Nothing But Star Wars

The last trailer for Episode IX is here, the new game’s been previewed by some people, and the first 30 minutes of The Mandalorian have been shown off to some other lucky people. Basically, over the last week Disney has decided to kick the Star Wars marketing machine into overdrive. Between now and December 20th, we will have a new tv show, a new game, and the final movie in the Star Wars Saga. 

First things first though, that trailer. I don’t know if everyone will love it, because it doesn’t fix some people’s problems with The Last Jedi, but I thought the trailer delivered a load of interesting nuggets and some beautiful visuals. Star Wars allows the film makers to put some incredible shots on film, and this trailer is full of them. JJ Abrams has embraced that, and his long-time cinematographer Dan Mindel have really pushed the boat out and gone for some shots to wow you.

The shots can be beautiful without having any substance though, but this trailer, possibly because I am a massive freaking nerd, is full of things I want to know more about. Is that an old-style star destroyer rising out of the sea? Is that Endor at the start? Was that desert Tatooine? Is that throne on the Sith home world Dathomir? Does Kyle hold a Blue lightsaber at one point? Are Mars Delights Ever going to come back?

And of course, is that Big Papa Palpatine chilling on a throne laughing at Rey. Technically, we didn’t see him die. We just saw him thrown down a big old’ hole, and then we saw the Death Star where that hole was exploding into shrapnel.

I am a huge Star Wars fan, and honestly, I love all the movies because they’re Star Wars. Watching it from a critical standpoint is tough because I am so biased, but if I have to say one thing, it’s that this movie seems to have a lot of ground to cover. I do not mind that, because I will see this film at least 3 times before I decide what it all means, but I have a feeling it might be a bit hectic for those uneducated in the Star Wars lore. It’s out on December 20th and I will be buying 2 midnight screening tickets today, so I guess the trailer did its job.

Onto Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the game being developed by Apex Legends creators Respawn. I was a little worried we was getting a shiny new version of the Force Unleashed games from years ago, but it appears my fears have been extinguished. The game is apparently closer to a Souls style game, with some elements of other games like God of War and Uncharted mixed in there. That is some exquisite company, and if, as I have heard from some previews, it’s taking elements of those games and even if it doesn’t do them all quite as well as them, it does them very well.

It’s slower, more deliberate take on lightsaber combat is intentional, as this is a Jedi character, they’re supposed to be defensive and pick their times to strike intelligently. It may be a little odd for those who want to sprint in with their laser sword and batter everyone in sight, but that tactic won’t work. You need to decide how best to approach each combat situation and that sounds really intriguing to me. I have never been into the Souls style games, but you can wrap Star Wars around just about anything and you’ll have me intrigued.

The game isn’t too far off, and I am going media blackout now as the story does seem like it could be an interesting one. The different planets and the customisation options have me very excited to make this character fit into my own style, and by the end of this I will have him wielding a Red lightsaber if all goes to my plan. *insert Palpatine laugh here*

Finally, The Mandalorian had the first half an hour-ish shown off to a select few, and by all the responses I saw on twitter, its exactly what people wanted. It feels like the Original trilogy, and it has some characters and reveals that will get fans excited. I don’t know what they are, I assume Jabba the Hut will appear as well as favourites like IG-88 who we already know about, but beyond that I have no idea.

All I want personally from the Mandalorian is for it to feel like Star Wars, and to be consistent with the look of the films. The TV show budget would normally be a concern, but as this is going directly to Disney + I have a feeling they will have spared no expense when it comes to the production design of the series. They will know the pressure is on, it always is with a fan base as rabid as the Star Wars one.

All in all, Star Wars fans have a lot to be excited about, and I am looking forward to all this delicious content coming in the final months of this year. We’ve already had Endgame this year, and I can’t help but feel there will be comparisons between the end of that franchise and the end of this one. As much as I love Marvel, and honestly their films are better in general, there is nothing quite like Star Wars.

‘Til Tomorrow!

ChAzJS

 

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Why you need to watch more YouTube and does Star Wars still hold up?

I write almost entirely about Video Games and Movies, with the occasional TV show dropped in. It gives me a lot to write about, and I love all three mediums of entertainment equally. There is one thing I have not written about, and it’s the one that motivated me to start a blog, which led to this site, which will lead to whatever the next thing will be for me. That platform is YouTube. 

YouTube is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some people use it to discover new music. Others use it to educate themselves using the endless hours of videos on any topic you could wish to learn about. For me, way back in 2013, it was almost entirely for stupid fail compilations and the occasional music video. Then I happened to discover AMC Movie Talk around the time when Man of Steel came out. It was the first time I discovered this area of the internet. This group of people sitting in a studio, discussing the latest movie news and releases in depth, all bringing their own opinions to the table.

Before too long, it had become a part of my every day, listening to the latest news stories and the crew’s views was just a part of my routine. AMC Movie Talk eventually became Collider Movie Talk. New shows were created, offering deeper dives into the news stories into their own areas. Collider Heroes covered all the superhero genre in more detail, Jedi Council took the hype surrounding the new Star Wars films to new heights and I was spending hours of my week listening to these people.

Since then YouTube has become as common as Netflix or Amazon Prime for me. If you still think of YouTube as that place you can go for cat videos, it really is so much more than that now. It’s a platform with more variety than any other and there is something for whatever is taking your fancy. I do not have any terrestrial TV channels set up in my flat, I watch so many pop culture news shows and comedic content on the platform I don’t know when I would ever use the normal channels.

One thing I found on YouTube recently was a comparison of all the changes made to the original Star Wars film. I recently posted about all the Star Wars prequels and have been toying with the idea of going back and watching the original trilogy again. I have been surprised with the worry I feel going into watching these old films. In my head when I think about them, I remember them being near perfect. I have never watched them with a more critical eye, and my worry is they may not hold up as well as they do in my head.

Last night I watched the first 30 minutes of A New Hope and was surprised how well it plays now. There are some odd choices, for instance Luke’s Aunt is dressed like Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond, but the characters and the plot are still there, still strong. I am going to finish it off this weekend and that will be a post next week. I can’t finish it sooner though, as tonight I am off to see Joker.

A lot of the reviews and talk about the film is very intriguing to me. Regardless of its people enjoyed the film, it is sparking so many interesting conversations about what the film means and why certain things happen. To me, that is the sign of a masterpiece, it gets people talking. My expectations are in a weird place, I am not expecting to enjoy watching this. I think it’s going to be an uncomfortable film to watch.

I might post the review tomorrow, I have kept weekends free, but I have a feeling I am going to want to write about this film as soon as I have processed my thoughts on it. I can’t wait.

Have a great weekend.

ChAzJS

 

Alexa is everywhere & Marvel man to make a Star Wars

Amazon held an event in Seattle yesterday to unveil a whole slew of new technology they are bringing out and it seems like the future is all about Alexa. She’s branching out from your Echo and Echo Dot into headphones, a microwave, Glasses and even a Ring. As someone who doesn’t really use any of the virtual assistants, it’s all a little bit odd.

I get the use of it, being able to ask a question about anything to a speaker and hear the correct answer in seconds is cool and feels very sci-fi to me, but even when I had access to it I would always find myself googling the question anyway. Now I know not everyone is as good as googling as others, I have learnt that through my job, but asking out loud gives you an answer once, and then you must ask again for it to be repeated. Googling on your phone just seems so much easier.

All the tech they have shown off is cool, but some of it is just solving problems I don’t think need answers. The smart microwave for example reads the packaging and sets itself up. Meaning you will no longer have to press 3 or 4 buttons to get your food cooked. Was there a big outcry for this? Are people yelling at their microwaves because they have had to press buttons on it?

That and the ring are the only really odd items they are selling, the rest of it I can see a use for. New glasses with Alexa built in seem more useful and bring us one step closer to the heads up display I have always wanted for real life. I can’t wait until I can walk around with a display telling me useful information or mapping out my route for me as I stroll. I don’t think there will quite have this, now it seems like it’s just normal prescription lenses with a directional speaker to answer your questions. If they can get a camera in there to see what I see and display functionality in the lens we will be really in the future.

I did notice that they are introducing some new tech to make the voice of Alexa sound a little more human, and that they are planning to bring out the first celebrity voice, and it’s going to be Samuel L Jackson. I can’t wait to change my mums Alexa voice to him and see the shock on her face when she asks Alexa to play Beautiful South and she gets a “Damn Mother Fucker all you had to do was ask”.

In movie news, yes there is finally some big movie news I care about, Disney have been making some interesting moves. The architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and current Head of Marvel Kevin Feige is rumoured to have been given the keys to a Star Wars movie. Feige has found unprecedented success with the MCU and has kind of earned the respect of the world for what he has built. All reports are suggesting he is a huge Star Wars fan and this decision does make sense from a business perspective.

Disney have two of the biggest producers in the business running their two biggest franchises. One of them is a complete success and the other is Star Wars. Regardless of your views on The Last Jedi, it cannot be argued that it united the fan base. Quite the opposite in fact and that seems to have led to a rethink at Disney. Now they have paired Feige with Star Wars lead producer Kathleen Kennedy to try and start the new wave of content in the Star Wars universe.

It’s not all necessarily good news though. Marvel is currently in a state of rebuild, and as I wrote a little while ago Feige’s job now is to try and do it again. Repeat the success he had building Iron Man and Captain America into the faces of a huge connected series of films. They recently had their break up with Sony and lost the next biggest thing in the MCU in Spiderman, and a part of that was attributed to Feige just being too busy to help out on a Sony made movie so they wanted a bigger cut to make it worthwhile for them.

If a part of the reason Feige is too busy is because he is being drafted over to help with Star Wars, it feels like they’re possibly meddling with some dangerous waters. Marvel needs Feige and if he can help with the Spiderman issues, they should let him focus on that. The MCU is a feat of organisation and forward thinking that’s unrivalled in Hollywood. Star Wars is one of the few things that could be a huge distraction to the main man at Marvel and if he takes his eye off the ball at this crucial time for the MCU it could end badly.

Of course, it might all work out, and maybe Kevin Feige is just looking for something a bit different to the Superhero blockbusters he has been helping mass produce over the last 11 years. You could understand if he is a bit fatigued from the same universe of films being all he has been involved with for so long. It looks like Disney are leaning a bit heavier on their golden goose and hoping it can carry on producing the goods even in other franchises.

Knowing my luck this will all be debunked by the time this publishes.

Thanks for reading!

ChAzJS

 

The Autumn Video Game Budget

Borderlands 3 signalled the beginning of the period that hurts all gamers wallets. For some reason this 3-month run up to Christmas is when the decision makers at the big companies decide to release every game that people have been looking forward to. I get it, Christmas is coming, but surely some of them should have brought their releases forward or delayed them into 2020 to avoid the overload. 

Without using google, I can list off PES 2020, Borderlands 2, FIFA 20, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Destiny 2’s newest expansion Shadowkeep which is like a new game, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, The Outer Worlds, Death Stranding and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. If we optimistically say £50 per game, that’s £450 to keep up with the conversation and that’s assuming I haven’t missed any games.

Okay now I have googled it and I missed the new Pokémon and Doom Eternal. They round it off to a cool £550. So, there is ELEVEN games potentially fighting it out for your Christmas list just of the ones I would have any interest playing. If you want to keep up when you’ll need to have a fair amount of disposable income to do so, and that is without looking at all the types of games I wouldn’t play like 2D platformers and puzzle games.

I understand the need for Sports games to be released at the start of new seasons in their respective sports, so PES and FIFA, NHL and Madden all kind of have their set release windows and that’s just how it has always been. Those games sell millions and always will because they have people invested so deeply in them. Games such as Call of Duty or Ghost Recon though, make less sense to me.

Ghost Recon seems set to be one of the losers in this fight. The last game was a game I thoroughly enjoyed, and I am excited for the next one, but there is so much competition around at the time. For me, it means Destiny 2’s expansion will be put off until the Christmas break and I will probably not go for one or the other between Outer Worlds and Call of Duty. In general, though, Ghost Recon isn’t nearly as popular as a title like Call of Duty or Borderlands and doesn’t have the curiosity around it that a game like The Outer Worlds has going for it.

Surely releasing it back in august, when there was a huge gap for a meaty game like Ghost Recon to fill would have been a better move from a business sense and got more people interested in playing it. As it is the over saturation of the industry in the autumn months will probably mean the game gets cannibalised by its competition.

A similar thing happened a few years ago to a Tomb Raider game, which was a single player story driven action adventure game that released one week after Spiderman on the PS4. The result was that I didn’t pick it up until it was on the game pass on Xbox, meaning they missed out on the money I would have happily paid if they had released at a less busy time.

I know this post won’t change anything, but I would love to see these big games show a bit more common sense and move out of the way of each other rather than fight it out.

It’s a slow news day and last night I just carried on with Borderlands 3. I posted my review yesterday, but I am trying to convince myself to finish the entire game. That’s never a good sign, but I am now at that point where I am having to convince myself to boot it up. It’s not because it’s a bad game, it just hasn’t grabbed my attention the way some games do.

It’s only 10 days now until FIFA 19 releases, and the inevitable time vortex that game is for me will mean a load of FIFA related posts. As it is, I am avoiding that type of football because Arsenal persist with playing out from the back despite it clearly not working, and now I am a full time NFL fan.

So, if anyone ask’s how my team did at the weekend, they won 43-0 against the Miami Dolphins.

ChAzJS

 

Episode III – The Best of the Prequels

I have always held this opinion. The third movie in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, is a good film. It’s not spectacular and doesn’t get to the dizzy heights of Empire Strikes Back, but it is good. It’s prime Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan and continues from the previous two films in that it has just made me more and more excited for his solo series. 

Episode III opens with a spectacular space battle, one of the best looking we have seen, and introduces the best robot in the universe, General Grievous. The name is just incredibly on the nose, but it works, and his weird fleshy eyes and heart, the smokers cough and the voice all combine to make one of the most unusual villains in the Star Wars world. I normally know a lot about characters in Star Wars, but he is a bit of a blind spot. I don’t know where he comes from, I don’t know how he works, but he uses 4 lightsabers at once in this movie and that’s just Baller as fuck.

Hayden Christensen isn’t the best actor in the world, but he does give it his all in this film. There are only one or two awkwardly written scenes with Padme in this one, although it is still cringe inducing when they are supposed to be cute together. It has a key role in this film, but this romance is probably my biggest problem with the entire prequel trilogy. I don’t necessarily think it’s the actor’s faults, but any chemistry they have is smashed into touch by the dialogue.

It took some big personalities in the original trilogy to take what George Lucas gave them and turn it into the real emotional moments. Han Solo’s “I love you/I know” moment was created by Harrison Ford and Director Irvin Kershner not George Lucas, and moments like that are an example of what is missing from the prequels.

This film does have its own very quotable, and much meme’d line though. I didn’t even think of it as it was about to happen, but when Obi Wan dropped down behind Grievous on Utapau and greets all the droids with “Hello there” I laughed out loud. It is so perfect, so Obi Wan. It’s a dad taking the piss when things are about to get serious and he’s saying it purely to get their attention. If he doesn’t say those words at least once an episode in the new TV show I will have no choice but to brand it a complete and total failure.

We get some more political intrigue with the Emperor finally becoming The Emperor after he turns Anakin, and again Ian McDiarmid is just perfect in this role. I don’t know exactly what capacity he is going to be in The Rise of Skywalker but getting one last serving of McDiarmid is going to be a great treat in December.

When it comes to lightsaber fights, nothing has yet topped the end scene of this film within the entire franchise. Rey and Kylo Ren are great but they aren’t up to the balletic battle at the climax of Revenge of the Sith. Switching between Anakin V Obi Wan and Palpatine V Yoda absolutely blew my 12-year-old mind in 2005. Yoda walking into Palpatine’s office and knocking out the two guards with a nonchalant flick of his wrist tells us that here to fuck around, he is not.

How did I get into the third film before I wrote in Yoda’s voice?

After some force power dick measuring, Palpatine and Yoda literally whip them out, and begin fighting lightsaber to lightsaber. Both becoming well rendered video game characters leaping around. Before they end it with Palpatine launching half of space parliaments furniture at Yoda. It’s quite a poignant scene, as I think someone should go into parliament and launch chairs around in real life. Only do it with all the politicians still in their chairs.

Useless overpaid incompetent twats couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery let alone Brexit. I don’t care which “Side” you’re on, the whole thing needs to be torn up and started again.

Anyway, back on spicy hot drop Mustafar (that’s a Fortnite/Apex reference, I am down with the kids) Anakin has finished slaughtering politicians and is waiting for his wife whom he loves so much. She turns up, unknowingly bringing Obi-Wan with her, and before she can even say “I didn’t know he was there he’s a fucking space wizard” Anakin chokes her out. That’s her dealt with for plot convenience sake. Now we can have Obi Wan and Anakin get their duel on. There is no Force dick measuring here, it’s all about the swordplay.

They battle in rooms, on railings, climbing up huge structures, floating on robots above flowing Lava. It’s a beautifully choreographed scene but one does have to question why they felt the need to move around the planet so much. They could have had the entire fight on the platform where the ship was.

I am glad they didn’t though, as it leads to an interesting moment in the Star Wars franchise. Having duelled with nobody getting a clear advantage, Obi Wan gets the high ground. Anakin leaps to get over him, and Obi Wan fillets him. Both legs and an arm swished off like trimming wings off a chicken. It’s brutal.

I spent a lot of my life thinking this was a stupid end to the fight. Then my flatmate shared a bit of reasoning behind it that since then I have thought about a lot and I kind of wish there had been some way to show this in the film. Considering I watched this film 2 days after watching Episode I, the Darth Maul/Obi Wan fight was fresh in my mind. The jump Anakin tries to perform is the same one Obi Wan did against Darth Maul, only Obi Wan taught Anakin about it, so he is completely ready for it.

Obi Wan even says to Anakin “Don’t Try It”. In my head I like to think they have discussed that fight at length, and Anakin knows it is Obi Wan’s best moment. Being the egomaniac that he is, he wants to prove he can do anything Obi Wan can, so he tries to copy it. Of course, instead of landing behind Obi Wan and chopping him in half, Anakin gets butchered. It adds a bit more to the end to me, and I like to think that’s how it was meant to be.

All in all, the prequels are a brilliant story that isn’t done full justice by the execution of the movies. I can’t help but feel a little like the Sequel trilogy that ends with The Rise of Skywalker is the reverse of that. The new films look brilliant and are acted well. The dialogue is well written, and they’re directed expertly. There actual bigger story doesn’t seem nearly as well thought out or planned as the original or the prequels though. We will have to wait until December to find out.

‘Til tomorrow!

ChAzJS

 

Episode II: Not all bad.

As hinted at yesterday, today’s post is about Star Wars Episode II. When I was 9 years old this was everything to me. It has lots of fight scenes, insect people, lightsaber’s coming out of all its orifices and Yoda flipping about like a bouncy ball launched into a cupboard. How does 26-year-old me feel about it? 

Well as it happens, I didn’t think it was too bad. The film starts with an attempt on Padme’s life, and the trauma she goes through leads her to mistakenly marry an immature child she met 10 years previously and has had no contact within the intervening years. At least that is what I must tell myself to buy into any of the romance between her and Anakin in this film. There are poorly written lines in most films, but somehow George Lucas saved all his worst lines for use exclusively in scenes between Anakin and Padme, when they’re supposed to be falling in love.

That criticism extends to the next film in the franchise but more on that another time. As for this film, that whole story line with them falling for each other is what punches this film down to a 5 or 6 out of 10. The rest of the film is a fun time with some heavy plot convenience, but I found most of it to be forgivable.

Attack of the Clones introduces us to the prime Ewan McGregor Obi Wan we all remember, with that beard and that hair and that voice. He reaches his peak in Revenge of the Sith, but his step fatherly relationship to Anakin is where the film gets a relationship right for me. You feel he cares for his protege deeply and is struggling to be the teacher he wants to be at times, with his pupil showing some signs of teenage rebellion. This film makes me very excited to see the Obi Wan series coming out on Disney Plus in the next few years, as you just want to spend more time following McGregor around on his adventures.

The entire section of the film with him hunting down Jango Fett (#TheBetterFett) I found entertaining, and if that’s a hint at the kind of things we could get from an Obi Wan Series I am all in. Also, the sound design of those bombs (seismic charges I believe to the nerds out there) that are deployed in the asteroid field is just something else. What a boom.

Hayden Christensen plays Anakin with a lot of commitment but I think the direction he is given is just all over the place. I think what we were supposed to see is a character who is being torn between the various desires he has and knows what’s right but also can’t ignore his feelings like he should be able according to the Jedi. It’s a role that requires an actor to be able to indulge themselves and really develop it from within themselves. I think director and creator George Lucas, for all his creative genius, may have struggled to get the best performance out of Christensen here. It feels like he was told to stick to the script word for word and to say it exactly how Lucas wanted it to sound, rather than giving him the script and letting him understand the character.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it feels wooden and jarring. It goes back to my comments yesterday about Jar Jar Binks (Who does appear briefly in this film in an unoffensive way). It takes a strong personality to stand up to a director and say, “no I think it should be done this way”, especially when that director is George Lucas who created this entire franchise that may make or break your career. This is all just my read on it though, and maybe this is just the best Hayden Christensen could do.

Wooden Anakin aside, the film develops some of the characters we met in previous films quite a bit, with Mace Windu and Yoda the clear leaders of the Jedi. What I have been enjoying most about the prequels though is Palpatine. Perhaps as a child I just didn’t notice it, but this entire trilogy isn’t the story of Anakin turning into Darth Vader as it seems. It’s the story of how a senator called Palpatine manipulated and rose to power and building the foundation of the Empire that we saw in the original Star Wars in 1977.

Ian McDiarmid in the role of Palpatine is really something. When you realise, he is consistently playing everyone in the room it feels like a different thing all together. I would love to have seen these films focus more on him, give him a little more to do and let us see him planning it out behind the scenes. As it is these films almost try to surprise you that he is the emperor when it seems obvious to me. I am a huge Star Wars nerd of course, so perhaps I am not the one they are trying to get one over on.

The last half of this film, when Christopher Lee is introduced as the Classy Count Dooku, is just one continuous ramp up of the action. From Anakin and Padme fighting their way through a droid building factory, to the climactic battle, there is not a lot of time for us to slow down. and process what’s happening. It’s an action-packed finale and for the most part it works. There’s a lot of digitally created fights, with flocks of droids doing battle with battalions of clones, but it all adds to the sense of scale and if you can look past the dated special effects it’s a decent effort.

There are a lot of cool moments and situations, the monsters fighting Obi Wan, Padme and Anakin lead right into that moment. The point at which 9-year-old me lost their shit. When I see 100s of lightsabers ignite around the arena and think “Oh damn it’s on now!”.

After that, we get a curved lightsaber handle, that seems to add little to the weapon at all, wielded by Count Dooku as he frankly batters Obi Wan and Anakin. Anakin wielding a blue and green lightsaber at the same time is cool, but again he is just being played with by the bad guy. Here we get a situation where he could have easily murdered them both and been on with his business. Instead he toys with them long enough for a little green dude turns up and shows off his power.

The best moment of the film for me is when Yoda opens his coat to reveal his kid sized lightsaber, and then it whips through the air into his hand. He then proceeds to bounce around and the fight is rather hard to follow, but it does feature some excellent faces from Christopher Lee. The film kind of ends on a stutter, with a few things hurried through, including Anakin marrying Padme right at the death of the film.

All in all, I think my appreciation for the prequels is increasing, but I can still recognise that these films are just not that great. The world they’re set in, the characters and the story are all quite good, I just think this film has been executed poorly. The two best films in the franchise were written by Lucas and directed by other people. Perhaps that is the formula that should have been used for the prequels as I just think someone who’s skills were more attuned for Directing rather than creating like Lucas’ skillset is might have taken these films to another level.

Anyway, that’s enough about Episode II, I have Episode 3 in my head now and I will talk about that on Friday. I will give it a break from the Star Wars talk tomorrow!

‘Til then!

ChAzJS

 

Prequel Problems

I settled down last night after getting home late because of train delays and making myself some dinner and began to flick through the various streaming services. For some reason I have had an urge to watch the Star Wars prequels for weeks. and suddenly there they were on Now TV, waiting to be “enjoyed”.

As Episode I began, with baby faced Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson with his glorious mane of hair, I was mildly optimistic I could find some more redeeming qualities in the film as I haven’t watched it for years. The opening 15 minutes are decent, not terrible by any means and some slightly dated special effects and questionable accents on certain aliens aside, I found it okay to watch. Then, they reach Naboo, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon bumps into Jar Jar Binks (literally bumps into him) and within a minute I was fast forwarding to the pod race to get away from that unequivocal error of a character.

The pod race itself has always been a bit of a weird one for me. I loved it as a kid, but then I remember when I last watched these films, I thought it was an odd scene. Watching it again last night I kind of enjoyed it and I realise that it’s very similar to the dog racing scene in The Last Jedi, only in The Phantom Menace it has a purpose (to show Anakin’s abilities).

Speaking of Anakin, this is the first time I have watched these films and thought about the fact this 9-year-old child ends up marrying this 18-year-old Queen. The ages in the films are meant to be a bit closer but Natalie Portman looks the same in all 3 films, whereas Anakin ages up and changes a lot, becoming Hayden Christensen. I did also watch Attack of the Clones last night, but I will ramble about that later.

The scenes around the pod race are okay. Qui-Gon has some odd sexual chemistry going on with Anakin’s mother, and her line about Anakin being a virgin birth, a fatherless child, is bizarre but I think Rise of the Skywalker may well explain it. It’s been explained in other mediums of the Star Wars franchise, but never in films. The idea is that Palpatine, the good old Emperor himself, used the force somehow and created Anakin as part of his plan to take over the universe.

Ridiculous right, but this franchise isn’t known for its realism so who knows where they will go. Or if this will ever even be explained. It’s at this point there’s more talking, more trade disputes, more things I couldn’t care less about. So, I skipped ahead again. I managed to get to the final fight, the only part of this film I wanted to watch. Darth Maul arrives and Ray Parks in that make up just looks bad ass.

I remember being so amazed by a double bladed lightsaber when I was little. I grew up playing pretend imagining I had a blue, green, or red one, but anything beyond that was just not realistic to me. Then here this guy turns up with a double sided one. How outrageous of him to just change the game like that. Then they begin to fight, and again the 6-year-old me was just blown away.

The fight is less actual sword play and more a choreographed ballet of movement and colours. The cinematography doesn’t quite make the most of it, but you can follow what is happening and where people are. The film takes notes from Return of the Jedi and splits into 3 distinct fights. One with Lightsabers, one with blasters, and one with spaceships. Only this time the Spaceship fight is being done by the 9-year-old boy we met earlier.

He has no experience flying anything in space, but he absolutely nails it. People have problems with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi because Rey picks up being a Jedi quickly. Well frankly there is no basis for this as apparently if you have it, you just have it. You don’t even need to be told how to use any part of this vehicle, if you got the force, the force got you and you’ll be blowing up space stations in no time.

Oh, I forgot about the other fight happening, the Gungans against the droid army. There is a reason I left this out, because Jar Jar is all over it and it should have been cut from the film. Nobody needs it. Nobody likes it. Get it out of my Star Wars. I want it gone. I want him gone. He’s a fucking diabolical choice by George Lucas. I know he created the franchise so had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted in these films, but why did nobody say “Uh George, yeah just a quick point on this Jar Jar character… He is fucking awful”. That’s all that needed to happen, but nobody back then had the confidence to step up to George Lucas and tell him what to do with Star Wars.

So, the film flicks between them all, and I skip through the stupid Jar Jar scenes, and I have to say I found it enjoyable. Even Anakin’s stuff in the ship is pretty fun, if a bit much when there are hundreds of trained, legitimate fighter pilots up there struggling to stay alive whilst he is doing his thing.

Everything comes down to the lightsaber fight for me though. With Obi-wan trapped he watched Darth Maul beat Qui-Gon and Liam Neeson bows out. Then Obi Wan comes out swinging and slashes the double bladed lightsaber in half, before doing the same thing to Darth Maul.

Important to note he does not kill Darth Maul. That’s right in the Star Wars universe having your legs and hips removed from the upper part of your body is but a flesh wound. Not to mention the fall down a huge shaft like the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. Darth Maul shows up in several cartoons and even at the end of the Solo spin off film. He has robot legs, and it’s the best stuff the character ever does. Even better than the various times in this film when he looks broodingly into the distance.

So, there you have it, an account of my first-time watching Star Wars Episode I in over 10 years. I did this so you don’t have to. Just go straight to Attack of the Clones. Which is what I did after managing to fast forward through enough that I watched Phantom Menace in around an hour. I will go into that tomorrow or another time though.

Until then thanks for reading!

ChAzJS