Saturday, February 11, 2012

Where It All Began

Three Stars

He’s a boy who’s the chosen one. No, it’s not Harry Potter. Both of these stories happen to travel around in nerd circles. However, before magicial kids saving the universe were the entire craze, it was all about young Jedi’s. It’s Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Young and cute, Anakin is a slave on a planet that’s off the main course of the space ship being piloted by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) . He’s discovered by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). There’s something about this kid. The force seems to be with him. Of course, you already know this because this film came out in 1999. However, I am meeting more and more kids who happen to be born around 1996. It’s scary but true. These kids were born in a galaxy far, far away from me. So, if your kid hasn’t had the legend of Star Wars passed down to them, this is a good place to start. It is episode one, after all. The 3-D re-release of “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” just opened in theaters, and I made a few observations as I entered the theater. First of all, these aren’t any 3-D glasses. These are collectable 3-D glasses. The glasses are really cool.

If you remember way back in 1999, most of the fans thought “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” was bad. Just like Harry Potter fans argue over if their movies are any good. Kids, in my day, we argued over Star Wars at our local comic book stores and comic book conventions. Let me get back to the movie. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi discover young Anakin as a slave on a desert planet. There’s much political stuff going on back on their home planet, mostly having to do with a trade agreement. The queen (Natalie Portland) is worried about this, and sees an impending attack coming. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi bet everything on the boy. They make a gamble on him winning a race, and they win his freedom from slavery. He’s a mysterious kid. Even his mother mentions she has no idea who the father was. One day, she just woke up pregnant and carried him. That being said, we all know who his father is. Anyone who knows “Star Wars” knows.

George Lucas mostly keeps the story moving along in the way he usually does. With a lot of dialogue about the politics of the galaxy, light sabers fights, and fast cuts to different scenes, Lucas keeps his universe afloat. Roger Ebert, in his 1999 review, is pretty much right. Lucas knows how to tell a good story and its good stories, like “Star Wars,” that keep us coming back for more. I was also thinking about how we love the heroes’ journey in a film. That’s another thing that keeps us coming back to “Star Wars.” This kid is the chosen one. There’s something about him that sets him apart, and maybe will make him the hero of the story. What nerdy kid doesn’t like to think he’s the chosen one? It’s funny that “Star Wars” was doing that before the whole craze about magical kids saving the world became popular literary culture.

So, yes, fans to this day complain that Lucas isn’t trying, or that the later movies were bad. However, you got to admit there is something about “Star Wars” that keeps us coming back. So, yes, I would suggest you bring your kids and yourself to see the re-release of “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” because it’s not a bad story and “Star Wars” is something you might want to pass down to your kids. It’s one of the great movie series of our time. The special effects are cool. The 3-D is pretty good. However, considering most of the scenes are kind of dialogue filled scenes about the politics of the galaxy and stuff, I think this film could have been just re-released as a regular film. People would have gone to see it anyway. That being said, 3-D can be fun. At the end of the day, it’s “Star Wars” and it’s one of the great stories and institutions of film and American pop culture. It’s the famous franchise, and anyone who goes in knows what they are getting into. The force was with you as a kid; don’t you want it to be with them too?

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