I was a child walking into that theater ten years ago. Leaving the theater, I was a man.
Okay, I’m overdoing it but seeing The Phantom Menace was a major movie moment for me. I was 12 (almost 13!) when it came out and I remember the day vividly. My dad wouldn’t let me go to the midnight screening (I mean, this isn’t Batman) so I had to round up my pals for a 3:15 screening. In the end, my friend Adam and I ventured into the theater ready to be amazed.
I disregarded the reviews. My step-mom put it best: “Sometimes people are just jealous of success”. That made sense to me. The critics were just jealous of George Lucas and his legions of fans! They yearned for his popularity! They were trying to bring him down! Motherfuckers.
Well, as it turns out, they were right. The Phantom Menace is a bad — though not terrible — movie. When compared to the original trilogy, it’s a silly, childish mess. Of course, being a child myself, I was in denial. I made excuses, I demanded repeat viewings, I just couldn’t admit that the movie was sub-par.
I felt conflicted emotions walking out of the theater. At the time, I thought I liked it. It had action, special effects, Natalie Portman! However, as time went by, I soon realized that the movie wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been. Although I wasn’t a Star Wars fanatic like some of my friends, I still felt their pain. People had been hyping up this movie my entire life and that was it? That’s what we’d all been waiting for?
It was a dropped ball for sure. There are so many reasons why it didn’t work: the reliance on special effects, the shoddy acting, the shoddy writing, the shoddy direction. Indeed, there was a general feeling of shoddiness throughout the film. And while it wasn’t the worst movie ever made it wasn’t the event film we all wanted. It just wasn’t…sigh…never mind.
Ten years ago today. Years and years of anticipation for those several hours. This milestone makes me feel old. It doesn’t feel like ten years. Maybe it’s because I rarely ever watch The Phantom Menace. I have no desire to see the beginnings of what may go down as the biggest letdown in history. However, as bad as TPM is, Attack of the Clones is far, far worse.
Regardless of how it’s considered these days, the films holds a place in all our hearts. We may not like it but it was a major event for us movie fans. It’s something we all have in common. We all remember our first viewing, or first reactions. We all hold it in the same regard and shudder whenever it’s mentioned.
And it’s very mention brings up the same thought in all our minds: God damn George Lucas.