May the Force be with you: My twenty years and twenty days too late review of Episode I-III

On Dec 30, 2019, I flew back to Portland, after a lovely break with my family in Germany. During my 12 hour flight to SF, I wanted to make my Disney+ subscription pay for itself, and also to fill my knowledge gaps, so watched Star Wars episode 1-3 (aka prequel trilogy, consisting of “The Phantom Menace”, “Attack of the Clones”, “Revenge of the Sith”). They are truly awful movies, and I hope no one sends the die-hard Star Wars after me.

Here are my points of contention:

  • the hair. Obi-wan Kenobi and later Anakin sport hideous rat tails- those are awful in every galaxy, sorry, not sorry. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson, how could you do this?) should also fix his greasy mane, I mean, he is representing an organization! Padme’s weird hair accessoires are problematic on many levels, and her standing on her balcony curling her hair is something else.
  • Anakin was a snot from day one- everyone, including his mom, could have seen where this was going. Great job Liam Neeson Jedi, making the snotty boy leave the only corrective force in his life. You’re telling a kid already full of himself that he is special, and give him powers he can’t deal with and you’re surprised? (On that note, the phrase “there are heroes on both sides” appears in on of the prequel texts, CRINGE, but that is definitely not something we can fault Lucas for).
  • What is the deal with Anakin’s mom immaculate conception? Did someone with a 3rd grade understanding of Christianity and a fifth grade understanding of Nazi Germany/dictatorships write this?
  • Are the Jedis a California commune/fraternity or actual knights? All the council does is lounge around on bean bags, go “yeah, bad stuff is happwening, maybe send the pledge brother (aka Anakin) to check”. And how did Liam Neeson Jedi (yes, I’ll call him this from now on) not have the power to save Anakin’s mom? Where are the mind-tricks when you need them?
  • Gender: Yes, these are the movies that made Carrie Fisher (RIP you amazing hero) dance around in a golden bikini, but still. Padme moves from smart politician to pregnant woman standing on her balcony staring forlornly into the distance, on occasion curling or brushing her hair. When much-younger (what is the actual age difference between them? it’s kind of eeewww) boyfriend Anakin tells her how he slaughtered an entire people (“the sand-people”, yes, you read that right), because some of them killed his mom (who he left in the first place, because snot-head just had to be a Jedi), she shakes it off, saying “oh, we’re all just human”, kissy-kiss. I mean, who of us hasn’t committed the occasional genocide, because we were sad?
  • The subtle and not so subtle racism. Yes, Jar-Jar Binks is painful to watch, and there is nothing, nothing that justifies him, but there’s more!  I kept wondering what Darth Maul’s face reminded me of, and yes, his tattoos were apparently modeled after indigenous Brazilian tattoos. I am sure the tribes were asked beforehand and gave permission to use their designs. In Episode I, all the mean characters have “foreign” accents, the “good guys” speak a fake British stage accent (looking at you Ewan McGregor Wan Kenobi), or good old American English. I guess they were keeping with the Disney tradition. Padme wearing Japanese-style Kimonos and her various hairpieces made me feel uneasy. And I would also like to point out that the one Jedi who knows that Anakin may after all be bad news, is black Jedi Mace Windu. He saw it coming, called it, was ignored, and died early on (but at least they gave him some awesome fight scenes and a purple-colored light sabre).

There you have it, this is a rant rather than a review, and has nothing to do with IBD, but it had to get out there. It’s 20 years late, and I am sure it has all been said before. I saw all of the new films in the meantime, and like them better. Nazis on Ice! Ginger Boy vs. Emo Boy (who, if nothing else has good hair). Slightly problematic treatment of “blood-lines”, but whatever! Everyone hugging in the end! (was that a spoiler?)

In fact, watching Episode I-III and then follow with the recent ones, made me think of a lot of all of these think pieces that came out last month, about the first twenty years of the new millennium and how much has changed. I would like to think that movies like Ep. I-III won’t get made anymore, but I am not betting on it.

 

 

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