Trolling #1: The Phantom Menace RULES!
The Phantom Menace Revolutionized Theaters
You may notice that most of your local cinemas are using digital projectors now. You can thank The Phantom Menace for that too. Lucas predicted that the future of film would be digital, and he pushed digital shooting technologies with such a furor, that his prophecy became a self-fulfilling one. Lucas almost singlehandedly brought about the digital revolution. Indeed, when Attack of the Clones came out, Lucas himself paid for certain theaters to convert to digital projectors.
The Phantom Menace changed the way big-budget films are made. Gone is the hefty, clunky analog way of making movies. Now everything could be smooth, bright, and crisp. All the films that followed The Phantom Menace stuck to this idiom. They had to. It was the new way. Again: The Phantom Menace was an actual game-changer that actually revolutionized the world of film.
Jar-Jar Binks is Not as Annoying as You Think
Consider that Jar-Jar is no more or less annoying that C-3PO. Lucas made Star Wars with a younger audience in mind, and he succeeded in hooking children into his world, creating lifelong obsessives to his movie. Lucas may have constructed his story to please the fans, but he added plenty to keep Star Wars exciting for little kids. Jar-Jar was that thing. To a grown-up, Jar-Jar may seem like a weird floppy newt with little plot function, but to a kid, he's a funny and relatable character who seems to keep the stoic characters around him grounded.
Seeing little kids talk about The Phantom Menace, they seem to be very fond of Jar-Jar. Kids like Jar-Jar the same way you liked C-3PO.
The Phantom Menace Kept Star Wars Immediate and Relevant
Sure, Star Wars would have been considered a significant and talked-about classic even without The Phantom Menace, but what Episode I did was keep the film alive in a new filmmaking idiom for a new generation. Little kids were brought into a new fold, and given something that was up-to-date, something that was markedly theirs, but still Star Wars. Now a new generation could grow up with their very own phenomenon, and not just re-watch an aging film that their parents liked. The Phantom Menace, then, kind of kept Star Wars vital. It didn't keep it alive (it would have lived on), but it kept it relevant.
Were there story problems? Yes. All of the odd plot machinations and bad ideas in The Phantom Menace have been carefully catalogued by sites like Red Letter Media, who made a hilarious 90-minute review of the film pointing out its every flaw. But that this story was made, that it was this successful, that it was seen by so many, and that it actually revolutionized filmmaking makes The Phantom Menace one of the greatest and most significant films of a generation.
Also John Williams' score is awesome.
Until next week, let the hate mail flow.
Witney Seibold is a featured contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and co-star of The Trailer Hitch. You can read his weekly articles B-Movies Extended, Free Film School and The Series Project, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind. If you want to buy him a gift (and I know you do), you can visit his Amazon Wish List.