I must please my dark masters

I’m back. Enough talk, it’s time for action:

Cut to night time outside the slave hovel, where Anakin and Qui-Gon are having a heart to heart as Qui-Gon tends to some scrapes on Anakin, presumably from working on the pod. At this point Anakin expresses his desire to see the galaxy, and his lines and delivery are only marginally hammy and overplayed. Qui-Gon surreptitiously takes a blood sample from Anakin, and gets Obi to test it for Midichlorians. Midichlorians, by far the worst thing that the phantom menace has done to the OT thus far. Midichlorians, you see, are George’s attempt to “explain” the force. Personally, I’m perfectly happy with the explanation we were given in ANH “The force is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” Simplicity itself. Here’s what the Phantom Menace has to contribute to the explanation: Midichlorians are microscopic organisms that live inside our cells, and allow us to feel and use the force. Umm, yeah. I’m sorry, but that just sucks. George, don’t mess with the force, it was perfect the way it was. So, as it turns out, our boy Anakin has the highest midichlorian count ever *gasp!* and in a scene never adequately explained, Shmi overhears Qui-Gon talking to Obi-Wan, but quietly walks away.

Hey, here comes Darth Maul! Maybe the film is about to kick back into high gear, and maybe this time said high gear will be cool instead of tedious! Hmmm, nope, looks like he’s just gonna look through some binoculars and send off some black basketballs to search for his prey. Oh well, maybe the upcoming pod race will be cool.

Over at the Boonta Eve pod race hangar, we’re treated to a scene with Qui-Gon and Watto discussing the deal. At this point Watto mentions that Sebulba is going to win, because he always wins, and we get an awesome close-up of Jar Jar being stupid, to punctuate that point. Beyond that little Jar Jar hiccup, and another coming after Qui-Gon uses the force to cheat at dice, this scene is pretty solid. It certainly reinforces my belief that Watto is the only CG character in the film that has been successfully realized. After losing his dice roll to the cheating Jedi, Watto leaves in a huff, but not before warning the planet’s resident Mac Daddy Anakin to curb his friends gambling habbit before it gets him into trouble. Qui-Gon brushes the remark aside, and helps Shmi off of her stupid looking cartoony pack mule/aardvark thing. Now, it might just be me, but throughout the film I’ve been picking up on a little bit of subtext between Qui-Gon and Shmi, almost like an underlying romantic connection or attraction. It’s especially noticeable here when Qui-Gon say good morning to her. I don’t know, just the way he says it makes it feel more like he’s just woken up next to her, as opposed to seeing her socially.

Okay, time for some more of that sterling acting from the kiddie corner of the Star Wars universe. This time it’s a trite and clunky piece of dialogue between Anakin and Kitster. Yes, truly George’s grasp of the way children speak is just as tight as his grasp of the way adults converse. That is to say, George is clueless. I have never heard a kid use the term “wizard” to describe anything, and I dare say I never will. It certainly doesn’t fit the Star Wars universe at all. At this point, to Padme’s horror, it is revealed that Anakin has never won a pod race… not even finished. It’s one of the few moments of credible, genuine acting that we’ll see from Portman in the entire film. Such a shame.

A quick cut scene of one of Darth Maul’s probe droids looking around Mos Espa while nobody takes any notice at all, and we’re back to the Racing Arena. It starts strong, with a terrific establishing shot of the arena. Unfortunately, the majesty isn’t going to last long, because here comes the annoying-as-fuck alien announcer, voiced by Greg Proops. Now, I like Greg, he’s a funny guy. Doesn’t belong in star wars. Also, the alien itself looks like absolute ass. George came down with a bizarre fascination for cartoony looking aliens in this film, and it hurts the credibility of the entire endeavor. If I had my way, I’d cut the announcer out of the pod race entirely.

What follows is a lengthy introduction to the Pod Racers, some of which are cool, most of which are decidedly not. Ben Quadrinaros is leading the way for those who are most definitely “not”. The guy looks like that animated shreddies cereal character. What possessed George to go so cartoony with his aliens this time out, I will never know, understand, or forgive. Also, in the background at this point, you’ll notice a dewback, absolutely hauling ass! This is one speedy dewback, certainly much faster than every other dewback in the saga. Good work continuity people, way to earn your pay.

Almost to the Halfway point kids, hang in there.


~ by Pagz on June 22, 2008.

One Response to “I must please my dark masters”

  1. Yeah…guess what I’m watching on Space right now…

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