In the lead up to what could possibly be the best Star Wars film yet, The Last Jedi, I decided to take it upon myself to watch every Star Wars film and review it before the release of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. These reviews will be both looking at the film, figuring out my feelings from when I first saw them to now (note: I’ve seen each one too many times to count) and lastly to explore any theories that might connect the film to The Last Jedi. Unfortunately I’m not going to have time to review The Clone Wars and Rebels series but you should know that they are both fantastic shows that deserve to be watched and play an important role in the Star Wars Universe. Let’s begin with The Phantom Menace;
Two Cool Theories and a Sudden Understanding
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is the original hyped up film. Yes, you could argue that it was Empire Strikes Back or Return of The Jedi or The Force Awakens but in the end, it will always be The Phantom Menace. Phantom Menace arrived during the longest period of no Star Wars films or content in a long time, apart from books and games of course. In the end, though the hype was never truly satisfied as many hated The Phantom Menace and questioning how it could go so wrong. This was the start of people hating on George Lucas for screwing up the very thing that he created. Looking back on it now I don’t mind it too much but I recently had an understanding of how people felt about it.
I was actually only five years old when Phantom Menace came out, I don’t even think I saw it at the movies I think I just watched it home on VHS so I don’t remember the hype or anything but I do remember the trailer…which is weird. Recently I had a strange moment where I was reviewing the Justice League movie and reading Kyle’s positive review of it when I realised that The Justice League movie was Kyle’s version of any Star Wars film to me. I would watch any Star Wars film and I would never say that one is god awful or anything of the kind because I think the creative vision far outweighs each film’s faults, yeah I’m that guy who doesn’t care about the fact Force Awakens is A New Hope…its what you wanted too just admit it already. When fans were loving Justice League and critics, like myself, were hating on it I realised that The Justice League movie was to the fans what Star Wars is to me. It was their dream to see that film come to life, just like it was a dream for me that any Star Wars film comes out. Despite all the bad CGI, story and acting the DC fans still loved Justice League and the same goes for myself and Star Wars, I don’t notice the bad CGI and so on because I’m just simply enjoying the film I mean it’s a pretty crazy thing to happen.
As time has gone past I do find myself trying to wonder why Lucas would make some decisions that ultimately were just bad ideas. It’s the small things like relying on CGI so much instead of people in costumes and making Anakin a little kid instead of a teenager that affects the film so much. In the end, those things distract the viewer from the very film they’re supposed to be engaged with. At my current age in life, 23, I’m almost prime age for the stories of the new trilogy and in Lucas’ eyes, I was the prime age for the prequel trilogy too, five years old. In the new trilogy Rey and Finn and Kylo are all in their 20’s and are around the same age as me, so their stories resonate a bit more with myself because of our age similarities. The problem with Phantom Menace is that half the time you don’t care because all of the guys my age who grew up in the pick Star Wars time during the original trilogy couldn’t relate to a kid as young as Anakin was. Lucas’ idea for it being a kids movie worked as it got my attention but unfortunately, my age group wasn’t the majority and ultimately it doesn’t work because of it, which is strange because rarely does everyday life have an effect on people’s reaction to a film unless it is shocking.
In the end, The Phantom Menace is by no means a god awful film, it isn’t a great film but it’s at least alright. Podracing is cool and so is Darth Maul, now that I’m older and watching everything I can confirm yes the CGI isn’t fantastic but then again it’s amazing for the time so from this Star Wars fanboy I say take your film camera elsewhere buddy. The acting isn’t spectacular either but Ewan Mcgregor is great and I actually like Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn who I believe probably shouldn’t have died because it would’ve added more emotion to Attack of the Clones if he died there instead. Finally yes Jar Jar Binks is annoying and just a character that I’m sure Lucas would love a time machine for but hey you try recreating a new version of Chewbacca and I bet everyone will hate that and you too.
Score: 3/5 Midochlorians
Now onto the two theories that have come out of The Phantom Menace and they are pretty good ones actually.
Maz Kanata is a Podracer:
Yes, you just read that correctly the theory is that Maz Kanata is a podracer and that Anakin Skywalker was a big fan of hers. He was such a big fan that he had an action figure of her in his room.
Yeah, that figure looks almost identical to Maz doesn’t it? The theory is that she is an acclaimed podracer and that’s why she knows so many people and has her own castle. One of the ideas behind this was that in the trailers for The Force Awakens her castle had lots of podracer like flags, similar to the ones you see in The Phantom Menace. In the final film though these flags are missing and have been taken out, maybe to cover up the obvious? If you’ve played the new Battlefront 2 these flags are actually at her castle and can be seen. The one important part about podracing is Anakin’s line of “I’m the only human who can do it”. To which Qui-gon explains that Anakin has force reflexes which allow him the ability to do podracing. Is Maz a force wielder of some kind? We see that in the deleted scenes from The Force Awakens but that isn’t canon anymore but it could explain some of the next theory.
Qui-Gon Jinn is Rey’s Grandfather
Now before you say anything no it is not because they have a similar hairstyle, although that would be pretty funny. This growing theory is I think the best one yet and it goes like this; The Star Wars series runs similar to the Bible whereas there are main characters who are different from everyone else and have different gifts. Qui-gon has a vision of how to bring balance to the force and Qui-Gon, who is known to not care too much about the Jedi Code, has a child with an unknown character. His vision allows him to see his future meeting with Anakin and he rescues him and sets up a series of events that will lead to the force being balanced. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, and in the Clone Wars series, we know that Obi-Wan gains the ability to talk to Qui-Gon, but why single out something that you’re not going to show apart from explaining how force ghosts work later on? Qui-gon informs Obi-Wan of his plan while he is watching Luke. The events of the original trilogy happen and then afterwards Obi-Wan informs Luke of the story of Qui-Gon and bringing balance to the Force and Luke find’s Qui-gon’s grandaughter Rey and sticks her on Jakku with Lord Sen Tekka, the guy at the start of Force Awakens to look after her like Obi-Wan did for him.
You’re probably thinking what is the point of all this just for one Jedi when Luke was training heaps of them before Kylo Ren turns evil? Well back to specific characters having gifts we have a group of characters who stand out from everyone else in the Star Wars films and shows. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda, Ahsoka Tano (The Clone Wars & Rebels), Kanan & Ezra (Star Wars Rebels) Chirrut Imwe (the blind guy with force-like abilities in Rogue One), Luke, Maz Kanata (with her Podracing abilities), Rey and Kylo Ren are all these characters who have the force but what we notice is regular characters in the universe gaining singular abilities and not full abilities. This then ties in with the title of the film The Last Jedi which Rian Johnson says is singular pointing out that Luke is The Last Jedi because by the end of the film there will be a new name/form of the Jedi religion similar to how Jesus brought helped bring in Christianity. Those force wielders who have powers but aren’t Jedi are more like everyday Star Wars saints.
It is a crazy theory, yes but it is one that would be interesting to see unfold and have Star Wars actually tackle its religious base of storytelling as opposed to just talking about the light and dark side. The film could instead be about a religious-like warfare going on through the galaxy and how the religion must change and adapt to the new universe if it is to survive…..or this could all just be rubbish and Han and Leia are her parents but hey I think it’s cool. Tomorrow will be our review and theories from Attack of the Clones.