(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing trailer clips and screenshots from Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace)
Doug (vo): What can I say about the most despised movie prequel in cinema history? Well, I can say this: who has two thumbs and totally saw it coming? (A picture of Nostalgia Critic is shown) This guy. That's right. I've been waiting years for these bragging rights, and now it's finally come. I knew from the first trailer that this was gonna be a bad movie. It just kinda came down to logical deduction.
Doug (vo): Lucas only directed one Star Wars film. And as impressive as it was, it had a lot of problems. The writing was hokey, the acting was stilted, and there's a lot of things that didn't always make sense. But he had a lot of people to give him advice and limitation, so it still turned out a good product.
(Back to The Phantom Menace)
Doug (vo): Then, years later, after barely directing a thing, this guy is suddenly supposed to direct a masterpiece? Though, in all fairness, even I couldn't guess it'd be this bad.
Doug (vo): It starts off as Obi-Wan and his master (Qui-Gon Jinn) are trying to figure out...some sort of political taxation, Federation stuff that...yeah, like you, I can't figure out either. They try to help the newly elected child queen Amidala, which...you don't elect queens, and queens can't be children, but, whatevs...and along the way, they come across the death of comedy, Jar Jar Binks, and the death of acting, Anakin Skywalker. Anakin, it turns out, is a virgin birth...yeah, it can't get any more obvious than that...and, according to a blood test, apparently the Force is very strong with him. Oh, the amount of people this pissed off...oh, we'll get to that later. They buy Anakin from one stereotype (Watto) to deliver him to two other stereotypes (Trade Federation), who are in cahoots with the senator named Palpatine, who is secretly the Emperor, who wants to get the Queen to sign the treaty because...political stuff. We get swordfights, gunfights, space battles, and through all of it, I have no idea what they're fighting for. But, who cares, right? (The Imperial Stormtroopers are shown) In the original, it was just an evil Empire. We didn't really know their politics, they were just kind of evil, so maybe we can just do the same thing here, right?
Doug (vo): Well, that would work if the characters were the least bit interesting, and by God, are they not. My complaints are your complaints. The acting is so wooden, the writing's so fifth grade, the effects, way too computer-generated, the comedy, way too kindergarten, the stereotypes, way too offensive. Yeah, what else can I say about this that every other person on the planet hasn't said? Well, I guess I'll try to defend it a touch, as everybody acts like this is the worst thing ever made, and it's not. It's just a bad movie coming off the heels of some of the most popular films ever made.
(Screenshots showing the planet of Naboo, as well as the action sequences, are shown)
Doug (vo): As tiring as the constant CG gets in this, there are a lot of very neat landscapes. The worlds are very creative and very beautiful to look at. The swordfights got a lot better, too. Remember when Darth Vader and Obi-Wan were just kind of tapping those lightsticks together? Well, now, this is a straight-on battle, and it looks amazing. It's still impressive even years later.
(A picture of George Lucas at work directing the film is shown)
Doug (vo): And whether you see it as a good thing or a bad thing, there is something interesting watching a guy's dream suddenly come to life with nobody getting in the way. It's a fully-realized vision with no filters whatsoever. And as someone that loves film and artists, it's interesting to see. It...just so happens it's not very good. But it's still interesting. Was this always planned from the beginning? Probably not. But it's also kind of neat to see the changes he'd want to make and, yeah, what happens when a filmmaker stays away from his craft so long.
(Screenshots showing the scenes with Qui-Gon and young Anakin are shown)
Doug (vo): I can even make a small argument for the midi-chlorians. It's been proven that a lot of people that seem to have a spiritual essence or a lot of energy, the water in their blood is affected. So, in a very slim way, you could kind of make the argument that this is credible and doesn't get in the way of the philosophical and religious aspects, but even I admit, it's very, very slim. I'm just trying to offer an interesting point of view, but, yeah, like everyone, I thought this was a turd also.
(Various clips resume showing)
Doug (vo): The story's too complicated for kids to follow, and the dialogue is too childish for adults to follow. So unlike the original three, where it spoke to both, this one speaks to neither. I'm hearing more and more that there are a lot of kids that grew up with this because, hey, they like Jar Jar, they like poop jokes, and they like a lot of the visuals, which is interesting when you watch them grow up and realize that the original three films were much better than this. Honestly, the most entertaining thing about this film is the fan reaction.
(An image of people sitting in a movie theater is shown)
Doug (vo): The fact that people waited days in line, and then were in such denial when they found out it was bad. They didn't even admit it was bad. They tried to bargain with themselves and be convinced that it was actually good, but overtime, nobody could defend the poop jokes. Nobody could defend the racial stereotypes.
(A review of the movie by Roger Ebert is shown, which is surprisingly positive, with three-and-a-half out of four stars)
Doug (vo): As much as critics at the time actually tried to say this was a good movie...yeah, look up the reviews at the time, they tried to defend it...it showed in full view the power of hype, and how long it took for so many people to admit the Emperor has no clothes. Honestly, in many respects, it's kind of an important movie for that. It shows that artists are flawed and there is no perfect project. Hell, even the original Star Wars had a lot of stilted acting and hokey dialogue. For a lot of fans, this was the bursting of the bubble, the ending of the fairy tale, the "having to face real life". But there's advantages to that, too. It tells people that, hey, you don't have to be perfect to make good stuff. You can learn, you can change things, you can make stuff better. Even your heroes aren't always your heroes. And that's okay. You can be inspired to do better work.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): If you're one of those people that claim Lucas killed your childhood, you never had a childhood to begin with, or you're constantly trying to stay in it and reject your grown up world. Bottom line, he got his vision made, and it sucked, but at least he got it made exactly how he wanted it. It still did well at the box office, so you can't claim it's a waste of money. But, yeah, after years of spin-off books and spin-off games and so much that was being done with the Star Wars universe that Lucas had little involvement with, did I expect a lot more? Oh, yeah. But it's still such an interesting turnout in how strange and awful it is that it's kind of something to analyze. We'll never know. Was it just too many yes-men, or was he away from filming too long, or was he never really that talented to begin with, it was just other people that made it work? It's one of the great mysteries that's fun to speculate. And if you like it, great. I wish I could have such an innocent mind not to see all these offensive stereotypes. I'm sure he thought he was doing some sort of clever commentary, but if you don't see how this movie can piss off a lot of people, enjoy it. You're definitely part of a rare minority, and don't let anyone take that away from you. But for me, and a lot of other people, it's as if the voices of millions of people cried out in terror and were suddenly never given their money back.
(The title of the movie is shown)