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STAR WARS: READERS RESPONSE 2 (cont)

14/6/99
I am a 23 year old who loves the Star Wars saga. Not for its acting or script, nor for the amazing digital effects. I love it for its timelessness, its themes and its imagery. For the fact that it taps into the psyche of every individual and touches them. Either in a good way or a bad way. It tapped into my love of space and space travel.

I have read a million reviews of Phantom. I have also read a million interviews with the cast and more importantly George. It saddens me that the general public and general critics would dare say that George was making this film purely for his hip pocket. He is making these films to continue his passion. He never once said he was making these films to gain a few bucks. If anything he is using the revenue to create the second and third films. As he did with Empire and Jedi.

I refer to the interview in the movie magazine, Premiere; George said that the only way there was a trilogy the first time round was that the films paid for each other. That is what George is doing now. And do we always seem to forget that he financed this film with his own money????

Yes the film has a poor script. Yes the acting could be better (especially from Jackson) but damn it you go to see a Star Wars film to visit a galaxy far, far away. If you're after Oscar material go see a film of Titanic proportions. Star War is just a journey. One that I will be taking. It is a visual spectacular which open the doors for the younger generation, which was George's intention. It wasn't made for adults. It never was. He always planned it to be for the younger audiences.

And younger audiences the world round finally had something in common. If you want a genuine review talk to a kid who’s seen it and they wont tie you down with analysis on script, acting, editing or character development. They will either tell you they loved it or hated it. Let’s leave it at that. "I will not condone a crappy review that will lead us into war," as Queen Amidala might say.
Jason Wilson
Dandenong, Victoria

The Phantom Menance is everything that people say it is not. Script wise the film is great, one of the only films in the last couple of years not to have the bad guy ever revealled dramatically to the audience before the last reel. The Senator Palpatine guy who drives the story along is never revealled as the master, The Sith Lord who engineers the whole films plot just to get elected as the head of the Council. So, with no lead characters, the film is left with the one problem plotlines of the main characters of the boy, the princess, the great knights to protect her, and the caracture of the happy go-lucky guy who tags along.

This is great, but what do the ethniticity of the characters say about where the film is coming from? There are African-speaking tribes that live under the sea, and the Asian kingdoms that the baddies are trying to invade. The boy lives in the desert, a slave. George Lucas has borrowed (or taken) from heaps of historical mythic situations and put them all together to create a new one which is categorised as Science Fiction, but the film series is set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." A long time ago? What does it mean when history lessons are given in films, and seem more important than real history. This is entertainment but also like all those old European nursery rhymes it seems more about the world in which we live than the past or future.

Lucas' direction is very controlled almost slowing the film down to a dead stop, but all on purpose. The film is like a half hour of television in the future. My friend believes this means it is passionless compared to all the sex appeal and romance of Episode 4, Star Wars: A New Hope, made first (released in 1977). The only romance is in the plot, not the film. The romance is fast, and very innocent in The Phantom Menance, the film is more about good and evil than sex and swashbucklers. George Lucas, I read when he was writing the new film series said it was more "soapie". It is. A new wave type of soapie like Manga films. The film is Cecil B. DeMille meets Astro Boy.
Adrian Fitzgerald, Sydney.

I have now seen PHANTOM MENACE twice and throughly enjoyed it both times. The CGI animation was breathtaking at times, especially in the underwater sequences. Ewan Macgregor was rather wasted in his role as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Liam Neeson and Jake Lloyd put in fine performances. I also liked Samuel L.Jackson's small role as a Jedi Master.
Keep up the good work.
Best regards,
Andrew Kieswetter.
Adelaide.

11/6/99
Hello, My name is Nikki and I live in Western Australia. I am 11 years old turning 12. I just have to say that I am not so much a STAR WARS fan but when I saw the movie I was suprised and now I ask my dad to see the movie all the time. I love that movie and can't stop talking about it in class.
Nikki

Show me the menace! Never before has a film needed Harrison Ford more than Star Wars Episode One. But more to the point, never before has a film needed some menace. Even a little bit of misbehaving wouldn't go astray. Everyone in this film is so well behaved. The 'goodies' are so good that they're dull. Or maybe they're just dull. Queen Amidala, though admittedly is only 14, doesn't have half the spunk of Princess Leia. And as for Qui-Jon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi well ... you can't expect a Jedi to muck up. So for comic relief we have a West Indian sounding, pidgin-speaking, walking amphibian, Jar Jar Binks. The blandness of the characters is a reflection of the blandness of the film's spirit.

The main problem with the film is the downplaying of evil. We've no asthmatic Darth Vader exuding evil to contend with. There's little mention of the Dark Side of The Force. In fact the menace in Episode One is a bit of a phantom. Both Darth Maul and his evil master are under-developed characters with so little screen time it's difficult to fear them. In fact the whole notion of good and evil seems very watered down. We're told that

The One' who was prophesied about - a sort of cosmic Messiah - will not come to restore peace or defeat evil, but to bring balance to the force. Balance?! What happened to conquering evil?
Sarah Barnett,
Sydney

10/6/99
Back in 1977, I was a nine year old school boy who was blown away by the amazing effects of Star Wars Episode IV. Immediately, I became a Star Wars disciple and was the first to line up for Episodes V and VI. Twenty-two years later, I am utterly disappointed with the beginning.

Apart from majestic visual effects, Episode 1 has nothing more to offer. However, at the beginning of the movie, I was interested in the politics of the Federation blockade and the efforts of the two Jedi knights in resolving the deadlock. Afterwards, the story becomes a circus, except for the intriguing character of Darth Maul, who I thought was interesting as an apprentice of Darth Sidious (I think).

The problem with the movie started with the cartoon character Jar Jar Binks. Funny at first, but irritating later. Maybe, it had to do something with his "voice". Besides that, I was ambivalent about the young Anikin Skywalker who, even before being trained as a Jedi, was performing rather complex combat maneouvring with a fighter jet. Not only that but the scene between Anikin and his mother was truly hopeless. It made me feel that Anakin may not be the biological child of the woman.

Worst perhaps was the video game pace of the movie. At the end, everything was happening at once and Lucas was shifting from one scene to the next at such a speed that I was about to scream "stop it!" Episode 1 is for children, who may not have seen the first three episode. Finally, I am glad that I am not a nine year old in 1999.
Dr. Sanjay Ramesh
Sydney

I think that most people, ie, ADULTS, forgot that many of them were kids when the movies series first appeared in the late 70's. It was a kid's story then, it's a kid's story now. Of course Jar Jar is annoying, so were the Ewoks 20 years ago. But they are there for the kids and the kids laughed at them. The sinister Darth Vader, the sinister Darth Maul, the sinister emeperor, all of them, fairy tale symbols come to the silver screen. If you really thought that Star Wars was supposed to be greatly written science fiction, well, forget about it. The best sci fi movie ever made, Contact, was adapted from Carl Sagan's book. Buy or rent that video, better, read the book, because no matter how excellent the movie was, the book is superior. It is no Star Wars, but if it sci fi you are looking for, open up your head to thought processes, not video processes.
Bob Hickman
Hesperia, California, USA

Whilst I loved the sense of anticipation provided by the hype leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I have to agree with Paul Fischer and others that this latest instalment doesn't quite deliver. Without a doubt the best part of the film was the opening sequence, with its wonderfully familiar title treatment and opening lines. I went to a 10pm session on June 3 and can confirm that this part of the film evinced the most response from the audience, 90% of whom were over 25. From there on in it was a gradual downhill slide, not into serious disappointment, but towards a definite anti-climax. The closing credits didn't bring the expected cheers, clapping and appreciative wait until the very end, just a concerted effort to reach the exit.

I feel the main problem with the film is that the filmmakers have misfired with their target audience, which I believe should be those of us who are over 25 (I am 31) and can still remember how the film absolutely captured our imagination when younger. We're not too old to be enticed again, but the storyline would necessarily require the same tensions, well-developed heroes, heroines (and droids/big hairy creatures) we can empathise with.

I'm sorry, but Jar Jar Binks reminds me of an unintelligible Goofy (or those ridiculous Ewoks - the decline was heralded in Return of the Jedi...I should have seen it coming!), Liam Neeson (an actor I very much respect) was more like a cardboard cut-out and Ewan MacGregor his meek little shadow (if it is possible for a one-dimensional figure acting against a blue-screen to have a shadow).

There was little background to Darth Maul and his master (unless I missed some more obvious references in the film). The only character with potential was Princess Amidala (fab costumes and makeup). Young Anakin Skywalker I found far too cute and posed. So much more could have been done with these key characters! How I yearn for the intense and naive facial expressions of a young Mark Hamill or the burgeoning and subtle sexual tension between Princess Leia and Han Solo. I even miss the howls of Chewbacca!

The film is targeted towards a younger demographic, and whilst I can fully understand the reasoning behind this decision, I think it neglects a crucial and older audience base (and one with the financial resources to see the film over and over again, had it delivered!).

I don't think it would have been too hard to inject a bit more soul and integrity into the script. This said, I'm not prepared to give up on it altogether yet. I live in hope that the material provided in this first instalment (which is more like a draft than a finished script) will help create another two episodes full of the original magic which, as soon as I came out of this screening, had me hankering for more re-runs of the earlier films.
Sara Harrington
Sydney

8/6/99
I do not know what the majority of people think about Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace but I thought that it was superb. Fantastic. I heard that the American and Australian critics have been saying that they think it is silly. I couldn't disagree more! I thought that the actors were wonderful. Maybe some of them seemed a bit wooden in places but I thought that was the script. (Which I also thought was brilliant most of the time.) The special effects were wonderful and I think that they must win Oscars next year. Jar Jar Binks is magical and the Pod Race sequence is so realistic. It did remind me of the Ben Hur race! Darths Maul and Sidious were menacing and were almost as bad as Vader. The conclusion to the film will have you on the edge of your seat. I can't get enough of this film. I'm going back already. All I can say is see it or miss it at your own risk! 10 out of 10.
Christopher Levinson.

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