I'm terribly ill and my shoulder feels like it's been put through a meat tenderizer, so I have been spending lots of time on the couch recuperating. The only thing I can do without moving my arm is watch movies. Watching movies is my way of healing my body and avoiding pain.
But "The Phantom Menace" is causing me more pain than I've felt in years. It's simply AWFUL. It has the script and pacing of a children's Saturday morning cartoon, simultaneously stretched out (to two hours) and compressed (so that no scene lasts longer than thirty seconds). The dialog is on par with a Care Bears episode -- just a collection of soulless exposition, boring cliches, and totally unfunny gags -- and it's delivered with no verve whatsoever. It's like Lucas said to the actors, "Just read the goddamn lines!" and they read the lines once, and he said "Okay, next scene!"
I am only 45 minutes into this film and I already feel like I've spent an entire day with it, but paradoxically I have no interest in any of the characters, environments, or bizarre racially-loaded cultures. Why's the junkyard guy speaking like he runs a pizzaria? What spliff did Jar-Jar crawl out from under? Boy, those Japanese Federation monsters sure pulled a Pearl Harbor on Naboo!
And yet, when characters DON'T have funny accents...well, they have nothing at all. They're blanks. They're actors that Lucas obviously wishes he could have replaced with a CGI model.
I hear the second and third episodes are better than this one, but you know what? I'm so appalled by Lucas' chutzpah that I don't think I'll be able to watch them. I don't even know if I can get to the whizzy eye-candy that supposedly ends this episode...not if I have to hear Jar-Jar say "How rude!" again.
"How rude!" That's a punchline!