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The Definitive Evisceration of The Phantom Menace *NSFW* 629

Posted by samzenpus
from the meesa-completely-agree dept.
cowmix writes "When TPM came out ten years ago, its utter crappiness shocked me to the core and wounded a entire generation of geeks. My inner child had been abused and betrayed. I moped around, talking to no one, for almost two weeks. I couldn't bring myself to see #2 or #3, whatever they were called. Now, a decade later, comes Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Review, the ultimate, seven-part, seventy minute analysis of this mother of all train wrecks. Not only does it nail how the film blows, but tells us why. Time, apparently, does not heal all wounds." Or, if you prefer all 7 parts embedded in one page, you can check out slashfilm's aggregation.
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The Definitive Evisceration of The Phantom Menace *NSFW*

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:25PM (#30514800) Journal

    It probably took 10 years to do all of this.

    I didn't think The Phantom Menace was all that bad then, but now he's pointed out all the flaws in humorous manner.

    • by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:28PM (#30514834) Journal

      Time wounds all heels.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:41PM (#30514996)

      The Phantom Menace could have been fixed by 3 things...

      Older Skywalker (Lets get him in his late teens)
      No JarJar and/or no C3PO and R2D2 (way to many comedy characters)
      No Pod-Racing... 20 minutes about 1/3 of the movie about nothing.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:46PM (#30515084)

        I think JarJar could have been cool if he wasn't a complete klutz and was able to fight with capoeira, he could have kept his annoying traits and been a badass, and then everyone would have just thought well he's an alien.

      • by gnick (1211984) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:04PM (#30515326) Homepage

        Those three points violate rule #1 of sci-fi action for kids - Marketability outweighs quality.

        Older Skywalker (Lets get him in his late teens)

        Younger kids identify more and are responsible (indirectly) for many more toy sales.

        No JarJar and/or no C3PO and R2D2 (way to many comedy characters)

        Action figures.

        No Pod-Racing... 20 minutes about 1/3 of the movie about nothing.

        Video games.

        • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:28PM (#30515626)

          Q: So what is it that you do here?

          A: Merchandising! [youtube.com]

        • by sjbe (173966) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:36PM (#30515728)

          Those three points violate rule #1 of sci-fi action for kids - Marketability outweighs quality.

          Marketability is made much easier by having a good product.

          Older Skywalker (Lets get him in his late teens)

          Younger kids identify more and are responsible (indirectly) for many more toy sales.

          I've got a box full of the original Star Wars action figures that says the age of the kid has little to do with marketability. Furthermore, none of the other Star Wars movies featured a child so prominently and somehow they still managed to sell a galactic ass-load of merchandise.

          No JarJar and/or no C3PO and R2D2 (way to many comedy characters)

          Action figures.

          See previous response.

          No Pod-Racing... 20 minutes about 1/3 of the movie about nothing.

          Video games.

          You don't need pod racing to do a video game. Even if you do want to make it a video game you don't need 25 minutes of it where the plot advances nowhere and we have bad dialog and worse acting by the kid playing Anakin. They could have shown pod racing in about 2-5 minutes and you'd have your video game AND a better movie.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You're response is too intelligent to deserve a response. (and likely beyond the abilities of most movie executives to understand)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jitterman (987991)
          The first movies didn't suck like the last three, and Luke was in his late teens/very early 20's, yet *they* were incredibly successful from a marketing/toy/etc. perspective.
        • by Zalbik (308903) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:14PM (#30516182)

          No Pod-Racing... 20 minutes about 1/3 of the movie about nothing.

          Video games.

          Ahhh...that's why there are no video games based on any of the other star wars movies...lack of pod racing!

        • by Joe Tie. (567096) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:27PM (#30516358)
          Younger kids identify more and are responsible (indirectly) for many more toy sales.

          I'm not sure who said it first, but I think there's a lot of truth in the statement that no kid wants to be robin, they all want to be batman. As a kid, I recall always hating the "kid character". I never identified with him. Or, if I did, that was a bad thing. I didn't watch transformers, for example, to understanding of the young male viewpoint in a world with giant robots. I just wanted to be a giant robot who could shoot lazers. Or be a part of gi joe, not the dumbass kids they saved.
      • midichlorians (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:23PM (#30515562)

        A big problem for my enjoyment was the midichlorians, the microbes that supposedly give a person control over the Force.

        By making the Force scientifically explicable rather than mystical/magical, it changed the feeling of the story for me.

        • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

          by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:35PM (#30515702)
          I find your lack of faith... disturbing!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JDHannan (786636)
          I've always wondered why more people can't subscribe to the notion that midichlorians don't cause the Force, they're drawn to the force.  Like if someone had control over magnetism, you'd expect to find lots of iron on him... that doesn't mean that that iron caused the magnetism
          • Re:midichlorians (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BobMcD (601576) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:35PM (#30516446)

            I've always wondered why more people can't subscribe to the notion that midichlorians don't cause the Force, they're drawn to the force. Like if someone had control over magnetism, you'd expect to find lots of iron on him... that doesn't mean that that iron caused the magnetism

            Because that's simply a mechanism put there by your brain to help you maintain your sanity. You're making that up because it helps you feel better.

            What the Beardo actually said in the movie was:

            Anakin: “Master, Sir... I heard Yoda talking about midi-chlorians. I’ve been wondering: What are midi-chlorians?”
            Qui-Gon Jinn: “Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells”.
            Anakin: “They live inside me?”
            Qui-Gon Jinn: “Inside your cells, yes. And we are symbionts with them.”
            Anakin: “Symbionts?”
            Qui-Gon Jinn: “Life forms living together for mutual advantage. Without midi-chlorians, life could not exist and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll hear them speaking to you.”

            Maybe he's just delusional. There's little mention of this feature of the Force ever again. Perhaps he's uploading his test results to the Jedi temple, they're rolling their eyes, and playing along, but it doesn't really mean anything. Again, however, this goes outside the material provided and makes assumptions. Beardo certainly believes in a causal relationship, and we're never given any story reason to doubt him.

            Ergo, bad plot element.

            • Re:midichlorians (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jitterman (987991) on Monday December 21, 2009 @04:00PM (#30516720)

              Ergo, bad plot element.

              I think even Lucas realized this mis-step, which is precisely why the midi-whatsits were ignored in the other films.

              Further, it's a shame that on at least one more occasion (R2 having booster rockets is one example) Lucas introduced something that had no later historical reality (in the scope of his fictional universe).

              • Re:midichlorians (Score:5, Informative)

                by bckrispi (725257) on Monday December 21, 2009 @05:03PM (#30517468)

                I think even Lucas realized this mis-step, which is precisely why the midi-whatsits were ignored in the other films.

                You weren't paying attention... In RotS, Palpatine tells Anakin that Darth Plagious was so powerful that he could "manipulate the midi-chlorians to create life". This was perhaps the biggest revelation in all six films.

      • by Rary (566291) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:28PM (#30515632)

        I think the one thing it needed that would've made it a thousand times better would be a single likeable character.

        I don't know about you, but for me the star of the original trilogy was Han Solo. I'm not sure who the star of the prequel trilogy was, but there was not a single Han Solo-esque character in it.

        • by rsborg (111459) on Monday December 21, 2009 @05:02PM (#30517462) Homepage

          I don't know about you, but for me the star of the original trilogy was Han Solo. I'm not sure who the star of the prequel trilogy was, but there was not a single Han Solo-esque character in it.

          Wasn't that supposed to be Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan? ... Maybe that's because Harrison Ford told Lucas to stuff his lines [spout.com] "George, you can write this shit but you can't make me say it."

          • by Rary (566291) on Monday December 21, 2009 @05:29PM (#30517740)

            I don't know about you, but for me the star of the original trilogy was Han Solo. I'm not sure who the star of the prequel trilogy was, but there was not a single Han Solo-esque character in it.

            Wasn't that supposed to be Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan?

            I think Lucas wanted Obi-Wan to be that character, but the problem is that the Jedi are just not likable. They're all completely wooden and walk around like they have sticks up their ass. The prequels needed a rebel, and simply casting a cool actor to play a stuffy Jedi role doesn't magically turn that stuffy Jedi into a rebel.

            Realistically, the one who had the most potential to become the cool likable character was Qui-Gon. So Lucas did nothing to flesh out the character, and killed him off in the first movie. Brilliant.

        • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday December 21, 2009 @06:19PM (#30518214) Journal

          All good stories have MULTIPLE characters, to appeal to our different tastes.

          The hero is Luke, he is the guy you know you should wannabe like. He is the guy your sister knows she should want to date.

          Han Solo is the guy you want to be, and the one your sister/mother REALLY liked. You can see that in part 1 of the review, the guys describe Han as a wannabe womanizer. The girl describes him as a succesful ladiesman. He can jump her hyperdrive anytime.

          And Leia, Leia is the girl you wanted or the one your sister wanted to be.

          While Obi-wan guides them until they are old enough to stand on their own feet. It is classic stuff. Kirk/Spock/McCoy. The Fellowship of the Ring. It works, because one person can't appeal to the entire audience or even one person.

          But in the end, it is Luke in Star Wars who is the real hero, we just like to pretend he isn't because we want to be cool. But in the end, it is Luke whose struggle we follow. Luke who we see grow up from anxious teen farmboy to Jedi Knight who confronts the emperor and his past.

          And that, as this review points out best in part 6, is missing. We don't care. Characters are not making sense and fights are about acrobatics.

          I totally agree with the reviewer when he states that if you thought the prequels were okay because of the fights, then you don't get it. The slow fight between darth vader and obi-wan was never about swords-play. This is NOT a swashbuckler movie. And that was missing. The prequels are a Jackie-Chan movie. Very nice moves, but that is all there is. Early Jacky Chan movies don't even have an epilogue, they cut to credits the moment the boss bites the dusts.

          At the time you had a lot of kiddies wowing about Darth Maul, but who or what was he. He was no Darth Vader. Rather amusingly, George Lucas is quoted in the review as saying that CGI is nothing compared to story telling. Boy did George forget that lesson.

          What the review is wrong about is focussing on the story plotholes. The original got tons of them too, perhaps even more, but it don't matter because the core is solid. The CGI and even the story don't need to be good if their is a heart beating in the middle of it all. And that is ultimately what the prequels lack. There is no soul.

      • by altoz (653655) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:33PM (#30515684)

        Really? Just those three things? Let me point out why the movie really sucked.

        In IV - VI, we find the story of a character who's very evil who finds redemption. We also find out that he used to be good.

        That should have been the heart of the story. Why and how did Darth Vader become so evil? How did he get seduced to the dark side? The films hand-waved through the most important question that everyone had. He thought his wife was going to die and started killing children or something.

        The flaws weren't that there were too many characters. The flaw was that there just wasn't a coherant story.

        • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:13PM (#30516160)

          I thought Episode III was good for precisely this reason: it's about a good person who turns evil for the right reasons. I and II I agree were just...eh. It's actually my favorite episode of the whole series, possibly second to the empire strikes back.

          In all honesty though, all six of the Star Wars episodes (not to mention the extended mythos) is tacky science fiction with aliens being guys with masks on and a very black-and-white simplistic morality, and I chalk up most of the hate I-III get to when-I-was-your-age-movies-were-good nostalgia. That said, i didn't like them either;)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

            and a very black-and-white simplistic morality,

            Stormtroopers wore white and Jedi Luke Skywalker wore black. ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordArgon (1683588)

          I think you're totally on the right track, although I would disagree that there wasn't a coherent story. It just sucked and wasn't entirely believable.

          The key, IMO, is that Anakin was a whiny bitch. Darth Vader was anything BUT a whiny bitch. Given how much I loved 4-6, I expected to see a noble character who was gradually, tragically led to the dark side. Instead, we see an emo prima donna who whines about everything. How did this guy become the most dignified and feared person in the galaxy? It just

      • by fermion (181285) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:38PM (#30515766) Homepage Journal
        In Star Wars, the book, we learn, or at least it is much more fully alluded to, that Luke is a much more accomplished driver. One of the problems with Star wars is that this is not established, yet Luke magically knows how to fly a fighter. Admitadly there are differences between two and three dimension navigation, but at least we would have some experience.

        In the phantom menace, most things could have solved by making Anikin a little older. I think some of the pod-racing was good, as it established the family as skilled in the trade. Developmentally putting a kid that young into a pod racer just seemed too fake, so the establishment seemed forced.

        It is arguable that R2D2 had some knowledge of Anikin and the kids, as well as where Obi was hiding. This allowed him to deliver the message from Princess Leia. It seemed to be quite silly to have CP3O built by Anikin, and did go too far on the comic relief. The urge was likely to have some overlap between the movies, but this as a plot device failed.

        An overall critic of the critics. I think many fans did not like the world painted by the second trilogy. It seemed too different. I found it was the one think that world. The empire of Anikin was the high point of civilization about to fall apart, but still visually perfect. The world of Luke was broken, not in the over the top manner of Road Warrior, but in a very natural manner where things are simply old and not much creation is going on.

      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:51PM (#30515894)
        Have to have C3PO and R2D2. That was the original concept way back when Star Wars was just a single movie with no thoughts of it being a trilogy or more. A huge galactic conflict seen through the eyes of the two droids. A theme borrowed from The Hidden Fortress that is a major influence on Lucas, where the viewpoint from two peasants drives the movie. When it was a trilogy and Lucas had grand ideas about a series of 9 movies, Lucas said he wanted the droids to be the common thread between them all.

        As is was The Phantom Menace seems heavily designed to be a marketing vehicle. This is quite the opposite of the original Star Wars (not going to call it A New Hope as that was never the original title). No one knew Star Wars was going to be a hit, it was just going to be a stand alone story, an homage to older space operas. The major merchandise tie ins to movies didn't exist. The concept of a blockbuster didn't exist either. It succeeds on its own merits.

        Flash forward to The Phantom Menace. Merchandising is now a huge concern. So are demographics; like many lousy movies, you either start with a kids movie and sneak in some adult jokes, or you start with a more mature movie and stick some bratty kid in to attract the kids to the theaters too (it's a sci-fi movie with explosions, the kids should have been a built-in audience without the brat). Then you toss in a comedy character so the kids keep watching and don't start whining that it's too long. The big problem with The Phantom Menace is that it was created with a formula. That may work for a Syfy movie of the week, but not a major theatrical release when your professional reputation is already starting to slip.
      • He was a whiny teen. Luke Skywalker just accepts his fate. In an ACTION movie, that is important. Leave the shallow soul searching for MTV. The problem with the movie is that Darth Vader it truly and wholy evil. The "saving" at the end of Return of the Jedi was already bad enough (in the books and expanded universe it is made clear that he can't cross over nearly as easy, hence the reason to burn the corpse where Yoda and Obi-wan just faded away) but it still doesn't sit well with the hero ending of the bad

    • Re:Why a video (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:26PM (#30515602)
      Who's going to watch a video review, much less a 70 minute one? Write it up on a web page with some illustrative clips.

      I'm not sure why there's this trend to having high bandwidth video for stuff that the simple written word can handle. The Apple site comes to mind with the "Learn Your Way Around the Mac in Minutes" videos, that would take only seconds if it were text. Some of us still remember how to read.
      • by sjbe (173966) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:41PM (#30515794)

        Who's going to watch a video review, much less a 70 minute one? Write it up on a web page with some illustrative clips.

        I did. It's actually funny as hell as well as pretty insightful. If you actually watch it you'd understand that there are some points that are a LOT easier to make with a video. It also has more impact when you see Darth Lucas himself actually saying things that matter in the context of the argument about why the movie sucks.

        I'm not sure why there's this trend to having high bandwidth video for stuff that the simple written word can handle.

        Because there are some things that video can do that text can't and vice-versa. Sure it can be misused but that isn't an argument against the format.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I did watch the video review (all 70 minutes of it), thought it was funny as hell, and still agree with the grandparent complaining about it. A video is a very poor way of transmitting information. I need to remember from rote all that this guy said in the video, as there is no way in hell that I would ever revisit this video to find some choice words. Were it written down, I might do that. As it is know, it's a nice consumable, but hasn't been archived. The information content is most likely lost.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ben Newman (53813)

      The comparing of the opening shots of The Phantom Menace and A New Hope was a great piece of film design analysis. The scene of the blockade runner getting blasted by the star destroyer set up everything; there was a conflict going on, the rebels were weak and ill equipped and the empire was big, scary and not afraid to use force. The Jedis approaching the trade federation ships in The Phantom Menace told you nothing about either side, and that sort of weakly defined sense of design pervades the entire mo

      • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Monday December 21, 2009 @05:38PM (#30517834)

        I'll add this: In the first five minutes of Star Wars, Vader walks into the carnage of battle, picks a captured soldier up by the neck, holds him dangling in midair at arm's length and questions him before offhandedly snapping his neck with one hand and tossing the body aside. Bad guy established in less than 2 minutes. While it is cheezy sci-fi schlock, it is also effective storytelling. You knew right off the bat that Darth Vader was an evil badass that you didn't want to get involved with.

        Darth Maul gets introduced half way through the movie and despite the cool makeup we have to be told that he is a bad guy. Also, despite being a much better stunt man and athlete and having much cooler fight choreography, Maul never reaches the level that Vader does in that introductory scene. Therefore his defeat is no more intriguing than getting past the chompy things on the assembly line. He's not a character, he's just another obstacle for our hero to jump over.

  • Demo Reel (Score:4, Funny)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:28PM (#30514828)
    I thought it was awesome at first, because it seemed to just be a demo reel for SGI and Alias|WaveFront. Then I realized that it was a "real" movie, and that it was supposed to be Star Wars... then I realized how bad it was. Apparently so did the rest of the world, and they seem to have taken it out on SGI. Poor SGI... it wasn't their fault!
    • Re:Demo Reel (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:47PM (#30515096) Journal

      The real problem is that George Lucas wrote it. As a generic sort of idea man, Lucas is great, but the more involved he is in the film, the worse it gets. The reason The Empire Strikes Back is probably the best of the bunch is because Lucas was at his most distant from the whole process.

      Frankly, the prequels were a letdown. Episode III is clearly the best, but that's pretty relative. It still sucks a lot more than even the most dismal of the original trilogy; Episode VI, but compared to TPM and Attack of the Clones (I mean, that really is a retarded name), it's a brilliant film.

      Lucas seems to have a hard time building any kind of dramatic tension. In place of a decent script and dialogue, he puts in ever more insanely huge spectacles. In Episode III, for instance, instead of a battle between Anakin and Obiwan around a lava crater (as was originally expounded in the book for Episode IV, Lucas, who seems incapable of writing the kind of chilling dialogue that would go on between a former master and pupil and friend, replaces it with a WHOLE MOLTEN PLANET. I mean, it's eyecandy to be sure, but every time I watch those scenes, I feel like I was robbed of what could have been an extraordinarily dramatic moment.

      TPM lacks any kind of useful dramatic device. It holds the worst aspects of Lucas's filmmaking, with little or nothing of some of the better aspects of the franchise.

      • Re:Demo Reel (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:56PM (#30515228)

        I was so digusted with Ep. 2 that I never did get around to watching Ep. 3.

        But you're exactly right. Lucas should have stuck with just coming up with ideas and visuals of these alien worlds and ships, and that's it, and left the storywriting to people who are actually talented at that. That's why ESB was so great: it was written by a professional sci-fi author, not Lucas. Any time Lucas writes dialog, it's beyond terrible. But his ego is so huge that he refuses to admit it, and insists on doing it himself.

        • Re:Demo Reel (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:19PM (#30515514) Journal

          Episode V had some great dialogue. The Yoda sequences gave us all the mystic mumbo jumbo of Episode IV, but with more Zen-like conviction and less being pure corny. The fight between Vader and Luke, and the ultimate revelation of Vader's identity was a moment of extraordinary drama that surely stands as one of the great moments in cinema history.

          The whole film has a kind of tension to it that none of the other films had. It was a character driven film. The special effects don't play as a big a role. You'll note a lot of the action in this film takes place in claustrophobic places; ice tunnels on Hoth, Bespin interiors, Star Destroyer interiors, Dagobah (which is so murky it might as well be a closed interior), the interior of the worm creature/asteroid. This means the camera is concentrating less on eyecandy and more on the characters, and requires a lot more dialogue and interaction between characters.

      • Re:Demo Reel (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ascii (70907) <ascii@microc[ ].dk ['ore' in gap]> on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:44PM (#30515826) Homepage

        I may receive flack for this but Lucas' is *horrible* at writing dialogue. Try to count the number of times he has used the line "I have a bad feeling about this" throught the Star Wars movies and you'll get to jesus kabillion in no time.

        What's more - the only variance with these lines is where to put the intonation. Here's a quick rundown on Lucas' options when writing dialogue:
        1. *I* have a bad feeling about this
        2. I *HAVE* a bad feeling about this
        3. I have *A* bad feeling about this
        4. I have a *BAD* feeling about this
        5. I have a bad *FEELING* about this
        6. I have a bad feeling *ABOUT* this
        7. I have a bad feeling about *THIS*

        That is all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Fjandr (66656)

          I heard William Shatner in my head saying these lines as I read them. You sir, are an insensitive clod!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bennomatic (691188)
          And if Keanu Reeves had been in the flicks, the options would have instead been:
          1. Woah.
          2. Woah?
          3. Woah!
          4. Woah...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BobMcD (601576)

        The real problem is that George Lucas wrote it. As a generic sort of idea man, Lucas is great, but the more involved he is in the film, the worse it gets. The reason The Empire Strikes Back is probably the best of the bunch is because Lucas was at his most distant from the whole process.

        You may not know how right you are. According to the Secret History of Star Wars [secrethist...arwars.com], not only was much of the story borrowed directly from other material, but he got extensive help from Hollywood friends to make it into a workable movie. Also that book makes the excellent point that Empire and Jedi really only rehash the original movie in more depth. Which can't exactly be that hard, when you look at it that way. Read that book, if you get the chance. It puts this Definitive Evisceration in perspective.

        An

    • Re:Demo Reel (Score:4, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:06PM (#30515352)

      Apparently so did the rest of the world, and they seem to have taken it out on SGI. Poor SGI... it wasn't their fault!

      SGI didn't fall from glory because of a three-coiled Lucas-branded turd. It failed because it made repeated strategic mistakes in the market. When 3D hit the desktop, they sat there watching people build clusters out of gaming consoles and making boards out of commodity components -- management was convinced it wasn't a threat. Then they made several attempts to change platforms to various Intel chips, and released Linux workstations. People didn't take them seriously after that (Yes, I am saying on slashdot that using Linux was a strategic mistake). They were nearly dead, delisted from the NYC, shareholders demanding they fold -- when they finally reversed course, hired a crisis team, and assessed the damage. But it was too late -- the economy didn't allow for a recovery, and the vulnerable shell of SGI was bought out, and its brand identity assumed by a company specializing in rackmount servers.

      SGI died because management lost focus, got complacent, and fried like an egg in a frying pan in the recession. Besides, Hollywood was never SGI's main market -- it was the government and scientific institutions. For every CG animation you see, there's ten weather modeling simulations, and other massively-parallel graphic-intensive processes.

  • by RedK (112790) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:31PM (#30514862)

    Seriously, if a Movie wounded your inner child and destroyed your hopes and dreams, you had a very sad life. Most normal Star Wars fan just didn't watch the movie again and that's it. Personally, it was the 3rd movie that turned me off completely. Anakin's turn to the darkside felt so rushed and didn't seem to work with the character at all (one minute he's a goodie 2 shoes that's going to turn Sidius in, 30 seconds later he's bowing to his new master... wtf ?).

    • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:02PM (#30516026)
      WELL put! Although I wasn't as put off as you on the 3rd movie (I enjoyed it a bit better than ATOC), I echo the sentiment. I think the pacing problem was Lucas' inability to show sufficient time passing in the movie... don't know why.

      The prequels were for kids, no doubt about it. And all these whiners who are talking about how Lucas raped their childhood (and so on) are forgetting one important thing... they were KIDS when they saw the first trilogy. The only problem with the 2nd set of movies is that after the first Trilogy, everyone and his sister tried to re-capture the model Lucas used to achieve blockbuster status. There have been DECADES of also-rans, improvements, and the entire hollywood system has morphed into the "blockbuster channel" (with some Oscar stuff thrown in like sprinkles on a sundae). Before A New Hope there wasn't much in the way of epic Space Opera storytelling (the storyline was pretty standard and had been done to death in books before and in movies/games/books since), now with the likes of Terminator, Alien, etc. we have been accustomed to the epic blockbuster sci-fi movie. The new Trilogy from Lucas did not open in the same atmosphere as ANH did.

      I for one enjoyed the movies for what they were... another trip into the Star Wars universe. I didn't expect Shakespeare, nor did I expect Oscar quality acting (let's face it, Mark Hamill was a whiny bitch in the first movies...) I just wanted a fun ride with awesome effects that let us know how it all started. Was it perfect? Far from it. But then again, if we are honest with ourselves, neither was the first Trilogy.
  • It was impossible (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:32PM (#30514874)

    To listen to this review for more than two minutes.

    I was hoping that the monotonous and almost comically distorted voice-over was somehow a parody, but then it kept going on and on and on...

    My advice is to take the hot potato out of your mouth on the next film.

    • Agreed... (Score:3, Informative)

      by schon (31600)

      I was hoping that the monotonous and almost comically distorted voice-over was somehow a parody, but then it kept going on and on and on...

      I'd like to hear what he had to say, but I just couldn't stand listening to that voice.. it sounded like he was trying to do an impression of Joe Lieberman doing an impression of Jar Jar's leader.

  • Han shot first! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by burtosis (1124179) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:33PM (#30514886)
    IMHO the decline into craptacularism and lowered expectations started with the re-release of an otherwise good film.
  • Jar^2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TBoon (1381891) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:35PM (#30514918)
    Jar Jar wouldn't have been so bad, if he had gotten way less screen time. Sure he's a "breakthrough in technology"...hmmm... actually that seems to summarize everything wrong with that movie... It's there because it's possible (and/or have never been done before), not because the story needs it to be there...
  • by tonk (101504) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:37PM (#30514948) Homepage

    ... that after Return of the Jedi, no more Star Wars movies were ever made.

  • Box Office (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:39PM (#30514978) Homepage Journal

    Of course this doesn't directly correlate to the "crappiness" of the movie, but Phantom Menace did just shy of $1 billion in worldwide sales, and it is currently the #10 top grossing movie of all time (placing just below LOTR-TTT). It was the #2 top grossing film of all time until the first Harry Potter movie came out in 2001.

    Regardless of the hype, or the previous success of a franchise, a movie cannot be so popular without being liked or enjoyable to at least a very significant portion of the population. That seems to go against TFA's opening line of "Chances are you probably didn’t like Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace."

    Could Episode 1 have been better? Absolutely, in so many ways. But it was an incontrovertible success on many levels too. For me personally, various aspects of the movie was too childish (for starters).

  • by bunuel (1061042) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:40PM (#30514992) Homepage
    I think Return of the Jedi was a more disappointing movie. The change in tone in this from Empire was more drastic than the change between this and the prequels.
  • by Entropy98 (1340659) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:42PM (#30515034) Homepage

    I've been waiting almost 10 years for The Definitive Evisceration of The Phantom Menace and I must say that now that it's here I'm very disappointed.

    My inner child has been abused and betrayed. Im going to mope around, talking to no one, for the next two weeks. I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to see #2 or #3, whatever they will be called.

    There were so many good points to be made, but it seems the director just went for the easy, mass appeal, fluff. Maybe if the director wasn't surrounded with mindless 'yes men' with no vision this could have been better. Maybe if they had cast a narrator with a better voice. Unfortunately this 70 minute train wreck cannot be undone.

    I hope I don't have to wait 10 years for the The Definitive Evisceration of The Definitive Evisceration of The Phantom Menace.

  • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:51PM (#30515138)

    I haven't seen it, but I'm glad someone devoted the time to do this.

    The prequels, and especially the replacement of the original trilogy with the "re-mastered" Lucas-edited crap are great examples of how destructive exclusive IP can be to creative works.

    "The ultimate single-minded, self-centered creature is a cancer cell."

    That is what George Lucas became to his own films. After a great piece of artwork has become culturally accepted, it should be cast in stone, and be preserved as it is.

  • Every film is flawed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:53PM (#30515170) Homepage Journal

    Read Mr. Cranky and he will make the greatest film on the planet sound terrible. Every film is flawed.

    The prequels on the whole failed to live up to lofty expectations. But they aren't terrible on a Batman and Robin scale either.

    Episode 1 ultimately fails due to a poorly written script. Not just in dialogue, but also in structure. A tentpole blockbuster film comes down to a series of meetings followed by a series of meetings. Lucas forget screenwriting 101 - show, don't tell. That being said, the saber duels in Episode 1 are the best of the series. The pod race sequence is pretty decent. The movie also invented 8.1 channel sound, didn't it?

    I don't understand the massive vitrol aimed at films that ultimately aren't half as terrible as people would like us to believe. The same person who wrote this probably sat through Transformers 2 without having an aneurysm. Really, which film was worse?

  • by benchbri (764527) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:57PM (#30515252)
    I'd just like to point out that Jar Jar -alone- allowed the creation of the Galactic Empire.
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:13PM (#30515438)

    ...but I remember the hype and feelings of expectation my friends and I had about it. We paid full price for "Meet Joe Black" just to see the TPM trailer, then left immediately afterward. There were a lot of other people doing the same thing, to the point everyone was laughing and the ushers were promising the trailer would run again after the movie if everyone stayed.

    After we left, we went to have dinner and talked endlessly, dissecting every second of the trailer at length, imagining what the plot would be, how they would eventually get to "New Hope", and then after dinner we went to an arcade and played video games.

    I don't care a whit about the actual movie, but for me it'll always be about that evening with friends in New York and how much fun we had in total geek mode. Sadly, I can't say I've had a repeat of that experience since. So for that evening alone, I'll still say thanks to Lucas for making the movie in the first place. But, yeah, the movie itself sucked.

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:20PM (#30515524)

    For the Jar Jar Binks christmas special.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:24PM (#30515584)

    I moped around, talking to no one, for almost two weeks.

    Really? I mean... really?

    I left the theater, commented to my friends that Lucas had lost the formula somewhere along the way, and got on with life. I rented the next two. End of story.

  • by everynerd (1252610) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:40PM (#30515778)
    Good news, everyone! Dr. Zoidberg is now reviewing 20th century cinema.
  • by rgviza (1303161) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:05PM (#30516058)

    My kid loved all three prequels. Given the target audience, that makes them a success. Maybe people don't like the prequels because they are grownups now. /shrug

    All I know is my dad thought the first 3 were crap. Probably because he was a grownup. Us kids loved them.

    I think everyone is pissed at Lucas because they feel abandoned. You don't like them because they were never meant to be liked by you. You like the old ones because you were a kid when you first saw them. I have no problem turning on my sense of wonder and suspension of disbelief. I loved all 6 star wars movies and the animated series'.

    Get over it, they are tween movies, a space soap opera meant for kids, like Buck Rogers. You need to look at them from that perspective. Then again I'm totally into Sponge-bob and iCarly too. I step down to my son's level and watch the stuff with him. When I'm there, I love it. I don't like serious movies or tv shows. I'd rather watch Toy Story than Seven.

    I'm not sure how you can take a set of movies called "Star Wars" seriously to begin with. Adults expecting something more is like expecting High School Musical or Hannah Montana to be as satisfying as Gone With the Wind.

    Analyzing every detail and character takes all the fun out of it. It's like critiquing the latest McDonalds happy meal and talking about how it doesn't measure up to what a meal at a 5 star French restaurant should be.

    The whole subject of Lucas "ruining" Star Wars is decidedly stupid. Move on, grow up, and let it go, or enjoy the movies for what they are: movies for kids.

  • by biglig2 (89374) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:08PM (#30516094) Homepage Journal

    His reviews of Generations and Insurrection are good too: besides the obvious flaws in the plots of both, he knows the TV series well enough to find the non-obvious continuity flaws. Intercutting the plot of Insurrection with footage of Picard chewing Wesley a new one for doing exactly (and I mean EXACTLY) the things that Picard does in the film is exquisite.

  • by Trogre (513942) on Monday December 21, 2009 @04:10PM (#30516848) Homepage

    I stopped watching at this point. I'm amazed I made it that far, actually.

  • by antdude (79039) on Monday December 21, 2009 @08:40PM (#30519224) Homepage Journal

    See here: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=48519614 [myspace.com] (29 minutes video) or http://www.videosift.com/video/Why-Star-Trek-Generations-is-the-Stupidest-Movie-Ever-Made [videosift.com] (three parts embedded YouTube video). I wonder if he has any more movie reviews.

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