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Identity Crisis: Is The Phantom Menace the best Star Wars movie?

So is there like a new Star Wars trailer or something?  Pfft, whatever!  If it’s not Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace I don’t care!  I’m kidding of course…at least I think I am.  See, I co-host a podcast with my friend Chris called The Episode One Podcast, where we talk about the first episodes of TV shows.  For our opening bit, I think the podcast is about Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace and become a Phantom Menace mega fan (who can’t stand Darth Maul) and almost always begin to talk about something Phantom Menace related until Chris corrects me, and then we talk about the show we watched (example – on our 13 Reasons Why episode, I had 13 reasons why The Phantom Menace is the greatest sci-fi movie of all time.  If you’re curious about the show give us a listen, you can find us wherever you get your podcasts, including here and then for iTunes here).  The truth is I’ve only seen the Phantom Menace once, way back when it first came out, and other than an awesome lightsaber fight and Darth Maul being cool I thought the movie was at best meh.  But then a few months ago I was at Disneyland on the Star Wars ride, and we got the version that features Jar Jar.  When Jar Jar came on the screen, I found myself clapping – what is going on?!  Am I starting to believe my lie?  Am I just REALLY committed to comedy?  Was the movie really great all this time and I’ve only just now realized it?  After much soul searching I determined there was only one way to find out – I had to rewatch the movie.  Only THEN will I know for certain!  Below you’ll find my live thoughts from the rewatch, along with my final determination.  May the force be with me.

*Right out of the gate this movie’s got me thinking with the opening crawl.  So when WAS Star Wars exactly?  You know the words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away.”  What are we talking in Earth years?  Is this BC?  

*Turmoil AND Taxation – oh no!  Two of the three deadly T’s!

*The Jedi’s in this movie have the best hair.  Just look at Qui-Gon’s luscious locks!  Obi-Wan’s is clearly a work in progress.  In fact, I think the hair is in fact the Jedi trials.  Obi-Wan is still an apprentice because his gorgeous mane is still growing in. 

*”Be mindful of the living force.” – words to live by.

*Didn’t you see the scroll?  The Jedi are peaceful!

*Cool battle droids, WAY cooler than stormtroopers.  Plus, STORMtroopers are only really effective in bad weather. #drumroll

*Qui-Gon’s a match for anything!

*Amidala!  She looks bored in this early portion.

*I think the audio’s bad, I’m having trouble hearing some characters.

*Jar Jar!  This movie just earned a bonus star!

*Who would banish Jar Jar (I mean besides Star Wars fans and most of Earth’s population)?  Boo! (And shame on you – you know who you are!)

*Obi-Wan got promoted because he successfully dodged Jar Jar’s ears.

*Jar Jar is a highly skilled diver.  Come to Earth Jar Jar, we got some gold medals ready for you!

*Do Jedis have utility belts?  Batman’s not going to like this!

*Jar Jar sure says “How rude” a lot, which is seemingly a ripoff from Stephanie Tanner from Full House.  HOWEVER, since Star Wars is from a long time ago, Stephanie Tanner is in fact the one who stole “how rude” from Jar Jar.

*Qui-Gon just saved Jar Jar – just when I think he can’t get any awesomer.

*The Force = GPS.

*I think Qui-Gon just Vulcan nerve pinched Jar Jar.  But again, under “long time ago” rules, Star Trek ripped off the Qui-Gon nerve pinch.

*What a beard by Amidala’s advisor!

*I spotted Natalie Portman.  Side note, I just invented a new game called “Where’s Natalie Portman?”  It’s pretty much “Where’s Waldo” except you try and find Natalie Portman.

*Coruscant should be called Croissant.

*SIGH, it’s our first Darth Maul scene. “Look at me, I can stand with my arms crossed, oooh!”

*Padme and Jar Jar have great chemistry.

*Anakin!!  YES!

*Love at first sight re: Padme and Anakin! #Padmakin

*A queen’s wardrobe should go for a lot in theory.

*Anakin’s midi-chlorian count is higher than Yoda’s cause he’s way cooler.  

*Tip for all you pool owners, don’t forget to check your chlorian levels.

*“Look at my pretty bracelet” – Darth Maul (this guy again!)

*The Darth Maul theme is so lame!

*There wouldn’t be iPads if not for The Phantom Menace, so you’re welcome!

*Wait, are those Tuscan raiders or Oakland Raiders fans?  I genuinely can’t tell.

*Anakin’s a way better driver than Vin Diesel because Vin’s never had sand people shoot at him.  Sadly, there will never be a Fast and Furious/Phantom Menace crossover because Vin knows he can’t beat Anakin.

*Is there school in Star Wars?

*Darth Maul’s such a dweeb, for his “search” for Padme and company he just stood in the same spot the whole time and only found them by dumb luck.

*All the stuff with Palpatine mirrors current times.

*These Senate scenes are like watching CSPAN in space – LOVE IT!

*Seemingly, Amidala put Darth Sidious’s rise to power in motion with her no confidence vote in the Supreme Chancellor, but in truth she saved the universe from a far greater threat because Supreme Chancellor Valorum = Zod.

*Anakin’s too old?!  YOU’RE TOO OLD!

*Of course Jar Jar saves the day (if you’re wondering what part I’m talking about, it’s all the parts).

*YES!  Midi-chlorians explained!

*If the situation’s so dire why are they just sending two Jedi?

*So how long has Keira Knightley been subbing for Natalie Portman?  Was that Keira Knightley in Black Swan?  What about the Thor movies?  Has Natalie Portman been in any movies or have they all been Keira Knightley?

*General Jar Jar – YES!  Finally someone recognizes Jar Jar’s brilliance!

*There was a walking and talking scene where the Viceroy is talking to Darth Sidious’s hologram and the hologram was moving backwards.  Turns out it was a droid moving him, but I was really hoping Sidious was walking backwards in whatever room he was actually in so he could keep up.

*Was Anakin supposed to go with everybody or was he just being Anakin (aka AWESOME)?

*Wait, so you can’t shoot through the Gungan’s force field but you can just walk through it?  Are force fields not droid resistant?

*”Oooh, look at my double edged lightsaber, I’m so cool!”  Actually, that is kind of cool.  Alright Darth Maul, you finally earned your first kudos.

*Shouldn’t a Jedi have gone with Amidala?

*Jar Jar is a great improv fighter.  Droid stuck to his foot?  No problem!

*This lightsaber fight is phenomenal!  Maybe I was wrong about Darth Maul.

*Jar Jar saves the day – again!

*Who else meditates in the in the middle of a fight?  Qui Gon is the coolest!


*Not so tough without your double edged light saber are you, jerk!

*I really needed that scene of Anakin saving the day for my soul.


*Since Obi-Wan killed Darth Stupid (THANKS FOR THAT BY THE WAY), that’s the equivalent of the trials I guess.

*If you’re so worried about Anakin you train him Yoda!

*Did they have to burn Qui-Gon’s magnificent hair?

*Is Natalie Portman wearing her Black Swan outfit at the end?  Is Black Swan in canon?

FINAL VERDICT – well, this movie is exactly like I remember it – ONE OF THE GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME!  Far and away the best of the Star Wars franchise, the only thing that holds this back from being THE BEST MOVIE of all time is Darth Maul and his big stupid jerkness.  Despite him, this movie still gets an unprecedented million star rating!  Agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll catch you next time!

Steve Waldinger
I write comedy & comics! See also where I co-create live improvised comics, &, the podcast I co-host! Find me on Twitter and Instagram - @stevewaldinger

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