moron and your gods are a lie.

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“Oh lawdy, they’s shootin’. Meesa not sign up for this shit!”

(I’m doing just what Lucas did, only I’m not pretending like it’s not what it is.)

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Don’t you wish he got headshotted right there?

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Look at Obi-Wan. He can’t believe this shit either.

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“Exsqueese me…”

To death, I hope.

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Jar Jar says the safest place is Gunga City, where he grew up. It is a “hidden city.”

It’s the Hood, isn’t it? He grew up in the Hood. And no one would come looking for a couple of Jedi in the Hood.

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Qui-Gon Gin Fizz asks Jar Jar to take them there. But Jar Jar says he can’t. He’s been banished.

It takes a special kind of person to not be wanted by the whites or the blacks.

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They basically then intimidate Jar Jar using his inferior intellect to make him take them.

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This is so racist.

Colin:

Not ten seconds ago you were trying to get this townie out of your face. Now you’re threatening him with torture and death if he doesn’t take you to his ancestral home. Yeah, I follow what’s going on here.

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Thesya going underwater.

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Is he doing a shot of whiskey before going underwater? Did this just get good?

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You gotta be fucking kidding me. I can only imagine the hardcore Star Wars people watching this in 1999 in the theater, crying and going, “Why, George? Why?”

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“Let’s put on these breathing devices we randomly have!”

Why the fuck would you randomly have that in your robes? Were you really expecting to be traveling underwater while on a diplomatic mission in the middle of space?

AND WHY DIDN’T YOU USE THEM FOR THE GAS?

Here’s another question – if you can hold your breath in during the time it takes for an entire room to fill with gas and people to assume you’re dead, why can’t you hold it during the time it takes to swim to this place?

What I really want to know is whether Lucas was unaware of these inconsistencies or was aware and didn’t give a shit.

As a writer, I truly can’t understand the thought process behind those breathing devices. When you write yourself to this point, you know they have to go underwater. So you go, “Well how are they gonna breath all the way there?” Which… all right, you go, “Well maybe they have some sort of breathing apparatuses or something.” Fine. I’ll accept that. But wouldn’t you then go, “Well why do they have them? I’ll probably have to explain why they have them and what they are. Maybe set it up earlier so it doesn’t come out of nowhere.” It amazes me that people have the ability to go, “Whatever, it doesn’t matter,” and just have shit happen out of nowhere.

Picture this – Spider-Man is fighting… whoever. It doesn’t matter. And his webs don’t affect whoever it is for whatever reason. And after having a ten minute fight, he just pulls a bazooka out from behind him from his suit and shoots the guy. Wouldn’t you go, “Where the fuck did he get that from and why does he have it?” This is basically the same thing. It’s not as much of a logic stretch, but these Jedi are wearing robes without many pockets. And they come from an order that’s about peace. They’re not the type to pack shit like Hermione with an undetectable extension charm. They have light sabers and that’s it. It makes absolutely no sense at all and it amazes me that Lucas is forcing his audience to make that logic jump. Especially considering the amount of logic jumps we’ve already had to make.

Shouldn’t having fifteen years to write these things make it so they’re not complete and utter messes?

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Right?

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Wouldn’t it be great if he got Chrissy Watkins’d right now?

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There’s some great stuff here, conceptually, but seriously… it needed a better writer. That’s pretty much what it comes down to.

Colin:

You can’t keep jack o’-lanterns lit underwater. Doesn’t work that way. Oh, that’s your city? Oh. Got it.

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This is like the underwater Cloud City.

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You just love throwing shit in front of the action, don’t you, George?

And this isn’t Méliès, either, so I don’t approve. Unless I find out you actually put a fish tank in front of that camera, this isn’t okay.

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Wait, so how do those doors work? Why have we cut away from them so fast? I have so many questions.

I feel like in the old trilogy, Lucas would have stopped and had a line explaining what those things were. This is a guy that, in the second scene of the first movie, put in two people being like, “Nah, don’t shoot that escape pod. There are no humans on it.” How have we come so far where he introduces walls that somehow keep out water and have complete living conditions inside and just moves past it like it’s nothing?

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Sex must be really awkward down here.

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I like how he gets three steps inside before someone’s like, “You! You were banned!” Seriously? Are they really keeping track of the banned people that closely? Do they have that little going on in this place?

Colin:

It’s an enormous city and they all recognize him as he walks in. Either he’s a famous child murderer, or by sheer coincidence, everyone in the vicinity happens to know him personally.

He also says “Yousa in Big doo-doo this time.”

That might be the subtitle for the entire prequel trilogy, right there.

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Also, why are you riding those things indoors? That’s hardly sanitary.

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Let’s not even pretend like we’re not thinking it.

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If a franchise goes long enough, eventually there will be a council in it.

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You gotta be real cocksure to assume that position.

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My favorite thing about this scene is how white-black the guy is. (You know what I’m talking about.)

Also, why does he click when he talks? HOW FUCKING RACIST ARE YOU, GEORGE?

Colin:

So many racist aliens so far.

That might be a subtitle.

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Anyway, King Joffe Joffer says he doesn’t think the war above ground will affect them at all. This ain’t their beef.

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“You and the Naboo form a symbiont circle. What happens to one of your will affect the other.”

I – I’m tapped out. We’re fifteen minutes in and I’m completely tapped out on this dialogue.

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So Qui-Gon Julep uses the Jedi Mind Trick on him. He makes him give them transport out of there. It’s amazing to me that no one ever questions this, when someone completely changes their mind out of nowhere, right after the other dude performed a weird hand motion.

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He tells them the only way they’re gonna get there is through the planet core.

He says planet core like a douche.

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I can’t tell who I’m more upset at right now, Qui-Gon for being disrespectful and not bowing, or Obi-Wan for being a bitch and bowing.

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Qui-Gon also bargains for Jar Jar using the “life debt” excuse.

What kind of vig do you think is on a life debt IOU?

Colin:

His life belongs to Qui Gon now! More slavery!

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So here we are, bursting through the amniotic sac…

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That thing looks like a manta ray who just got married.

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Why is Qui-Gon just chilling in the back seat like that? He looks high as shit.

Oh, and we find out why Jar Jar was banished. He got caught trying to run away, and then refused to go in the hot box.

Colin:

I can’t understand anything of what Jar Jar is saying. Probably for the better, really.

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Colin:

I didn’t see any submarine droids. I think we’re good down here.

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Jesus. This is like Super Mario 64.

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“There’s always a bigger fish.”

He’s so stoned. This is great.

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OH SHIT, son. That’s what’s kraken.

Colin:

So, whatever that thing was, it was like 500 feet tall. They’ve only been out of the city for like 45 seconds. How does this thing not rise from the not-so-deep depths and go all Godzilla on the Gungans? Gungazilla?

I also hate how Qui Gon makes no reaction. He’s just like, “Oh, there’s a huge fish trying to eat us. Oh well. Never mind, it got eaten by something bigger. Hooray.”

THERE IS NOT ALWAYS A BIGGER FISH. ONE FISH IS THE BIGGEST AND I HOPE IT FUCKING EATS YOU.

I wish I could make all that a subtitle.

But you do raise an interesting point…. they are only like 45 seconds out of the city, and so far… what, fish, bigger fish, bigger… thing, right?

So if that third kraken thing exists only like twenty miles out of the city, what the fuck is lurking further down, why don’t we see it, and why aren’t these things coming out and killing everybody?

And why don’t we see them traveling through the planet core? I don’t know about you, but the term PLANET CORE brings to mind an interesting fucking journey, one that Lucas completely glosses over.

Remember when “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was an entire BOOK?! This planet core journey is three fish and a fucking wipe.

Also, how is that journey the quickest route? There’s no way that journey is the quickest.

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Love this space station design, by the way. That’s some old school Atlantean design.

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Palpatine says that Amidala is an idiot. She’ll be easy to control.

It’s because she’s a woman, right? She’s a woman and women don’t know how to run shit. That’s what you’re really trying to say, isn’t it? Go ahead, I know. I know what you’re thinking.

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LOOK AT THE LITTLY BABY DROIDS!

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This is fucking ridiculous. Jar Jar asks where they’re going (which… isn’t he supposed to be showing them the way?), and Qui-Gon says, “The Force will show us the way.” (Where we’re going… we don’t need GPS.)

I’m not gonna even get into how fucking STUPID that line is, because I will have a fucking aneurysm.

Colin:

The Force will guide you? Fuck you. You’re just taking random turns. I hope the Force guides a lightsaber through this guy’s torso.

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This is great. The ship starts flashing and an alarm goes off (out of nowhere, as they always do. Remember in Chamber of Secrets? The fucking car flies from London to Scotland and dodges a train and then chooses the exact moment of their arrival to be like, “Nah… I ain’t working no more”), and Obi-Wan goes, “We’re losing power.”

How the fuck do you know? You don’t speak Gungan. There’s no way those controls are in English. Maybe that’s the alarm that a giant ass fucking sea snake is about to come and eat you. Or did that not go off last time? Seriously… I’m starting to wonder if Lucas was baked out of his mind while writing these things, because this is ridiculous. Maybe you said the secret word. You don’t say, “We’re losing power” before we see you lose power.

Also, I get how obstacles like this are the key to action movies – you need to have some unexpected obstacle occur in order for there to be excitement and such – but most of the ones I’ve seen in this movie so far carry no weight or consequences whatsoever. They just happen.

Colin:

Maybe it’s like the Gungan version of On-Star, where if you have an accident or something, they shut off your engine remotely to prevent anything else happening. I’m sure that’s what it is.

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“Good thing my Jedi skills include hotwiring cars!”

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The upper hand?

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Obi-Wan’s spent some time in some unnamed neighborhoods in an unnamed city in Southern California.

Also, I love how Jar Jar freaks the fuck out during this. Which is why everyone hates him. You needed to have done one of two things with him – either make him like this, and don’t make him black, so we can just hate him and it’s not also racist, or make him real black. Don’t make him be banished for being clumsy. Make it something like, “My grandmamma will WHOOP MY ASS if she finds out I dropped out of college.” I can buy that. Ain’t nobody wanna fuck with their grandmamma.

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Sure, just steal one of Steven’s shots.

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Starting to breach the trademarks of other space-oriented franchises too, huh?

Bucarkoo Banzai’s not gonna be happy.

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Seriously, though, this is ridiculous. I hope they live short and flounder.

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How come these things can’t breach the walls of the Gungan city? I have so may questions, and this movie isn’t giving me time to start addressing any of them. Colin and I have some good discussions to get into for this one.

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WHY ARE YOU SO GODDAMN STONED, QUI-GON?

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Is that the Cave of Wonders?

While we’re on the subject… if he chose a different profession, would that make him Obi-GYN?

Colin:

I want to point out, before we wipe onto the droid army approaching Theed, that this scene served absolutely NO purpose than to repeat the same scenario they were in before. Uh-oh! A big fish wants to eat us! Not so fast, here’s a bigger fish! We dodged them both, and now we continue our journey neither better nor worse off than we were at the beginning of the scene. What’s with this fairy tale-like repetition? Is Lucas autistic? Do you smell toast?

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“Hey man, look, there’s a Chipotle, let’s stop for some shit. I’m hungry as fuck, man.”

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So I guess that’s where we’ll END PART I, as we all go to get some Chipotle.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is Part II, and wanting that MOTHERFUCKING TREATY SIGNED!

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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