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

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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.

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

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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’

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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.”

Variety falsely claims that The Phantom Menace ‘was ravaged by critics’

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From Variety:

““Star Wars” flew back into theaters in 1999 with the start of the prequel series, which was… less well received, to say the least. The first in that series, “The Phantom Menace,” was ravaged by critics and fans even as it made big money at the box office.”


The truth:

In 2005, Rotten Tomatoes calculated that 62% of critics had given The Phantom Menace a positive review.

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe loves Star Wars, especially The Phantom Menace

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From Vanity Fair France, via Corentin Lamy (translation by Naboo News):

“[…] France’s Prime Minister [Édouard Philippe] was caught in a flagrant unspeakable passion: on his cufflinks, Le Journal du dimanche spotted the words “May the Force be with you”, the catchphrase of Star Wars. […]

Of all the episodes, Édouard Philippe nevertheless indicated that his favourite is The Phantom Menace (I), the one where two Jedi investigate a political crisis that disturbs the peaceful planet Naboo.”

Mark Hamill says that Jake Lloyd did a ‘fine job’ and Anakin’s arc is ‘remarkable’

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From SciFiNow #139:

“[SciFiNow:] IT DOES FEEL IMPORTANT THAT STAR WARS TRY NEW THINGS…

[Mark Hamill:] Exactly, yeah. And I think you should take risks. You can’t please everybody. God knows, I thought they were way too critical of the prequels and a lot of it was because it wasn’t what they wanted. And people become very possessive of it. It’s their story so God forbid you do something that doesn’t fit the preconceived notion of what they want. I thought they were just so cruel to Jake Lloyd who did a fine job but they were mad because they didn’t want to see Darth Vader being an adorable little child. And I thought that was one of the things that was important, that at that age he could have been a young Luke Skywalker! But I thought that was one of the remarkable things about the prequels. That if you take the wrong path, this could happen to anyone… I will never forgive some of the cruelty that they inflicted on that poor child when he did exactly what George wanted him to do.”


Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker in Episodes IV through VIII.