The Telegraph reposted its positive reviews of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones


The Telegraph reposted its original positive reviews of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and its original negative review of Revenge of the Sith.

“Yet The Phantom Menace is probably one of the most deliriously inventive films to have appeared in years: it displays all of George Lucas’s uncommon magic, a wide-eyed genius for adventure narrative that is beyond any ordinary capacity for wonder, and in many respects the latest episode proves itself to be a more finished movie than any of the others. It is daring and beautiful, terrifying and pompous – and that’s just the title sequence.” Click here to read the whole review of The Phantom Menace.

“But, for most of us, Attack of the Clones is indeed a pleasant surprise. It’s fine. It’s just about what we want it to be, it’s certainly an improvement on the last chapter, and it leaves us, if not exactly quivering with anticipation for Episode III, then at least prepared to believe that Anakin Skywalker’s conversion to the Dark Side just might make that the really good one. ” Click here to read the whole review of Attack of the Clones.

Click here to read the review of Revenge of the Sith.


The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran praises the Prequel Trilogy for the risks it took


From CinemaBlend:

“In the history of blockbuster cinema, we have seldom seen films more divisive than the Star Wars prequels. Beloved by some and disliked by others, the run of films between Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith remain a debatable topic in general. With that in mind, we sat down with Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran during the press junket for the latest Star Wars movie and asked for her thoughts on the prequels. As it turns out, she thinks they deserve more credit for taking risks. The actress opened up and said:

I think something about the newer trilogy that people don’t give it credit for is that it really did take risks in different ways. I know everyone hates Jar Jar, but that’s a risk. You know? I think that one good thing about Star Wars from its inception until now is that these films, from the beginning, have taken risks. Even if people don’t end up liking those risks… I do think that just continuing that sort of groundbreaking ability to take risks and push limits in film is something that they will continue and have continued with this new film and hopefully you will see that.”

USA Today: ‘There are plenty of elements in the Prequels that are worthy of celebration’


From USA Today:

“I have a confession to make: I don’t hate the Star Wars prequels. In fact, I love them. […]

But while I’ve never felt the need to hide the fact that I am a Star Wars fan in general, I have always felt self-conscious about my love for George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy, which revisited the beloved franchise to tell the story of how young Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. I constantly qualified my affection by reminding friends that I was young when I first saw the films, that I liked the original trilogy better, and that I still preferred practical effects to CGI. And while all of those things are true, they do not make me like The Phantom MenaceAttack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith any less. What made me like them less, at least for a time, was everyone else. […]

There are plenty of elements in the prequels that are worthy of celebration, and indeed, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are very solid entries in the franchise as a whole. Yet we scorn all three movies because they are different. Or, more accurately, we scorn them because they’re not exactly what we wanted. […]

Different isn’t always good, but it isn’t always bad, either. The visuals in the prequels might contrast sharply from the original trilogy (think the sleek Naboo ships and the claustrophobic cityscape of Coruscant as compared to the roughness of the Millennium Falcon and the mostly untouched wilderness on Hoth and Endor), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t exciting. And in fact the slow evolution of the visuals, for example, the design of the ships, as the Republic evolves into the Empire, is one of the details the films executed the most gracefully. […]

In the prequels, the lightsaber battles are sleeker affairs with better choreography and more athleticism. The duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin at the end of Sith is as operatic as the music that backs it up, while the same two characters mostly shuffle around each other in A New Hope until Vader takes a final, deadly swing. Of course, the New Hope battle is exciting and emotionally resonant without dramatic choreography, but there’s plenty of value to be found in the Sith spectacle as well.

There’s also no denying that the technology behind the prequels brought sequences to life that wouldn’t have been possible in the ’70s and ’80s. Jar Jar may have looked (and sounded) fake, but that lightsaber battle between Yoda and Count Dooku? It’s a breathtaking scene that was only achievable through CGI. In fact, the entire third act of Clones, from the arena fight to the first Clone War battle to Anakin and Padme’s secret wedding, is the greatest contribution the prequels make to the Star Wars canon, as thrilling to watch as anything in Return of the Jedi.

And while the plot points of Phantom may have drifted too far into the obscure (using the words “taxation of trade routes” in the title scroll is always a mistake), the darker political themes in Clones and Sith are bold and intriguing, exploring the way fascism can creep into society.

“What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists?” Padme asks Anakin in Sith. Later, she is proven right when the Republic falls, as she notes, to “thunderous applause” as Jedi are slaughtered across the galaxy by their comrades, and her husband murders dozens of children.

It’s an exceedingly dark place to go, and a far cry from the dancing teddy bear Ewoks celebrating the end of the Empire at the close of Jedi. In the original trilogy, the light side gets to win. In the prequels, it has to lose. Maybe it’s a harder story to stomach, but we shouldn’t dismiss it just for being told. […]

But perhaps if you haven’t watched them in a few years, or if you’ve only heard about how bad they are, maybe you can give the Star Wars prequels another chance. Yes, you’ll have to sit through the painful use of the words “Meesa” and “Yousa” from a walking amphibian, but you’ll also see the adventure, the fantasy and the wonder that made a whole new generation believe in the Force. And isn’t that the point of seeing Star Wars, anyway?”

A history of Prequel fake news site SuperShadow


From Thrillist:

“It’s January 31, 1997, and you just walked out of Star Wars: Special Edition. The unadulterated joy coursing through your veins of seeing this classic blockbuster back on the big screen has completely compromised all capacity for critical thought. The Force is with you yet again. It’s with everyone. And this euphoric moment is but the prelude to the not-so-far-far-away glory of a brand-new chapter set to arrive in 1999. It is the greatest time in history to be a Star Wars fan.

Even better, this is the future, and you are one of 70 million people on the planet privileged with access to the World Wide Web. So you get that dial-up modem crooning in the key of 28.8 kbit/s, and within minutes, are scouring the net for every existing scrap of Star Wars: Episode I news. Hyperspace to 4 in the morning: you’ve been hunting down details for hours, and what you’ve gleaned from the prominent rumor aggregators, the web 1.0 successors toStarlogFantastic Films, Cinefantastique, and other 1980s fan mags, has only left you starved for more. That’s when you discover a lone, confident voice cutting through the clueless din of fanboy speculation. He claims to own a copy of the Episode I treatment; he swears he has a direct line to George Lucas; and apparently, he has clearance from Lucasfilms to post just anything he pleased on his Tripod-hosted website, “Dark Side Prequel Rumors.” This guy knows everything.

His name was SuperShadow, and years later, it would be painfully apparent that he knew nothing, save for how to hoodwink Star Wars fans drunk on the promise of Episode I. Not everyone would believe him, but enough people bought into the ruse to make SuperShadow the phantom menace of movie news webmasters, and Lucasfilm itself, for a solid decade. Relentlessly inventive, SuperShadow told his readers precisely what they wanted to hear from his place next to Emperor George’s throne. When the majority of the online community screamed bullshit, he “brought out” Lucas for a series of interviews, like Woody Allen fetching Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall. In character as someone in the know, SuperShadow would spend long days online conducting proto-AMAs with his adoring fans who, over the years, began to communicate in the same busted-robotic syntax as their favorite movie-news manufacturer.

Today, SuperShadow’s 1+1=anything-but-2 microcosm is pervasive across all subjects and disciplines. He was an early purveyor of “FAKE NEWS,” hooking naïve Star Wars fans with his illusory access to the Great Creator of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. He took advantage of Lucas’s secretive process to become a Jedi Harold Hill, selling lightsabers to true believers. But to what end? Twenty years after stumbling across his exploits in LucasLand as a reader of (and soon-to-be contributor to) Ain’t It Cool News, I’m still trying to make sense of the mad-sad ambition and maniacal diligence that SuperShadow poured into this doomed undertaking. Be it the product of delusion or sheer hucksterism, this was someone’s broken life’s work. […]”

Read the whole story at Thrillist.

Prequel trilogy stunt coordinator: ‘I just abandoned the original trilogy’s fighting style and went my own way with it’


From Vulture:

In the lead-up to Rian Johnson’s much-anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we look back at the first Jedi (narratively speaking) with a week of content about the much-beloved and never-disparaged prequel trilogy. 

The Star Wars prequel trilogy was, for better or worse, driven by a single man’s vision. George Lucas came up with the story. He directed all three of the installments. He had final say in every aspect of the mythology, from tie-ins to toys. That said, when he was preparing what is perhaps the trilogy’s most iconic scene, the three-way lightsaber battle that acts as the climax of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, he had a problem that he couldn’t solve on his own.

“George has never been in a fight in his life,” says the trilogy’s stunt coordinator, Nick Gillard, his English drawl rising into a chuckle. “So he didn’t bother, really, writing it. It would say something like, ‘A vicious lightsaber battle ensues — seven minutes,’ and you could fill in the gap there.” Gillard pauses for a beat. “But that’s much better for me.”

Operating with that kind of carte blanche, Gillard acted as choreographer and trainer for the tussle, as well as de facto writer and director for much of it. […]

It was a tall order from the very beginning: “They said, ‘George wants you to come up with a new kind of martial art.’” […]

As Lucas would put it in a behind-the-scenes documentary, he wanted moviegoers to see “a Jedi in his prime, fighting in the prime of the Jedi.” He turned to Gillard. “I thought I wanted a faster version of what the other movies were; a more energetic version; and that’s basically what he gave me,” Lucas said.

The style may have looked to Lucas like a hyperspace rendition of the original trilogy’s fights, but Gillard says he didn’t actually base the prequels’ lightsaber style on them. Indeed, he ignored them almost entirely. Those old fights had been largely based on fencing, and though Gillard had enjoyed them as a younger man, he felt that they were somewhat stale as of the late 1990s. “The world had moved on since then, and that wasn’t going to work,” he says. “I just abandoned it and went my own way with it.”

Gillard and his staff created a synthesized method of swordplay that was entirely their own. It was “an amalgamation of all sword fighting,” as he puts it, that drew heavily from kendo, but also dipped into an array of other styles of movement, including rapier, samurai, and even tennis and tree-chopping. He wanted it all to be extremely fast, so it could be realistic — or as realistic as a lightsaber fight can be. “I thought, Okay, if they’re going to use swords against laser guns, they’re going to have to be very, very fast with them. This thing’s going to have to move all around, otherwise it’s going to start to look really stupid and unbelievable,” he says.

This new lightsaber approach would also have to demonstrate that everyone who used it had a lethal degree of expertise. He compares it to chess — at any given second, the fighters had to hold their opponents in a position of check, where there was only one way to escape: “They can only parry there, they can only attack there. The moves are so natural or so correct, that’s the only place they can be.” […]

Nick Gillard then talks at great length about the making of The Phantom Menace‘s final lightsaber fight. Read the whole article at Vulture.

Syfy Wire: ‘Jar Jar Binks is the misunderstood, unsung hero of the Star Wars saga’


From Syfy Wire:

“Jar Jar Binks is the misunderstood, unsung hero of the Star Wars saga.

That might seem like an overstatement, but George Lucas created a clear thread of influence for the character from the beginning of Phantom Menace that extends all the way to the end of Return of the Jedi. Taking into account the chronological story of the films, there’s every chance that without Jar Jar’s story thread, the Ewoks might have never gotten into the fight against the Empire on the forest moon of Endor. […]

Qui-Gon could have left Jar Jar for dead there with Boss Nass, but he calls in the life debt that Jar Jar pledged to him. Even Obi-Wan is incredulous about this, viewing Jar Jar as pathetic. So why does Qui-Gon keep letting Jar Jar tag along? It’s the same reason he butts heads with the Jedi council: his connection to the living Force. His compassion is greater than the rigid and, frankly, arrogant views of the Jedi.

By keeping Jar Jar around for his goodness rather than potential worth, Qui-Gon enables Queen Amidala to see a side of the Gungans to which the prejudice of her people had closed her off. Because of this, Jar Jar brings her to the Gungans and unites their people. It saved Naboo, Gungans and Humans alike, from Palpatine’s machinations.

This is a classic story in mythology: the creature you’re nice to will unexpectedly help you in the end. Beauty and the Beast teaches the opposite version with the idea that the “worthless” person to whom you’re awful has the power to curse you. […]

By the time Revenge of the Sith rolls around, Jar Jar is as forgotten as the lesson he helped teach Qui-Gon. But during the dark times, what voice is left with Yoda to understand the failures of the Jedi? Qui-Gon.

This is why Yoda acts like Jar Jar when Luke first meets him. He’s the same sort of obnoxious clown whose power Luke doesn’t realize at all. Luke lashes out at him and Luke fails this test. That’s why Yoda doesn’t want to train him. […]

Return of the Jedi shows us this wiser side of Luke. When Han Solo was going to blast every single Ewok on the forest moon of Endor because they were annoying to him, Luke stayed his hand. They could have taken those Ewoks apart, but instead they allowed themselves to be captured and became their allies. […]


Jar Jar Binks is the lynchpin of the Star Wars universe and we hardly realized it. The only reason Luke learned this lesson was because Jar Jar taught it to Qui-Gon, who taught it to Yoda, who taught it to Luke. They defeated the Empire on Endor because Qui-Gon taught those who came after him you have to be nice to everyone, even if you find them obnoxious. Without Qui-Gon teaching this message of acceptance the galaxy would be a very different place.

It’s a stunning piece of storytelling that almost slid by, right under our noses.”